Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire EDP Velours is a new perfumey invocation of the ideal French woman: she is Parisian (a prejudice always served fresh by the fashion sphere); very tall; with a swan neck; slim as can be and ready to take off, so light she is; leggy - and she loves to wear very short skirts up-thigh together with large, elegant hats, while sauntering around without a care in the world except being young, foolish - and thinking about doing her nails, probably...
If you happen to be on a Parisian street, good luck meeting its match in reality. But one can dream. And if dreaming ideal shapes and style designed in the eyes of couturiers is not enough, you can wear the fragrance that sells this ideal representation as an export product from the capital city of France. If yesterday, you ought to have smelled like a fur coat, today you can smell like a sophisticated fragrant tea from Mariage Frères. And that's okay.
The latest addition to the La Petite Robe Noire library is what you might call a "faithful flanker" of its sister scents: you can spot the olfactive lineage easily. But it comes with a number of less than anecdotal twists.
From Black Cherry to Black Licorice
The blackness of the LBD edp, originally interpreted with a black cherry note, has been revisited. The cherry accord remains, smelling profusely jammy in the beginning, but it is now accompanied and prolongued by an unmentioned black licorice accord. Within a few minutes, voluptuous cherry jam gives way to a dry scent, both sweet and woody thanks to a twig of licorice steeped in black tea.
Emphasis on the Ambergris
Another change of olfactive mood appears in the shape of a pronounced note of ambergris, also unmentioned, rather than just the roundness of amber and musk. If amber is warm, glowing and vegetal, ambergris is solar, dirty and animalic. Here it meshes with the black licorice note to yield an overall main impresssion of dry heat. The woodiness of an old-fashioned treat gets amped up by the treatment. You could almost hear wood logs crackling in the fireplace with bits of licorice diffusing their scent.
Iris and Orange Blossom to Sweeten the Brew
In another homage to the olfactive heritage of the house - and going back to the turn of the 20th century, perfumer Thierry Wasser has inserted the unmistakable pairing of iris / violet and orange blossom, so defining of L'Heure Bleue. If the cherry note is, in and of itself, a tip of the hat in the direction of the cherry-cough-syrup note found in L'Heure Bleue, La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum Velours continues to play with choice excerpts from this old tome. The olfactory mood even starts smelling bluish. You are smelling violets pressed inside an ancient leatherbpound book once handled by feminine perfumey gloved hands - and the narrative is no doubt about sea travels, monsters and wonders in distant lands. You could smell or not a reference to Eau des Merveilles by Hermès for this accent put on the seaside warmth of seasoned ambergris.
La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Velours is in a subtle fashion an updated version of L'Heure Bleue, more so than the other flankers because, as its name "velours" meaning "velvet" indicates, its texture is closer to the blue, dusky ancestor famed for its floriental, vaporous opulence. The violet / iris create a truly velvety effect. There is this general sensation that everything is in a hush-hush mode, as when you walk on a carpet so thick that the sound of your footsteps gets buried deep inside the wool with echoes of silence across a room only. It is however a descendant of L'Heure Bleue kissed by the sea and the fashion of tanning by the seaside. It does not smell marine at all in the sense of being an aqua fragrance, but the ambergris makes the mind travel to the ocean. A hint of violet candy adds a touch of levity.
This is a dark fruity-floral with a certain heft borrowed from tradition and made up to date to embrace a solar mood. It is like a ray of sunshine in a dark cup of tea smelling of a mix of rose, cherry, almond, violet, licorice and ambergris, with hints of sea voyages.