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COLOGNE DU 68 / PARFUM DU 68

Sophie Labbé 2006, Parfum du 68 2013, L'Extrait du 68 2013, Flacon Tortue 2015
[kɔlɔɲ dy swasɑ~t ɥit]
Family: floral, spicy, woody
Notes: bergamot, green tangerine, lemon, clementine, cedrat, orange, blood orange, lime, grapefruit leaf, basil, fennel, star anise, lavender, bay laurel, cypress, elemi, thyme, myrtle, bitter orange petitgrain, tangerine petitgrain, lemon tree petitgrain, pear, violet leaf, ivy leaf, gentian, sap note, black currant, freesia, lily of the valley, hazelnut leaf, cyclamen, cardamom, coriander, black pepper, pink peppercorn, nutmeg, ginger, frangipani, magnolia flower, orange blossom, peony, rose, carnation, ylang-ylang, litchi, fig, blackberry, everlasting flower, mastic, opopanax, amber, benzoin, vanilla, cistus labdanum, heliotrope, orris, tonka bean, sage, musk, patchouli, agarwood, cedarwood, sandalwood, vetiver, botanical musk, praline note, myrrh, lichen
Spices, flowers and praline
Period: The haute cuisine years
Cologne du 68 collection

Cologne du 68 was launched in 2006 to celebrate the opening of Maison Guerlain following extensive renovation the year before, named after the address on the Champs-Elysées where the house is located. The number was also an inspiration for its perfumer Sophie Labbé who aimed at using sixty-eight different ingredients in the final composition. It could sound like a confused, incalculable mess, yet the scent achieved to move from stage to stage in a remarkably clear structure, playing on the old-fashioned fougère cologne theme but twisted around an unusual and modern spicy-floral-gourmand core. The fragrance was the idea of Guerlain's then artistic director, Sylvaine Delacourte, "a sort of summary of my holidays, between the salty freshness of sea shores and the spicy warmth of the maquis." Maquis is the name of the dense, fragrant wilderness of Corsica, a carpet of bee-swarmed subshrubs present everywhere on the island and dotted abundantly with everlasting flower. She wanted this flower, so wonderfully honeyed and herbal, to be prominent in Cologne du 68.

The long composition started out with lemonade notes (gentle, lightly bitter ones like blood orange and grapefruit) and soapy lavender, then turned to warm, medicinal spices (cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, anise), went through herbs (basil, thyme, myrtle) and flowers (everlasting flower, rich magnolia and ylang-ylang, and almond-sweet heliotrope, among several), to finally land on a delicious praline accord. This whole scheme was given depth by a balsamic and earthy-green streak of woody resins (lichen, labdanum, sap note, myrrh, orris) running all along. Guerlain's official 2005 opening launch was Plus Que Jamais Guerlain, but Cologne du 68 really seemed like the "More Than Ever Guerlain": you got some Jicky, some Mouchoir de Monsieur, Eau de Guerlain and Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune, a dose of Vol de Nuit and a bit of Shalimar, whiffs of Vetiver, Héritage and Coriolan, and some L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme.

The second renovation of Maison Guerlain in 2013 spawned a smooth, enveloping reinterpretation of the scent, called Parfum du 68. In 2015, the scent inspired yet another, more floral perfume, to be housed in Guerlain's reissued Baccarat tortoise bottle. Cologne du 68 was discontinued in 2016.

Bottle. Cologne du 68 was originally sold in a solid 490 ml bottle stripped of any decoration except for an elegantly designed ebony cap and a big label with the sixty-eight notes listed (the real number was actually seventy and the list is not exact, Sylvaine Delacourte has revealed). Later, the fragrance came in a 250 ml size and is now to be had in a more modest 100 ml atomizer. The more luxurious Parfum versions of the scent were only available in the unaffordable Baccarat crystal tortoise bottle.

EdC, EdT, EdP, Parfum. Fragrance firms are obliged by law to mark their products as either Eau de Cologne, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum, or Parfum. However, the criteria for doing so are not defined, hence brands are free to use the labels as they wish. Technically, Cologne du 68 was an EdT, and later batches were actually sold under the EdT designation, without any change in scent or concentration. In the same vein, confusingly, Parfum du 68 was not a Parfum, but an EdP. In French, the term "Parfum" is often used generically to simply mean "perfume". Parfum du 68 differed from Cologne du 68 in being overall less fresh, a delicious spicy-floral-gourmand fragrance of rose, magnolia, ylang-ylang, tonka bean, musk, benzoin and incense. The real Parfum version of the scent, L'Extrait du 68, had even more of the delectable intensity we love about Guerlain: the spices were spicier, the rose, jasmine and magnolia were richer and more sensual, and the base was altogether more addictive, a gorgeous cocoon of amber, incense and white musk. The latest reworking of the scent, "Flacon Tortue", equally labelled as a Parfum, essentially smells like L'Extrait du 68, but the top note is significantly more floral, with a very feminine aura of jasmine and orange blossom. Also, the fragrance is fruitier, which Guerlain ascribes to the inclusion of osmanthus blossom, a flower with fruity-leathery notes of plum, prunes and apricot.

  We love: L'Extrait du 68, although it's virtually unattainable

  Between fresh and chic

  Between barbershop and gourmand


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