The Modern Guerlain – Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Perfume Review

It can’t be easy being one of the most famous and well respected fragrance houses in the world, trying to find your place in a noisy market place populated by rapid-fire designer releases, countless ‘niche’ offerings and a constant stream of thoughtless celebuscents. It is a challenge to stand out amongst all of that white noise.

Guerlain is one of the most venerable fragrances in the world and they have the difficult task of striking the balance between being modern and staying relevant whilst protecting their heritage. It can’t be an easy balance to achieve, and I admire Guerlain for their modern take on classic themes.

On many occasions Guerlain has been referred to as the pâtissier of the fragrance world, and they have on numerous occasions reinvented the sweet pastry vibe of L’Heure Bleue (see Insolence) and La Petite Robe Noire feels like it may be the latest reinterpretation of the 1912 classic.

The first La Petitie Robe Noire (The Little Black Dress) was released in 2009 and the word on the street is that it has been a big success for Guerlain. This year Guerlain released a flanker called La Petite Robe Noire 2 (obviously Guerlains creative team were off on the day the fragrance was named), and it is rumoured that Guerlain will be a total of 5 fragrances in the La Petite Robe Noire Collection.

The Notes

Top: Lemon.
Heart: Rose, Raspberry Macaroon and Liquorice.
Base: Tea, Vanilla, Patchouli and White Musk. [1]

How Does it Smell?

La Petite Robe Noire is treated as one of Guerlain’s ’boutique exclusives’ and it is only sold in Guerlain boutiques and certain high end department stores. Personally, I think Guerlain missed a trick by releasing it as an exclusive with a high price tag, it would have made an exceptional addition to the brands mainstream line, it’s that rare thing – a GOOD fruity gourmand. I also think that the cute name would find more than it’s fair share of fans, that said, La Petite Robe Noire does not conjure up images of the Little Black Dress for me.

Guerlain describes La Petite Robe Noire as ‘Sexy but always smart’ [2] and that sums it up perfectly, this is a modern fruity gourmand that’s fun, slightly ditzy (there’s nothing wrong with a bit of dizziness) but not cloying or stupid.

La Petite Robe Noire opens with a soft sparkly lemon note which fizzles out as quickly as it appeared. What really stands out is cherry, cherry and more cherry! I’ve been searching for a good cherry scent for quite a while and La Petite Robe Noire fits the bill for me, the fizz of the lemon and the slightly synthetic nature of the cherry gives the impression of Cherryade which I LOVE. The cherry is bright red and it feels fuller than the cherry note found in By Kilian’s Back to Black, which is darker and more tobacco-like.

Lurking behind the cherry is a blend of smoky black tea and liquorice. The anise of the liquorice amplifies the cherry facet and the tea adds much needed smokiness to stop La Petite Robe Noire from becoming Cherryzilla.

The pastry facet comes through in the base and it is suitably doughy and bread like. I wouldn’t say that La Petite Robe Noire is as literal a reinterpretation of L’Heure Bleue as Insolence, but the similarities are undeniable, especially within the base. The cherry fades in the far dry down and what’s left is a warm vanilla swirled with touches of tea, patchouli and musk.

La Petite Robe Noire was a surprise love for me, I think I even scoffed at the news of it’s release and was definitely put off by the price, however I tried La Petite Robe Noire at the Guerlain Boutique in EPCOT of all places and knew I had to have it. I had found the cherry(ade) scent that I’d been looking for.

For all of you perhaps put off by the idea of trying La Petite Robe Noire because it sounds like your typical fruity mess, please do, I guarantee that you will be more than pleasantly surprised.


La Petite Robe Noire is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum for approx £95.


This review is based on a bottle of La Petite Robe Noire from my own personal collection.

[1] & [2]

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