Guerlain : Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic

Created by : Marie Salamagne

Date : 2007

Genre : Herbal citrus

Concentration : eau de toilette

Disclaimer : I am not a big fan of overly herbal scents.

For all that has been said of Jean-Claude Ellena’s lovely Jardin series for Hermès, not enough has been said of the simple but elegant Aqua Allegoria series by Guerlain.  Although none are groundbreaking, I have found them all very wearable except for maybe one or two, Lys Soleia comes to mind.  Take Mandarine Basilic for example.  It’s a simple duet of orange and basil… it lasts for several hours and on a hot summer day, it would make a perfect eau de cologne.

The orange note of Mandarine Basilic makes my mouth water.  And with that herbal backnote, well… it’s wonderful.  It’s the kind of perfume I would bring on my next trip to Cuba (hopefully in 2013).  I suspect it’s synthetic which means it should hold up well in the Havana heat and humidity.  My only very petty criticism of Mandarine Basilic is that the orange note wears out before the herbal ones and you’re left smelling of a pungent herbal mixture.  If you like that, then Mandarine Basilic is for you.  It’s just not my thing.  But if you’re looking for an orange-centric, well-behaved eau de toilette… the orange-herbal duet goes on for easily 4 to 5 hours.  After that… it reminds me of a thin-crust neapolitan pizza which I love to eat… but not necessarily wear.

Let’s end this one with one of the most beautiful duets… ever!  True Love by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly.  What I wouldn’t give to be able to kiss, sail a boat and play the accordeon all at the same time.

Have a nice week everyone.

Nicolaï : New York

Created by : Patricia de Nicolaï

Date : 1989

Genre : Orange amber

Concentration : eau de toilette

Do you remember Genetics 101?  All that talk about dominant and recessive genes?  The details I’ve forgotten, but I remember the basics and how it was that my siblings and I have brown eyes while my mother has the most beautiful blue eyes.  Turns out the gene responsible for blue eyes is a recessive gene and easily dominated by the gene responsible for brown eyes.  Damn!

I’m starting to think that in perfume genetics, bad taste is the dominant gene.  Let’s face it, there is alot of crap out there.  So if my theory is correct, Patricia de Nicolaï must have inherited the two recessive genes that would account for her good taste.  Certainly being the granddaughter of Pierre Guerlain (yes, THAT dynasty), it would at least explain where she got one of the two “good taste” genes from.

Patricia de Nicolaï’s french roots are obvious.  Her masculine, New York, is strong, unapolagetic and gorgeous.  It doesn’t try to be “clean” or fresh, which is everywhere in masculine perfumes.  What it does is marry a deep orange resin with a quality amber.  Forget what you know about citrus-based colognes… think more of orange oil that has been distilled repeatedly to the consistency of pine tree sap.  Then add it to a warm amber that is as soothing as a cashmere sweater in your favourite colour that still has the faint perfume of your mother on it.  That’s how comforting New York is.

And if a beautiful orange amber wasn’t enough, four or five hours into the perfume you’ll get a discreet hint of pepper oil that made me wonder if that was still New York or somebody else had walked by.  This is what I LOVE about well-constructed perfumes… the intelligent evolution of excellent raw materials that is as exciting and satisfying as a conversation with a best friend over a bottle of red wine.  Cedar is listed in the middle notes but don’t worry… you won’t smell like pencil shavings.  The cedar is transparent lending a discreet woody subtext.  This is fine French perfume at its best… no gimmicks.

When I started writing this post, I was preoccupied by the image of Manhattan that I could use because I erroneously thought of hectic, vulgar and sophisticated New York City.  This fragrance is not New York City… it’s New York State.  Think of a walk among the reds and dark oranges of the Adirondacks in mid-October and you’ll have a good idea what New York, the fragrance, smells like.

New York is easily one of my favourite ambers.

Image : Deer in Autumn Landscape by Ralph Albert Blakelock (1847-1919)

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