High on the 68

guerlain-cologne-du-68First, let me announce the winner of the Benefit sample set –  Pattie!   Contact Us with your address, thanks.

Well – the weather is warm, sort of, and I think we’re really ready – in spirit if not in body – for a roundup of your favorite cologne and cologne-type scents.

All this was brought home to me when I savored an armload of Guerlain’s Cologne du 68, which I’ve given short shrift to, only because if you actually see it on a counter somewhere, it’s standing between, say, Sous le Vent and a bee bottle of Vetiver Pour Elle, and oh, look! here’s Bois d’Armenie and Derby and some other interesting stuff you hardly ever see and whose dumb idea was those bulb atomizers blah blah blah and I end up leaving the counter 45 minutes later with my nose hairs singed, and the 68 has long since disappeared from my mind.

I was in a cologne-ish mood, though, recently, so I sprayed Guerlain Vetiver Pour Elle all over one arm and the 68 on the other.  Pour Elle was the one I was really interested in, and … eh.  I don’t know.  Luca Turin’s pretty wild for it, it’s a more floral vetiver, but my vote for the money is the original (men’s) Vetiver, which LT describes as “reference vetiver” in the Guide.  I’m sure many of you have vetivers you like better, but I am not the Vetiver Queen and I find Guerlain Vetiver to be a pretty perfect summer refreshment.  Added bonus: you can pick it up online and at your local discounters.

But the 68 was the one that really swept me off my feet.  I’d put it in the cologne-plus category – something slightly more interesting and long lasting than the bergamot-petitgrain-laden tradition.  Allegedly its name comes from its 68 notes and the store address on the Champs-Elysees, and I have no idea how those 68 notes stack up to the number of notes in a “regular” cologne, but it smells more complex to me.  There’s a list of notes on the front of the bottle (in French), and the most comprehensive list I’ve seen is on Now Smell This, so here’s my link to Robin’s review.  It used to be terrible distribution, I think only the store in Paris?  But the price is cheaper now (smaller bottle) and you can find it online for $100.  The bottle itself is kind of cool, isn’t it?  It’s handsome and looks a little out of place with the retro styling of most of the rest of the line.  It reminds me a little of the Caron Reglisse bottle, although it’s not as tall.

Notes via NST are bergamot, green mandarin, citron, clementine, cedrat, blood orange, limette, grapefruit, basil, fennel, star anise, lavender, bay leaf, cypress, elemi, thyme, myrtle, bigarade, mandarin petitgrain, lemon petitgrain, pear, violet leaves, ivy leaves, gentiana, sap, blackcurrant, freesia, lily of the valley, hazelnut leaf, cyclamen, cardamom, coriander, black pepper, pink pepper, nutmeg, ginger, jasmine, frangipani, magnolia, orange blossom, peony, rose, carnation, ylang ylang, lychee, fig, blackberry, immortelle, lentisque, opoponax, amber, benzoin, vanilla, cistus, heliotrope, iris, tonka bean, sage, musk, patchouli, agarwood, cedar, sandalwood, vetiver, vegetable musk, praline, myrrh and moss.

The first two minutes of 68 are a little warmer and sweeter than I’d expected.  I’m standing there thinking, yeah, this is nice … oh, really nice … you know, about as good as it gets mentally for cologne.  Then really nice moves on into legitimate fragrance territory, by which I mean I start mentally evaluating 68 as more than something I’d throw on when the thermometer reads 92 and I want to run away from home.  It goes through several phases – the citrus/sweet top, an interesting fruity interlude that made me think of lychee, then a couple rounds of anise, then a really great nutty section that made me think of sesame but must have been the hazelnut.  At that point I was really enjoying myself, and we hadn’t even gotten to the immortelle or the drydown that, on me, goes on approximately forever and smells equally of musk and cut grass with a tiny nibble of almond macaron (the praline?)

There’s always a place in my heart and my fridge for a big ol’ medicinal bottle of 4711, and I am pretty sure that somewhere on here in the past I basically said, hey, how many colognes does anyone need? Just as some of you are testing new waters (florals! oud!) and feeling the love for the first time, I’m really re-evaluating my relative lack of respect for cologne scents.   I think this and Escale a Portofino are at the top of my list right now (speaking of another cologne-plus scent), and I definitely need to retry that Mugler, I know a bunch of you are nuts over that.

Also, I think it’s terrible that Dior seems to have killed off all their giant colognes in local stores (Blanche, Noire, Bois D’Argent) – where did they go?   Did I miss the memo about them being discontinued or something?  Does anyone still see them around?  What’s your favorite cologne?

