I was saying goodbye to my local Saks, or to be more accurate I was saying goodbye to the Guerlain counter, when what should I run into but this year’s Guerlain limited edition: Terracotta Le Parfum.
It’s just a bit confusing because I thought that Terracotta was last year’s LE. Silly me, no. Terracotta had proven too much of a hit to be left to languish and so here it is again smelling like a composite of a number of perfumes that Guerlain has had on the roster in recent years, and you might be excused for thinking that the famous Guerlinade was actually a meringue-ade, but who cares? Terracotta is such a confection, it seems mean spirited to quibble.The bad news right up front: it’s sweet. I mean really sweet, so sweet that I thought my teeth ached when I first put on Terracotta. There’s that Guerlain signature bergamot in the beginning but here it has become bergamot meringue and the perfume is so tart and sugary, that lemon meringue pie is what comes irresistibly to mind when you smell your wrist.
Then however Terracotta morphs a little on skin. I catch allusions to a number of other Guerlain perfumes and one of the first is the very expensive Mon Precieux Nectar, with its distinct honey notes. ( By the way there is no pee quality to this honey, this is pure orange blossom honey with no side trips to the pissoir such as Miel de Bois takes). You would think that following a meringue note a honey component would be far too many calories for any fragrance to accommodate. Somehow Terracotta manages, just barely, to stay on the right side of tooth decay which I think is due to a woody background behind all the candy.
To be fair I was surprised that there was any development at all in this fragrance. I was expecting some lemon candy, a big fat coconut or two, and finis. What happened instead was a draft of something familiar, and not my favorite note, but I swear I smelled Mahora’s ylang ylang swirling by and some hours later that changed to another note that I’d come across in the last two years: gardenia. This was that same gardenia that waited until the very end of Cruel Gardenia to make an appearance. Here in this little LE I smell something very similar putting in a stint at the tail end of Terracotta Le Parfum.
All of this means that if you like white flowers* and if you enjoy very sticky pastries like baklava you may enjoy Terracotta, but if you like classic balanced Guerlains that are not a shameless melding of gourmand and floral notes you will not like this at all.
Evidently the public does like Terracotta, and although some people complain that this is a fleeting little thing, I don’t agree. Terracotta is with me still on paper eight hours after the first spritz, and stayed on my skin for five hours through a shower, so I’m not complaining about longevity here. I ‘m not sure that this ultra sweet little scent is elegant but it is terribly appealing for summer and I bought a bottle-so there you go.
The most surprising thing about this LE is the fact that it improves with time instead of shriveling up into a hateful synthetic dry down you have smelled once too often. Terracotta is better at its gardenia end than at its lemon meringue start, and that is saying a lot these days. Terracotta is Jicky’s great grand daughter at a sweet shop. A cutie pie for sure.
*I actually have no idea what the listed notes of this fragrance are, but never mind, I’ve given a faithful account of what Terracotta smelled like on paper and on me for five hours, and never mind the notes.