Monday Question – Guerlain Or Chanel? You Must Choose!

I am in the mood for a quite sadistic question today…

You have to choose between the houses of Guerlain and Chanel for the rest of your life, you can only have one houses’ perfumes. If you cannot choose, you will get neither.

*evil laughter*

Who do you pick?

Which house wins and why?

What would you miss the most?

My Answer:

I was childishly happy about the perfidity of this question until I realized, I’d have to answer it myself (somehow I manage to ignore that basic fact when thinking about questions, or I would never be able to come up with anything!).

So, which house is it for me?

Chanel – I love Coromandel28 La Pausa, 31 Rue Cambon, Bel Respiro, N°19 

Guerlain – I love Shalimar, Jicky, L’Heure Bleue, Vol de NuitSous le Vent, Iris Ganache

Argh, what an impossible question, and surely one I’d answer differently every day.

But for what it is worth, I choose Chanel for the one reason that I think their perfumes are in safer hands. Chanel reformulations are not as devastating as many Guerlain ones have been.

And while I was disappointed with recent releases like Bleu, N°19 Poudre and Jersey, I still feel the Les Exclusifs line is one of the best out there. The exclusive Guerlains have highlights among them, but are not as comprehensive as a whole. And the Guerlain mainstream releases are mostly duds for me, sorry.

The day to day wearability point goes to Chanel as well. I just find more occasion to wear 31 RC or N°19 than Shalimar or L’Heure Bleue.

I am a Guerlain girl at heart, so it pains me to say this, but today I choose Chanel.

What about you?


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104 Responses to Monday Question – Guerlain Or Chanel? You Must Choose!

  1. Ari says:

    You’re so devious! I would choose Guerlain without much trouble. I like sweeter perfumes, and I’m not classy enough for Chanel. Maybe classy’s the wrong word- not elegant or sophisticated.

  2. This is a very mean question, but I don’t find it that difficult to answer. I’m a Guerlain boy for sure, Chanel, whilst having a beautiful line of perfumes (I love Nº19, Nº5 and Coco) is perhaps a little bit too staid for me. Guerlain however, is full of raunchy orientals and mouthwatering gourmands.

    So, I say Guerlain but I do love Chanel too 😀

    • Olfactoria says:

      I didn’t have much doubt which house you would choose! 🙂
      I couldn’t really stick with Chanel alone either, I’d miss so many Guerlains terribly, thankfully we don’t have to choose…

  3. Julie says:

    I’m in with Ari on this. I would not hesitate to choose Guerlain. While I would miss Bois des Iles, 31 Rue Cambon, and Pour Monsieur, I can not imagine giving up Vol de Nuit, Shalimar, Samsara, Attrape-Coeurs, Habit Rouge, or Heritage for the rest of my life. Chanel projects an image that is chic, which I am not. I just like to smell good.

  4. I think you know what I’m going to say, but I’ll say it anyway: Guerlain, 100%. In fact, there’s only one Chanel I would miss, Leather Oud. I can’t wait to see where Thierry Wasser will be taking Guerlain in the future, I really respect and admire him. There are a handful of Guerlains that I could never live without, vintage and modern alike. I don’t know why, but I’ve never really connected with Chanel perfumes on an emotional level.

  5. masha7 says:

    See the Muppet Movie (maniacal laughter, maniacal laughter)– becaue of recent business shenanigans with both companies by Tex Richman, I chooose…Neither!! I go for Serge Lutens as my one-and-only House. Go, Muppets! Go, Hermes! Boo, to the Moopets….

  6. Caro says:

    I wish I could say Guerlain as I love their old creations *swoons over vintage L’Heure Bleue extrait* but i really dislike the turn the house has taken since being owned by LVMH. Their reformulations are not good IMHO and haven’s liked any of the new releases.
    Chanel so far is managing to keep good quality and good taste in their new releases (ok, Bleu is absolutely forgettable), so I’m going with Chanel.

  7. moonrae says:

    I thought it would be Chanel by far….glad to see I’m in such interesting,raunchy,mouthwatering company!! I too am not sophisticated enough(it’s okay Ari,really)to wear Chanel even though I adore it on others….~yay~ Guerlain
    Thanks for the fun sweetie

  8. Tough question, indeed. The Guerlains I love are Vetiver, Habit Rouge, Imperial, Shalimar, and Mitsouko. From Chanel, I love Pour Monsieur, Antaeus, Egoiste, No. 5, 19, and 22. It surprises me to say, but I think Chanel wins by a slight margin (today, at least).

