Thursday, June 2, 2011

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Jasminora: fragrance review

It's easy to be convinced that the later day Aqua Allegorias have been subpar: The history of the Aqua Allegoria line by Guerlain proves they were not always so, yet the fruity examples of the last few years have been steadily dwindling. Nevertheless, I really surprised myself with Jasminora, Guerlain's latest addition in the line: A fresh jasmine floral which should delight fans of the classic Diorissimo (due to the latter's hyperbole of lily of the valley flanked by the grace of jasmine), as well as the acolytes of Chanel Cristalle and Ormonde Jayne Tiare (due to the crackling effect of both scents' citrusy trompe-l'oeil atop the green floralcy). The Aqua Allegorias have firmly moved from fruity territory into florals (judging by Flora Nymphea and travel exclusives Bouquet No.1 & Bouquet No.2) and if this one is any indication, there's hope yet!

According to Guerlain: "Aqua Allegoria Jasminora is a limited edition for 2011. This fresh floral fragrance opens with notes of galbanum, bergamot and cyclamen. The heart features Calabrian jasmine, freesia and lily of the valley, while the base consists of musk and amber."

In Guerlain's Jasminora the protagnonist is hedione (Methyl Dihydrojasmonate, the sparkling, limpid green note isolated from jasmine, paired with the lightening pepperiness of freesia. Here the perfumer used specifically Hedione HC from Firmenich, taking on citrusy touches reminiscent of bergamot juice and magnolia petals. The airy tang is complimenting the floral heart, taking on the refined delicacy of classic vintage Guerlain colognes (like in Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat) and echoing one of the most successful Aqua Allegorias, Flora Nerolia to date (Where the lightly bitter-sour neroli takes on a sensuous overlay, thanks to jasmine). The initial impression is one of electric shock, the peppery flash of freesia and some citrus creating a shockingly "fresh", piquant aura, the air ripe with the promise of rain.

This is supported by a chord of lily of the valley and jasmine which unmistakably translates as "green floral" (the resinous backbone of galbanum grass is furthering this "fresh", bracing impression). Hence my (tentative, as they're not really alike) comparison with vintage Diorissimo, especially in the lighter, fresher concentrations. But whereas the Dior classic veered into a decidedly naughty note in the background ~most notable in the extrait de parfum concentration~ in Jasminora the refined feel is that of a Japanese garden, misty at the edge of dawn and full with the electricity in the air before a rainstorm.
The aqueous elements are woven expertly alongside a sweet note reminiscent of the headiness of honeysuckle, resulting in an uplifting, refreshing melody which is heard though canopies of bright white. The lasting power is very good for an Eau de Toilette, in what is by definition a light genre, through the synergy of modern musks (only lightly powdery) and a subtle mossy note, boosting the freshness into an exploding sense of elation.

Much has been written about how Guerlain is abandoning la patrimonie of their impressive tradition, but with Jasminora they're revisiting part of that heritage with surprisingly credible results and a modern fresh feel. If I might be allowed to grumble amidst a positive review, it's a profound pity Guerlain reserved it for just a limited edition.

The newest Aqua Allegoria, Jasminora, by Guerlain, is available from major Guerlain stockists, £35 for the standard 125ml spray bottle.

Music by Manos Hadjidakis The waltz of lost dreams, from the 1961 Greek film Χαμένα Όνειρα (Lost Dreams).
Picture of Greek actress & dancer Maria Nafpliotou


  1. Anonymous14:45

    Sounds very, very nice. I'm not a big jasmine fan - I prefer it green, fresh, and firmly in the background. Also, I feel that I already have my "jasmine perfume" (Hanae Mori Haute Couture, a refreshing summery cocktail of aldehydes, fruit and green jasmine, sadly discontinued and available at ridiculously low prices at discounters).

    But I did really like Bouquet Numero 1: pretty-pretty.

  2. Anonymous16:31

    Helg, I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your vast knowledge of perfumery. I have learned so much, and have had so much enjoyment from reading your work!

    I would like to try this. I know where I can get it, but the store has no testers. Also I have had the good fortune to have bought some really inexpensive testers of some glorious older Guerlains (The local perfume store here selss off its testers, and the proceeds go to the local AIDS charity, which I think is a very good idea). I don't want to be greedy. I think that right now I could scent myself for ten years, and not run out of fragrances. Is this one really limited edition?



  3. Helg,
    I got samples of this one with my last order from Maison Guerlain and what surprised me about Jasminora was that its jasmine smelled of asphalt. It may sound weird but I like this about jasmine.
    Being as cheap as I am, I'll wait when Jasminora arrives to the discounters but I vaguely plan getting it.

