Last year I developed a slight obsession with Guerlain perfumes. On my last visit to La Maison Guerlain on the Champs-Elysees I came away with one of the house’s treasures, often overlooked by consumers enamored by the plethora of other creations that drive Guerlain’s core business. Apres L’Ondee is an exceptional perfume, especially when you consider it is 106 years old. Created by Jacques Guerlain in 1906, it is a true example of Guerlain’s impressionistic style during the Belle Époque years. Apres L’Ondee recalls the scent of a garden following spring rainfall. Soft and delicate, I cannot help but connect it in terms of style with L’Heure Bleue created 6 years later in 1912. Both perfumes share an emotive quality that is hard to put into words. Some describe Apres L’Ondee as melancholy and others describe it as contemplative. Either way, these are both qualities that are rarely found in today’s perfumes, which are more flirtatious and confident. Today’s eau de toilette is in limited distribution and is often found only in Guerlain’s flagships and selected counters. The original parfum is now sadly extinct due to increasingly stricter European laws governing the accepted levels of raw materials used in the perfume industry. I haven’t sampled the parfum but for me, an eau de toilette concentration feels more relevant to create this watery theme, which conjures imagery of Monet’s water lilies or an early morning garden mist that lingers following a predawn shower.
Orris butter is such a remarkable perfume material. Iris rhizomes are aged for a number of years before their highly complex scent can finally be extracted to become one of perfume’s most costly raw materials. Iris forms an important part of Apres L’Ondee’s personality alongside heliotropin, an isolate derived from vanilla beans. Its almond-like scent can be associated with heliotrope, hawthorn and mimosa flowers. Apres L’Ondee does not evolve as extensively as later Guerlains; instead it hovers around a muted aniseed note paired with spicy carnation and jasmine. A blend of violet and irises allow an appreciation of Apres L’Ondee’s old world charm as well as communicating its theme, the feeling of newly fallen rain. The perfume is fixed with powdery vanilla notes that are very Guerlain but with the volume turned right down. If you recall the sensation of walking barefoot across lawn in the early morning, the feeling of cold earth and the droplets of water that cling to your feet and enliven your nerve endings, this feeling goes some way towards describing the feeling I get from Apres L’Ondee.
Again this is another fragrance, which was likely intended for a female audience that has made its way into my collection. While some may consider iris to be somber, or melancholy, I think of it as stoic and masculine. I also like this unusual pairing of flowers that together feels less like one of today’s functional perfumes, instead it is simply an attractive smell. I recommend it for a man that is looking for a unique and subtle floral scent. To describe in as a colour, it is a shade between purple and lilac. Males who favour this colour and should enjoy this old world gem.
Perfumer: Jacques Guerlain
Bottle designer: Robert Granai (original bottle)
Release date: 1906
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Floral Oriental