The Aqua Allegorias, the series of simpler, less expensive fragrances that Guerlain released beginning in 1999, has continued as a series up to the present day. The quality of the series has varied considerably from the nearly irresistible, Flora Nerolia of 2000, to the messy collision between vanilla pine and fir that is Winter Delice of 2001, to the undetectable (by me) Laurier Reglisse.
Of all of them, the one that appears to cause the most consternation by its loss is Foliflora of 2003. That one was a garland of flowers, a feminine floral meant to recall sweet pea.
It didn’t. Nothing does, but the scent was a floral featuring principally freesia and gardenia notes, and the effect was charming and about as harmlessly female as a fragrance can get. You would not believe the prices that this one commands on ebay. It’s routinely in three figures, let’s put it that way.
To get right down to it, some of the Allegorias are worth owning just as fragrances and as experiments in subsequently famous notes in Guerlain perfumes, others not so much. Perhaps unfairly I am suspicious of the fruitier Allegorias, so Tutti Kiwi or Grosselina can be fruit jam zones through which you should proceed with caution. If you do wear these respectively, fruity compote, and red berry Eton Mess, do it in summer, as they will be at the top of their games, I’ve smelled Grosselina on ladies in summer and it works then.
If you love fruit notes-and I often do- some perfumers really handle them better than others. Try finding old Pierre Bourdon compositions, Courtesan, any of the Romea d’Ameor line, Féminité du Bois, any of those, or even the weird old Ocean Rain, a perfume by Edmond Roudnitska similar in tone to le Parfum de Therese but much less spendy.
As to the ones worth consideration I’d include Lillia Bella, which is another Guerlain take on their annual release of Muguet, and the already mentioned Flora Nerolia, a beautiful if indolic version of the orange blossom, petit grain and neroli combo, with a little jasmine in there to make it really interesting. Not light on its feet, but very sensual and relatively long lasting for this line.
Finally there is the Aqua Allegoria, that interests me and that I haven’t been able to smell, namely Anisia Bella. It was done by Aurelian Guichard, and that intrigues me because he did Chinatown, and my old favorite, the Baghari redo. I know that this belongs to that licorice/aniseed fest that went on in the mid 2000’s (everything from Yohji Homme to Lolita Lempicka and Caron’s Eau de Reglisse).
Objectively I should realize that this is likely not going to be all that wonderful, but it is Guerlain and they do a mean licorice, consider L’Instant Homme and Guerlain Homme and Cologne du 68. So I’m curious, and eventually I’ll probably find out that it’s not up to any of those. Still, a number of people seem to think Anisia Bella is unusually good for an Aqua Allegoria.
Currently the favorite appears to be Jasminora. I smelled this and got jasmine and some sort of chemical extender from it, which may be unfair, but that was the first impression. I don’t think I’d buy it.
What about the future of the Allegorias? The line was established to be simple to introduce customers to the Guerlain quality and signature, and to highlight good natural materials. I think they need to keep that in mind if they want to maintain an interested audience. Everybody else can give you aroma chemicals, no sweat, but Guerlain should give you the best of both worlds. So if you could suggest new ideas for the Allegoria line what would they be? They’ve done twenty five, what would we do if we got the chance?
Clematis Remontana- a chocolate, rose, bread, accord with a mild vetiver drydown. That’s my suggestion.