Perfume Review: Guerlain Derby
Derby was originally created by Jean-Paul Guerlain in 1985. Recently it has been re-introduced in Guerlain’s flagship boutique in Paris along with such scents as Attrape-Coeur, Philtre d’Amour and Metalys. According to Luca Turin, the fragrance has been reformulated and is now featuring “a weird citrus note on top”. I am not familiar with the new version of Derby, so I cannot provide a comparison. The original Derby is a perfume of supreme elegance, a polished, sophisticated chypre with notes of artemisia, bergamot, lemon, peppermint, jasmine, mace, pepper, pimento, rose, leather, oakmoss, patchouli, sandalwood and vetiver.
The blend of Derby is amazingly refined, a perfect balance of graceful understatement and forcefulness. Its beginning is bracing, green, citrusy, cold, and yet it has no sharpness. The pepper of the middle stage is evident, but its spiciness is quite discreet, toned down. The leather is softened by a gentle floral accord and is smooth, oh so smooth … As the fragrance progresses the leather note gains strength, but it never becomes harsh. Oakmoss and vetiver add to the composition the most enjoyable green earthiness, while patchouli, subdued and well-behaved in this aristocratic blend, brings with it very pleasant hint of “skank” [waves to March!] Derby has no sharp corners; this is a charismatic, chic fragrance that does not need to raise its voice to be heard and admired.
As far as I understand, Derby is available at Guerlain’s boutique at 68 Champs Elysées in Paris. I am not sure whether the Guerlain boutique in New York offers this scent as well, but it can sometimes be found (often in its original version) on eBay. The cheapest full size bottles I saw were being sold for $99.00. The fragrance is also available at PerfumeDistributor.com, for $249.99.