Being an eau de cologne it is not strong and I regret that, but the scent itself is a wonder and a gem.
Soft and fresh this EdC presents itself, with a unique combination of flowers and quite some fruit. No sharpness from citruses, iris or frangipani: a sweet temperance is achieved by linden blossom, jasmin and vanilla. Towards the drydown a subtle herbal concoction of sage and rosemary accompanies this sweetheart home.
Guerlains original address was 68 Champs-Élysées in Paris, and so they released a fragrance made of 68(!) ingredients - imagine the address had been 266 Champs-Élysées!
This is a cluster bomb of notes, resulting is a thick and nonspecific soup, with various individual components rising their heads above the surface from time to time.
Initially some bergamot shines through, later on it has a floral core most of the time. Sometimes a frangipani stands out, sometimes an ylang-ylang; I also moments where carnation, immortelle and coriander come to the fore. Heliotrope, vanilla - for a while - and ambrette also make appearances. Later on sone white musks are present on my skin.
I get moderate sillage, good projection and seven hours of longevity on my skin.
With such on onslaught for this horde of notes, it is hard to prevent them form drowning out one another and from suffocating their ability to perform at their best. Best suitable for spring and autumn days. Not bad, but too many cooks....
Guerlain Cologne du 68 (2006) was a limited-edition fragrance made of 68 notes in celebration of the original boutique address of 68 Champs-Élysées, Paris France. It was made a time before LVMH had appointed Thierry Wasser as house perfumer to the brand, but after Jean-Paul Guerlain was kicked from his familial post due to the failure of his last few releases for the brand, so the duty of making Cologne du 68 was handed down to Sophia Labbé, who had mostly worked with Bvlgari and Parfums Joop prior. This cologne is made with no real top/heart/base structure, just a jumble of 68 different notes that sort of erect their own infinitesimally gradual dry down from beginning to end. Overall, it is a very pleasant if subtle journey from start to finish, but being as this is an eau de cologne, I couldn't expect the kind of dense wall of opacity a note list this prodigious would otherwise imply. Cologne du 68 is an interesting exercise in "much ado about nothing", but that's likely the point as with many Guerlain limited one-offs since their LVMH acquisition.
It would be a fool's errand to list all the notes so I'll just list what I smell, as full lists are available online with a bit of poking around. The opening of Cologne du 68 seems to begin with mostly a smooth spiced citrus, no doubt from orange, anise, bergamot, basil, and bay leaf, which are all listed. The heart moves the bay along into some lavender, hazelnut, elemi, jasmine, and coriander spice. Many minor players along the way blend this in that immaculate indecipherable method Guerlain practically invented, until a soft ambery base full of soapy notes like iris, heliotrope, carnation, white musk, and orange blossom contrast earthier tones of tonka, sage, opoponax, vetiver, and oakmoss with the sweetness of prailine, vanilla, and benzoin at the end. Wear time is long for a cologne, veering into eau de toilette territory, but sillage and projection are mild. Despite its best efforts to feel complex, Cologne du 68 really just feels like an after-shower fragrance, which isn't necessarily bad but not what you'd look for in something so deliberately limited and of historical import.
As a statement of "pushing the envelope of complexity doesn't neccesarily give you a better perfume", Cologne du 68 is a great success and will be good for shutting up the claptrap of hobbyists always screaming that modern perfumes are too linear or simple by showing them what happens when the pendulum swings too far the other way, but is it really an enjoyable wear? I'd say yes and no in answering that question myself, since Cologne du 68 is very pleasant as a paradoxically simple and clean cologne made from far too many ingredients for most of them to shine, but too limited, too rare, and hence too expensive for someone to reasonably enjoy what is otherwise a simple pleasure with a novel premise. I have a lot of other colognes that compete in similar olfactive spaces as this and can be replaced 10 to 1 more easily than Cologne du 68, especially since it was a 2006 limited edition long gone from standard circulation; but if you're a Guerlain collector, I can see the value in acquiring Cologne du 68, especially for the nice embossed wood cap and cylindrical package. Solid Neutral.
A who's who of fragrance notes used in perfumery! Just checking out the individual notes in this list before trying out Cologne du 68, I knew that my subjective experience wasn't going to detect anywhere NEAR this number of notes, per se. Just like Commes des Garcons "Odeur 53 / 71" compositions - which also claim to contain their respective number of notes within - it all boils down to what one's perceptions "catch" and ultimately construct as the overall summary scent experience. By nature, such fragrances will glean many different responses from different sniffers, but the value in all of this is to see if any one, two, or more notes tend to be detected above the others.
To my nose, iris dominates, with its starchy, boiled carrot, earthy sweet quality. Underneath, I do catch citrus fruit, greens, spices and florals hitting me like a school of fish, moving and showing me different angles as they swim about. SLightly peppery and savory sage catches my attention more intensely than the other spices listed in the "68."
Every fresh, fruity, flowery, sweet, resinous, and spicy note I've ever identified in my life could potentially catch my attention; but such is not the case. As expected, Cologne du 68 ultimately feels unified, though inarguably layered and multifaceted. It is rich, full of character, and very distinctive in a landscape full of overdone styles of men's and women's scents.
In the end, I applaud Guerlain for this very daring potion, which is difficult to market given its complexity. I would end up wearing this once in a while - something I'd also say of, say, Serge Lutens "Chergui" unisex scent - when I want to smell different but still palatable around others.
This had a nice moment in the opening, and I thought I might like it. Then it went through a phase of reminding me of the Aqua Allegorias, with a mass-market synthetic feel. Then tonka came to the fore, making it nicer, but more plain and uninteresting than exciting.