  • bella says:

    I love the Chanel Eau de Cologne, H’Adrian, Dior’s Escale de Portofino, and the 68! Such great light and airy scents! I wish the Chanel lasted longer! I live in San Francisco, where it rarely gets warmer than 60–all year long!!!

  • Karen A says:

    Another vote here for Chanel Eau de Cologne.

    About the elusive Diors: I picked up a bottle of Bois D’Argent recently for a friend at the Dior Homme boutique in Beverly Hills. The other giant colognes were there too.

    Dior Homme
    315 N Rodeo Dr
    Beverly Hills, CA 90210
    (310) 247-8003

  • Tara C says:

    I love Eau Fraiche, I am treasuring my vintage bottle as I’m sure it’s been de-somethinged too (not that I’ve smelled the new one lately). I just bought one of the Dior colognes last month at Printemps in Paris so it’s still available over there at least. My favorite summer scents are Eau Fraiche, Mandragore and Asprey Purple Water.

    • March says:

      Hey, great list! I like all of those, and you know I lurve my Mandragore. That’s an anytime scent for me.

  • Kim says:

    hmm… I with Disteza on this since I’m the one with the crazy skin on which L’Heure Bleue is divine in the heat and humidity of summer. I swear it smells totally different in the heat, much more anise, almost chypre-like. yah, yah, yah, I know. 🙂

    68 is nice but kind of weak on me in comparison. Will have to try the Vetiver in the summer – tried it in the winter and didn’t much like it but maybe it needs heat too ;))

    • March says:

      I’ll try LHB in the heat, but I swear I think y’all almost killed me with that LAST summer. And I truly think vetiver is best in summer, but that’s me.

  • Disteza says:

    Um, since I’ve been treating Sous le Vent and Tutrle Vetiver as colognes I probably am not the intended audience of this post. 😉

    I tried 68, and it was not so memorable on me. Nor was Vetiver Pour Elle. I tried Sycomore the same day, and that blew everything else out of the water.

  • sara says:

    My favorite is MPG’s Eau Pour Le Jeune Homme! Perfect for summers here in the Nation’s Swampitol!

  • Marsi says:

    I’m enjoying the new L’Occitane The Bergamot. I don’t usually go for their scents, but as an Earl Grey devotee, I’m getting a little thrill out of this one. I haven’t sniffed 4711 in about 25 years and NEED to.

  • Angela says:

    Eau de Rochas and Jean Nate for me all the way. I have some old Dior Eau Fraiche, too, but on a sticky August afternoon it just doesn’t do the job like a palm full of chilled Jean Nate. I’m waiting impatiently for Escale a Pondicherry to hit the shelves.

  • Nava says:

    I’m with you on Escale a Portofino. That one has really rocked my world.

    I’ve never been that big into colognes, but I can’t do without a bit of refreshment now and again. For me, it’s Philosophy Pure Grace.

    I did have a brief affair with Mugler cologne, but I never replaced my bottle. 🙁

  • Natalie says:

    I consider cologne to be anything I keep in the fridge and splash on with abandon — and I’m not talking about the Pimms! — but all I’ve got in there at the moment is a bottle of Floris Lily of the Valley. I smelled the Chanel cologne on Saturday and it is indeed divine; I’m also contemplating the Guerlain AA Laurier Reglisse and Anisia Bella, although I haven’t even sniffed the latter. As a kid I used to use Florida water, although now I think 4711 is snazzier.

    And will you all please stop wishing for warmer temps?! Delicate blossom that I am (hah!), the heat turns me into a wilted, sweat-drenched grump.

    • March says:

      The heat turns ME into a read, sweaty grump. It’s now hot outside and the gnats are out, ugh. What was I thinking?

      I like your definition of cologne…. let’s see, Louise has totally fallen for the Anisia, while I prefer the Laurier.

    • kathleen says:

      But the Pimms is a good idea too

  • kathleen says:

    I’m not really sure what distinguishes a cologne from an edt. When the weather does it’s hot & muggy thing, I reach for Eau d’Italie & Bel Respiro, along with 68. I also like Eau d’Orange Verte, at this time of year. From the small sample that I have, I’m thinking that the new, Gentiane Blanche, may prove to be the very thing, in the heat, as well.

    • March says:

      I’m using my terms pretty loosely — a traditional eau de cologne concentration, and/or something that’s based on cologne notes. But I’d really use Natalie’s fridge guideline below! 😉

  • Leslie says:

    The only official ‘cologne’ I have a bottle of is Eau de Guerlain. I bought the Guerlain in anticipation of stinkin’ hot weather this summer, but for now, we seem to have our weather player stuck in the April-May track…but it’s early days; there’s plenty of time.

