I’ve always been a big fan of Guerlain’s La Petite Robe Noire. When it originally launched as a boutique exclusive way back in 2009, I remember saying that the esteemed French house was missing a trick by not releasing the scent as a mainstream launch. It’s such a fun, fruity and frivolous scent, with oodles of depth and character, that it was almost a shame for it not to have a wider audience. Guerlain obviously felt the same, and in 2012 they remixed the juice slightly (giving it a bit more fizz) and unleashed La Petite Robe Noire all over the globe. It has been a huge success.
Of course, with huge success comes flankering, and lots of it. Since 2012, we’ve seen the launch of Eau de Toilette, Extrait and Couture versions of Guerlain’s famous garment, and all have been pretty good (especially the Extrait and Couture). This summer, Guerlain are extending their wardrobe of fragrant black dresses even further with La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraîche (subtitled as ‘Ma Robe Pétales’), a much fresher and greener take on the cherry-rose signature of the original. Click here to read my review of this latest flanker in my Escentual column this week.
“The sickness of making flankers every five minutes is very upsetting, but if I don’t want to get kicked out for not doing my job, I have to do it”
– Thierry Wasser ¹
Thierry Wasser, in-house perfumer at Guerlain, recently likened the penchant brands have for creating numerous flankers to a “sickness” and when looking at the numerous incarnatons of the house’s flagship fragrance, Shalimar, it’s easy to see why. In the last five years we’ve seen seven, that’s right, seven new Shalimar flankers ranging from the sublime Parfum Initial and Ode à la Vanille to the less interesting Parfum Initial L’Eau, and on occasions the brand has stretched the Shalimar association pretty thin.
With their latest flanker, Shalimar Souffle de Parfum, the link has become so emaciated it may have finally snapped. Sniffing the flanker, it’s pretty difficult to pick out exactly how the two fragrances are alike. Shalimar is a grand dame of the oriental world, showcasing bubbling bergamot, smoky-sweet vanilla powder and tons of heavy resins. Souffle de Parfum on the other hand is, well, the complete opposite of that. It may not be worthy of the Shalimar name, but does that mean that it’s a bad fragrance?
Guerlain describe Souffle de Parfum as a “gently perfumed caress” ² and a “breath of extreme sensuality” ², with the ‘Souffle’ here referring to the French word for breath, as opposed to anything culinary-related. It has been designed to celebrate the lighter facets of Shalimar, specifically focus on the shining citrus that famously graces the Oriental Queen’s top notes, and the plush vanilla that sits at her core. In that respect, Souffle de Parfum succeeds, merging these two themes together to create something that may, or may not be Shalimar, depending on how one looks at it.
For my Escentual column this week, I have had the pleasure of reviewing the latest fragrance from Guerlain – the new masculine offering ‘L’Homme Idéal‘. The fragrance is accompanied by the tagline; “The ideal man is a myth. His fragrance, a reality” and is already dividing opinion amongst the perfume loving community – some love it and others see it as a commercial and unimpressive offering from the house. To read my in-depth thoughts you can click here to head on over to Escentual and peruse my review, but I will say now that I’m definitely in the ‘yes’ camp when it comes to L’Homme Idéal.
Created by Thierry Wasser, Guerlain’s in-house perfumer, L’Homme Idéal strikes me as a more commercial offering for the house, yes, but it’s also excellently crafted, as one would expect, and grounded within the rich gourmand heritage that is oh so very ‘Guerlain’. Is it the ideal masculine fragrance? Well as I say in my review, the answer is entirely subjective, and whilst it isn’t as distinct as Habit Rouge or even Homme, Wasser’s first masculine for the brand, it is a robust masculine with a cheeky feminine twist. What’s not to like?
As I’ve reviewed the fragrance over at Escentual (who are going a bit L’Homme Idéal mad for a fragrant takeover), I thought I’d do something a little bit different here and share with you four things I enjoy about the fragrance. So gents (and ladies, because there are no gender barriers here), stick the kettle on, grab a slice of cake (always mandatory), sit back and enjoy my little fragrant guide to the very latest offering from the most important fragrance house in the world.
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.