Guerlain L’Heure Bleue is the embodiment of refinement. When I read that Catherine Deneuve wore it for many years as her signature fragrance, I was not at all surprised. Its luminous orange blossom is beautifully contrasted with the rich plushness of vanilla, iris and incense. L’Heure Bleue’s sillage is among the most beautiful of great classics—bright, radiant, enveloping.
It was also the first Guerlain perfume to use aldehydes (distinctive starchy-metallic notes) to give a lift to the rich floral accord. The carnation, ylang-ylang and anise introduce L’Heure Bleue, but then you become aware of its velvety layers–iris, vanilla, incense, musk, tonka bean. The leitmotif of anise persists through the layers of L’Heure Bleue. The eau de parfum concentration is plusher and warmer than the musk inflected eau de toilette. The extrait de parfum is even more memorable, a mouthwatering confection of orange blossom, iris, and vanilla with a touch of licorice.
L’Heure Bleue has set many trends in its day and it continues to do so. It is one of legendary perfumer Sophia Grojsman’s favorite fragrances, and her Kenzo Kashaya, Lagerfeld Sun, Moon, Stars and Laura Biagotti Sotto Voce were inspired by its structure of plush richness and opulent floral notes. Recent launches like Costume National Scent, Iris Ganache, Insolence and Kenzo Flower pay tribute to L’Heure Bleue.
On Reformulation (added 12/17/10):
Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
The big dose of vanilla and coumarin without a strong animalic note renders the drydown of L’Heure Bleue somewhat unbalanced. For the extrait de parfum, it seemed rather soft spoken. Also missing is the lush, heavy powderiness as well as the striking brightness and anisic sparkle. Overall, though it is still a very lovely, plush blend, it has lost some of its character. Interestingly enough, minus the heavier animalic notes, it evokes the cleaner American take on the floral oriental genre of which L’Heure Bleue is a forerunner (Oscar, Gloria Vanderbilt.) The sillage is good, but the fragrance is not as radiant as it used to be. Still, better this version of L’Heure Bleue than none at all.