Into The Blue – Review: Guerlain L’Heure Bleue

I actually never expected to particularly like the old Guerlains.

Of course I wanted to try them, own them even, because I think a collection should have such important “founding fathers” of perfumes present and accounted for. Like Shakespeare belongs in every library, and Mozart in every CD collection.

But to actually wear them because I liked them for how they smell not what they stand for, I didn’t think so. I thought I would appreciate them, but not that I would love them.

How extraordinarily stupid of me.

They became classics after all because they are good, well-made and timeless creations that appeal to many people.

I already talked about Shalimar. My next conquest was L’Heure Bleue.

L’Heure Bleue was created in 1912 by Jacques Guerlain. Notes include bergamot, aniseed, carnation, orange blossom, heliotrope, Bulgarian rose, tuberose, iris, vanilla and musk.

I don’t want to talk about how it smells to me, dissecting it into its components goes against my better judgment this time. It is the same with some poems that I always refused to analyze. Some things are perfect in their entirety and poking around to see what they are made of only takes away some of the magic.

I can tell you how it makes me feel though.

The story of its creation is famous, here is an excerpt from Guerlain’s website:

“One summer evening, Jacques Guerlain was overcome by intense turmoil. It was the suspended hour, the hour when the sky has lost its sun but not yet found its stars. Everything in nature is clothed in a blue light”.

The descriptions and stories attached to L’Heure Bleue are very “me”.  That sad, a little self-indulgent moodiness, the twilighted atmosphere of bitter sweet ruminations – that is definitely something I like to do. Wallowing in self-pity, is what my husband likes to call such a mood, and maybe he is right, but what he doesn’t see is how lovely that can be.

L’Heure Bleue represents my shadowy side, the side where happiness is a smile at the most, where tears are a constant twinkle in the corner of the eye, where anger is blessedly absent and a feeling of longing for the unattainable, not even definable, is pervading me and my surroundings.

In that state, I am L’Heure Bleue. Curiously detached from the world, removed into a realm of introspection and futile musings about paths not chosen, dreams never realized.

I love L’Heure Bleue to accompany me in such a mood, to help me cocoon myself in my private world of unnamed desires.

But that is no place to stay long. It would be neither good for me, not for the important people in my life.

But – you know that –  there are perfumes to jolt me out of my blue hours, where everything is muted: colors, sounds, feelings.

There are perfumes to welcome me back into the world of starker contrasts, light and dark, loud and quiet, good and bad. Even, or especially ones by Guerlain.

Stay tuned. 🙂

Picture Source: Vintage Ad Browser, Blue Sunset courtesy of, thank you!

About Olfactoria

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This entry was posted in Floral, Fragrance Reviews, Guerlain, Oriental and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Into The Blue – Review: Guerlain L’Heure Bleue

  1. Ashleigh says:

    Lovely article Birgit! I adore Guerlain and interestingly enough I started seeking them out the same way; knowing I would appreciated them, but not knowing if I would wear/love them. You’ve summed it beautifully! And now, I must get my hands on some L’Heure Bleue.

    Thank you for this!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you Ashleigh! I was truly surprised how much I connected with many “old” Guerlains. I feel a need for L’Heure Bleue coming on, it’ll be my SotE tonight.

  2. Alice C says:

    This one sounds lovely.

  3. Tarleisio says:

    Do you know…for someone whose first ever perfume purchase was at the Guerlain store in Paris in 1977 (yes, I’m that old), I’ve never tried L’Heure Bleue. On some subconscious level, it was the perfume equivalent of reading “Ulysses” or “War and Peace”. I’l get around to it…some day, but not…today.

    That melancholy hour in blue can be as beautiful as an afternoon full of sunshine and joy, and certainly as enjoyable, too!

    I shall posthaste put this on my list. But Tolstoy and Joyce can wait a little longer…;-)

    • Olfactoria says:

      I know what you mean, T. But I swear L’Heure Bleue is way easier to digest than Ulysses. 😉
      Your introduction to perfume was the Maison Guerlain? No wonder you got stuck in Perfumeland! What was that first Guerlain? Please remind me, you mentioned it once, but I can’t recall it right now.

      • Tarleisio says:

        Of all the things I could have chosen, two were out of the question: Mitsouko and Shalimar, because my mother claimed them for herself. It took me over an hour to boil it down to two – and one of those, Sous Le Vent , was unavailable. Aprés L’Ondèe I was on the fence about, so that left…


        Not a bad, although a daring choice for a 14-year-old!

        To this day, I love it still!

        • Olfactoria says:

          Jicky is the only one still missing form the great (and more easily available) Guerlains in my collection. Your mother must have been a great woman to take you to Guerlain in Paris for your first perfume. What a wonderful memory that must be!

  4. deeHowe says:

    “In that state, I am L´Heure Bleue”

    Beautiful, B., perfectly beautiful. Your words have captured the beauty, the sadness, and even the hope of L’HB…

    Can’t wait to hear what you bought from Guerlain!

  5. JoanElaine says:

    A beautiful post. Thank you for sharing such personal thoughts with us.

    It’s true that a little melancholy is good for the soul. It sounds like L´Heure Bleue is good for the soul too. Another classic I have not tried, I’m afraid.

    I must admit I am a little afraid to try this and Apres l’Ondée. I usually turn to perfume for a lift, a positive equal to my negative moods. I wonder what would happen if I wore one of those fragrances when I was feeling sad? Perhaps they would make it easier to accept the sadness and move on? I might even find them to be happy fragrances!

    • Olfactoria says:

      No reason to be afraid, I’m sure that neither L’Heure nor Apres would enhance a negative mood, but I find they rather sweeten the pain in a subtle and delicious way and, as you say, help you move on.

  6. Ashleigh says:

    Joan ~ No fear; Apres is stunning!

  7. Tara says:

    What a lovely review, L’HB obviously has a special place in your heart. Sadly it hates me – I think it’s the aniseed and heliotrope. I was so hoping for carnation and orange blossom but you know how the notes you can’t tolerate just leap out at you? After trying it three times and getting a headache I have given it up for good. So glad it works like a dream for you though, it is obviously a beautiful melancholy masterpiece.

    Oh and I will definitely stay tuned!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Too bad L’Heure is not for you. But I recall you love Shalimar, is that right? Thank God there is a great Guerlain for (nearly) everyone. 😉

      • Tara says:

        Oh yes well remembered. I love Shalimar and Mitsouko and am longing for an edt bottle of Vol de Nuit for Spring so I have plenty of other Guerlains to love 🙂

        • Olfactoria says:

          Vol de Nuit is so good, I love it too. Don’t shoot me, but I think Mitsouko and L’Heure Bleue smell very similar to me, I don’t understand that myself, but my nose insists on the similarities. I need to explore Mitsouko in more depth yet, though.

  8. Victoria says:

    Lovely review! L’Heure Bleue definitely deserves revisiting again and again!

  9. Marina says:

    Is there a little bit of a Slav in you? (re: wallowing):)

  10. annemariec says:

    Lovely piece – thanks. Finding an identity, or an interpretation, of one’s own within one of the great classics is a tricky thing. I seem to have an oddly detached attitude to L’HB. I recognise the melancholy in it without necessarily sharing it. Still, I do love it.

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