Created by Sophie Labbé in 2006, Cologne du 68 was meant to commemorate the renovation of Maison Guerlain the year before. Technically an Eau de Toilette and not a cologne, the fragrance was named after the address of Maison Guerlain, 68 Champs-Elysées. Cologne du 68 reportedly was made up of sixty-eight raw materials, which probably wasn't the technical truth either, but it was true that it smelled like a lot of different things at the same time: citrus, herbs, flowers, spices, wood, sap, praline, at once fresh, green, floral and gourmand. Inspired by the scent of the maquis, Corsica's fragrant wilderness, its star ingredient was everlasting flower, soft, warm and honeyed.
The second renovation of Maison Guerlain in 2013 spawned a reinterpretation of the scent, this time called Parfum du 68. The scent retained the everlasting flower and the characteristic spicy-praline accord of Cologne du 68, but turned it into a smooth floral gourmand with notes of mandarin, rose, magnolia, jasmine, tonka bean, musk, benzoin and incense. If Cologne du 68 was "three parts cologne, one part L'Instant Femme and two parts L'Instant Homme," as Luca Turin wittily said, then Parfum du 68 felt like Cologne du 68 made into a L'Art & la Matière.
Confusingly too, Parfum du 68 was not a Parfum, but an EdP. In French, the term "Parfum" is often used generically to simply mean "perfume". Eventually, a real Parfum version of Parfum du 68 was launched, featured in a costly Baccarat crystal bottle, a giant black version of the historic tortoise bottle. The tortoise bottle is closely linked to Maison Guerlain, as it was originally created when the Champs-Elysées boutique opened for the first time in 1914. Named L'Extrait du 68, this more luxurious version of the scent had all 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 "Flacon Tortue" version 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. A delightful fragrance, which Guerlain has produced in only forty-seven 60 ml bottles (that is less than three litres!), each priced at 9,500 €.
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