Last month, Guerlain launched Terracotta Le Parfum, a limited edition fragrance celebrating the 30th anniversary of the brand's Terracotta bronzing cosmetic products. Terracotta Le Parfum was developed by Guerlain perfumer Thierry Wasser and has a composition of bergamot, coconut, tiaré flower, orange blossom, jasmine, ylang ylang, vanilla and musk. It's described as a "sun-soaked invitation to explore faraway lands," complete with a sun-embossed label on its circular bottle.
In case you were wondering (as I was), this fragrance is unrelated to Terracotta Voile d'Eté (1999), other than the fact that both were inspired by the Terracotta beauty collection and both were (are) limited editions. Voile d'Eté was a spicy-soft blend of clove-y carnation and ylang ylang; it was lovely, and I wish I could remember where I put the splash bottle that I used to own. Terracotta Le Parfum, on the other hand, is a summery "solar floral," and although it's not my usual style, I've fallen hard for it. (And that's not always the case for new Guerlain releases, as you might recall if you read my reviews of La Petite Robe Noire or La Petite Robe Noire Couture.)
Terracotta Le Parfum opens on a slightly bitter orange blossom note. This introduction feels like a "classic French perfume" flourish, just to remind us that this fragrance is a Guerlain, after all; and it's followed by something that's salty and mossy and musky all at once, before the sun really comes out and we're on a beach on the Riviera, or maybe even somewhere more tropical (albeit still a French colony?). Even though I'm not typically a white floral lover, I can't help but swoon a little over Terracotta's buttery tiaré heart. There's a more indolic jasmine peeking out from behind the tiaré from time to time, but the lusher floral note still dominates and a creamy ylang ylang note plays a supporting role. The vanilla base is subtle; what I really notice in the dry down is more of that salty musk under the white flowers. And, last but not least, Terracotta Le Parfum (an Eau de Toilette) has surprised me with its excellent staying power, especially when I apply it to my hairline at the nape of my neck.
If you already have a favorite beachy fragrance, you may be wondering how Terracotta Le Parfum compares to it. I recently visited an Estee Lauder counter just to sniff and spritz Bronze Goddess, which I haven't smelled since last summer; to my nose, Bronze Goddess has much more milky coconut, whereas Terracotta emphasizes its florals instead. Terracotta feels more sophisticated than Bond no. 9 Fire Island (which I happen to like, just for its fancy-suntan-oil linearity) and more abstract (and definitely more floral) than CB I Hate Perfume At the Beach 1966 (which I happen to love, because it brings back my own childhood beach memories).
I'm coveting a full bottle of Terracotta Le Parfum, in case you haven't already guessed; I can imagine anointing myself with Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse body oil and then spraying on some Terracotta before I head outside on a warm, sultry day. It's summertime glamour in a bottle, and it's very reasonably priced for what you get. Remember, though — it's a limited edition. I'd suggest that you don't wait too long to try it, because I have a feeling that it's going to be quite popular with its audience.
Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum is available as 100 ml Eau de Toilette ($73).