Tag Archives: Apres L’Ondee

A Trio of Worth: Je Reviens

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It was suggested to me , by the Perfumed Dandy no less, that when shopping for Je Reviens, I should look out for the Couture version (2005).  Just as I was searching for it (online of course, it’s not in any High Street near me), my head was turned by a tempting trio and I committed a blind buy sale before you could say Amazon dot co dot UK.

Created  by Maurice Blanchet in 1932, this pre war classic has not aged well I fear.  Where is the  Lilac? the Jasmine? the Hyacinth? the Violet?  the Rose? I certainly had plenty of aldehydes, but not in a  good way.  This was high pitched and cheap smelling. Where did it all go wrong?

ImageI have two theories. Firstly, Je Reviens is an aldehyde meaning that many of its notes are also used in soap and detergent. This is no bad thing- look at the marvellous First by Van Cleef and Arpels– a soapy and heavenly scent that I cannot find fault with.

However in 1932 when Je Reviens was created, soaps and detergents were more basic and Je Reviens would have smelled sophisticated and different to the discerning  scent buyer of the Thirties.  Indeed, it began as a luxury product before it became a mainstream inexpensive classic. Therefore to my spoilt Twenty First century nose, used to Ambi Pur, Cistern blocks and Toilet Duck,  Je Reviens sadly has too much in common with them.

My second theory is that the formula for Je Reviens has been changed so much that it is barely a shadow of its former self.  A few IFRA tweaks are to be expected these days,  usually with stoicism, but Je Reviens has been super morphed into something different.  It would be like making Grandma’s fruit cake but leaving out the fruit. And the nuts. And the ImageCherries. And the butter. And the eggs. In fact, you’d just have flour and sugar, but could you still call it Grandma’s fruit cake?  The House of Worth closed in 1956, was bought by the Maurice Blanchet Society and then sold again in 1992.  It’s changed hands, formulae, and probably budgets too.

It smells very similar to Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass, of which I am fond. However this is like Blue Grass that has been kept in a tropiquarium under hot lights and has gone shrill and bitter, like an unemployed diva.  I can  pick out spicy geranium and carnation and the aldehydes (in spades) but there is a  twang of Bloo cistern blocks about it, which could explain why its lost in translation. I bet if my modern nose hadn’t been so desensitised to aldehyde and cleaning products, I would probably like this more.

I won’t give up straight away. It took me a few goes to appreciate Guerlain Apres L’Ondee and Mitsouko after all. I would still try the Couture version, which I understand is nearer the original vintage formulation. However when Je Reviens wears off (it doesn’t take long), I get excited about choosing something else to wear instead.  Never a good sign.

Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars: No Wonder KL prefers Apres L’Ondee

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Rumour has it that Karl Lagerfeld wears Guerlain Apres L’Ondee as his preferred scent. I don’t blame him. He must have distanced himself considerably from his earlier efforts, (although KL Original Chloe remains an excellent budget Tuberose for around ten pounds).

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www.fragrantica.com

I remember smelling Sun,Moon, Stars in 1995 when a friend of mine had a bottle, not long after its  launch in 1994. At the time, I wore Chanel Cristalle but also had a bottle of original Monsoon, with its little faux woven  pointed cap. I thought Sun, Moon,Stars and Monsoon smelled vaguely similar and remember finding SMS quite agreeable.

I miss the discontinued Monsoon (current Monsoon/Accesorize scents are not in the same league) and recently bought myself a little of Sun, Moon, Stars, hoping for some 90s magic. I bought it, brought it home, and got that familiar thrill when you first take the cellophane off a fresh bottle (I love that frisson!)

But wait…what fresh hell is this? Shreiky ,loud synthetic pineapple, which never smells good in scent, followed by some sort of metallic mess. I drooped. I was crestfallen. I washed it off.

Original Monsoon (apparently made as Wild Lagoon by Coty) was a wonderful Green Marine perfume with a mossy, Patchouli base. Sun. Moon,Stars seems to have lost a lot in translation  and/or has been reformulated beyond all recognition until they can barely justify using the same name.

Top notes are: Pineapple, Peaches, Bergamot, Freesia, Roses and Waterlily. What you actually get is loud, fake, factory farmed pineapple and some cheap tinned peaches.

Middle notes claim to  include Carnation, Heliotrope, Orris Root, Lily of the Valley and Jasmine. It sounds very promising, not to mention ambitious for its price tag, but in fact I couldn’t pick out anything but the Pineapple and Peaches.

