Guerlain L’Heure de Nuit : Perfume Review


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



  • Bee: That’s a beautiful Matisse! And: l’heure bleue never worked for me (as many Guerlains in general, must be the famous guerlainade), but I’ll try this new take on it. December 19, 2012 at 8:50am Reply

    • Victoria: I fell in love with this painting when I first saw it.

      I think that L’Heure de Nuit might work for those who found classical Guerlains too powdery. It’s still quite sophisticated, but bright and fresh. December 19, 2012 at 2:08pm Reply

      • Andrea: When I get time I will tell you more about the NY trip, but I thought I’d mention that there is a Matisse exhibit going on now at the Met. It is not very expansive, but it is certainly a wonderful representation of his work. I had to get through it quickly, as my mother preferred the gift shop!;-). (To be fair, it is a great gift shop!) December 19, 2012 at 3:38pm Reply

        • Victoria: Can’t wait to hear more! And so jealous of your Met visit. I miss that museum. December 20, 2012 at 2:30pm Reply

  • Leah: Perfect review! Since L’Heure Bleue is the closest I have these days to a signature fragrance, I have actively sought all of its incarnations. While I did not think I would necessarily love L’Heure de Nuit, I too found it very enjoyable and playful. If Apres L’Ondee is a watercolor L’Heure Bleue, L’Heure de Nuit is a starter-pack magic marker. December 19, 2012 at 9:14am Reply

    • Alyssa Harad: What a great characterization. Maybe with glitter, too? December 19, 2012 at 11:43am Reply

    • Rachel: LOL! I need a magic marker starter pack L’Heure Bleue version. 🙂 December 19, 2012 at 11:47am Reply

    • Victoria: I was worried that I will find it a pale shadow of L’Heure Bleue, but nothing of the sort. I imagine that those who want something with L’Heure Bleue’s presence will be disappointed, but as a casual alternative, it’s very good.

      And I love your characterization too! December 19, 2012 at 2:10pm Reply

  • nikki: I love your Matisse as well, such beautiful women in repose! December 19, 2012 at 9:23am Reply

    • Victoria: Isn’t she! One of my favorite paintings. December 19, 2012 at 2:10pm Reply

  • OperaFan: Both L’Heure Bleue and Apres L’Ondee were acquired tastes for me, yet once smitten, I cannot imagine not having either in my wardrobe – the latter especially (while the husband loves when I wear the former). I’m very glad this new incarnation is a worthy descendant and will look forward to trying it – a decant should be on its way to me very soon.

    The painting is lovely, dear V, and I think that if Matisse were alive today, he may very well have sought You out to be his model! 🙂 December 19, 2012 at 9:52am Reply

    • Victoria: Please let me know what you think of it when your decant arrives. I think that I have enough taste for a milder L’Heure Bleue thanks to my love for Kenzo Flower and even L’Eau d’Hiver (which is, of course, a take on Apres L’Ondee, but still…) And anything with lots of green, sparkling orange blossom is just so appealing.

      Gosh, what a nice thing to say, considering that Matisse is one of my top favorite artists. By the way, Matisse the Master: A Life of Henri Matisse by Hilary Spurling is an excellent biography, even if you’re not into his work. Very well-researched and well-written. December 19, 2012 at 2:14pm Reply

      • OperaFan: It was a no-brainer – I just looked at the face in the painting and then at yours.
        Thanks for the tip on the book. I will look it up! December 19, 2012 at 2:40pm Reply

        • Jenna: OperaFan, I can see it too! I just looked at V’s larger photo on her about page, and you’re right. 🙂 December 20, 2012 at 5:18am Reply

          • Victoria: 🙂 Thank you for making me smile. December 20, 2012 at 2:31pm Reply

  • Anne Sheffield: Beautiful painting! Beautiful bottle! And it sounds so perfect! How much do i wish i could afford it….. Thank you for making me dream. Anne December 19, 2012 at 10:24am Reply

    • Victoria: We will dream together then! 🙂 The price is in the range where I rarely venture. December 19, 2012 at 2:14pm Reply

  • Apollonia: Intriguing review as usual, Victoria. Love the Matisse and the photo of the gorgeous colored bottle! I bought my treasured L’Heure Bleue over the internet blindly after reading many reviews from its fans, and I wasn’t disappointed. This sparkling little sister sounds so fresh and pretty I must have a sniff, and if Santa is generous with the mad money, perhaps a whole bottle! Ciao! December 19, 2012 at 11:19am Reply

    • Victoria: I hope that Santa is generous then! 😉 I also loved the color of the liquid, sapphire blue. December 19, 2012 at 2:22pm Reply

