Home » Uncategorized » Guerlain L’Heure Bleue: the magic spell of the blue hour

Guerlain L’Heure Bleue: the magic spell of the blue hour


While my friend over at IScentYouA Day takes a well-deserved trip to the perfumeries of France, I shall be trying to fill her shoes by wearing a perfume every day and telling you what I think about it. I thought I’d also post my reviews here on my regular blog, even though they’re not related to branding. I hope I won’t bore you.

I always liked perfume, but I wasn’t fascinated by it. Until, that is, I went on holiday to France seven years ago, taking with me a book called The Emperor of Scent, which I’d picked up in the SciFi section for casual reading. It turned out to be real science, not fiction: the story of a talented biophysicist called Luca Turin who was researching how we smell things. It was a fascinating read, but what really inspired my imagination was Luca Turin’s comments on perfumes and the perfume industry.

Turin claims Mitsouko is the perfume he would take with him if he was being sent off on an inter-galactic space mission. He describes this peach chypre as lovingly as if it was his favourite child. I had to smell it. Being in France meant that I could spend hours in a handy branch of Marionaud, smelling many of the amazing things he described in glowing terms usually reserved for works of art. In a shopping mall in a provincial French town I was able to try things I would have had struggled to find at home in Wales, including the entire Guerlain range of classics – Jicky, Shalimar, Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue, Apres L’Ondee, Vol de Nuit, Chamade, Jardins de Bagatelle, Nahema, Parure, Mahora, Champs-Elysees, L’Instant, Insolence… I came out of the shop reeling and reeking.

Some of those perfumes repulsed me – traditional, oakmoss-laden chypres were definitely not to my taste and I did not like massive florals or 80s stonkers – others confused me, some left me cold, a couple were interesting but difficult, and one or two were pretty.

But one made me come back again and again to sniff the bottle and then the inside of my wrist where I had sprayed it: L’Heure Bleue. It was strange, rather melancholy and just a little magical, wonderful and very grown-up. It did confuse me; I couldn’t say ‘this smells of x y and z’, as Luca Turin did in his reviews and when I read the notes listed, I could smell no particular iris, violet, heliotrope or carnation. Instead, I had an impression of face powder and a ladylike, delightful deliciousness, an edibleness like a rich almond pastry with a creamy vanilla custard filling. It hypnotised me and fascinated me and I was hooked.

If you haven’t yet got around to trying L’Heure Bleue I strongly recommend you do. Persuade the sales assistant at the Guerlain counter to pull out the beautiful little bottle with the heart-shaped stopper from under the counter and try it, I beg you. Failing that, somehow swap or buy a sample. I guarantee you will admire this pensive beauty, even if you don’t adore it. It is utterly unlike the modern watery vanilla/ thin floral/fruitichouili things that are being pushed at consumers nowadays. This remarkable perfume celebrated its one hundredth birthday last year, and like so many delightful Centegenarians, it still has powerful charm and character, which is no bad thing.


3 thoughts on “Guerlain L’Heure Bleue: the magic spell of the blue hour

  1. Dear Wordbird
    Welcome to the world of perfume criticism and congratulations!
    ‘Pensive beauty’ is the perfect description of the thoughtful joy that is ‘l’Heure Bleue’.
    It is, as you accurately point out, unlike anything being developed today. As different as grand opera to Lady Gaga, Chekov to Glee.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  2. Time I retried this one – I found it a bit too powdery and sneezy when I did, but that was years ago, and so much of my taste has evolved since then that my “blue hour” could now be approaching!

    • My tip is to avoid wearing it in hot weather. It’s an autumnal scent in my mind, because it’s a little melancholy, but it might well work in springtime. I’ve noticed recently now similar it is to Chamade in the powdery aspect, though LHB is much sweeter and less green.

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