Finally fulfilling my fragrant destiny*, I’m Nordstrom’s newest Guerlain girl! After three delightful months in the fragrance department, I’ve been transferred to the Guerlain counter. You won’t catch me complaining about selling $54 lipsticks and $455 face creams, but our perfume selection is a little painful. Out of the dozens of iconic fragrances Guerlain has created over the last 200 years, we carry exactly one (Shalimar, of course). So imagine my excitement when I unpacked Terracotta Le Parfum last week, literally doubling our fragrance selection!
Guerlain calls Terracotta Le Parfum, their seasonal summer fragrance as of 2014, “a sun-soaked invitation to explore faraway lands.” It’s supposed to recall those oh-so-French, SPF -10 bronzing oils that beach bunnies of the past wore on their glamorous St. Tropez vacations. “Sun-soaked” or not, Terracotta is a less literal sunscreen fragrance than scents like Bobbi Brown Beach, Bond No. 9 Fire Island, or CB I Hate Perfume At The Beach 1966. Instead, Terracotta is one of those rich, sultry white florals that make me want to evacuate the room.
In all fairness, Terracotta is a very good example of the evacuation-worthy white floral genre! I might not wear Terracotta myself, but I’d happily recommend it to anyone looking for a summer fragrance with a little more depth than usual. It’s more polished than jasmine bombs like Gorilla Perfumes Lust (my nemesis!), and less heavy and thick than those very French white florals we all know and fear. Still a little heavy for the younger crowd, though, who usually declare it “old lady” before racing over to Flowerbomb. (Despite this crushing rejection, my first shipment of Terracotta sold out within the week.)
* Book of Apres L’Ondee, Chapter 8, Verse 2: “And thou shalt know her by her height, which shall be three cubits. Just really, really short, you guys.”
At the mothership, the Paris Guerlain boutique. I’m trusting y’all not to stalk me!
Après L’ondée is probably my most-worn Guerlain. This is because Après L’ondée is more palatable to modern tastes than the other old-school Guerlains, by which I mean that it is much less likely than its contemporaries (Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue, Jicky) to elicit gagging noises from Perfume Muggles. Après L’ondée is a somewhat utilitarian fragrance for me, since it is what I wear when I need an inoffensive perfume. But of course, Après L’ondée is so much more than inoffensive.
Après L’ondée is an exquisitely gentle fragrance, a delicate composition that tenderly evokes the smell of sweet violets soaked in rain. Its anisic top notes evoke its sister fragrance, L’Heure Bleue, but the remainder of Après L’ondée is entirely original. Après L’ondée is said to have been inspired by the Impressionist movement of its era, and it does invoke the same wistful loveliness that one sees in Monet’s water lilies or in Renoir’s lush women. Après L’ondée is frusturatingly elusive: it can only be found in two places in the world (the Paris boutique and Bergdorf Goodman), and it has absolutely zero lasting power. It’s still worth it.
Has anyone tried the Fragrance Finder tool on the Sephora website? It is way too much fun. You tell them a perfume that you love, and based on your tastes they recommend new perfumes for you. At first it seemed gimmicky, but to my surprise, many of their recommendations were spot-on (for example, they recommended Guerlain Shalimar for fans of Editions de Parfum Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur, which is often considered a modern-day Shalimar). Of course, some are a just a little bit off base (lovers of the leathery Robert Piguet Bandit should consider… Bvlgari Rose Essentielle??)
Anyway, when Gucci Envy was suggested as a substitute for both Christian Dior Diorissimo and Chanel 28 La Pausa, I had to try it. Gucci Envy was created by one of my favorite perfumers, Maurice Roucel (the man behind Musc Ravageur and Lolita Lempicka L de Lolita Lempicka), so I was imagining something rich and hyper-sensual. Instead, Envy opens on a sharp, green lily note. Although it’s not what I was expecting, I still liked the opening quite a bit. It struck me as Diorissimo Light, a very pretty lily without the richness of Diorissimo. HOWEVER. After ten minutes, Envy began to smell distinctly soapy. Turns out I hate soapy, especially in the context of a rather powerful scent like Envy (like all Maurice Roucel creations, Envy has a STRONG presence). I can’t say I much enjoyed wearing this.
There is one thing that I love about Envy, and that is the ad campaign. The vast majority of perfume ads have at least some sexuality, but the Envy ads are hilariously over the top. Get a room, y’all!
Gucci Envy is available at Sephora for $50 for 1 ounce, $70 for 1.7 ounces, and $90 for 3.4 ounces.
Disclaimer: I purchased a bottle of Envy from Sephora (which is likely going back).