Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum: fragrance review & comparison with Terracotta Voile d'Ete & Terracotta Eau Sous Le Vent

Die hard perfume fans might be excused for disregarding that the brand of Terracotta, one of the oldest products for giving what the French call "bonne mine" (i.e. the look of healthy looking, sun kissed skin) is the biggest seller for the Guerlain beauty and perfumes company they so revere. Indeed Guerlain would be literally bereft without their prized Terracotta, introduced in 1984, which is why they have been carefully augmenting the line with new and exciting and delicious-feeling products over the years, always instigating the desire to test at the makeup counter and take something home.

Part of the charm of Terracotta is the name, recalling sun-drenched tiles in the south of France, almost leaping off the green and yellow background and over the outlines of the blue Meditteranean just a stone's throw away. Another is the clever choice of design color scheme which makes the most of the mental associations consumers have with summer and leisurely vacations. A Terracotta product is like a ray of sunshine in your handbag, an inextricable part of feeling good about yourself even before touching your skin with the pom pom brush or the buttery soft creams. Over the course of 30 years Guerlain matched the powerful brand name of Terracotta with some fragrances they offered in a move of brand awareness.

The olderst was Terracotta Voile d'Ete (1999), a sunny spicy carnation and ylang composition that was fiery, somewhat daring and spicy floral in character, projecting with the assured step of a tiger proud of her golden stripes.
Next came Terracotta Eau Sous le Vent (2009), a limited edition fragranced moisturizing mist for the body which had a subtle sheen and the delicious aroma of tiare flower, yet faint for a true perfume. (It was complemented by the Terracotta Huile de Voyageur which was a dry oil to bathe skin in tropical flowers's scent and gold mother of pearl particles). This year Guerlain re-introduces the magic of Terracotta with Joli Teint, a new makeup product that caters to all makeup lovers, and revisits the Voile d'Ete fragrance edition, this time with a much less complex name, simply Terracotta Le Parfum, as a limited edition for 2014, as we had announced regarding new Guerlain releases months ago.

The allure of suntan lotions and oils is a well document market fact with thousands of consumers wanting to extend their pleasure out of using sun products into their fine fragrance ritual. That's where suntan lotion smelling perfumes come into. Terracotta Le Parfum is a refined example of that, much like Lauder cornered that game with their Azuree Soleil and Bronze Goddess fragrances which have munched on the market share which would have been rightfully Guerlain's had the Americans not been smart enough to pounce first. Guerlain has meshed the tropical flowers (tiare, ylang ylang) and the salicylates which naturally crown compositions of this creamy, sun drenched nature in Terracotta Le Parfum with classic French notes such as very perceptible jamine and creamy natural tuberose and (less so) orange blossom plus a fluffy, lightly powdery undercurrent of musk and vanilla, hinting at sweetness but withholding too much sugar, thus offering a grown up version that should prove very popular. Compared to Bronze Goddess it's a tad more "sparkly" to my nose, without the coconut note that recalls Coppertone (Guerlain has almost no coconut) and it feels like it lacks the carnation/clove note of the original Terracotta Voile d'Ete from years ago entirely, presenting a quite different fragrance.

 Terracotta Le Parfum, 50ml of Eau de Parfum, will be in stores in May 2014.

 Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Guerlain news, fragrance reviews and discussion


  1. Harmony Mari04:32

    Vive Guerlain ; there is nothing like their products to transport , envelope and inspire.

  2. Definitely have to sniff this. Can`t wail till May :) Voile d`Ete and Sous le Vent are one of my favorites.

    Greetings from Vienna

  3. I am a devotee of the carnation version, but I am excited to give this a sniff!

  4. I'm a sucker for sunscreen type of perfumes, I admit. :) I just can't help it - I love how they make me feel by triggering all the summery associations in my mind (which are always good). :)

  5. Anonymous17:00

    Ooooh, I have a bottle on the way! Can't wait!

  6. HM,

    they have retained a nice balance of old world quality and modernity, haven't they?

  7. Gina,

    they each have something to recommend them ;-)

  8. KK,

    I love the carnation as well, this is not as much carnation, but very nice all the same.

  9. ines,

    I bet this is exactly the reason for their popularity!!
    This is a nicely rendered one, worth sampling.

  10. Anon,

    lucky you!! ;-)

  11. I wonder if it will get to Australia?

    1. Anonymous13:53

      Dj's launch it mid-late may I was told :)

  12. annemarie09:27

    Late to this one. Sunscreens now contain so many chemicals - and rightly so from a cancer prevention perspective - they tend to smell rather nasty and have little in common with the topical and coconutty products we used to use. So I wonder if a lot of the success of tanning oil perfumes is based on nostalgia. And it may not work for young consumers. My 11 yo daughter would not know what tanning oil smells like.

    Anyway, thanks for the review. I've often wondered about Guerlain's old Terracotta perfume. It's not sold where I live, though online prices are cheap, or were. Have not looked for a while.

  13. Anonymous13:56

    Where can I get this in the UK?

  14. Anon #2,

    soon to any Guerlain counter near you. It's not boutique only material, but be quick as it's Limited Edition.

  15. Anonymous06:11


    Now you see it now you don't.

    When I was at my nearest Guerlain dealer last month there was no Terracotta tester.

    When I went there yesterday there was no Terracotta anymore.

    Except for a tester and one bottle which had been used as a tester before.

    The obnoxious sales lady let me condescendingly have a sniff and would have sold the used as a tester bottle at a 10 % discount, which I think is daring.

    At 50 % I would have thought about it, but actually this smells like Le Labo's Lys 41, only even sweeter.

    In my opinion Guerlain have reached the bottom now: copying the sales concept from Lauder and the scent from a Niche firm.

    Oh, how I long for Jacques Guerlain's creations...


  16. Petra,

    that's a shame…Bad SAs can kill a brand. It's a disgrace that they're not more forthcoming with samples and testers, especially, as I know for a fact that the company provides them with many. (I bet they keep things for themselves or relatives).

    Guerlain still keeps a good modicum of quality all around (better than some others) but we're harder on them because we've been spoiled by all their legends. :-)

  17. Anonymous15:16

    Hello Elena,

    Thank you very much for your reply.

    I actually had some more strange encounters at Guerlain's recently, especially with that sales lady. Which fits the whole situation perfectly.

    Guerlain has always been my favourite brand, but now I truly have to reconsider.

    Selling (out) to LVHM has not done the overall quality of the brand any good, and the umpteenth version of "La petite robe noire", now with a Les parisiennes price tag, will surely not improve the matter.

    I don't even think I am all too judgmental here.


  18. There's truth in what you say there….

    The behemoth doesn't do any favors, they do "destroy" the care and "smaller scale" appeal of premium brands, that much is certainly true. Thank heavens for Hermes!

  19. Seeing as how it's now 2015, this comment might not be included or read, but...you, Elena, let us in on the "rumor of a possibility" that Terracotta would be sold again in 2015. And you told us to write letters to encourage it. I did just that and received a nice reply. AND it is back, and I have my spare bottle and can spray my first one freely without the tendency to hoard. Just so.

    1. Of course I read and include comments even on older articles. :-)

      And what a useful comment too! Thanks for sharing.

      And so very glad that my suggestion has been appreciated and that Guerlain obliged. :-) That put a smile on my face. Enjoy your beautiful fragrance my friend in good health!


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