I received a sample of Guerlain du 68 with something else, so I never actively sought it out. I applied it expecting a fleeting citrus cologne in the classical manner. That is something I like well enough, but I don’t find it worth the money and effort most of the time, due to its fleeting nature. (That is why I love Atelier Cologne so much, inspired idea!)
But I was in for a surprise with Cologne du 68.
It was created by perfumer Sophie Labbé in 2006 and was exclusive to the Paris store, but is in slightly wider distribution since 2008. Cologne du 68 is named after the house number of La Maison Guerlain on Champs Elysees in Paris. It is supposed to have 68 notes, that may be true or not, in any case 68 are listed on the package.
They are as follows: bergamot, green mandarin, citron, clementine, cedrat, blood orange, limette, grapefruit, basil, fennel, star anise, lavender, bay leaf, cypress, elemi, thyme, myrtle, bigarade, mandarin petitgrain, lemon petitgrain, pear, violet leaves, ivy leaves, gentiana, sap, blackcurrant, freesia, lily of the valley, hazelnut leaf, cyclamen, cardamom, coriander, black pepper, pink pepper, nutmeg, ginger, jasmine, frangipani, magnolia, orange blossom, peony, rose, carnation, ylang ylang, lychee, fig, blackberry, immortelle, lentisque, opoponax, amber, benzoin, vanilla, cistus, heliotrope, iris, tonka bean, sage, musk, patchouli, agarwood, cedar, sandalwood, vetiver, vegetable musk, praline, myrrh and moss.
Cologne du 68 opens as hundreds of other colognes do, with an invigorating burst of citrus notes. The top notes are amazingly bright and clear, like a soprano singing a Schubert Lied in C Major. But soon the surprise creeps in in the form of increasing minor-ness to stay in the musical simile. The tone changes, the perfume becomes darker, muted, lies in shadow. There is a strong anisic note together with dark green leaves that lend Cologne du 68 a gravity that is unexpected. It continues to change towards warmth and spiciness, cardamom, coriander, pepper, nutmeg and ginger make up a spicy cocktail that suffuses the floral notes now emerging, before leading Cologne du 68 into a lovely (and fairly long-wearing) drydown that is dominated by a warm and creamy, Guerlain-typical gourmand amber-vanilla-wood accord.
To put it short: I love it.
It is a wonderful, surprising perfume, that grabs me in every phase of its development, as different as they are.
For me Cologne du 68 is a sleeper hit among the modern Guerlains. Shame it is not in wide distribution, I would recommend everyone to try it. It is perfect for both genders, and adequate for most occasions. A true gem!