Modern day Guerlain is plagued by flankers, flankers of flankers, and third generation flankers of perfumes that weren't all that great to begin with. This, combined with aspirational packaging and pricing almost made me skip Le Parfum du 68, a "reworking" of the 2006 Cologne du 68 (that's a nice way to say "flanker"). I like Cologne 68 well enough, though I never bothered to get a bottle, and the whole premise sounded like someone at Guerlain was trying too hard just so they could put the 68 label on something more luxurious to coincide with the reopening of their flagship store on 68 avenue des Champs-Elysées that has undergone a major renovation. All that aside, Le Parfum du 68 is a delicious and very well-done perfume that deserves attention and praise for what it is. It's a modern interpretation of the unmistakable classic Guerlain theme, and I'm a total sucker for that.
Le Parfum du 68 is a golden scent. The opening feels like an enthusiastic sunrise, sparkling and zesty (every site has a slightly different version of the notes, but my money is on bergamot and lots of it). It's steeped in immortelle flowers that are slightly neutered and smell less syrupy than they can be, for better and for worse. Not that this Guerlain perfume isn't sweet: it is, and there's all the tonka, resinous benzoin, and heliotrope you could ask for, creating the magical Guerlinade. But Le Parfum du 68 is so carefully balanced that it's kept on the mostly unisex side. I've heard comparisons of Parfum du 68 to several Guerlain perfumes, classic and new, from L'Heure Bleue to Terracotta and Tonka Imperiale. I'll add that I was instantly reminded of Angelique Noire, probably where 68 transitions from floral to balsamic and vanillic. But Le Parfum du 68 stands on its own, and wearing it is quite satisfying.
If I spray enough, that is. I've nearly depleted my decant at this point, because my skin seems to absorb this perfume. Sillage is very polite and longevity is a bit deceiving: since there's so little projection and the whole thing remains in the space between skin and clothes one stops noticing it unless body temperature rises quickly. It's still there, in a very powdery and somewhat musky fashion, hovering deliciously just above skin (and clings beautifully to sweaters and scarves). I'd say that it's a great third date perfume, one that invites to get closer.
Notes: immortelle, rose, heliotrope, benzoin, spices, Guerlinade accord, woods.
Guerlain- Le Parfum du 68 ($253, 75ml) is available from Guerlain boutiques and select locations such Bergdorf Goodman and Saks 5th Avenue flagship stores.
Top photo: the new Maison Guerlain via Vogue France.