    Regarding Escale a Portofino, could I bother y’all with a question…Does anyone get any sillage with the orange blossom?

    • Leslie says:

      Shoot, meant to say that I love the Chanel cologne, too. Might need a decant if we can prop up the temp above 80..

    • March says:

      Well, it’s hot here today, that’s for sure.

      Is the OB an issue for you? I get sillage (I always get sillage.) I can find OB too cloying and sweet, but somehow there’s enough else going on in there, maybe the nutty bits, that it doesn’t bother me. Hope that helps.

      • Leslie says:

        It’s not that it bothers me, it’s more like, ‘Where did it go? Did I miss something?’. I want the orange blossom to be a bit less retiring, but I think my skin is eating it. Thanks for your reply; it’s always interesting to hear how these things render different results on different skin!

  • Elle says:

    I actually fell in love w/ Cologne du 68 last year and wore it all through the winter. Have to admit I’m not much of a cologne person, but I do think I want a decant of Chanel’s cologne for the summer and I’ve come to appreciate the CdG Cologne series – especially the Vettiveru.

    • March says:

      Hmmmm. The CdG cologne series. Speaking of something ELSE I sort of punted, having gotten wrapped up in Red. And Incense. Etc.

  • Catherine says:

    Love Cologne du 68! Love! This is not only my favorite cologne but also one of my very favorite scents. I wear it consistently from early spring to late fall, and I used it to scent my scarves last winter. I find it very complex. One sniff will bring out one set of notes; another sniff, a different set of notes. The friends who’ve tried it also have that happen. I have the huge bottle (not that whimpy 100ml bottle!) and I still want 1, 2, 3, more back ups. I never want this to vanish from my perfume cabinet.

    Other than the Cologne du 68, I’m not much of a cologne wearer, but Chanel’s is beautiful and I think about getting a bottle of that. There are others that seem to wear like colognes which I adore: La Pausa and Bel Respiro. I have one of those huge bottles of Dior’s Cologne Blanche that I can never seem to sell or to swap, so I started wearing it in the early mornings or when cleaning. I still need to try the Dior’s Escale a Portofino; somehow, that seems right up my alley.

  • Robin says:

    Guerlain Eau de Guerlain & AG Eau de Sud. Scared to go smell either…they must be changed now.

    If anyone is desperate, Browns in the UK still has the Dior trio.

  • Melissa says:

    Guerlain 68 really is a cologne plus and I would wear it year round. So I have trouble putting it in the “great to wear on a summer day” category. I feel that way about the Dior triplets. I spritzed some Cologne Blanche on my son last night and he soon remarked that it seemed powdery on him. Not complaining mind you. I’m not really into light, citrusy or need-to-re-apply-hourly fragrances anyway.

    That said, when the temperature hits 90+ with swamp-like DC humidity, I like the relatively unknown Bergamotto Marino by Ferre. Marlen reviewed it in ’06 on NST and Dane more recently reviewed it on peredepierre. Dane describes it as oceanic without being aquatic and I couldn’t agree more. I always want to lick my arm when I wear it, to see if I taste like saltwater. So for those of us who already wave the freak flag by constantly smelling our (or other’s) arms and cleavage in public, beware. Arm-licking could be next!

  • Olfacta says:

    I like 4711 and keep some in a 3 oz. atomizer in my gym bag. Of course, it lasts about 5 minutes, but it’s a nice five minutes! I used to wear Jean Nate, which had a pleasant musky drydown which did last awhile, but haven’t tried it in years, is it the same?

    I like Guerlain’s vetiver, too. It reminds me of our trip to Alaska last summer, because I wore it a lot (it has certain mosquito-repelling qualities. Alaska’s mosquitoes come at you in clouds, but they’re wimpy and slow compared to our stealthy southern ones.) So it’s one of those transportive scents to me now, not always good.

    Anyway, I have enough trouble finding EDP’s that last on me, much less colognes!

    • March says:

      You found Vetiver mosquito-unfriendly? Huh. I will definitely have to try that out!

      I wonder about Jean Nate too. As I said up there somewhere, I smelled it a couple years ago and it was pretty bad. I wonder if it used to smell better?

  • fountaingirl says:

    I love Rochas’ Eau de Rochas, and L’Occitane makes (made?) a great Eau de Cologne that also had something sharp and dangerous lurking in the background, it’s the only ‘fierce’ cologne I’ve found and I love it very much for that. I also like 4711, and Jean Nate was my first ever perfume love when I was tiny.

