Possibly the highest compliment that I can pay to a perfume is that it is ‘Guerlain-esque’. Which is certainly true of this, one of two fragrances from the delectably boudoir chic make-up brand Paul & Joe, created in 2003 by Peirre Bourdon. (The other is Paul & Joe Blanc.) So: if you love Shalimar but you fancy a teensy flirtation on the side, this is definitely somewhere to start without straying too far from your comfort zone. (Its ‘livery’ is even reminiscent of Shalimar: all navy blue and gold for the box, while the bottle has been reworked lately in deep midnight glass). The citrus/hespiridic/bergamot topnotes are more fleeting than the Guerlain classic, but then some similarities emerge: a cashmere-esque softness and a so-enticing creamy warmth. It’s powdery and sugary and ambery in a way that lets you know: this could not have been created anywhere but France, the land of Ladurée macarons and Cristalle champagne and naughty cinq-à-sept liaisons, because it is absolute irresistible temptation in a bottle. (At least for an Oriental-lover like moi). In its mid-stage, Bleu decadently pumps out amber, almost as if powered by your heartbeat, with a clutch of white flowers as its sexy backing group (think: Robert Palmer/Addicted to Love): Caribbean magnolia, jasmine, heliotrope. On me, it goes briefly (and almost morning-after-a-self-tan-ishly) biscuity, with a delicate bone china cup of Lapsang Souchong on the side – I reckon if this had calories, there’d be about 300,000 of them in each bottle. If you can hold off from spritzing again repeatedly to snuggle up in its cocooning mid-notes, you eventually get to the base (which is still there on my skin a day later) – just about all of my favourites, standing at the bottom of this perfume pyramid: patchouli, oakmoss, labdanum, sandalwood, myrrh, musk. (And a large dose of Shalimar-ish vanilla.) I tried the two fragrances, for comparison, on each wrist: Bleu hangs on to its delectable sweetness for longer than its Guerlain ‘ancestor’. It’s erotically animalic, too – notwithstanding the fact that animal notes were outlawed years ago. Lingering like a last, gorgeous guest at a party – the one you rather hope you’ll get a goodnight kiss from – it boasts a ‘sillage’ (or trail) that’s unbelievably powerful, without being overwhelming. (One spritz, just one spritz onto my arm, and someone walking up the stair of my house – six metres away from where I was standing – asked, ‘What’s that lovely perfume?’) Today may be a sun-drenched summer’s day, but Bleu leaves me dreaming slightly wistfully of crackling log fires, fur rugs (faux, of course) and my husband: an old Shalimar-lover from his high school days, who will enjoy discovering this almost as much as I have… Purrrrrr, purrrrrr, purrrrrr….