Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Modele 2 : Perfume Review



Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Few women are happy to have only one little black dress in their wardrobe. I suppose this was the reasoning behind Guerlain’s introduction of La Petite Robe Noire Modèle 2, which follows La Petite Robe Noire originally launched in 2009. At this point, I wish I had an emoticon conveying my general disaffection with flankers so that I do not have to waste space on yet another rant. At any rate, when I originally posted the news of La Petite Robe Noire Modèle 2, the mention of marshmallow seemed to put off quite of us. After all, the original La Petite Robe Noire was such a high-voltage gourmand that smelling it made one hungry for sweets instead of inspiring longings for sartorial elegance. As it turns out, these fears were perhaps unnecessary, though that may not offer much consolation. La Petite Robe Noire Modèle 2 is not a candy-coated, sugary gourmand; instead, it is a rather wan fresh green floral.

Created by Thierry Wasser under the creative direction of Sylvaine Delacourte, La Petite Robe Noire Modèle 2 opens up on a green fig leaf accord spiked with galbanum, which is reminiscent of L’Artisan Premier Figuier. As the violet and orange blossom grow richer, the sharpness recedes and gives way to a soft floral heart. The bright green notes lend the composition a dose of freshness, while the rooty, cold iris serves as a nice counterpoint to the powdery sweetness of orange flower and rose. Yet, La Petite Robe Noire Modèle 2 develops rather anti-climactically. The floral effect grows hazy and pale, while the drydown of soft musks and vanilla rounds out the composition to the point of erasing its distinctive features. It has decent tenacity, but its thin sillage of musky vanilla is unexciting. Overall, it smells like the green floral accord of Annick Goutal Eau du Ciel set over a sheered Guerlinade base.

I found the original La Petite Robe Noire to be a rather predictable fruity gourmand. La Petite Robe Noire Modèle 2, by contrast, is a more elegant floral that shares only a few gourmand touches with the original. However, it is so polished and refined that in the end it does not leave a strong impression. When I went to Bergdorf Goodman to smell La Petite Robe Noire Modèle 2 for the first time, the visiting Guerlain expert insisted that the two Robe Noire fragrances are meant to be layered. The result of layering a sweet fruity gourmand and a fresh green floral produces an effect which is close to Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb. Considering that I would not even spend $75 on a bottle of Flowerbomb, spending $300 ($150 for La Petite Robe Noire + $150 for La Petite Robe Noire Modèle 2) to achieve something similar is hardly appealing. All things considered, I would rather have one perfect little black dress, rather than two ill-fitting ones.

Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Modèle 2 includes notes of bergamot, lemon, galbanum, iris, orange blossom, marshmallow, white leather and musk. It is available from Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Guerlain boutiques.

Sample source: my own acquisition



  • Olfactoria: Too bad.. another disappointment. I did not have any high expectations to start with, but hope dies last, as the saying goes.
    The notes sound lovely (well except from the marshmallow), sigh.
    On the other hand – money saved, but that is a thin comfort, I would rather have an earth shatteringly beautiful new release from Guerlain (for once)! 🙁 February 18, 2011 at 3:51am Reply

  • Maria145: Very helpful and refreshingly frank review! The first one didn’t do it for me, so I didn’t think that Modele 2 would be a winner. Oh well, better for the wallet! February 18, 2011 at 9:43am Reply

  • Marina: So I wonder if there will be several of these in a series (as you said, one can’t have just one…or enough 🙂 LBDs :)). By that logic the next one will be what, a citrus? an oud? 🙂 an amber? February 18, 2011 at 7:39am Reply

  • Linda: An excellent review as ever – thank you! I am really depressed about Guerlain (I was introduced to your wonderful writings first because I wanted to read about L’Heure Bleue. Thankfully I now have three wonderful extraits, and I’ll always treasure them, and I’ll save my money by bypassing this one! February 18, 2011 at 1:24pm Reply

  • axum: The Acqua Allegoria series Lemon and Herb fragrances were among the first I ever wore (excellent in the tropics). Then I smelled Shalimar and was amazed. Unfortunately these are starting to seem like exceptions. L’Instant and Idylle, as well as the later Allegorias (Tiare Mimosa) were so disappointing that I stopped feeling excited about Guerlain. That makes me a little sad. I think they need someone new to reinvigorate their collection. I understand that Guerlain has a strong tradition. For a good artist, this could present an exciting challenge, no? February 18, 2011 at 2:37pm Reply

  • Victoria: I agree, I would rather have a wonderful, breathtaking release from Guerlain. As I smell more of their new releases, my hopes keep getting dashed. It makes me sad, because it is perhaps my favorite fragrance house. February 18, 2011 at 10:00am Reply

  • Victoria: The next one will be La Petite Robe Noire Modèle 3! 🙂 February 18, 2011 at 10:01am Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you, Maria. Yes, in the end, money saved, which is a consolation of sorts! February 18, 2011 at 10:01am Reply

  • Marsi: I don’t like that Guerlain lately has been pushing the idea of layering their newer scents. It’s one thing to make a yummy layering discovery of your own (mine: SDV + Bois d’Armenie), but please, Guerlain, what I wouldn’t give for you to go back to making singularly spectacular fragrances again ….

    Can I just mention that I detest the dress graphic on the bottle and the silly name of it, too? February 18, 2011 at 10:19am Reply

  • sweetlife: Green, floral, and yet to all appearances, still reassuringly pinkified! February 18, 2011 at 10:25am Reply

  • Victoria: I noticed this too, because the moment I would pick up a bottle of fragrance to try at the Guerlain counter, the SA would immediately mention that it can be layered. Like Les Elixirs Charnels, which as I was told, “must be layered!” February 18, 2011 at 10:26am Reply

  • Victoria: This is to alleviate your fears that pink might be a passing trend! 🙂 February 18, 2011 at 10:27am Reply

  • Alice C: Guerlain should (and could) do better with a fragrance with that name… February 18, 2011 at 5:13pm Reply

  • Victoria: I was really depressed too, especially smelling Les Elixirs Charnels, which turned out to be quite forgettable. I am also getting tired of constant flankers and lack of imagination in them (this is not just Guerlain, a general observation that can be applied to many fragrance lines.)
    I also have a bottle of L’Heure Bleue extrait, which I treasure. February 18, 2011 at 1:44pm Reply

  • Victoria: My feeling is that these recent launches somehow lack direction or vision. I liked Idylle and Insolence and L’Instant ok, but they are not particularly memorable or trendsetting fragrances.
    On the other hand, I really enjoy Arsene Lupin Dandy and like the plush darkness of Tonka Imperiale. Plus, I also think that Thierry Wasser is a very talented perfumer, so if all other elements are in place, then I am sure that he can create something special for Guerlain. February 18, 2011 at 3:00pm Reply

  • Victoria: I absolutely agree! The concept is just too good to use on an uninteresting fragrance. February 18, 2011 at 5:43pm Reply

  • ADG: Geez I think LPRN 2 is pretty darn good – better than the first one. It has a wonderful, sharp orange blossom. It’s sure better than the Arsene Lupin duo! March 12, 2011 at 5:54am Reply

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