Oh….leave it to Guerlain to take a feeling, a place, and a time, and to bottle it. Another one of their limited edition perfumes, Guerlain Terracotta L’Eau d’Ete was released in 1999 as part of the infamous Terracotta line. It was allegedly based on a much earlier Guerlain formula from 1910 called Quand vient l’été, meaning “When Summer Comes”. Terracotta Voile d’Été was released in the classic 70s montre bottle, which I just adore as they remind me of my mother’s bottles of Guerlain on her dresser when I was little. To me they just say “elegant and grown up perfume”.
Voile d’Été could be interpreted as “summer veil” but also “summer sails”. We know Guerlain has an affinity for far away tropical islands so it could really mean either one. It manages to give the impression of the sun beating down on warm, bronzed skin and hot sand on a faraway beach. It has a golden, sunny aspect thanks to a delicious combination of ylang ylang and carnation, the latter adding a spiky, spicy hot feel to the sweet flowers. Carnation always smells classic and somewhat old fashioned to me, but I love that soapy spicy note. It is often used in masculine scents, and that manly aspect helps keep sweet flowers at bay. Carnation has a “dry” aspect which stops a perfume from becoming syrupy or cloying. Add to this bright streaming ray of sunshine the pillowy powdery Guerlinade cocktail of vanilla and heliotrope (with a soupcon of iris and jasmine) and you have your hot, dry sand.
Terracotta Voile d’Été is a testament to Guerlain’s ability to paint a picture with scent. It is one of the very few summer beach scents that does not evoke colourful slushy drinks with umbrellas, coconut laced suntan lotion or even monoi. It isn’t what one would call perfume for hot sunny day at the beach. This is a perfume that approximates, nay, IS, a hot sunny day at the beach. Only Guerlain can do this and do it this well. It also evokes a golden colour, for you syntesthetes out there, as if you are lying on a French beach wearing your gold jewelry. I only know what that smells like because that is probably one of my favourite things to do in the world. Add a good book and some dreamy music, and I’m in heaven. Yes, that is where Guerlain Terracotta Voile d’Été takes me.
Guerlain Terracotta Voile d’Été was a limited edition perfume and is available from selected online sellers. Get it while you still can.
UPDATE: Guerlain’s Thierry Wasser has reinterpreted this perfume as Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum.