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Insolence by Guerlain

February 17, 2010

Day 9 of the Heapnose Perfume Diary. Today I’m wearing Insolence by Guerlain.

Hilary Swank isn’t the most obvious choice to be the “face” of a fragrance. Yes she was good as that lez in “Boys Don’t Cry”. And she was also good as that fighting lez in “Million Dollar Baby” and as that flying lez in “Earhart.” Hilary Swank is a lot of things – an Oscar winning actress, a high-earning Hollywood heavyweight, and the proud owner of a rare African parrot. But she’s not exactly feminine. Her own IMDB page admits as much

“For a few weeks before Boys Don’t Cry (1999) began filming, she went out in public dressed as a boy. Many were fooled by the disguise.”

One can only wonder who Guerlain asked before they hit upon the Swank. Diane Keaton? Kofi Annan? Yogi Bear perhaps? Regardless, Swank it was, and, upon reflection, and after a quick glance at the dictionary definition of Insolent perhaps she’s not such a bad choice after all:



Presumptuous and insulting in manner or speech; arrogant.

In fact if you precede this with “Swank is likely to punch you if you are…” then you’ve pretty much got a text book definition of our friend Hilary. Combine this with an ad campaign which Guerlain no doubt would call Fierce and Heapnose no doubt would call Threatening bordering on terrifying and you have yourselves a match made in heaven.

I just wish they’d gone all the way with their campaign. If you’re going to use Swank and you’re going to get her to look a bit moody, then hells bells, let the poor lass dress in her customary overalls…give her a toolbelt. Don’t make her wear pink and stand next to a flower, she looks like a bull about to be let out to pasture.

But what of the fragrance? Insolence is apparently Guerlain’s attempt to break free of the shackles of its “posh” reputation and entice a younger breed of client. Guerlain is the world’s oldest parfumerie – My great grandmother (Jennie) actually used to wear Mitsouko and the traditional Guerlain base notes are still prevalent in the house’s modern fragrances

Your friend and mine, Mimi Frou Frou remarks that the perfume’s true notes are not immediately obvious

“Insolence is seen as a hidden force rather than as exhibited as immediate proof and demonstration of one’s mettle.”

This is true actually, you need to wear it for a good twenty minutes before you can get an accurate read on it – whether or not this is a demonstration of my hidden mettle I couldn’t say. What I can tell you is that the perfume includes hints of orange blosom, rose, sandalwood, raspberry and..erm tonka bean. I know what you’re thinking – thank goodness for the tonka bean. The lady on the Guerlain counter today informed me gravely that she rarely wears any fragrance which doesn’t include a Tonka Bean. I tried to summon an appropriate response that didn’t sound like I was taking the piss…

“Yeah, I know what you mean…”

…was the best I could come up with.

Is it nice? Yeah, it is. It’s different to your standard Clinique or Dior, and with the current rage for all things Vintage, the old fashioned under-belly of the fragrance is actually surprisingly relevant. It’s a bit like a funky talcum powder. I like it. But the best thing about it is Swank.

Usually a fragrance I like will either transport me back to a favourite childhood memory, or forward to a life of charming idyll with Beardy, in which we live extravagantly but happily off the Royalties from the Heapnose book, TV series and 3D IMAX experience. Conversely, Insolence transports me to a parallel universe in which Swank and I live happily together…perhaps on a small-holding in America’s midwest . She’d teach me how to knock up a treehouse from a few bits of wood. I’d show her how to preserve the pears from our orchard. Perhaps we’d have a goat. And a cheeky front door mat which read  “Meet the Swankers” It would be a simple life. But a good one.

Until tomorrow noses

x Heapnose x

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Sara permalink
    February 17, 2010 3:16 pm

    But Jenny, what on earth is a Tonka Bean? I know I could google it, but I’m betting your description would be more colourful 🙂

  2. Zoe permalink
    February 24, 2010 9:26 am

    When I saw you’d reviewed my favourite perfume (I knew it was a mistake telling you what I was wearing that fateful night at the Jam House…) I must admit, I was nervous. What with the whole Swank affair, I couldn’t see it coming off well.
    Still, “Is it nice? Yeah, it is.” is good enough for me.
    As for the Tonka Bean? You’re on your own there, I haven’t a clue either.
    Much brummy love. X

  3. Heapnose permalink*
    February 24, 2010 9:36 am

    Do you know I’ve been wanting to write about La Swank for a while now but just couldn’t seem to find a vehicle for her…Meeting you last weekend was a gift! You inspire me Zoe Allen…Awesome meeting you, hope to see you again very soon. xxxx

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