Basenotes claim to be Sandalwood, Amber, Musk, Vanilla and Cedar, but by this time it was  a mushy fake fruit mess with metallic undertones.

It’s bad. It’s really bad. It’s too late for me, but save yourselves! Once again, I found myself logging onto to eBay and offloading it onto some poor sap with no nose. My apologies to the poor sap.

Guerlain L’Heure Bleue: the magic spell of the blue hour

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Hello, I’m Wordbird, and while IScent takes a well-deserved trip to the perfumeries of France, I shall try to fill her shoes. I hope I won’t bore you!

I know IScent said all kinds of nice things about me, but in fact, she has been a ‘perfumista’ longer than I have. I always liked perfume, but I wasn’t fascinated by it. Until, that is, I went on holiday to France seven years ago, taking with me a book called The Emperor of Scent, which I’d picked up in the SciFi section for holiday reading. It turned out to be real science, not fiction: the story of a talented biophysicist called Luca Turin who was researching how we smell things. It was a fascinating read, but what really inspired my imagination was Luca Turin’s comments on perfumes and the perfume industry.

Turin claims Mitsouko is the perfume he would take with him if he was being sent off on an inter-galactic space mission. He describes it as lovingly as if it was his favourite child. I had to smell it. Being in France meant that I could spend hours in a handy branch of Marionaud, smelling many of the amazing things he described in glowing terms usually reserved for works of art. At a shopping mall in a provincial French town I was able to try things I would have struggled to find at home in Wales, including the entire Guerlain range of classics – Jicky,  Shalimar, Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue, Apres L’Ondee, Vol de Nuit, Chamade, Jardins de Bagatelle, Nahema, Parure, Mahora, Champs-Elysees, L’Instant, Insolence… I came out of the shop reeling and reeking.

Some of those perfumes repulsed me – traditional, oakmoss-laden chypres were definitely not to my taste and I did not like massive florals or 80s stinkers – others confused me, some left me cold, a couple were interesting but difficult and one or two were pretty.

But one made me come back again and again to sniff the bottle and then the inside of my wrist where I had sprayed it: L’Heure Bleue. It was strange and just a little magical, wonderful and very grown-up. It did confuse me, I couldn’t say ‘this smells of x y and z’, as Luca Turin did in his reviews and when I read the notes listed, I could smell no particular iris, violet, heliotrope or carnation. Instead, I had an impression of melancholy, face powder and a ladylike, delightful deliciousness, an edibleness like a rich almond pastry with a creamy vanilla custard filling. It hypnotised me and fascinated me and I was hooked.

If you haven’t yet got around to trying L’Heure Bleue I strongly recommend you do. Persuade the sales assistant at the Guerlain counter to pull out the beautiful little bottle with the heart-shaped stopper from under the counter and try it, I beg you. Failing that, somehow get your paws on a sample of this rare gem. It is pensive, complex and gently intelligent, utterly unlike the modern watery vanilla/ thin floral/fruitichouili things that are being pushed at consumers nowadays. This remarkable perfume celebrated its one hundredth birthday last year, and like so many delightful Centegenarians, it still has powerful charm and character, which is no bad thing.

Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan: Because I Got High

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After the cosy success I found with the delicious Ambre Narguilé, and being an Amber fan, I thought Ambre Sultan would be a dead cert for my Fragrance Hall of Fame. I could not have been more wrong.

Some fragrances can affect your mood: Guerlain Apres L’Ondée makes me feel wistful, Eau de Cartier makes me feel happy, Frederic Malle Iris Poudre makes me feel threatened… and so on. It can’t be explained. Smells makes you react in ways you could never expect or rationalise.

Ambre Sultan immediately brought to mind that noxious cloud of um…”herbal” smoke you sometimes find lingering above a gang of youths in an insalubrious neighbourhood. Strongest notes are Resin, Myrrh and Oregano. It smells of the kind of thing you would extinguish if a police car drove past.  It made me feel heady and nauseous.

Maybe the prolific Christopher Sheldrake did a good job. Maybe this really is the smell of a Souk or a Bedouin Tent. If it is authentic, it’s put me off Souks and Bedoun Tents for life.  This one not only repelled me, but caused me to take two paracetamol and feel panicky.  I’m glad this was on loan to me and that I had not forked out for it.

You may feel differently. If you are a youth in an insalubrious neighbourhood.

