Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum (review)

I've moaned on this blog more times than I care to remember the fact that most mainstream perfumes are often too safe for their own good. Old-school scents (like those from the bold 80s or glamorous 40s) were more potent and divisive. Guerlain experimented with a strong, dissentious scent with La Petite Robe Noire in 2009 – it was strictly limited edition – before relaunching it properly (and slightly reformulated) in 2012.

While it's expensive, it's available on the high street but stands out from the crowd with it's unapologetic, no-nonsense notes which don't so much as tickle your olfactory senses, but rather beat them to a pulp from the very first spray, but they do so glamorously – like being smacked with a velvet glove.  (I apologise for the analogy; it took on a life of its own...)

Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum

Now, this potency – exacerbated by the domineering fruity notes I'll get to in a minute – might be a good or bad thing depending on your point of view. While I was taken aback by the overwhelming top notes, I warmed to it quickly. Others were quite literally repulsed!

The first notes to strike a chord are black cherry, bergamot, red berries and almond with the black cherry dominating proceedings. There are two types of rose in the heart - Bulgarian and Turkish – as well as liquorice and smoked black tea which I adore. The base is made up of aniseed, tonka bean, vanilla, iris and patchouli. It's an unusual, enticing mix for sure.

Bearing in mind the number of strong-smelling notes in the heart and base of La Petite Robe Noire, I think it all comes together very nicely. Once the fruity burst (and it's a dark, luxuriant fruit rather than a vibrant and zesty one) has faded, the scent becomes subtler, more sophisticated and powerful.

This is not a perfume for wallflowers, this is a statement scent and one that should be worn with confidence, panache and a touch of ladylike swagger. And ladylike it most definitely is – it reminds me of Vivien Leigh, in that she – like La Petite Robe Noire – was a classic beauty, feminine but with a hidden strength.

My absolute favourite part of La Petite Robe Noire (which translates as 'the little black dress') is the stunning bottle. I've only got the 30 ml size but it's perfectly proportioned and very pretty. It's shaped like a classic French armoire and even the lid is beautifully designed with a pleasing shape and a fancy decorative ribbon around the neck.

The only side that lets the overall look down is the back, with the black dress print looking like a sticker, but from the front it's perfection, and that's all that matters when it's displayed on your dressing table. While the lid is made of plastic, it fits perfectly and isn't too lightweight, making the whole package feel very premium. This goes some way to justifying the high purchase price.

While perfumes do last longer on oily skin like mine (dry skin allows the scent to evaporate faster) this one lasts longer than most. One application on a few pulse points in the morning keeps me going until dinner by which time I'm either applying more to go out or washing it off to go to bed. It's also important to note that the spritz is quite powerful and a lot comes out per spray, so do be careful not to overdo it.

While I've enjoyed being bold and seductive (although I am still single, so it's not a miracle worker!) I won't be getting another bottle of La Petite Robe Noire. It was an experience, but one I feel no need to repeat.

Perhaps if you're more glamorous than me you might revel in its intensity, but personally it felt out of place on me. Also, it's not cheap by High Street standards, but it's such good quality and so well done I think it justifies the price.

I am absolutely essential and utterly irresistible. I have met with the greatest actresses and charmed the most glamorous of men. I am the chic, elegant and very seductive perfumed creation by Guerlain. I am La Petite Robe Noire.”

50 ml and 100 ml size bottles of the original scent are also available, in eau de parfum, eau de toilette and extract strengths as is one special edition formulation: Couture. There's also shower gel and body milk available, but they're quite expensive! I don't think you need to layer the scent with additional products; it's strong enough on its own.

Vivien Leigh

Stays put ALL DAY long
A bit too strong for me
High quality; very well done
Too much cherry and berry
Looks and feels very expensive
30 ml works out quite pricey


Brand: Guerlain

Size: 30 ml
Price: £44.00 (£146.67/100 ml)

Size: 50 ml
Price: £63.00 (£126.00/100 ml)

Size: 100 ml
Price: £89.00 (£89.00/100 ml)

Manufactured: France

Ingredients: Alcohol, Parfum (Fragrance), Aqua (Water), Limonene, Coumarin, Ethyl-Hexyl Methoxycinnamate, Citronellol, Linalool, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Butylene Glycol Dicaprylate / Dicaprate, Geraniol, BHT, Citral, Benzyl Alcohol, Farnesol, Eugenol, CI 60730 (Ext. Violet 2), Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Hydroxycitronellal, Isoeugenol

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