Thursday, 7 July 2016

LA PETITE ROBE NOIRE INTENSE - The Imitation Game

When Guerlain launched La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraîche in 2015 everyone presumed that the wardrobe was complete. That fourth release, or sixth depending on how you're counting, was a "fresh" interpretation and complimented the other three. However, just when Guerlain fans breathed a collective sigh of relief William Lescure, president of Guerlain Canada, dropped the bombshell that there was an exclusive "sweeter" version on the horizon, but it soon became clear that it would actually be a worldwide release. The new edition, La Petite Robe Noire Intense, is really good, but then I've been enjoying it for four years already!

Before we get to the new version let's quickly look back at the history of La Petite Robe Noire. In 2009 Delphine Jelk and Thierry Wasser created the prototype "original" fragrance which leaned more towards a Fruity Floriental than what would be released three years later. You were literally bathed in sensual liquorice and patchouli. A novelty called Modèle No.2 appeared as a limited release in 2011, but this was a completely different fragrance. It reappeared three years later as Mademoiselle Guerlain in the Parisienne line, although how long it will stay is debatable. The original 2009 fragrance had proved so successful that in 2012 Guerlain decided to release it worldwide as an Eau de Parfum.

Thierry Wasser reworked the original scent and pushed the Fruity Floral aspect rather than the oriental patchouli. A combination of Nancy Sinatra and media saturation ensured world domination and a perfume legend was born. A Fresh Fruity "red cherry" Eau de Toilette appeared in 2013 with an orange blossom and white musk, but sales were not as good as the original EDP. The yearly trend of a new edition continued in 2014 with Couture, a fabulous Chypre variation. Thierry Wasser took a raspberry note, mixed it with a patchouli rich oakmoss, and married it with a romantic rose. It failed to excite the public and was unfortunately discontinued in 2016.

The 2015 release was the Fraîche creation boasting Mandarin, Freesia and Pistachio as a Green Floral. Interestingly, the dry down on certain skins really did leave a fatty deposit reminiscent of nut oil, but that didn't stop its success. This brings us to 2016's La Petite Robe Noire Intense. Homage is one thing, following a trend is another, but seemingly copying a competitor's successful fragrance is something else. I'm talking about Lancôme's La Vie Est Belle Eau de Toilette. Guerlain's Mon Exclusif had already hinted at a comparison but there was enough to make them different.

If you take a good dose of La Vie Est Belle and add a small dash of the original La Petite Robe Noire then you have the new Intense. You know from the first spray that you're in the familiar presence of Lancôme's famous Floral Fruity Gourmand, although the Guerlain version does have a deep sweet liquorice to add a fuller body to the scent. This is a full on candy floss creation that pulls out all of the stops to appeal to a post-Angel clientele. The floral notes of orange blossom, rose and jasmine are blended beautifully, as you would expect from Thierry Wasser, and a sugary powder quality sits sensually on the skin.

I really like it, because I love both La Vie Est Belle and the original La Petite Robe Noire, but I don't feel that it's anything new. I think an Oscar Wilde quote sums it up perfectly, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…"

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