Guerlain Jicky: Relationship Status – Its Complicated

jicky label Guerlain Jicky has been around since 1889 (obviously reformulated some along the way), so it deserves our respect in the way that we should always hold the door for an elderly lady who still wears pearls and a brooch.

The first time I tried Jicky I thought it was vile and didn’t understand how it could smell good on anyone (although it smelt lovely on my friend Lisa: kind of spicy and woody).

I tried again. This time, lemons and halitosis. It was not going well.

“But it’s my favourite” said at least two of my friends, whose opinions I respect. I tried a third time, and that was it. After that if I didn’t like it, we were never going to see each other again (that’s Jicky and me, not my dear scented friends).

I tried to get some context. I tried Caron’s Tabac Blond, then Apres L’Ondée , and then Jicky. Ah, now I get it.

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I think Jicky needs to be sniffed alongside its contemporaries (or as near as dammit). Modern noses have been trained ( through lack of choice mainly) to smell modern formulations from the 21st century. Since Jicky was created in the 19th century, I felt I should bow to it accordingly. In the same way that a bustle and bonnet looked dignified back then, but would look ridiculous  in today’s High Street,  we need to think outside the Twenty First century mindset. Jicky was not made for modern tastes. Once I got that, and had smelt other older perfumes, I kind of “got” it.

However, I was puzzling my way through the notes and there are a couple that stop it from being on my list of favourites. Firstly, I adore Eau de Cartier with its Bergamot and Lavender, so I thought I would like it in Jicky, but I didn’t  I also love an occasional woody and spicy scent, which Jicky is, but I didn’t.

jicky bottleI am not an expert, merely a consumer with an obsession, so I will try and phrase it in as subjective a way as possible. For me, it should be one or the other. Woody and Spicy OR Lavender and Lemons. Putting them together jars like a beautiful woman with awful hair, or an evening gown with brogues. Great on their own, but together its just not right. In fact, there was kind of a fuzzy harsh note which I couldn’t identify at first until the penny dropped. It was Ginger! Its not listed as a note, although spices are and that’s what it smelled like- the Ground Ginger I have in a jar rather than the fresh, clean smelling ginger you can buy fresh.

So Jicky is better now than I ever thought, but I think its more respect than love. Jicky, you’re great, but what can I say? I don’t think we should see too much of each other.  Its not you, its me.

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Swarovski Aura: For the Young and The Tasteless

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 Many perfumes have origins and a backstory that make the scent more interesting, even legendary. LouLou was inspired by the silent movie star Louise Brooks.  Guerlain Apres L’Ondée was inspired by the smell of a spring garden after a downpour, and Madame Grès created Cabochard after a trip to India where she discovered the beautiful scent of the Water Hyacinth.

 Swarovski Aura was inspired by a sparkly clutch bag.  I could just end my review here as it pretty much says what I think.

However, I’ll drag out this synthetic fruity floral in order to give you the full picture. In a faux alligator skin bottle, Swarovski Aura is a run of the mill fruity floral.  If you are fourteen and your duvet cover has The Wanted on it, you’ll love this. It’s very fruity.  Very floral. And you’ve smelt this a million times before.

Let’s just say, in fifteen years time, this won’t be changing hands on eBay. It will be long gone and not even missed. I hope.

This avalanche of smell-alike fruity floral scents makes me me wonder. Are they popular because people keep buying them? Or are they popular because nothing else is being offered right now? It’s like strapless wedding dresses.  Does everyone wear them because they are popular? Or does everyone wear them because that’s all the shops stock right now? It’s a vicious circle.

Swarovski, stick to the sparkly clutch bags.

L’Eau D’Hiver by Jean Claude Ellena for Frederic Malle- Winter Wonderland

Picture 308 L’Eau D’Hiver was created by the legendary Jean Claude Ellena for Frederic Malle. It’s kind of a response to Après L’Ondée. Imagine Jean-Claude and Guerlain having some kind of sniff off in a dark car park after hours. Who wins? Well, I’d say Jean Claude struts off with the trophy in this battle of the heliotropes, but leaves Guerlain with only a slight graze to its pride.

Luca Turin rates Après L’Ondée as one of the twenty best perfumes ever made. That’s quite a compliment when you think there are over 17,000 perfumes listed on Fragrantica alone, and the site by no means covers every scent ever made. It seems only appropriate to review the two scents consecutively since they are both heavyweight heliotropes, and this ingredient is getting harder to find and use today. Somehow, Jean-Claude Ellena managed it, but then Jean-Claude has clout.

