UPDATE: MONDAY, NOON-ISH: Did everyone notice Patty’s post from Saturday with her MDCI winners and her Etat Libre Sample Special she’s running until tonight? Uh, me neither. I think she’s shy about pimping her decants on the blog … so let me do it for her. Have you been in there? Lock up your Visa, honey. Since the last time I looked (what, last week?) she’s got the Juozas, Shalini, Doblis (!)… anyway, on to the post, but take a peek into her store if you haven’t done so recently, up there in the upper right hand corner of the blog.
If Guerlain Mitsouko is sublimely elegant, and Apres L´Ondee is divinely tender, then L´Heure Bleue is profoundly evocative. Notes (via Osmoz) are: Bergamot, anise, carnation, orange blossoms, rose, tuberose, heliotrope, iris, vanilla, musk.
While L´Heure Bleue shares a number of notes with Apres L´Ondee (including anise, rose, violet, and iris), the driving force behind L’Heure Bleue is the cherry-almond smell of heliotrope. I’ve noticed how little love and/or attention L’Heure Bleue gets relative to Apres or Mitsouko (hence this post). I’m also surprised by the number of people who appreciate Apres and can´t stand LHB, and I´m guessing (extrapolating from the reviews on Basenotes and MUA) it´s the heliotrope that does them in. If POTL renders itself as entirely Play-Doh on some people, clearly L´Heure Bleue comes across as a too-sweet, powdery mess on others.
L´Heure Bleue has a rush of bergamot at the opening, and a little anise (prompting the mind´s association with Apres), but from the start it´s a much heavier, sweeter, denser scent than Apres. The rose and tuberose chime in (sweetness and light!) and then cue the violins, here´s the heliotrope and the iris together, and whether you find that spicy, almond-ish smell, swaying back and forth into cherry-vanilla, divine or horrible is impossible to know until you try it.
I´m lucky enough to have a sample (thanks, Co-Skank-mistress!) of the parfum, which, like every Guerlain parfum I´ve tried, takes the idea of the EDP, makes it richer, and smoothes all the edges off. In Guerlain, I don´t always consider that an improvement. L´Heure Bleue parfum does have the advantage of moderating the blast of heliotrope into a tighter fragrance, more concentrated on the other florals (particularly iris), rendering it both smoother and spicier than the EDP. It´s stunning. But it´s also expensive and hard to find (although NYC Bergdorf has it and most of the others in parfum) and, really, the EDP is well worth owning.
L´Heure Bleue translates as “the blue hour,” the time between daylight and darkness that can be transfixingly beautiful, if you put down what you´re doing and go outside to enjoy it. In the long, late summers of my childhood the Blue Hour seemed stolen, being well past our normal bedtime. The ripe smell of sultry Washington evenings, indoors and out, captivated me. I loved chasing the first fireflies in the early dark serenaded by the sound of crickets and the occasional cicada. My mother was an indifferent gardener, but we had several highly fragrant, spicy tea roses that are sadly long gone, and huge beds of nicotiana, pollinated by moths, a scented wonder in the dark. The powerful smell of those flowers at dusk, and the sight of them in the darkness – the blood-red roses blooming black, the nicotiana ghostly white – added to the mystery. Maybe I was just a weirdo, but all of it together in the gathering night, with the sound of bats chasing insects overhead, and the smells, and the changing colors in the deepening darkness, filled me with a pleasure so intense it felt illicit.
During the day I was a bookish, clumsy tagalong in a neighborhood teeming with mostly older kids, all of us shooed outside by our mothers to play. I had a sense of myself as a terrible actor in some play with a complex plot which perpetually escaped me. The Blue Hour was when I began to fit into my own skin, to see and hear things differently, to have an understanding that, out there in the gloaming, something magical was waiting for me. The dark was beautiful, and I felt more beautiful in its presence.
To some people, L´Heure Bleue is a melancholy smell, and I can see it. What is more symbolic than the quiet, inevitable approach of darkness? But to me the smell conjures the vague, sweet promise of mysteries to come.
Blue Hour, Mary Maginnis, 2003, www.antreasiangallery.com
A note on the concentrations, because I can´t stop myself. If you´re sniffing Guerlain for the first time, please, please do not smell the EDTs. With the exception of Jicky, the Guerlain EDTs are such pale, sad, bitter semi-dupes of the stronger concentrations I almost wish they´d do away with them, particularly since the EDPs can be found online relatively easily.