Suzanne's Perfume Journal

Guerlain Mayotte: Holiday, Island-Style

July 11, 2013:

Guerlain Mayotte eau de parfum can be purchased from any Guerlain boutique, as well as, where a 4.2 oz/125 ml bottle is currently priced at $270.

Photo of models Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington is by Patrick Demarchelier and was published as part of a photo-spread for Vogue magazine sometime in the 1990s.

Bottle image is from

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On and off since the 4th of July, I’ve been wearing Guerlain Mayotte (a sample of which came from my blogging friend Sigrun) and because I love it, I wanted to write a sophisticated review with a grand analogy, but that’s not a thing you can force. Sometimes a perfume is best described in simple terms, and with that in mind, here’s what I can tell you. It’s a perfume that put me in a holiday mood and kept me in one, despite the fact that the 4th of July was the only sunny day we’ve had in weeks. It’s a perfume that made me happy, rather than disappointed in myself, when I broke my more than week-long vow not to waste time looking at gorgeous men on the Internet. And it’s a perfume named after an island in the Mozambique channel of the Indian Ocean and, fittingly, smells like a vacation—which is to say, tropical and very pretty. A white-floral scent dominated by ylang-ylang and tuberose, Mayotte is one of the easiest fragrances in the white-floral genre I’ve ever worn, capable of winning over at least a few of the tuberose-haters in Perfume Land, because here the note is not interested in grandstanding or taking over a third-world nation. In Mayotte, tuberose appears to have adapted to the laid-back charms of island life, and though I can’t say that it assumes a lazy posture within the perfume (it still seems rather intent on dazzling the locals), it is decidedly more light-hearted and companionable here, more inclined to while away the hours with gal-pal ylang-ylang.

The official list of notes for Mayotte includes neroli, frangipani, tuberose, ylang-ylang, jasmine, sandalwood, vetiver and vanilla. As mentioned, it’s a perfume that strikes me as being largely occupied by tuberose and ylang-ylang, yet every time it hits my skin I’m tempted to revise that assessment. Mayotte’s top notes are quite distinctive and provide its contextual setting; we know this perfume is taking us to an island paradise from the get-go thanks to frangipani, a floral that is both creamy and fruity, and which in Mayotte smells like a combo of coconut and peaches. This frangipani note gets some uplift from the fresh citrus-floral scent of neroli, while at the same time there is a spicy facet which exerts a tug in the opposite direction—towards depth and intensity—such that as a whole, Mayotte opens like a tropical sunset: a peachy, glowing orb that is both weighty and shimmering. Usually I don’t put much store by top notes, as they are fleeting and say little about a perfume’s main narrative, but in Mayotte this sunset-like accord makes a statement, makes me swoon, and puts me in a mood—carefree, romantic, convinced that the working day is done. These notes even dictate what time of day I wear this perfume: Mayotte doesn’t go on my skin until late morning. It is far too languorous to meet the early morning sun, but from 11 am on, Mayotte is ready to get up and … go on vacation. Actually, it already is on vacation and is just waiting for me and you to come join it, in our prettiest summer clothes, for a cocktail on the veranda.

As for tuberose and ylang-ylang, they’re already there—I’m not sure they’ve even moved from their spot since yesterday. As creamy and beautiful as the bare limbs of a supermodel, inclined only towards leisure, the white florals of Mayotte are sensual and relaxed without going beyond that point. What they do in other perfumes is the topic of another conversation; here in Mayotte they don’t express their indolic or naughty side, or at least not too much. There is some jasmine in Mayotte that adds a bit of the urine-like scent that is hard to describe in perfume reviews because the word urine is freighted and ridiculously scary to many people, whereas the actual urinous whiff is so nuanced, most people wouldn’t be able to detect it, let alone realize that it’s what lends a natural “feel” to the perfume … and yes, sex appeal. Even with this bit of jasmine tang, ylang-ylang figures so prominently, with its odor of sweet-cream butter and bananas borne heavenward on a draft of menthol, that the perfume has enough soaring pull to keep it balanced on the far side of smoldering. To my mind, ylang-ylang lends Mayotte an air of conviviality that makes me view it as a perfume in permanent happy-hour mode. True, the boudoir fleshiness of tuberose is on display—a luscious reminder of sun-warmed skin that ylang contributes to as well—but the latter’s lifting properties and sweetness steer this perfume out of the carnal territory it might otherwise occupy.

The only disappointing aspect of Mayotte (and it is only a slight one) is that it doesn’t have much projection on my skin after the first half-hour of wear. It has longevity—I can smell everything I love about it when I bring my scented arms and wrists to my nose, for a period of at least four hours—but as far as a wafty sillage, there isn’t one for me. And by the time Mayotte reaches its far-drydown stage, where everything I previously described has passed and the perfume now entertains the traditional Guerlain base of sandalwood and vanilla, I have to inhale deeply. Perhaps this is not a fault of the perfume’s but of my scent-eating skin; as mentioned previously, my sample came from Sigrun’s bottle of Mayotte, and her description of the base is one of “fatty vanillic” richness. I believe it probably is rich on her, and I mention my own experience as a way of reminding any would-be samplers that your own mileage may vary.

Speaking of which, perfume can never replace a real vacation, but it can remind you of the importance of taking one. Mayotte is a perfume that reminded me that the rain doesn’t prevent one from stepping out for an ice cream cone; that a good-looking gentleman is a fine thing to ogle, so long as you don’t make it your major occupation; and that within every day there are islands of pleasure waiting to be visited—some of which smell like peachy sunsets, creamy skin and flowers of every persuasion.