There is something about evening drawing in that is universally appealing and that has powered people’s impressions of perfume ever since L’Heure Bleue. 1912 is a long time ago now, but since last year was the centennial of L’Heure Bleue, I wondered what sort of segues have really come on the market since?
There’s L’Heure du Nuit currently in the Parisiennes bee bottle line at Guerlain, and that is wearer friendly, but less about the lowering of lights across the Seine than the lowering of lights at Laduree’s. It might also be known as L’Heure du Macaron, and does not fit the bill as a romantic heir to l’Heure Bleue, although the scent is pleasant, probably bunny slope LB, arranged so that you could get onto the black diamond piste of L’Heure Bleue eventually.
Your choices are a bit less stark than I’ve suggested. Guerlain has been trying to perfect a learner’s permit L’Heure Bleue for ages, aware that lots of people don’t like the old blue atmospheric marvel, so they keep trying to make the transition from update to classic easier. Two versions of the old formula came up in the late oughts by the in house perfumer Thierry Wasser: Iris Ganache and Quand Vien La Pluie, the latter with some in put from Sylvaine Delacourte. The second of these two was probably the master stroke for M. Wasser and may have put him on the short list for the succession as perfumer at Guerlain.
The scent took all the poetry of LB and married it to the musky candied notes that have always been a feature of the perfume, while avoiding the iodine/bandaid notes that have persistently skewered L’Heure Bleue’s chances of top ten popularity. Unfortunately, Quand is no longer available, or wasn’t, when last I checked.
Iris Ganache is also gone, but that was less successful, with a bit of heaviness and bitterness in its make up that made the scent hard to wear. There are better options.
If you want to know if you are the L’Heure Bleue type without spending les big bucks, I’d suggest a try at the excellent old Cacharel fragrance Loulou. That’s good and cheap these days, and is right on the line between a modernization of Coty’s L’Origan (which is the model for L’Heure Bleue) and LB itself. You’ll get more vanilla and less aniseed, still the effect is similar. Your mother may have worn it- but she had good taste.
A more recent version is Reminisence’s Do Re. This may or may not still be available but you can find it online at Ebay in body lotion and so on, for fairly reasonable prices, and all are much cheaper than going with the Guerlains.
Finally, for reliable quality at a reasonable price point, there’s De Nicolai’s Kiss Me Tender, or else her wonderful Sacrebleu. Kiss is very sweet indeed, very feminine, and really is for the girls who are all girl 24/7. If you fit this description it may be for you. If not, go with Sacrebleu which is anyway one of the very best modernizations of L’Heure Bleue ever done. Sacrebleu is sweet and complex but also modern. You will not feel as though you were in a Paul Poiret hobble skirt at all. Sacrebleu is gourmand – decidedly so – and is therefore true to the original.
This reminds me though that the whole description of twilight in Paris does seem to be positively correlated to bakeries. Perhaps that’s the best way to watch evening fall across Paris: by the Seine, mouth full of macarons, admiring the romance of the two of the things the French do best – food and perfume.