Skip to main content

L’Heure Bleue Eau de Parfum – plush and lush and warm

Photo - Wikipedia Commons - Blue Hour in Paris - Kedellar, Feb 18, 2012

People often speak of perfumes as evoking a time or place – the ‘this-scent- reminds-me-of a-lady-in-an-English-garden-in-the-nineteenth-century’ sort of thing. However, few fragrances were designed to evoke a mood like L’Heure Bleue was.

L’heure bleue is a French expression for the distinctive blue quality of light at twilight – that hour between daylight and night when the luminous sky shimmers as sunlight passes into darkness.

It was Jacques Guerlain’s favourite time of day. According to the Guerlain website, ‘L’Heure Bleue was born in 1912 of the fleeting sensation that inspired the Impressionist painters whose works Jacques Guerlain collected’.

L’Heure Bleue was the first Guerlain perfume to contain aldehydes – that chemical je ne sais quoi, that gives perfumes a distinctive sparkling, effervescent quality. This is important because aldehydes, like many other synthetic molecules such as ionones, coumarin and vanillin, were created by chemists in the first ten years of the twentieth century, and their creations really changed the course of perfumery.

As Jean-Claude Ellena says in his book ‘Perfume, The Alchemy of Scent’, “While the chemists sought primarily to understand nature, the perfumers experienced the use of synthetic products as a release from the compulsory reference to “nature’ opening up new creative possibilities.”  Hello mood evoking L’Heure Bleue.

But L’Heure Bleue is more than just aldehydes; it’s the entire composition – plush, lush, warm and powdery - that recalls not just the ‘blue hour’, but an era past, one that is sadly gone. Forever. Like the day that ends at twilight. This is what makes it a stunning masterpiece, especially in the Eau de Parfum concentration.

It opens with a soft note of fresh citrusy bergamot tempered by a sweet, soft note of aniseed. It’s a combination that evokes a romantic dreaminess. The citrus supports a note of bright carnation while the clove aspect of the flower adds a warm spiciness. Aromatic neroli shows up, citrusy, green its honey blossom facet adds a gentle sweetness to the heart. Then the stars of the show appear iris and tender blue flowers that give L’Heure Bleue a distinctive powderiness that adds depth but doesn’t age the fragrance. The flowers seem to hover over a base of sweet, creamy vanilla, resinous, balsamy benzoin as Tonka bean enhances the softness of the scent while tempering the vanilla with its bitter-almond undertone.

The result is a rich, refined, romantic fragrance with a warm sensuality that was made for a woman’s skin. Every time I wear it, I experience that magical time of day, that moment, when daylight trembles on the brink of a new night all over again.

L’Heure Bleue Eau de Parfum is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.