The Little Black Dress Edit – Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Extrait and Couture Perfume Review
Guerlain’s La Petite Robe Noire is easily the best mainstream feminine to have been released over the last couple of years and it has deservedly been a runaway success for the house. This ode to the little black dress is just so much darn fun that one can’t help but fall for it’s delicious, whimsical charm and it properly schools the competition on how a decent fruity floral should be done.
In celebration of the launch of Guerlain’s new chypre-esque La Petite Robe Noire Couture I have dedicated this week’s Escentual column to a review of each the LBDs in Guerlain’s wardrobe, including; La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Extrait and the brand new Couture perfume. Each of the fragrances in the collection are glamorous, fun and blooming delicious. Click here to read my review of the La Petite Robe Noire Collection. Oh and there’s an amazing competition too…
It’s not often that a perfume turns 100 years old, heck it’s not often that a person hits the big one double zero, let alone a scent. But in a world where there are a cool 1,200 + perfume launches per year, many of which ride the coat tails of some quasi-celebrity or another whose career is most likely going to be short lived, longevity isn’t something that’s guaranteed. So it stands to reason that a perfume which has managed to last for a cool century should be celebrated.
2012 marks the 100th anniversary of Guerlain’s classic fragrance L’Heure Bleue and the house is celebrating in style. To honour such a huge feat Guerlain has released a trio of Thierry Wasser penned limited edition interpretations of L’Heure Bleue; L’Aurore, Le Crépuscule and Le Zénith, the latter of which has been added to the Les Parisiennes line as an Eau de Parfum entitled L’Heure de Nuit.
“I felt something so intense, I could only express it in a perfume.” Jacques Guerlain
L’Heure Bleue took its inspiration from the colour of the sky just before dusk, when the world is bathed in a melancholy blue light. L’Heure de Nuit represents a softer side of this blue hour, when the light is almost entirely faded from the sky and darkness begins to take hold. It encapsulates the placid coolness of the evening evoking feelings of calm rather than sadness.
The clocks went back on Sunday meaning that the days are now getting shorter and the harshness of winter darkness is upon us. Some may view this as a bad thing, after all as the days get colder and darker the mood of the population tends to follow suit, but there is one group of people who love the cold, and that is the fumenerds.
That’s right, as a general rule of thumb (please say if you disagree) fumelovers adore the winter because it means that one can dip into ones perfume wardrobe and pick out the heavy orientals, warm lactonic florals, and best of all, the cosy sweet foody fumes. When it comes to this genre of tasty scents the absolute best come from a little Parisian boutique located at No. 68 Champs Elysees: a patisserie disguised as a perfumery.
I don’t know exactly what it is about some of Guerlain’s offerings that makes them so delicious, perhaps it is the fact they aren’t quite gourmand enough to be edible that gives them the edge. They have that certainly je ne sais qoui that means they simply work and it is a simple truth that nobody quite manages to do confectionary quite like Guerlain.
This review focuses on one of my absolute favourite Guerlain confections and perhaps my one of my favourites from the house in general (but you’ll understand if I do not commit myself to that statement); Iris Ganache – a fragrance that I have silently stalked in Selfridge’s and Harrod’s many times, falling in love a little bit more each and every time, until I had to face the facts and bite the bullet on my very own bottle.
Guerlain’s ode to the Little Black Dress, ‘La Petite Robe Noire’, has a confusing history. First it was released as a pricey boutique exclusive, then there was the sequel ‘La Petite Robe Noire 2′ (and yes it was about as good as you would expect a sequel to be), the first of five planned additions to Guerlain’s wardrobe. Following all of that Guerlain has now decided to relaunch a new version of La Petite Robe Noire as part of its main collection, and in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser has gone in and tweaked things a little bit.
Now, I don’t mean to be smug (OK maybe just a little) but I have always said that La Petite Robe Noire was wasted as a boutique exclusive, strongly believing that it would be a massive hit if it were unleashed into the world of mainstream perfumery, and from the response it’s getting on the counters I think it may just be as popular as I expected.
Taking inspiration from the most classic and versatile pieces of clothing – the little black dress, La Petite Robe Noire is the perhaps the most fun, free-spirited of Guerlain’s many offerings. It comes billed as “the epitome of couture for the skin”  and if you’re wondering what “couture” smells like, the answer is, in true Guerlain style, a big fruity floral gourmand.
“I imagined for Idylle a bouquet of fresh and joyous flowers, a symbol of love” Thierry Wasser 
In 2009 the eyes of the perfume-world were firmly fixed on the doors of No 68 Champs-Élysées in Paris. The world awaited the brand new feminine fragrance from the world’s most important (and arguably the greatest) perfume house – Guerlain. In the previous year Guerlain (now owned by the fashion-gargantuan Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) had appointed Thierry Wasser as their in-house perfumer and he had already started to create exciting fragrances for the house (see Guerlain Homme), but he was yet to conquer the mammoth task of creating a Guerlain feminine.
A new feminine fragrance from Guerlain is always big news and it can’t be easy creating a fragrance for a house that brought Jicky, L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko and Shalimar into the world, but with Idylle it felt like the pressure was REALLY on. Thierry Wasser had the huge tasking of creating a contemporary and modern fragrance that wouldn’t betray Guerlain’s age old heritage and for that reason Idylle is a relatively important fragrance, it signifies a shift within the house, and this shift is highlighted in the tag-line on the above advertising image, which presents Idylle as “The New Guerlain”.
Guerlain describes Idylle (‘Love Dream’) as “Like a mist of petals on the skin, a fresh floral bouquet warmed by the sensuality of chypre”  and if only to emphasise the ideal of ‘The New Guerlain’, Idylle marks a complete break from the house’s tradition of lavish chypres, big florals and Guerlainade-filled orientals.