  9. Tatiana says:

    This is a tough question. I love perfumes in both lines. But I like and love more in Chanel. I love vintage Mitsouko and vintage Vol de Nuit. I like the contemporary reformulations. They will do, but I do not love them. But I love No. 19, No.5, Eau Premiere, Bois des Iles, Cuir de Russie and I like Coco and Bel Respiro, 28 La Pausa and 31 Rue Cambon a lot! I feel that right now, the Chanel line is holding their quality much better. But if they ever reintroduced the vintage Mitsouko and Vol de Nuit, I would have to reconsider.

  10. Sombreuil says:

    For confidence in the future of the brand – Chanel. I have no faith whatsoever in LVMH – how could they do what they’ve done to Dior? No, really, how could they? Anyway, I was lucky enough to tour Les Exclusifs over the weekend (was travelling and the hotel was conveniently close to a boutique, allowing for repeat visits and samplings) and ended up trying Coromandel, Bel Respiro, Bois des Iles, Cuir de Russie and 31 Rue Cambon on skin. All, with the possible exception of Bel Respiro, developed in such a beautiful, coherent way and left a drydown with stamina and complexity – something I attributed to the quality of the raw materials used in Chanel scents. The overall impression (from LE only, not commenting on Chance etc) was that this is a house that will spend the required money for development and ingredients, and recognises that it has a legacy worth saving.

    If we are talking in historical terms though, the romance and the magic of great past perfumery, Guerlain is my choice. If I could have a fresh bottle of all their masterpieces from their time of creation (Jicky, Apres l’Ondee, L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko, Shalimar, Vol de Nuit, Vetiver, Chamade, Eau de Guerlain etc etc), I would never want for anything else.

    Sorry for the looong comment…

  11. Guerlain!!!!! There’s no hesitation or second-guessing. I would be nowhere without Shalimar and Samara, reformulations or not.

    I’d miss Coromandel terribly, but I can deal. The Guerlain exclusives can make me forget about pretty much any other fragrance. =)

  12. Natalie says:

    Oh, this is a terribly evil question! In the Guerlain corner, I have the true love Shalimar and the likes L’Instant Magic, Vol de Nuit, Cuir Beluga, and Paris to Moscow. But, in the Chanel corner I have the true loves No. 19 and Coromandel, as well as “like” perfumes that I reach for because they are easily wearable for many occasions, like 28 La Pausa and Eau Premiere. I really cannot choose. 😦

  13. deeHowe says:

    Easy-peasy! It’s Guerlain for me, of course 😉

    But I would certainly miss no. 19, and Bois des Iles, and Eau Premiere— but I just cannot live without Shalimar, or L’Heure Bleue, or Vol de Nuit, or Attrape Coeur, or Vega… 🙂

  14. Alexandra says:

    I am completely under the spell of the good old Guerlain masterpieces- not the mainstream ones- therefore, my vote is for Jacques Guerlain! Guerlain represents impressionism in a bottle, and those creations are heavily poetic, whereas to my mind Chanel is a more chic, well behaved, Alpha girl, an image far from my Bohemian personality. Having said that, I’m really sold for Chanel Egoist and Chanel No 5, which I currently enjoy so much in the form of the velvet body cream!

  15. Sandra says:

    Guerlain all the way! I love their fragrances whether it be exclusive or mainstream. I tried the Chanel exclusives and on first wearing found them refined and classy, which unfortunately do not work for me. Perhaps if I try them again I might find one I love. However, Guerlain wins hands down. Fun question.

  16. civava says:

    This is torturing! But if I really must I choose Guerlain. It is more me than Chanel, even though I would miss Cuir de Russie, 31 Rue Cambon, Bois des Iles…grrr. Shalimar is still one of my favorite perfumes (after 15 years or so), L’Heure Bleue, Apres L’Ondee, Mitsouko, Jicky, Tonka Imperiale, Spiritueuse Double Vanille, I can still going on with listing. If I look close I cannot find a perfume I hate in Guerlain line but I hate Chanel No 5 so there you are. In my opinion Chanels are more light to the Guerlains. And light does not suit my personality.

