On… L’Heure Bleue

I’m quite the little perfume slut. Truly. I like variety. To me, it makes perfect sense. I can’t wear the same perfumes in summer as I do in winter – one is too light for the other, or too sharp, or too heavy, or too sexy. I can’t wear the same perfume to a wild Christmas party and to a shopping morning in spring with my girlfriends. And that aside, wearing the same perfume every day is just too fucking boring. Whenever someone says ‘no, Chanel No 5 is my signature scent’ I think to myself, well you didn’t invent it darling.


And on a frosty, already endless January, when I’m writing every day and slightly bored but also know that I have to push through the boredom in order to write something halfway decent, I wear L’Heure Bleue.

So let’s talk about it. L’Heure Bleue – meaning ‘the blue hour’, i.e., dusk – was launched by Guerlain in 1912. It probably doesn’t smell quite the same now as it did then. Many of the old ingredients are illegal now; we don’t slaughter muskrats and civet cats and whales anymore for their yummy olfactory charms, and frankly the world is the poorer for it. But it still smells divine. It’s slightly sweet (not cloying), musky (in a cool way, rather than warm) and has a delicious slow roundness to it, with a tiny hint of play doh, which sounds weird but oh man, it’s so good. When I wear it I think of warm living rooms and thin sunshine and dust. And sex. But not bite-me-on-the-neck-and-ravage-me sex, more sleepy afternoon sex. The kind you have in between hangover naps. (Assuming you don’t have small children, because if you do, obviously sex won’t be happening, instead you put on Peppa Pig and pass out on the floor next to the Lego, but even doing that kind of smells like L’Heure Bleue.)

L’Heure Bleue is not overpowering, but it lasts forever on your skin. If it helps you to imagine-smell the scent in your brain, the notes are listed as anise, bergamot, orange blossom, heliotrope, tuberose, carnation, violet, jasmine, Bulgarian rose, tonka bean, orris, benzoin, vanilla, musk. To me, it’s something to wear on quiet days, with big oversize sweaters and clean hair. (Yes, there are perfumes for dirty hair days. This is not it.) In bold, bright summer, it somehow becomes too heavy, in sparkly crisp December, it’s too cool. But in January it’s juuuust right.

You can find L’Heure Bleu just about anywhere. All those slightly seedy online perfume stores and Amazon have it for less than $50 (I did a lot of research once about whether those cheapie cheap perfume sites are bargains or fake, and the answer was ‘*probably* not fake’ which is good enough for me, and at least on Amazon you can return it if it’s fake), or you can buy the guaranteed real thing in a department store for three times that price, or you can hop over to Etsy and get a vintage one, that might have been stored badly and now smells like pee OR might have sat untouched in some nice lady’s vanity for the last 30 years and be the best thing you’ve ever, ever smelled in your damn life. You can choose between the Eau de Toilette (lovely but won’t last as long), the Eau de Parfum (this is the one I have) or the Parfum (ridiculously expensive but probably orgasmic). Finding the right bottle for the right price will give you a joyous, slaying-a-woolly-mammoth euphoria, trust me. Happy hunting.

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