  • Alyssa Harad: What a great review. This sounds quite lovely and much more suited to me than the real stuff, I’m a little sad to say. (I like my powder on the low dosage side, but I do wear smoky old parfum of Shalimar well on occasion.) December 19, 2012 at 11:45am Reply

    • Victoria: I wore L’Heure Bleue the other day and thought that they don’t make them like this anymore. But yes, those of us who are not used to this kind of presence will find it too much. December 19, 2012 at 2:23pm Reply

  • Rachel: Maybe I will finally get L’Heure Bleue after trying this new take. The original is powdery and sweet on me. December 19, 2012 at 11:45am Reply

    • Victoria: You should try it. But also try Kenzo Flower, if you like L’Heure Bleue’s idea. Flower is a fantastic modern variation. December 19, 2012 at 2:24pm Reply

  • Kathy: I’m so sad I’ve never been able to party with either of these Guerlains. I just sniff and wait for a glimpse into what others get and I sit still waiting wondering what is wrong with my nose? Mitsouko I love, Shalimar I appreciate, but these other stalwarts I simply can’t smell. I won’t give up though, every so often I get another sample with that same hope that maybe by now my brain will have sniffed enough scents to allow me to see what the rest of you are talking about. December 19, 2012 at 11:47am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s ok though. They weren’t meant to appeal to everyone. There are many classics that I simply don’t get, and that’s ok with me. I keep samples on hand to revisit time to time though. December 19, 2012 at 2:25pm Reply

  • Esperanza: Loved reading your review and I regret now not participating in a split. But I still have my own LHB edt. The way you describe this edition of Le Heure Bleue it reminded me of Shalimar Initial L’eau which adds some brightness as well although being very different from Shalimar Le Original. December 19, 2012 at 11:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, that’s a good comparison. Although L’Heure de Nuit is more sophisticated (and I would say more niche) than Shalimar Initial. I like Shalimar Initial too, but L’Heure de Nuit I would wear often, if I had a bottle. For now, my decant will suffice. December 19, 2012 at 2:27pm Reply

  • George: I ask this seriously (as I know you are a person who might know): when did the Guardian range get so flankery?; is this something that extends back to the days of Aime Guerlain (was there a ten year Jicky flanker, or Jicky light flanker that came out shortly afterwards), or either of the other two Guerlains (when the active perfumers) or is this just a recent development?

    I am going to smell this, to see what it is like, but already with the notes described, it seems like a version of L’Heure Bleu that apologises for itself, which for me takes away the point of the original perfume. If I were to note my favourite ‘Guerlain’ flanker, it would probably be Musc Ravageur (or Insolence if I had smelt it), as the inspiration from Shalimar seems clear; but it is also a very modern reading (i.e. it doesn’t smell as old fashioned as Shalimar does). However, there is nothing about MR that apologises for the perfume by which it was inspired. I wish Guerlain’s flankers were more like that.

    It’s hard to see Guerlain as the vital force in perfumery that it once was for a period of over a hundred years; I think that for one it should stop releasing products that are either marketed or simply are apologies for the great perfumes of its past. I also think (to be truly be the force it once was) it needs a great in-house perfumer, capable of producing truly original scents, and I don’t think it has that in Thierry Wasser. December 19, 2012 at 12:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: I know that it’s easy to blame Thierry Wasser, but I know that he’s an excellent perfumer capable of fascinating work. Unfortunately, the way things are done within the house are beyond his influence. At least, that’s my sense. Yes, the house will lose its identity soon enough if they keep going this way.

      I like L’Heure de Nuit though, and I think that it has its place, but my issue with Guerlain overall is that they are not creating new classics. December 19, 2012 at 2:30pm Reply

      • George: I must admit I’m partially going on the BBC documentary series (have you seen this?), which covered Guerlain, Hermes, Grossmith, and C Broesius lines, and had substantial footage of (Jean-Paul Guerlain, Thierry Wasser, Ellena and Christopher Broesius, and the people behind the Grossmith line, and Roja Dove). The programme was informative about all those brands and how they function, and accordingly, I did not come away with the impression that Thierry Wasser was either functioning as an artist in residence for Guerlain, or was an individual capable of producing new classics for them, based on my personality assessment of him. Ellena, by contrast (although I find his style a double-edged sword) seemed much more to have that role with Hermes, and his output for them over recent years, though all very much of his style, is perhaps indicative that Guerlain should have sought to create the same sort of set-up in-house, with the right perfumer. (I haven’t read the Perfect Scent, which I understand might throw a completely different light on the Hermes set-up.) December 19, 2012 at 5:01pm Reply

        • Victoria: It’s a different set up, that’s for sure. JCE has much more influence, and ultimately, more control over the creative process. December 20, 2012 at 2:32pm Reply

  • CM: I LOVE this one! I was able to get an early decant and it shot straight to my FB list. I love the hints of licorice that peak through. It’s as if L’Heure Bleu and Apree L’Ondee got together and created a ‘Love Child’ because I get aspects of both. December 19, 2012 at 1:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: That is another great characterization. There are some beautiful touches woven into this perfume. December 19, 2012 at 2:32pm Reply

  • J: Tempted by the description of hot kisses & orange blossom marshmallows.