So what’s the verdict on Eau d’Hiver? Well it’s primarily heliotrope, but where it differs from the cold shouldered Après L’Ondée is that JCE added a touch of musk, and am I imagining it? MINT.  It’s an unusual mixture that makes me think of frost and snow and silvery frozen raindrops on a cobweb. The mint keeps it sharp, but the musk softens it at the same time.

It wasn’t love at first sniff though, it was more “Mmm, that’s interesting” followed by  “rather nice, but I wouldn’t buy a large bottle” and after a while, I kind of needed to open a window. It’s like longing for a cosy log fire on an icy day, but then getting too cosy and wanting a blast of fresh air again.

The jury’s out, but it’s much friendlier than Après L’Ondée and her haughty froideur.

Guerlain Après L’Ondée : it’s no joke

21oUCRMcp4L._SL500_AA300_ This is a serious grown up perfume. There’s no messing, there’s no laughing at the back. It’s not playful (This isn’t  Ô de Lancôme  for Heaven’s sake!). It’s melancholy and rather beautiful and… well, it doesn’t really suit me if I’m honest. However, I admire it greatly, in spite of the fact that it makes me feel like I wearing someone else’s clothes. I also admire the Old Masters in the National Gallery, but I wouldn’t want one on my mantelpiece.

Après L’Ondée (translation: after the rain shower) was created by Guerlain in 1906 and has stood the test of time, still with a die hard fanbase of ( I imagine), elegant Parisian widows with mournful expressions and good jewellery.

My initial impression at first spray was of an old bookshop. The papery dry Iris and Heliotrope made me think of very old shops with a bell that rings when you enter, and of sniffing ancient reams of paper or antique tomes. In other words, it made me think of Hay on Wye.

It’s a rather sombre scent with mournful heliotrope notes. Light violet tones try and cheer it up, but heliotrope has slammed the door and gone to its room to listen to her gramophone.

It’s powdery in a dusty way, rather than a talcum powder sort of way. It makes me think of a pair of evening gloves that I inherited from my late grandmother. When you sniff closely there is the faintest hint of a long gone party. It’s a kind of the good times were here, but now they’ve gone sort of scent. You would only wear it to a wedding if you hated the groom and thought the bride was making a huge mistake.

It’s beautiful, but a bit sad, like a statue of an angel in a rain sodden formal flower bed. (Don’t get nervous Doctor Who fans, I don’t mean Weeping Angels)

 Après L’Ondée venir les larmes.  If you work in a funeral parlour, this is your new office fragrance. Congratulations!

Champs Elysees: Guerlain, how could you?

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Luca Turin hates Guerlain Champs Elysees. HATES IT. However, I don’t always agree with him so I went ahead anyway. I mean it’s Guerlain so it can’t be bad , right? (apart from La Petite Robe Noire, which smells of cherries and Caramac, but that’s for another day). It can’t be awful if it’s Guerlain, can it?

Well it is. If you told me some famous popsy invented this on the back of an album tour on a limited budget for maximum publicity, I’d believe you. In a blind test, if you asked me which is the Guerlain, I would dismiss this with an instant snort and say “well it’s definitely not THAT one, no way is that a Guerlain”. And I’d be sadly mistaken.

It almost goes without saying that Guerlain has made some true greats that have stood the test of time and succeeded through generations, passing the torch of good taste from woman to woman down the decades. Take Jicky for example, rumoured to be a favourite of Jackie Onassis and created in 1889, or the perennial L’Heure Bleu, created in 1920 and still going strong, or the heavenly Apres L’Ondee, still beautiful after 106 years.

And then there’s Champs Elysees. Created in 1996 and a melting pot, it would seem, of every note they could manage outside the oriental bracket. Can I just ask: why  the melon note? Why? Why have they put melon in there with lilac and peaches and lily of the valley and almonds and anything else they could find lying round the house or garden that day?

This is not to be mistaken for the original Champs Elysees created by Jacques Guerlain in 1904. The only similarity is the name. The modern version was created by Olivier Cresp, who has a lot to answer for , since he is also guilty of creating Angel. (Don’t get me started on Angel, that Marmite of perfumes that divides so vigorously).

If you want Guerlain at its best, get the early ones. A hundred years of women can’t be wrong.

Champs Elysees? turn left and avoid. Much too busy.