By and  on January 11, 2002

PARIS -- Jean-Paul Guerlain, among the most illustrious names in fragrance, is retiring, WWD has learned.

An announcement is expected to be made by parent house, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, either today or Monday.

Guerlain, 65, is the last family member to exit the storied 174-year-old perfume company. As the great-great grandson of the founder, Guerlain was the creative force behind the company's fragrance development and therefore a vital link with its historic past. He started working there 47 years ago.

Guerlain, who could not be reached for comment at presstime Thursday, stepped down as master perfumer on Wednesday in order to pursue other interests.

"He wants to do other things," said a company spokeswoman, explaining that Guerlain is writing a book called "Carnet de Voyage," or travel notebook, and plans to have it published this year.

"It's a decision we've made together over some time," said Thibault Ponroy, president of Guerlain worldwide.

Ponroy added that Guerlain will not sever his ties completely with the fragrance house but will remain an adviser for future fragrances.

During his tenure at the firm, he created more than 60 scents for Guerlain, including Samsara, Eau de Guerlain, Mahora, Belle Epoque, Nahema and Vetiver, and he introduced the Aqua Allegoria line of scents.

For many who speak of Guerlain, it's his fragrances that have made a strong impression.

"Samsara and Habit Rouge mean a lot to me, as they were very present in my childhood," said Juliette Rapinat-Freudiger, managing director at Escada Beaute Group. "They were the fragrances of my parents and family, they're the fragrances of traditional French bourgeoisie. I grew up with Guerlain fragrances."

"Nahema is a very special scent," said Frederic Malle, the perfumer behind the French fragrance house Editions de Parfums. "It was one of the fragrances that announced the Eighties."

A longtime force in the world of beauty, Guerlain's retirement comes as a shock to some.

"I am surprised [he has retired]," said Christian Courtin, president of France's Groupe Clarins. "I had the feeling that he would never quit. I wouldn't be surprised if he came back, it's impossible for a man who loves fragrances so much not to be creative."

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