Even though Guerlain took a publicity blow a few years ago when their then-perfumer said some offending things on live TV, they’re still strong in the industry, owned by LVMH since 1994. Indeed, when you think luxury fragrance, Guerlain is one of the first brands that come to mind.

     Here are my quick thoughts about each of the fragrances:

Guerlain Shalimar sample

Guerlain Shalimar sample

1.) Guerlain Shalimar: This is perhaps one of the most famous names in the entire perfume universe. Created by Guerlain’s original in-house perfumer, Jacques Guerlain, in 1925, this still stands as a beacon of excellence in the world of fragrance.

     This is a 1925 release, with top notes of lemon, bergamot, cedar, mandarin orange, and ‘citruses’. The base notes are quiet fascinating, as they combine tonka bean, incense, vanilla, civet, musk, opoponax, sandalwood, and leather. The vanilla note seems to tie this jumble of scents, as you undergo a roller coaster ride with highs of fruity notes and then lows of the deeper, richer notes. Leather and lemon make for a surprisingly lovely combination in this, as does the incense and sandalwood. Intriguing on all accounts, but entirely unwearable by me. The legend continues.

Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire sample

Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire sample

2.) Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire: to be frank, I’m not even sure which version of this fragrance I’m holding in my hand. Fragrantica lists 9 variations, but I believe I have the 2009 version, not to be confused with the identically-named version from 2012. Update: I’ve cracked the code of the little black dress mystery. Turns out they released it first in 2009 as a sort of beta launch, then it went wide in early 2012.

     This is a 2012 release, with top notes of red berries, sour cherry, almond, and bergamot. This fragrance comes completely unexpectedly to the senses; you’d expect something grand, something heavy and intense and full of meaning. Instead, this is a delicate fruity thing with a heart of light musk, beautifully done and delicate as its name. Wears lovely on the skin, and worth a sniff at the local Sephora. Recommended.

Collective thoughts about what I’ve sniffed today: I am intrigued by Guerlain’s fragrances, and will be rushing to my local drugstore soon to get a sniff of the new La Petite Robe Noire flanker.

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You can check out Guerlain at or follow them on Twitter at


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