Guerlain – Insolence

I remember wearing Insolence (EDT) while driving in my car to pick up some friends to go for supper. Supper, for those unfamiliar with the strange ways of the regular Singaporean, refers to the rather full-sized meal that one eats AFTER already having had dinner (the evening one, I know the meaning of dinner varies from country to country), usually anywhere from 10pm – 2 or 3am. To put this in context, we usually have dinner at around 6-7pm, unlike some countries where dinner starts at 9 and finishes at midnight, which was my experience when I lived in a French friend’s lovely home for a vacation! The size of our supper meals sometimes matches up to the size of our dinner meals, and can be anything ranging from nasi lemak (an extremely lip-smacking rice dish cooked in coconut milk and topped with plenty of other ingredients) to a bowl of steaming mee pok (blanched noodles with minced pork, braised shiitake mushrooms and lots of sauce). In short, supper in Singapore is pure gluttony.


Anyway, I arrived at my friends’ house soon enough. The moment one of them entered the car, he commented, “Wow, you smell like an expensive hooker!” Aside from the strange thought that lingered in my mind about how he even knew what an expensive hooker smelt like, I was actually quite pleased. Insolence was a no holds barred bombshell who was unafraid to make her presence known, and I was in a particular phase of my life (perhaps I still am) where I wanted to stand out through smell. In fact, my friend was so overwhelmed by the smell that midway to our supper place, he had to wind down the window to get some fresh air. What a perfume plebeian!


I don’t blame him, though. Insolence can be overwhelming for the uninitiated (heck, even the initiated), with its over-the-top berry attack interlaced with sweet parma violets that are a far cry from the dusty, dry violets that can be found in Guerlain‘s Meteorites. And all of that is combined with its infamous ‘hairspray’ note, which I suspect is really the confluence of various smells, including the carrier alcohol and a blast of oily aldehydes. And even before this main course is finished a calorific tonka bean and vanilla accord crams its way in before anything can be properly digested.

Insolent? Only insofar as berries can get angry. But I love it.


From the above description, one might suspect that Insolence would be too ditzy. Oh, Insolence is ditzy alright, but there’s something very grown up about it that probably stems from the plush Guerlinade base of tonka bean and sandalwood inflected with the mild powderiness of iris. I’ve read that Insolence was perfumer Maurice Roucel’s homage to L’Heure Bleue, and it is not hard to see why. Besides sharing the same plush powderiness as L’Heure BleueInsolence also possesses a hint of anise that in L’Heure Bleue is used to great effect in creating a sense of melancholy, but which in Insolence is employed to infuse a bit of soul into the ditzy diva.

I wasn’t kidding when I said that Insolence was a bombshell. It has monstrous sillage that can be smelt from miles away, and is the sort of perfume that one would wear if one wanted to be noticed. Pair this with the longevity of nuclear waste (I sprayed it on at 11pm and could still smell it on my arm at 3pm the next day), and it’s not hard to see why Insolence really isn’t for some.

But hey, girls just want to have fun. I can absolutely see Cyndi Lauper rocking Insolence with her passion and devil-may-care attitude. On her, it would be brilliant.

Insolence is gluttony at its purest. Just like supper, where you may still be full from dinner and yet can’t help but eat more, Insolence may be too much all at once, and yet you can’t help but want more of it. I guess that makes me a glutton.

~ The Smelly Vagabond


[Review was based on my own bottle of Insolence EDT. I managed to get the limited edition version, which to my understanding is exactly the same juice, but which comes in the same heart-shaped stopper bottle as L’Heure Bleue. I also managed to snag the extrait for the grand total of £12.50 (don’t ask me how), which comes across as plusher and more velvety than the EDT, with the berries being less on the offense and the hairspray note completely non-existent.]

6 thoughts on “Guerlain – Insolence

  1. I have that same bottle (it was just sitting there at a store for cheap and I had to have it). 🙂
    I agree, from the notes, I should hate thus one (like I hate LPRN) but this is one of my favorite Guerlains. I also think you can save a lot of money by getting this instead of FM Lipstick Rose.
    I’m glad to hear that guys love it too!

    • Dear dubaiscents,

      I’m not a fan of La Petite Robe Noire either! I suspect the replacement of red berries with black berries and cherry has something to do with it. And that’s an interesting comparison with FM’s Lipstick Rose, I find Lipstick Rose to be closer to L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Drôle de Rose.

  2. I can’t believe I have never tried this…hold on, I did once, when an SA in Manchester proffered it as a substitute for Apres L’Ondee, which they didn’t stock. On account of the common violets, I assume. It wasn’t a worthy substitute, but it smelt quite pleasant, it’s coming back to me now. Must give it another go when I am next in Boots – I am partial to late night grazing after all…;)

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