  17. Undina says:

    I feel really bad… I must be missing something. As of now there isn’t a single Guerlain perfume I love. I think I might warm up to Chamade and Vol de Nuit (if I have a chance to test them more) but in general Guerlain isn’t my brand at all. Of course, I haven’t tried too many of them but I tried several staples loved by everybody – and I do not want to wear any of them, so I was hesitant to persuit other perfumes from the brand (since they aren’t easily available).

    So, for me it’s not even a question – of course, Chanel. But ask me again two-three years from now: two years ago I disliked Chanel.

  18. Absolutely and totally Guerlain. The aldehydes present in so many of the Chanel perfumes put me off.. and the sickly sweetness of Chance has traumatized me for life. I am a devoted fan of the Guerlain Aqua Allergoria’s, and Shalimar and Jicky remind me so much of my childhood that I could never say no !

  19. andrea says:

    Ooooh you have stirred up a lot of replies, how naughty to ask such a question. My answer, I could probably live without either if truth be told and happily spend my money on other fragrances but if I have to give a definitive answer I would say that I would not like to live without Guerlain as I wear Mitsouko occasionally but don’t wear Chanel any more. 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      But have you tried all the exclusive fragrances of both houses? *evil grin*

      • andrea says:

        Oh how you torment me. I tried a few of the exclusives in Paris in the guerlain shop, I liked the tonka but did not buy fb, sinus infection prevented me being sure enough. I smelt a few of the Chanel exclusives at the weekend but not one enchanted me enough to consider a second mortgage that would be needed to buy one.

  20. Ann C. says:

    This is a tough question, but I choose Chanel. When I look at my collection, on the Guerlain side, I have Shalimar Ode a la Vanille, Eau de Shalimar, and a small decant of vintage L’Heure Bleue parfum, On the Chanel side, I have Eau Premier, Coromandel, Bois des Isle, 31 RC, and a drop of Coco parfum. I have enough Chanel (those jugs!) to last a lifetime. On second thought, if I had to stick with Chanel, I’d have to add another spring/summer fragrance, perhaps 28 La Pausa.

  21. Ines says:

    Honestly B, this is a truly horrible question. 🙂 How can one decide?!
    But if I really had to choose one, it would have to be Guerlain – I cannot imagine my life without Shalimar and that’s the end of it. And then there are other things from the line I’d still like to have – I tried Tonka Imperiale the other day and love the way it smells on me (although I don’t love it enough for 170 euros)…

  22. Marte says:

    Tough question! I love both houses, so it’s almost impossible to choose. From Guerlain I love: Vol de Nuit, Jicky, Mitsouko, Attrape Coeur, Apres l’Ondee, Samsara and Chamade. From Chanel I love: Coromandel, Bois des Iles, No. 18, No. 22, Coco, Eau Premiere, No. 19, Cristalle and 31 Rue Cambon.

    I choose Chanel (today), because I feel they are easier to wear. Chic, undemanding and always right for the occasion. I would miss Vol de Nuit and Jicky the most.

  23. malsnano86 says:

    I think I hate you.

    I mean, it’s so CRUEL to make me choose…

    Of the Guerlains, I enjoy Apres l’Ondee, Attrape-Coeur, Terracotta Voile d’Ete, Pamplelune, L’Heure Bleue, Idylle edt, and Samsara. I LOVE reissued Vega and Shalimar Light/Eau Legere.
    Of the Chanels, I enjoy Eau Premiere, Chance eau Tendre (yeah, yeah, so sue me), Bois des Iles, and 31 Rue Cambon. I TRULY LOVE WITH ALL MY HEART No. 5 parfum and No. 19 edt (vintage, for preference, but even the new stuff is good).

    So I think I have to go with… oh, curses… Chanel. Because I love me my Shali Lite, but Vega and No. 5 are sort of interchangeable, and I can’t live without my No. 19.

  24. Cymbaline says:

    If I imagine these two houses placed on either end of a scale, Chanel Cristalle would be high in the air on one side and a huge pile-up of assorted Guerlains weighing down the other, so for me Guerlain is the clear winner. However, I do hope M. Wasser is not just focusing on the praise his house is getting from your commenters, but also understands that many of us are not particularly pleased with decisions made under the LVMH umbrella!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Well, said Cymbaline! Now if only M. Wasser would take a peek in here… 🙂

      I haven’t made a tally yet, but it really looks like Guerlain is the winner today.