  4. E. :-)

    I have a mini of this & when I got it, I had no high hopes to like it as I (even though I'm a big Guerlain fan girl ;-)) don't like many of the Aqua Allegorias. Most of them are somewhat bland, but there are a few pleasant exceptions like Lilia Bella, Pamplelune, Herba Fresca, Gentiana & Orange Magnificia.
    Well, & Jasminora is about to join them :-) I was really surprised how much I like it, especially given the fact that I usually prefer my jasmine to be more feral. But this one - even though on the fresh & sparkly side - has enough personality to win me over. I agree, it should really join the permanent AA line instead of being only LE, but at least we can enjoy it as long as it's around.

    P.S. I love the photo of Maria Nafpliotou you chose, she looks like Monica Bellucci on this pic.

  5. sofi22:45

    Tabatha you are so right!The photo is perfect, Maria Nafpliotou is just stunning!As for the fragrance, I found it really interesting and romantic!I have the same opinon with you for the rest Aqua Allegorias but this is different!It smells like spring breeze!

  6. Eva S23:17

    Lisa W,
    Can you order from Guerlain directly om the internet or did I misunderstand your comment? From what I've been able to see earlier on their website it didn't seen possible, which is annoying since Sweden is a veritable desert when it comes to finding stores carrying Guerlain perfumes...
    Eva S Sweden

  7. Eva, you need to mail the Champs Elysees boutique, there's no online store or anything. They will take care of your wishes and mail whatever you want to you. Not sure whether this is the right place for such technicalities and shameless promotion of Guerlain, should Helg want us to take it elsewhere, feel free to mail me at rosa (dot) pendulina (at) yahoo (dot) se

    Aaaaand, you have Byredo. Unless you're in some place like Luleå, obviously:D

  8. Eva S12:16

    Thank you Liisa for the info! You hit the nail on the head-it's Luleå indeed! Somewhat bothersome perfumewise, thank god for the internet and blogs like this one, Helg!
    Eva S

  9. i love how Jasminora echoes with Flora Nymphea, which I noted in my blog as well. Your comments on this beautiful creation are very inspiring !


  10. Eva S,
    see, I'm a psychic, and a silly one, I guess. I've only been to Stockholm and around, in fact, I only went that far north in Finland, and Luleå came to my mind as the southernmost outpost of the good old civilized Norrbotten mentioned in Mikael Niemi's books. Or there was a psych ward where those who got mad out of all that snow went, I would have to check.

  11. M,

    this one should please. It's not indolic, but at the same time it feels alive. Weird but they nailed it.
    Haute Couture, eh? I always pegged Hanae Mori as very sweet, now I need to try this one.

    Bouquet no.1 is pretty indeed.

  12. Carole,

    thank you so very much for your most lovely compliment which touches my heart. I'm honoured to have you among my readers. :-D

    This should be available and in testers everywhere. My own store broke the tester (so they say) but they had separate samples. They advertise it as a limited edition. So much in the AA line was limited edition, I kinda believe it.

    How wonderful that they're selling testers and donating proceeds to charity!! What testers do they have? Please email me, I might be interested.

  13. L,

    yeah, that's part of the Hedione aspect. It's limpid but sorta nose-tingling to me too. I plan to get this one as well. I am not sure I will wait till discounters have it, though, will they stock it?

  14. M,

    isn't that the truth! Yeah, how did they manage to do this? It's actually very good! I do hope they keep it in the line for good. It's both traditional and yet light and modern-upbeat too!

    She does look like Bellucci, especially there, now that you mention it. She's a quite stunning lady: very graceful, great physique, very Grecian features.

  15. Sofi,

    Nafpliotou fan club, here we come! Yes, she's a stunning lady indeed, so glad we agree. Even more so in real life and a sensitive, charming actress as well. Nothing vulgar about her, only grace, passion, elegance. I love that ideal for a Grecian "mould". I hope she and others of her ilk become the "role model" on which Greek ladies fashion themselves out.

    Jasminora smelling like spring breeze: how poetic and how true!

  16. Eva,

    aside from what Liisa said, I know that they're more willing than they're admitting. Plus they're expanding their exclusives programme distribution through different European cities. There's hope yet!

  17. Craig,

    interesting liaison!
    I hope you enjoy this one, as it is quite surprising and quite lovely.

  18. L,

    you're more clever than you give yourself credit for! :-)

  19. Firstly, I want to say a big thank you for your blog! I came across it looking up a few perfumes I discovered lately :) There is so much knowledge here and I'm enjoying learning about the world of fragrance.

    I was sniffing Guerlain's Idylle yesterday when the shop assistant recommended Jasminora. I was really pleasantly surprised! After Pamplelune and Herba Fresca, I never really like them all that much but this one is really lovely. :) I might have to venture out to buy one if I can afford it after an Ormonde Jayne I've been eyeing (nosing??) for a long time now!

    Thanks again for your fantastic blog and I look forward to reading more.

  20. Capucine20:57

    You're right: as I first felt the smell of Jasminora (jasmin was not what caught my attention, but the harmonious blend, a distant and modern remembrance of Diorissimo with freesia, fun, vivid) was delighted ... cold winter, and yet the white bouquet was irresistible!


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