    {& Matisse’s Odalisque}. x December 19, 2012 at 1:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: I was too, when she mentioned it. 🙂 December 19, 2012 at 2:32pm Reply

      • Daisy: That line definitely made me want to go back and revisit L’Heure bleue. December 23, 2012 at 2:02am Reply

  • Sujaan: Seeing the Matisse reminded me of one of my favorite poems by Mohja Kahf. She has a number of poetry books, E-mails to Scheherazad is wonderful. One of my favourite poems in it is Thawrah des Odalisques at the Matisse Retrospective. It’s a feminist perspective on the objectification of the Oriental women in the Odalisques. It’s very funny.
    I look forward to trying the original L’Heure Bleue and this new one. December 19, 2012 at 1:45pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for this recommendation! I just googled Mohja Kahf. Something to add onto my reading list. December 19, 2012 at 2:45pm Reply

  • Merlin: I can’t wear Shalimar but I do have L’Heure B EDT, which I wear occasionally. Primarily what I get from it is clove (carnation) and powder. I don’t get too much orange blossom and also I find it a cool frag so I’m not sure I get hot kisses either. But now I’m thinking I better go retry it…
    Also, I get quite a bit of powder in Kenzo’s Flower, though a different type of powder, maybe? December 19, 2012 at 3:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: I agree, it’s different, more metallic, drier. So, I notice that many people put off by the sweeter powdery notes don’t mind the powderiness in Kenzo Flower. December 20, 2012 at 2:33pm Reply

  • annemariec: There is a ceremonial aspect to the presentation of this perfume, not surprisingly. Big bottle, ribbons, bulb atomiser. This sort of old fashioned presentation seems a little at odds with the style of perfume. Is it a perfume that Guerlain hopes people will actually wear, or is it there as a symbol, a way of marking a moment in history?

    I guess the sales of Insolence and Petit Robe Noir allow Guerlain to write off the losses they might make on L’Heure de Nuit.

    Is the juice blue, by the way, or the bottle? Looks like the juice. December 19, 2012 at 5:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: I think that they simply chose the same packaging as the rest of Les Parisiennes. But yes, you’re right, it doesn’t quite fit. Plus, Les Parisiennes is not exactly the most widely distributed collection. Perhaps, they are simply doing an experiment similar to what they’ve done with La Petite Robe Noire–first, launched in the exclusive line and then in the more commercial range. December 20, 2012 at 2:54pm Reply

  • Jenna: I agree with your description. I participated in a split and I just received my decant. This L’Heure Bleue interpretation is just right for me. Not too sweet, not too heavy. It lasts for hours on me. December 20, 2012 at 5:16am Reply

    • Victoria: It lasts surprisingly well. Somehow at first it seemed so bright and sparkling that I didn’t anticipate how well it will linger. December 20, 2012 at 2:55pm Reply

  • Maria: I already can tell that I would love it. Unfortunately, our Guerlain counter doesn’t carry the exclusives. 🙁 December 20, 2012 at 5:46am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s too bad. Some Guerlain counters carry Les Parisiennes, but not all do. December 20, 2012 at 2:56pm Reply

  • Samantha: It always made me sad that L’Heure Bleue hates my skin. But hope springs eternal and I’ll be trying L’Heure de Nuit anyway. December 20, 2012 at 9:06am Reply

    • Victoria: I definitely recommend trying it, if that’s the sweet, powdery drydown is the reason you didn’t like L’Heure Bleue. December 20, 2012 at 2:57pm Reply

  • ralu: I’m disappointed that this is not available at Saks in Boston or anywhere in Boston for that matter. If they already have a counter, wouldn’t it make sense to at least have a tester and allow customers to order the fragrance? Why make this available only in certain stores? It doesn’t make sense to me and I feel that in the end it hurts the company. December 20, 2012 at 9:56am Reply

    • Victoria: Saks, as many other retailers, are notorious for carrying small stocks and shipping perfume back to the manufacturers if they don’t sell. A very unfortunate development. December 20, 2012 at 2:58pm Reply