  25. Tara says:

    Wow, you really got everyone going today, B, well done!

    Oh dear, now I have to answer. If you don’t choose one you don’t get EITHER? Ouch! It’s so funny, while reading each comment I changed my mind! On balance though, I have to go with Chanel. Like Sombreuil I love the romance and magic of Guerlain but on a day-to-day basis I wear my Chanel Exclusifs a LOT more. I can deal with life without Mitsouko and Vol de Nuit but not sure how I will cope without Shalimar.

    However, if it were restricted to their mainstream releases I’d go in the opposite direction. I don’t like a single mainstream Chanel and Coco and Allure make me feel positively queasy (never wanted to even try Chance). Plus you make a good point about the safe hands Chanel is in, so this may well be a head over heart decision. Ah, that was torturous but fun!

  26. Tarleisio says:

    You would have to ask me this question with a gun to my head, you understand…Whaddaya mean…choose??? How can I???

    But OK, I’d have to say it…Guerlain. I’d have to say it, because Guerlain covers such a wide spectrum of perfumes (Not for me to bang on about vintage/reformulated, since we have what we have) – chypres, Orientals, those big, juicy gourmands…Jicky, Nahèma, Mitsouko, Sous le Vent, Pamplelune, SDV, Iris Ganache, Vol de Nuit, Eau de Coq (which I love in the summer), Shalimar…(still working up to that last, since my mother wore it)…it would have to be Guerlain. (and these are just the ones I know, mind you).

    I can and in fact have lived without no. 19, Coco and Eau Premiere. I’ve only tried one Exclusif Chanel – thanks to you, darling B! – since they’re not sold anywhere near me, and um…yes, I can do without Chanel.

    So it would have to be Guerlain! 🙂

  27. Guerlain.
    Really the only Chanels I like are the masculines and Coco. I admire them but rarely wear them. I wear Guerlain frequently.
    P.S. You’re sadistic, lol.

  28. bloodyfrida says:

    Guerlain.
    Though I would miss the invisible armor that Chanel Cuir de Russie gives me!

  29. Julie says:

    Guerlain, instantly, immediately, and without a doubt, Guerlain!! I would miss Bois des Iles and Cuir de Russie, but I could not live without my Guerlains. Still waiting for a photo of the Jicky extrait…..:)

  30. This is an odd question. It’s like comparing Picasso vs. Dali. Two artists with different sensibilities. If I had to choose, it would be Guerlain because I’m biased. I don’t own a bottle of Chanel because I haven’t yet found a Chanel fragrance that really speaks to me. My one and only Guerlain was a gift from my husband, Ode de la Vanille, and I am in love with it! So based on my current bias, I choose Guerlain, but it may change later. A noncommital copout answer. 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      It is an odd question, of course and has no base in reality. 😉 There is no need to ever decide, thankfully, but those two houses are arguably the ones with the greatest legacies, and both have come on hard times. And I think it is fun to ask the impossible of perfume lovers, and the response tells me they think it is fun as well. 😉

  31. HemlockSillage says:

    Chanel, without a doubt. Oh, I’d miss the Eau, Chamade extrait, Après L’Ondee, and my continued struggle with Mitsuoko, but it is Chanel that I wear more often.

    I could not give up Chanel No. 5 parfum, Eau Premiere, the Eau de Cologne, BdI, CdR, Bel Respiro or even the belittled Beige. I reach for these in so many seasons, in times of stress and heartbreak. Guerlain and M. Wasser can go. . .but I’m glad this is all theoretical.

    Now if you put Chanel vs. Frederick Malle, I’d really waffle and dither over a commitment 🙂

  32. Eva S says:

    I’d chose Guerlain without question! I own and enjoy Eau Premiere and no 19 but I could easily live without them. Maybye I would chose differently if I’ve had the chance to try The Exclusifs, but somehow I don’t think so. There’s a coolness and aloofness about Chanel that’s not really me. I can’t recall exactly that old quote about Caron making pefumes for duchesses and Guerlain for kept women, I wonder what the Chanel/Guerlain equivalent would be? Well, mr Wasser, so far I’m content to be a kept woman 🙂

  33. Sally- Anne says:

    Birgit..i shall let u decide which camp i’d pitch my tent.