    Sadly, the Chanel Eau de Cologne smells like nothing on me. I might as well apply water — not kidding.

    • March says:

      Huh, a votedown for the Chanel. I wonder if Jean Nate used to be better? Back in The Day? And you’re reminding me, I think I smelled that Rochas once and loved it.

      • Lee says:

        When it does get hot and muggy here (and oh it does, and I think it will this year), Eau de Guerlain is the perfect thing, washed or unwashed.

  • rosarita says:

    I have a crush on Escale a Portafino at the moment but I think it wears more like an edt. Is it an edt? Not sure now. Quite fond of Guerlain Vetiver for men, too (DH & I share it when it’s really hot outside).

    • rosarita says:

      D’oh, how could I forget the Bulgari teas? Au The Blanc is my favorite summer staple and the only bottle I’ve actually had to repurchase in ages. I like the Vert & Rouge, too.

      • March says:

        Escale is an EDT — I just threw it in here because the smell is cologne-ISH (my patented term — it’s not an edc is all I’m saying.) And The Blanc is one of the very few bottles I have had to replace after using it up! A summer staple.

  • Fiordiligi says:

    You know, maybe it’s because I don’t live in a hot country but I’ve never been crazy about the idea of eau de cologne. Then again I could have been scarred for life by the French pen pal who came to stay for 2 weeks when I was 15 and didn’t bathe or wash her hair the entire time, but just rubbed down a la Napoleon with huge bottles of cheap cologne.

    I’ve sniffed the Cologne du 68 and found it pleasant enough, but why use a cologne when you could be wearing the real thing?

    • March says:

      Maybe it’s a hot climate thing? I mean, I love a rich dessert, but sometimes all I want is a sno-cone. 🙂

  • Jarvis says:

    For me, it’s also the Chanel Eau de Cologne. I also love a little chypre with my EdC, so I also favour Dior Eau Fraîche and Eau Sauvage. For its pure blast exquisite neroli (with that sharp, green thing), I love Cologne Sologne by Parfums de Nicolai. I must say that I found Guerlain’s Cologne 68 quite confusing — there is a LOT going on in there!

    • March says:

      There IS a lot going on there, as you so diplomatically put it! Funny, I can still smell it almost 24 hours later. I wonder if all that drama would get on my nerves on a really hot day? Hm.

  • Louise says:

    I bet that 68 does smell great on you! It loses something in the transport from the bottle to skin on me, although I admit it has decent longevity for a cologne. Same with the Portofino-just not so interesting on me. I’m looking forward to the new Escale (Pondechery something, is it?)-it sounds a bit more nuanced.

    I need to retry the Chanel, Eau Fraiche, and TM-I remember liking the latter, though it’s been a while.

    Since my skin usually does a quick disappearing act on even heavier scents, I generally ignore colognes. One light scent that is working well on me right now, though, is Anisia Bella-not truly a cologne, but not a deep, dark ‘fume, either. I smell the anise up top, and a long bright citrus drydown-great for DC summer.

    I wonder if Jean Nate has changed much? I used that post-shower in my hot college days 😉

    • Louise says:

      oh, on the Dior triplets-they do seem to have disappeared. I got myself a vat of Eau Noire at an etailers who not longer carries it, or the other at all. I found Bois d’Argent at Barneys in S.F., and found a decant of Cologne Blanche on the wikisplit site. Now, I see nada of any of them, though it may be worth checking with Barneys still.

      Overseas friends…are these still available?

    • March says:

      I’m looking forward to Pondichery too, and I’m glad you’ve found happiness with the Anisia. I get annoyed sometimes, wishing fragrances would go away, but I guess I won’t trade you. It must be frustrating to have things disappear like that.

      I bet Jean Nate is like everything else — maybe not half bad 30 years ago. I smelled it a couple of years ago, though, and thought it was awful. Really plasticky.

  • Amy K says:

    Does Clarins Eau Dynamisante count? It’s my favorite cheap-ish summer concoction for those hot days when everything else seems like it would be overwhelming.

    • March says:

      I say it counts because you made me smile. I had an old friend who wore that as her signature scent. It doesn’t smell right on me, somehow, but I go by the Clarins counter and spray it on a strip sometimes and think of her. She was a great gal, I wonder where she is now?

