Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum - A Popular Cosmetics Note Comes to the Rescue of Fine Perfumery (2014) {Perfume Review & Musings}


For the lover of lush, white floral accords humming of the tropics, the initial approach to Terracotta Le Parfum by Guerlain yields a promising start. The white, petaly accord is both full-bodied and delicate offering a layered feeling despite the familiarity of the accord. How to rework a scent made banal by the fashion of tanning your skin is one of the challenges created by this new composition signed by perfumer Thierry Wasser...

It might seem odd to review this Guerlain fragrance released as a limited-edition for summer 2014 as the drafts of fall can be felt, but what is motivating this writing is simply the fact that Terracotta Le Parfum is back in stock after selling out this past summer, a "victim of its success". We were told then that this was a worldwide phenomenon. I managed to get hold of one bottle, received another one and offered yet another one as a gift. I wore it a little finding it pleasant but did not experience a great pull towards it.

Interestingly enough though, this past summer craze is comparable to the 2007 one which took place for Tom Ford Azurée Soleil, which gave birth next to the annual release of Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess from 2008.

Now, here is colder, grayer weather and here is a good, round, solar bottle of tropical perfume next to me which I meant to review earlier on. Deciding to wear a beachy fragrance off season requires a bit more commitment than, say, drinking a pina colada.

As Terracotta hits the skin, so does a lovely rich blooming effect of flowers bathed in Tahitian Monoï oil. It remains more nuanced and delicate than the skin product itself used traditionally to beautify skin and hair by Polynesian vahines. The eau de toilette features a central accord of tiaré and ylang-ylang, the latter which is presented as an iconic ingredient of Guerlain's - a signature legacy by Jean-Paul Guerlain. To that, you can add a generous dose of fairly animalic jasmine - but it is not overly growling. It adds a touch of old-school dame-like glamour to the composition. I could imagine a fashionable American wearing this in the 1940s. She has a tailored look presenting a cinched waist and is very possibly wearing tweed, which means that it's the cold season. It is her way of playing up contrasts with the tropical scent of gardenia.

Terracotta is versatile enough for a dressed-up look or for a dressed-down one, the latter thanks to its escapist accord.

The perfume however lacks urbane projection and sillage. It wears more like a skin scent. It makes you smell of salty caramel and creamy Tahitian gardenia amplified by oodles of rawish jasmine. Subtler nuances of frangipani succeed in emerging from the lake of drowned flowers when they become a bit green and fruity.The white musks are a bit sharp, but not laundry-like.

The end development is an ode to a fetish Guerlain ingredient - vanilla, laced with tonka - which turns more and more nectar-like, warm, and softly enveloping. It is like wearing creamy vanilla gloves dipped in floral indoles. But then, as stated above, the fragrance thins down instead of ever deepening. If turned into a perfume with sillage, it could become irresistible.

You can try the even more recent Shalimar Souffle de Parfum, which might be an attempt to go in that direction as it exotically showcases a Polynesian mood in the midst of its Oriental, Indian fairy-tale recounting.

Fragrance notes are: coconut, bergamot, tiaré flower, orange blossom, jasmine, ylang-ylang, vanilla and musk.

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