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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

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, for $249.99.


Blogger Sexy Sadie said...

Are you having a Guerlainpassion these days?

4:36 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

I like this a lot (no surprise), but I've only tried the old version. Too bad about the reformulation (sigh)! On other fronts--I just caved for (another) le labo discovery set--this one containing vetiver. Can't wait!

7:42 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Heh heh heh -- bring on the Guerlain! I just tried L'Instant Pour Homme (regular edition) yesterday b/c of you and a blog commenter. Who knew? Everyone but me, I guess. I think it's just wonderful, gonna stick it in my candy samples, and I'm not even a big patch lover. Which prompts my question: how would you compare regular Pour Homme to Derby? You have me jonesing now! (Their Vetiver smells just awful on me.)

9:21 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Everyday is Guerlainpassion day! :-)

9:39 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Perhaps the new version is not bad, who knows? I am curious to try it.
Can't wait to hear your impressions on Vetiver 46. Was I right that you'd like it? Was I wrong? :-)

9:41 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I would not call Derby pretty. It's not ugly of course, it is not even weird in any way...but not pretty. It's elegant and chic and just a little bit aloof :-)

What about Attrape? Don't you like it anymore??

9:42 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

L'Instant PH and Derby are absolutely nothing alike, in my humble opinion. I can't think of anything that relates them apart from that both are by Guerlain and both were meant for men :-) L'IPH is an extrovert, warm and sometimes kind of gourmand, sometimes patchouli-heavy. Derby is an introvert, detached and has a wonderful leather note.

9:45 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Is it anything at all like Eau d'Hermes? Sounds vaguely familiar though I didn't go look up the notes.

12:44 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am afraid I have very vague memories of Eau d'Hermes. if it features quite a prominent leather note and if its citrus is fresh but not *too* fresh, then there might be similarity :-) I have to re-test Eau d'Hermes and other "older/classic" Hermes scents very soon.

1:03 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I have a feeling I may still like the old version better, I thought the citrusy-green top notes were quite fresh and bracing as it is...but I am curious to try the new version as well.

2:53 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Aww :-( I am sorry. That is so sad. {{{Patty}}}

9:00 PM EDT  
Blogger carmencanada said...

Having been "turned on" to Derby by Victoria (Bois de Jasmin), I'm delighted you chose to review it today. Derby is the scent I choose when I'm perplexed as to which one to wear. I have it in the current version which, to my nose, is stunningly elegant. There is a limpidity in the way the notes develop - I especially love how the jasmine and tuberose add their indolic lushness to the bitterness of artemisia and clove about 20 minutes after application. The hint of carnation adds a peppery-powdery warm sensuousness, cutting through the drier notes. I love it.

3:37 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Well, that's it, I have to try the new version now! This is such a wonderfully classy scent.

9:54 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


This is the last sample you were so kind to send me and I am trying it today. I was actually surprised that this is was meant as a mens scent. It's not at all the image of the person I would think of wearing it. I picture someone like Diana Vreeland- slashingly chic- spritzing this on before taking a meeting with Conde Nast. The leather I smell seems like the same tobbacco-y accord that is also in Yatagan, and as it develops, it becomes more "manly" I guess. But I still see DV wearing it.

6:54 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

"Slashingly chic" is a great way to describe it!

7:10 PM EDT  
Blogger mariac said...

Finally opened the box containing Derby today. It was so special when it was first spritzed on me.

It reminded me of something else. After a few minutes I remembered ...Marilyn Migden's "Pheremone".

I will wear this all day. Perhaps it will be my new signature scent.

2:55 PM EDT  

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