Since its earliest beginnings, the art of Perfumery has been driven by a quest for the most beautiful raw materials. As scent explorers, the Guerlain Perfumers travel the world over in search of these exceptional ingredients, true treasures of nature that they exalt in their creations. Like all great voyagers, they, too, have adventure in their blood and a love for the limitless horizon.
Today, this sense of wanderlust is embodied in a new opus of the L’Art & La Matière collection: Néroli Plein Sud, inspired by the adventurous spirit of The Little Prince author Antoine de Saint Exupéry, and by his first major novel, published in 1929 and entitled Southern Mail. Born out of a collaboration with the Antoine de Saint Exupéry Youth Foundation, this pivotal creation continues the story between Guerlain and the great novelist-aviator, that first began in 1933 with the fragrance Vol de Nuit. That masterpiece was composed in homage to Saint Exupéry’s novel of the same name, published two years previously and translated as Night Flight.
In response to the famous adventurer’s flight log comes a perfumer’s travel diary, written by Guerlain. With each flight, words speed across the paper, gathering sensations and impressions. Scents and materials are evoked; notes and accords are laid out, sketching the contours of a fragrance that is an invitation to discover the world.
Since 1828, Art and Fragrance have been inextricably linked at Guerlain. For generations, the Maison’s Perfumers have been sustained by artistic alliances and minds meeting over avant garde works. All these inspirations and unbreakable bonds have turned their creations into witnesses to their eras.
These ties are made ever stronger and more apparent with the L’Art & La Matière collection. In this marvellous creative laboratory, the Guerlain Perfumers reinvent perfumery’s most beautiful raw materials by sparking a dialogue between senses, imagination and emotion through an artistic lens. Thanks to their talent and expertise, these exceptional ingredients are revealed in a whole new light.
With Néroli Plein Sud, neroli soars along the trail of Antoine e Saint Exupéry and his novel, Southern Mail. The book recounts the tales and travels of a Latécoère Airlines pilot who crosses Europe and heads south for Morocco, just as the author once did. During the novelist’s time as an aviator, navigation systems were not as refined as they are today. Pilots found their way “by sight” alone, using visual clues likes the scenic details and positions of landmarks below. This made the profession exceptionally hazardous. Aviators had to love taking risks, pushing their limits and flying in the face of danger. They made every crossing a new adventure from which they emerged more mature and stronger.
This spirit that once inspired Antoine de Saint Exupéry and his work now infuses this new neroli, which rediscovers its southern origins. They are both propelled by the same force; guided by the power of the elements; theirs is a quest for the absolute and the infinite, where sky and dunes blend into one in the hot, enveloping, exhilarating sunlight. Ready for a dizzying flight, neroli takes off towards an extraordinary freshness, revealing a unique energy. It is the energy of its homeland, Morocco, a sun-drenched land between sea and desert, as Antoine de Saint Exupéry writes.
Tinted with this vibrant intensity, it takes on another dimension, revealing itself in a new light that is both feminine and masculine, transcending its reputation as a white flower of delicate, refined allure. Composed by Guerlain Perfumer Delphine Jelk, the trail sets its sights southward, towards Morocco, its homeland.
Under the clear Moroccan sky, hundreds of orange trees burst into view, forming a palette of azure and green flecked with flashes of white. There, shaded by the branches and foliage, thousands of delicate, snow-white flowers are aglow with freshness. At dawn, when all is calm and the air is not yet been touched by the burning sun, their fragrance is sharp yet soothing, infinitely elegant. It is this fresh, luminous and floral vitality that characterises the soaring composition.
Then, softly, comes the contrast. Like a plane rising and jetting off for the more arid climes of the Moroccan desert, the accord heats up and acquires a spiced intensity of turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and clove, evoking the warmth of the dunes stretching beyond the horizon. This warmth contends with the freshness of the opening, bringing it the force of hot, captivating spices. This contrast then extends into deep woody notes, carried by exquisite vetiver and warm sandalwood. Now the trail comes to rest on the skin. It tells the tale of neroli’s homecoming voyage between the freshness of the blossoming orange trees and the hot sand of the entrancing desert.
The Guerlain Perfumers headed south to find an historic terroir of orange trees, once soared over by Antoine de Saint Exupéry. Their journey took them to Morocco, specifically the city of Khemisset. There, they discovered a uniquely potent orange blossom drenched in sunlight and shaped by the winds of the Atlas Mountains. Organically harvested and hand-picked at dawn, it reveals its most beautiful scents. The blossom is then steam distilled on site to obtain a floral, bright, vivid neroli essence: the essence of Néroli Plein Sud. It is no coincidence that this neroli is so closely tied to Antoine de Saint Exupéry. Morocco is the cradle of this extraordinary flower, but it also inspired the work of this great writer. It was there, between desert and sea, that he found his vocation. The beauty, atmosphere and vastness of this land would fuel his novels from the very first, Southern Mail, right through to The Little Prince, the most-translated non-religious text in the world.