  • carmencanada says:

    Mine is the Chanel Exclusives Eau de Cologne, wonderful enough to warrant the purchase of that 400ml vat come summertime… It even lasts a little longer than it’s meant to thanks to the musk.
    I also love Annick Goutal Eau du Sud, because it’s got a chypre, aromatic top + oak moss base going on.

    • Francesca says:

      Whoa, love that Eau de Sud.

      • March says:

        Me too! In fact (do you agree?) many of the AGs are warm-weather-friendly enough to be worn throughout the summer. I need a new bottle of Hadrian.

    • March says:

      Now I’m laughing because, ummmmm, off the top of my head, the Chanel cologne is the other fancypants one I completely punted, because I’m always too busy trying to decide if I need a vat of one of the others. Given the raves on here today, I’ll be correcting my oversight.

  • carter says:

    I really like Dior Eau Fraiche. I have a set of little vintage bottles of Eau Fraiche, Diorella, Diorissimo and Miss Dior that I keep in the top drawer of my night table. Why, I’m not sure, except that they’ve been there for a while and now I’m too lazy to move them. Come summer I will start taking showers at night because I can’t stand the idea of going to bed with a layer of NYC grime stuck to me, and that’s when a splash of Eau Fraiche and a floaty white night dress are exactly what I need. And then two hot, panting Border Terriers decide that sleeping directly on top of me is a wonderful thing, indeed, and the spell is broken 😉

    • carmencanada says:

      Carter, when you get a chance, check out the new Eau Fraîche… Someone who should *really* know tells me they haven’t changed the formula, but I could swear the new batch has been de-somethinged.

    • March says:

      I adore NYC, but the grime factor is definitely an issue, I can’t imagine not bathing every night. Also I spend a lot of time doing eyedrops (particulate matter) which is not a problem I usually have. It’s all worth it though.

      Eau Fraiche is delicious. Look, I managed not to use the word “really” so far, gritting my teeth with the effort…. if they’ve really changed it I’ll be sad.

  • Musette says:

    Huh. You and I usually have similar tastes in fragrance (I think) but this one is where we will have to part ways, at least until I retest and find myself foolishly going ‘d’oh! what wuz I thinkin’??? – maybe.

    I actually paid attention to this one when I was drooling at the Guerlain N-M counter because the gentleman next to my droolin’ self was dithering between 68 and Heroes (or whatever it’s called). I remember doing some focused sniffing and found 68 smelled like Regular Old Guy cologne. Or maybe it was Just That Guy. He seemed like a nice enough guy but certainly wasn’t pushing any of my buttons – maybe he needed the astringent hiss of Heroes to help him out? I dunno.

    Now I have to go back and retry this. O, an >-) work is never done!


    hey! but I didn’t answer the question, did I? Sorry. wait. did you ask a question? oh, yeah! what’s your favorite cologne!

    Mine is (are):
    Eau de Guerlain

    (those two are actually interchangeable so I usually go with 4711 – hard to reconcile the Guerlain pricepoint with that whole ‘splash with abandon’ thing)

    Malle/JCE Cologne Bigarade (wanna talk ‘DON’T SPLASH! DON’T SPLASH! – that price point and my wallet means a light spritz, dangit)

    Jean Nate, though sometimes it smells funny – I think there’s musk in there and sometimes that just ain’t right…

    • rosarita says:

      I love me some Jean Nate in the dog days of summer, which btw, are we ever going to get?? It’s been gray and muggy and raining for days now, and I don’t think the temp’s hit 80 more than a couple of times…..

      • March says:

        I think the forecast this week is Officially Hot and Muggy, but I’m not going to put the ark back in the garage yet. It’s been like Seattle here.

      • Musette says:

        I don’t know, rosita – it’s been raining here on the plain but it’s supposed to bust a move up to the 80s a bit later one. My hair looks like a Bozo wig-reject!

        I’m wearing Sublime Balkiss today – seems like a good high-humidity scent.


    • March says:

      Oh, we ARE moving in together, because you and your 4711 are my soulmates, we can keep a shared bottle in the fridge, okay? I have now graduated to one of those bottles that’s like the size of a regular liquor bottle, they turn up at our local perfume joint on sale periodically, I think I paid, like, $25 for it. Heh. It’s such a happy smell.

      Honestly, I think if you tried the 68 on its own you’d get more out of it (this is the difficulty when you’re in town, sniffing.) Jarvis down there says, diplomatically, there is a lot going on! But whether $100 is worth it for something you still need a fair amount of is another question!

      • Musette says:

        BIG fridge, for BIG bottles of 4711, eau de G and some magnums of Bolly for the Really Hot Days!

        And 68 is on my list for this week