  • carole macleod: I look forward to trying this. I found LHB difficult at first: too much. Too thick, too many scents-it was sensory overload for me. But i smelt it again, years later, and was almost hypnotized by the orange blossom and incense notes. I could not stop smelling it. I wear it and love it. It does not garner any compliments from coworkers, but the only thing they ever commented on favourably was a woman who smelt of a cherry sort of air freshener. they thought she smelt great-I didn’t like the smell-like air freshener trying to cover cigarettes and gum. Smells are subjective, to be sure! December 20, 2012 at 8:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can understand this. It’s one of those fragrances that really a love or hate perfume. The best, in other words, because it elicits such strong emotions. December 23, 2012 at 6:21am Reply

  • Elizabeth: Hot kisses and orange blossom marshmallows! Jealous jealous jealous! I am more the Shalimar type, I’m afraid. And yet I love Apres l’ondee too. I must be some sort of hybrid Guerlain woman. December 22, 2012 at 5:28am Reply

    • Victoria: Me too! I wear Habit Rouge as well. 🙂 December 23, 2012 at 6:22am Reply

  • Henrique Brito: I loved your take on L’Heure de Nuit Victoria. I was surprised to see your comment on the marshamallow aspect of L’Heure Bleue, because i get a kind of musky marshmallow aroma on L’Heure de Nuit. It’s really lovely, airy, discreet, elegant. I call Insolence the party grandaughter of L’Heure Bleue and now i see L’Heure de Nuit as the grandaughter who is part of the high-society. (btw, Apres L’Ondee and L’Heure Bleue are also two of my favorite Guerlains and i dream of having a vtg parfum bottle of both someday…) December 22, 2012 at 2:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: A fun way of thinking about it, Henrique. She’s lighthearted, but not an airhead. December 23, 2012 at 6:23am Reply

  • eminere: That is one stunning bottle. December 23, 2012 at 12:21am Reply

    • Victoria: The blue liquid really makes for a beautiful presentation! December 23, 2012 at 6:23am Reply

  • Daisy: Although I appreciate L’Heure bleue as smelling elegant and classic, I can never really bring myself to give it a try on my skin specifically because it is so powdery. However, the hot-kisses-and-orange-marshmallows line is now buzzing around in my hot little brain and I can’t shake it! Thanks, Victoria 🙂

    I just smelled L’Heure de Nuit the other day at Bergdorf’s and was pleasantly surprised how fresh it was on the blotter. And the juice is such a beautiful blue color. Very appealing. Maybe I will go back and comparison test. I have two arms afterall 🙂 December 23, 2012 at 2:07am Reply

    • Victoria: This reminds me of my first day at the perfumery lab. I received a call from one of the evaluators, “Do you have skin? Do you have both arms?” I was thoroughly confused. She only meant if I had both arms unperfumed and if I could be their “human blotter” for a meeting (since all perfume mods are tested on skin). December 23, 2012 at 6:25am Reply

  • Tijana: Hi Victoria – I am contemplating purchasing L’Heure de Nuit, but I need a second opinion before I splurge due to some incosistencies in how this fragrance evolves on me (I tried it at least 2 dozen times so far…) 🙂

    There are days when smokey woods come through in the drydown akin to Bois d’Armenie – which I am not very fond of. But then there are days when I absolutely do not smell these… Did you notice something similar, or is it just me (maybe due to different samples I tried???). I love the top and middle notes very much and the base notes when this does not come through, but I am hesitant due to the fact that on a few wearings I smelled this…

    Let me know your thoughts. Is my mind / nose just playing tricks on me? Thanks! July 31, 2014 at 9:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Hmm, I get some of it too, but I’d say that if it doesn’t evolve well, don’t buy it. Wait till you find something more beautiful and that works perfectly day to day. Fall launches should bring us lots of interesting scents! 🙂 July 31, 2014 at 7:01pm Reply

      • Tijana: Sounds good and I agree! Thank you <3 August 1, 2014 at 10:02am Reply

      • Tijana: Hi Victoria,

        I ended up getting this one after all and I am soooo glad I did. I went back to the store a few more times and tested more and somehow the smokiness I smelled the first few times from a decant was not there – so I suspect my decant was tainted possibly from a bottle that housed another fragrance before or something similar… Anyhow, I LOVE this. I have not been taking it off since I got it 🙂 It is up there at the top of my Guerlain faves 🙂 February 8, 2015 at 9:37am Reply

        • Victoria: It’s like a plush cashmere wrap. I also enjoy this perfume, although I’m still nursing my large sample. February 9, 2015 at 7:48am Reply

  • alana sullivan: On smelling my first sample, I thought, this is loathsome. Spritzed it again. Same thing.

    After reading more and more, I ordered another sample from a different vendor.

    Both allegedly vintage.

    OMG, I am in love! I went through this 3ml sample in two days, on my skin and on a silk scarf.

    A 10ml sample on it’s way.

    But I may as well just buy a whole bottle.

    It’s going to sit right next to Mitsuko!!! April 6, 2021 at 11:54pm Reply

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