What kind of perfume do you select on days when you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders? A triple incense extravaganza that makes you smell like a Gothic church? A quirky niche perfume that requires a degree in philosophy? A complex classic? I love all of those, but on hectic days, sweet and frilly is what I turn to. Lately, La Petite Robe Noire Couture, a sophisticated variation on Guerlain’s original little black dress, is my sweet perfume of choice.
Here, I have to make a little aside. The original La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum released in 2009 was tweaked in 2012, and it’s this reorchestrated version that became a runaway success for Guerlain. It’s a raspberry macaron with a twist of licorice. The sparkling Eau de Toilette was released in 2013, and this year, we have the Couture version. All but the first La Petite Robe Noire were created by perfumer Thierry Wasser.
“Sugary,” said my husband a few minutes after I donned La Petite Robe Noire Couture. He’s right, because Couture has so many stewed raspberries that it smells like warm jam. Peppery citrus tones things down enough to make Couture more palatable, but for the next hour or so, it remains intensely sweet.
What comes next is the best part. After fooling you into thinking that Couture is just another bubbly gourmand à la Miss Dior Chérie, the perfume reveals its darker layers. There is plenty of black licorice, moss, and patchouli. A cloud of powdered sugar melts away to reveal that Couture is related to Lolita Lempicka. Instead of cherries we have raspberries. Instead of leathery tobacco, there is more almond redolent tonka bean. And the entire ensemble is embellished with a big crimson rose.
The perfume lingers for hours, slowly tracing its progression from the raspberry top to the mossy and earthy drydown. Ideally, I would have taken down the sweetness a notch, but I can live with the candied raspberry interlude. At the same time, it doesn’t turn cloying and still has many layers. It’s still La Petite Robe Noire but more grown up. I simply enjoy wearing it.
In other Guerlain news, La Petite Robe Noire 2 will return as Mademoiselle Guerlain in its Les Parisiennes collection.
Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Couture Eau de Parfum includes notes of bergamot, raspberry, rose, almond, patchouli, vetiver, moss, amber, and tonka bean. Available at Guerlain boutiques and counters.