I’ve always been the type of person to like things – like, really like things. I don’t do things by halves, so if I like something, I LIKE it. I’m either in or I’m not. The same is true of perfume – when I find something I’m into, I tend to become a tad obsessed and wear it to death. Guerlain’s La Petite Robe Noire is one such fragrance. I love La Petite Robe Noire first and foremost, because it’s fun. This ode to the little black dress doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it creates with fruit and flowers, something classy yet frivolous. In short, La Petite Robe Noire, with a wink and a cheeky grin, is a difficult fragrance to dislike.
I’m not the only one that feels this way and it would be fair to say that La Petite Robe Noire has become a popular fragrance for Guerlain, breathing new life into the brand and directing a fresh audience towards their staggering back catalogue of classic fragrances. Of course, with success comes flankers (i.e. numerous ‘editions’ bearing the same name and design), and La Petite Robe Noire is no exemption from the churn of the perfume industry. Thankfully for us lovers of all things smelly, Guerlain has been typically respectful of their little black dress, launching worthy Extrait and Eau de Toilette concentrations to compliment the original Eau de Parfum, as well as a sparkling ‘Couture’ edition that feels most fancy.
The latest olfactory garment in Guerlain’s wardrobe of black dresses is La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraîche. Subtitled as ‘Ma Robe Pétales’, Eau Fraîche (as I shall be referring to it, in order to save my typing fingers) is described as presenting an “explosive green floral trail” – it’s a lighter take on the original, as one expects, but it’s not just La Petite Robe Noire diluted, this is a black dress adorned with appliqué green petals to give an entirely more spring-like feel. In true Guerlain style, Eau Fraîche embodies a free and fragrant spirit, full of life.
Top: Bergamot, Mandarin, Lemon and Orange Blossom
Heart: Freesia, Almond Blossom, Turkish Rose, Bulgarian Rose and Jasmine Sambac
Base: Pistachio, Almond, Tonka Bean, Patchouli and White Musk
How Does it Smell?
The first spritz of Eau Fraîche is fizzy, frivolous and fun, in the way that all of the La Petite Robe Noire fragrances are. The cheery cherry/almond signature remains in full force, except this time it’s adorned by a different colour of shimmer. Gone are the pink and purple sequins of the original and in is a painstakingly arranged array of opalescent green beading. The citrus is bright and sunny adding, with orange and lemon, a perfect sheen to those wonderful, and eye-catching pearlescent beads.
Eau Fraîche is all flowers in the heart. It boasts a core of two types of rose (Bulgarian and Turkish, FYI) as well as orange blossom, jasmine and freesia. The white flowers definitely take precedent over the rose, giving proceedings a soapy feel. “Soapy” is often a negative connotation in fragrance, but trust me when I say that I don’t mean that as a criticism. Eau Fraîche is in fact laundry-fresh, with lots of airy white musk, leading one to imagine that this dress is fresh out of the wardrobe and onto the body. There’s also a hissy, metallic note that hums gently in the background and teases out a green sharpness which gives the fragrance a very natural-feeling twist.
As Eau Fraîche heads into base territory things become much warmer. The original is famed for its base of patchouli, almond, liquorice and black tea whereas this lighter version relies on a variation, including pistachio, tonka bean and musk. The base feels warm and nutty with subtle hints of cherry blossom and vanilla, and where the original feels as if it is supported by a sturdy crust of pastry, Eau Fraîche appears to sit atop a foundation of crushed pistachios and almonds.
To my nose, Eau Fraîche feels like a cotton sundress in comparison to the original’s flirty number crafted from silk. There’s still enough darkness in the composition to warrant the ‘noire’ in the name, but for the most part this floral edition is decidedly more grounded in nature, rather than the local bakery. With flankers, one always has to ask the question of whether the fragrance is different enough from the original to warrant its existence. This is perhaps the only struggle I have with Eau Fraîche. It truly is very lovely but it’s not worlds apart from the Eau de Parfum. Still, I think it has more character than the wispy Eau de Toilette (which is all musk and no cigar) and if you’ve always liked the original, but wanted something a little less demanding, then Eau Fraîche is most definitely worthy of a sniff.