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.
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.