  34. annemariec says:

    I would choose Chanel, for much the same reasons you outline in your answer. And – if the only perfume I could wear for the rest of my life was Chanel No 19, I would cope. If it was my favourite Guerlain – L’Heure Bleue – I couldn’t. It has to be winter and I have to be in the right mood for L’HB. Also, Guerlain seems to have levels of excuslivity and accessibility that I can never quite fathom, whereas Chanel makes a clear distinction between its department store offerings and the LEs. And the LEs are erally quite good value on a price per ml basis.

  35. Fernando says:

    Well, when you think masculines… Habit Rouge, Derby, Arsene Lupin, Vetiver, and Coriolan versus Sycomore and… what? Chanel pour Monsieur just disappears on my skin and most of the others aren’t that impressive. It’s Guerlain for me.

  36. angie Cox says:

    Chanel , I can’t imagine not having Chanel 22 and as you say the reformulations don’t seem as bad.

  37. karin says:

    Guerlain for me! I do love me some Chanels, though, too. But I would not want to live without Attrape Coeur. 🙂

  38. holly says:

    Without a doubt Chanel. I do not want to have a sense of smell if I cannot have Cuir de Russie extrait and Gardenia, ahhhh Gardenia . . . . No. 5 Eau Premiere, No. 19 and 28 La Pausa. Guerlains, on the other hand, turn all amber vanilla treacle on me, all of them . . .must be the base they use which others seem to love. I will champion Dior here. No, I do not like any of their newbies, but I’m ecstatic to have Diorama (the new which I happen to much prefer to Parfum de Therese), Diorissimo, Diorella and Miss Dior (gorgeous, gorgeous drydown). Now if I could only get Diorling without flying to Paris (not that that would be a bad thing . . . )

  39. GeM says:

    Guerlain, without a doubt. All time favorite.

    I’m a sort of a Chanel impotent. 😦 I’d like to enjoy their perfumes, for as the prestige perfume lover’s dream house it is, but I simply don’t connect with the ‘Chanelesque’ aldehydes (I generally like aldehydes, though) that usually falls into their eternal musk… However, I think I could wear Eau Premiere and Bois des Iles (which I find they are close matches), but I’ve never considered to purchase… and I still don’t.

  40. GeM says:

    I envy all who have the capacity to feel natural/spontaneous love for Chanel Perfume, or even a love acquisition over the years …! I’ve been trying it for ages, and I think I’ve learned to appreciate it, to let it in as an undeniable reference etc etc, but I just don’t suceed to love…!

    • Olfactoria says:

      I needed some time to get warm with No5 for example, but some Chanels truly are great loves of mine. I couldn’t live without 31 Rue Cambon or No19. But that is the beauty of Perfumeland – there is something for everyone. 🙂

  41. lady jane grey says:

    Guerlain ! (I’m just not ladylike enough for Chanel – you’ll see soon…)

  42. Joan says:

    I’ll vote Chanel, for the same reason you did. LVMH bought Guerlain, and I can imagine they’re going to destroy my favorites (Mitsouko, Chamade, and L’Heure Bleue) soon.

    Chanel seems more consistent. Plus, as much as I love the sweet candy scents of Guerlain, I find Chanel’s dressy scents to be more wearable. Bois d’Iles and Cuir de Russie for life!

  43. GeM says:

    Yes, you are right concerning that. And I agree with the day to day wearability point, too.
    As you see, my answer is not as clear as it seemed initially! 😉

  44. vanessa says:

    I have been mulling this one over while driving and though it has taken me a while to come to a decision, it has to be Chanel I think for breadth of choice and practicality – I like a higher percentage of Chanels, especially as we are including the Exclusifs. That said, the smaller number of Guerlains I like **move me** more than most of the Chanel line, even some of the Exclusifs. Scents like Apres L’Ondee, PQJ (if we are allowed discontinued ones), and to a lesser extent Bois d’Armenie and Rose Barbare. But the Chanels are more serviceable all round, as has been said before, so I am voting Chanel. Jolly glad this is only a game, mind… : – )

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