Insolence is one of those modern Guerlains that was a hit or a miss. It seems to have more hits than misses than say–Champs-Elysees–but it has more interesting character to it taking it beyond the safe zone that Guerlain seems to have been skirting since its purchase by LVMH.
In Bottle: Yeah, definitely unique. The violet in this is a strange, uncertain floral that’s sweet for sure but lacks anything else to it. There’s something spicy in this too like anise or cinnamon along with the weird sugary, raisin scent in the back.
Applied: Sweet and bright with the red raspberry note coming up first and fading first leaving me with a dense, syrupy raisin-like fragrance with that persistent anise note that I wish I didn’t feel crazy for smelling. Something in this reminds me of the classic Guerlains. I’m thinking it’s that anise or clove or whatever the heck that is which reminds me a bit of one of L’Huere Bleue’s many layers. But at the same time it’s clear Insolence is an updated fragrance meant for a young consumer as it’s trying to pull in a fresher audience. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if they really hit the mark as Insolence is not clearly defined as anything and at the end of the day, does smell like a bit of a fruity, floral, spicy and sweet mess to me. I’m sure a lot of women can love this fragrance but it is very polarized in terms of taste. You can either love it or hate it. Once Insolence does calm down, which takes quite a while, the fragrance is less sweet but it does retain some of that syrupy treatment all the way into the dry down where it gets darker, creamier, and more vanillic with a very nice red raspberry note to it. I had thought the raspberry had disappeared but it was just hiding behind the spicy flowers. As for whether I hate or love this? I could go either way but I feel like Insolence is a bit too loud and sweet and a little too clingy.
Extra: Word has it that this smells a bit like Apres L’Ondee, one of the Guerlains I have yet to try. I do get the familiarity of this to L’Huere Bleue so something in here is working that classic machine. I just think this is a bit removed from that era though.
Design: Insolence’s half-circle, flower and flower pot type design was by Serge Mansau a man famous for creating bottles for some of the most well known fashion and fragrance houses since the 60s. I gotta give the man credit for making this a nice looking bottle that’s interesting to look at. I just can’t get on board with how hard it is to hold this thing. It’s an awkward shape, making you have to hold it awkwardly, pinched between your fingers as you hope to avoid dropping it. Nice idea, interesting shape. I just can’t get on board with how hard it is to hold.
Fragrance Family: Spicy Sweet Oriental
Notes: Violet, raspberry, rose, orange blossom, raisins, balsam, iris, tonka bean.
You’re probably wondering what kind of fragrance family cop-out I’m doing with that spicy sweet thing. Well, it’s the only way I can really describe Insolence because, to my nose, it’s like a candy rolled in anise. It tries to be fruity, it tries to be gourmand, but it lands in the middle where it’s neither and the only place it even fits is in two vague categories.
Reviewed in This Post: Insolence, 2010, Eau de Parfum.