When I bought my first bottle of L’Heure Bleue parfum as a teenager, I remember a sales associate, a tall woman with an impeccably coiffed chignon, mentioning that in her opinion Guerlain women fall into two main categories–those who wear Shalimar with panache and those on whose skin L’Heure Bleue smells like hot kisses and orange blossom marshmallows. I have worn my way through the whole Guerlain collection, including Vétiver and Habit Rouge, but L’Heure Bleue and Après l’Ondée are two fragrances that make my heart skip a beat. They are polished and elegant, but at the same time, they feel like a second skin.
This year L’Heure Bleue celebrated its 100th anniversary, and Guerlain and its perfumer Thierry Wasser decided to create a a new interpretation of the classical fragrance in three different concentrations. The velvety Eau de Parfum called Le Zénith eventually ended up as L’Heure de Nuit, and this fragrance is now a part of Guerlain’s Les Parisiennes collection. Why is there a need for another take on L’Heure Bleue, you might wonder, as I did. Don’t we already have Insolence? But for perfume wearers not used to the plush, heavy retro style, even Insolence is too rich.
L’Heure de Nuit dusts all the powder off L’Heure Bleue. It retains its luscious sweetness that reminds me of almond meringue and orange blossom candy, but the fragrance is sparkling and bright. Citrus lends it a tart twist, the orange blossom is green and tangy, and the iris is sheer and soft. Even when the perfume reveals its delicious layer of sweet musk and almond, it still feels fizzy and bright.
L’Heure de Nuit is charming and winsome, a silk summer dress to L’Heure Bleue’s brocade ball gown. It doesn’t have the stately presence of its predecessor, but for such a bright and sparkling scent, this new Guerlain has an excellent sillage. For those who already have L’Heure Bleue and want something brighter and more playful for a change, it would be an interesting alternative. At the same time, if powdery notes in the Guerlain classic put you off, but Kenzo Flower, another L’Heure Bleue child, doesn’t feel curvy enough, you will enjoy the lighthearted aura of L’Heure de Nuit.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for retro glamour or a fragrance that makes a stranger run after you to ask what perfume you’re wearing–as once happened to me when I wore L’Heure Bleue, L’Heure de Nuit may not be the right choice.
Guerlain L’Heure de Nuit includes notes of bergamot, orange blossom, iris, heliotrope, jasmine, rose, musk and sandalwood. 125ml Eau de Parfum/$270. Available at Guerlain boutiques.
Painting: Odalisque with a Turkish Chair, Henri Matisse, 1928, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France, via WikiPaintings, some rights reserved.
Sample: my own acquisition