Monday, June 20, 2011

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Vitalisant, Apaisant, Exaltant: History & Fragrance Reviews

It's easy to lose track in the Guerlain portfolio: The vastness, scope and sheer volume of perfume produced is astounding, stirring the imagination of every serious perfume collector. Amidst it, some fragrances came and went in a blink: literally! This mainly happened in that moment in time when Guerlain was passing from firm, paternal care hands (i.e. Jean Paul Guerlain's) to luxury market behemoth accountants (i.e. LVMH) during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Aroma Allegoria, a trio spin on the bottle design and concept of the comparable Aqua Allegoria line by Guerlain (fragrances to introduce a new kind of customer to the house), was launched at that time-frame (2002), resulting in a bit of lost compass moment: The directors at the helm felt that the emerging market for "natural", "green" and "aromatherapeutic" was the new trend ahead (and that much was true), so they tried to reconcile that notion with the Guerlain perfume spirit. The experiment was short-lived, and by nature -no pun intended- not entirely successful, but not without some merit, as we will see in our short guide & reviews of the three Guerlain fragrances produced: Aroma Allegoria Vitalisant, Aroma Allegoria Apaisant and Aroma Allegoria Exaltant.

The ad copy went something like this: "For the first time, Jean-Paul Guerlain takes the aromachology path by launching three fragrances built around natural ingredients, which are selected for their soothing or stimulating properties. Although these Aroma Allegoria are beneficial for the mind, in the purest tradition of the House, they are genuine perfumes that are based on original accords. Aroma Vitalisant unveils tea and saffron notes for a stimulating effect. In Aroma Exaltant, cinnamon and cedarwood bring warmth and sensuality. In Aroma Apaisant, lime, chamomile and freesia bring serenity and well-being. The bottles, decorated with golden strings are smaller versions of the Aqua bottles".

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Aromaparfum Vitalisant (Vitalizing) was launched in 2002 and belongs to the aromatic citrus family of fragrance. Top notes are citruses, bergamot and green notes; middle notes are tea, jasmine and peach; base notes are saffron and woodsy notes. Despite the freshness promised, the impression gathered is a rather camphoraceous, medicinal hesperide, like if the central accord of Shalimar went stale in an attic room where old sweaters are kept: It's hard to see how the customer who disliked that effect in the classic Shalimar (where the effect is very soon upscaled by the delicious opoponax and vanilla underpinnings) would opt for such treatment in this fragrance. The addition of milky and saffron-spicy notes adds creaminess and great lasting power, but also an allusion to food, which might also further alienate the customer who seeks a refreshing, upbeat experience, lured by the vitalizing tagline. If so, Herba Fresca in the Aqua Allegoria line or one of the excellent citrusy (or not) Eaux de Cologne offered by the house accomplish more with less.

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Aromaparfum Exaltant (Exalting) was launched in 2002 and belongs in the woody oriental family of fragrances.  Top notes are bergamot, cypress, cinnamon and bitter orange; middle notes are virginia cedar, neroli, cardamom and coriander; base notes are vanilla, tonka bean, pepper and sandalwood. Easily the most typically and recognizably Guerlain in the triptych, Exaltant is delicious like a Christmas pudding consumed by the flicker of candles or a log-fire; creamy, lightly almondy, with a wonderful spicy top (fused with Arabian-like spices like cardamom and coriander, laced with a peppery warmth). I distinctly recall that trying it out at the counter, it was immediately my favourite out of the three and in fact I was contemplating of investing in it, at one moment. However I never did. If gifted with it, I would gladly wear it, nevertheless.

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Aromaparfum Apaisant (Appeasing/Soothing) was launched in 2002 and belongs in the floral family of fragrances. Top notes are freesia and wormwood; middle notes are lime (linden) blossom, mimosa, chamomile and ylang-ylang; base note is vanilla. By its very concept a quiet, soft, child-like fragrance, full of the innocence and tenderness of linden honey, Apaisant is not very floral, in fact it has a softly gourmand touch, thanks to the mimosa (reading a bit like fluffy almonds and honeyed sugar) but remains true to its intended goal: soothing tenseness and providing a buoyant refuge from the stress of every day. I could best picture it as a linear bedtime fragrance, a luxury for one's self rather than a daytime fragrance to meet the world in.

All fragrances in the Aroma Allegoria line are credited to perfumer Jean Paul Guerlain (although only one recalls his style of composition, the Exaltant one) and are long discontinued. They make sporadic appearances on auction sites, although I'm not sure the prices asked are warranted.

pic via delo blog


  1. Used to have a bit of the Vitalisant (Vitalizing)I'd swapped for--I thoroughly enjoyed it, but eh, I haven't really missed it since it's been gone!

  2. A,

    ah...if you thoroughly enjoyed it, you might have kept a decant of it? I find this is a sane practice to follow to avoid swapper
    s remorse.

  3. Asali22:10

    I was really looking forward to this particular write up, and I thoroughly enjoyed it:-)
    I love Exaltant, a great comfort scent.
    And I do enjoy Vitalisant for having that saffron note added to the freshness.
    Thanks a lot.

  4. A,

    perish the thought that I am not catering to my readership! :-)
    You're most welcome.

    Glad you found it enjoyable and yes, the saffron is a good note to savour in frags.

  5. Anonymous15:08

    please can you tell me where can I find Aroma Allegoria Exalting. I want it very much.and I have one last drop. thank you.

  6. Anon,

    alas I don't have a ready source for you. It's long discontinued and it's rare on the Net (but a Google search might reveal a forgotten stockist someplace)
    It does make appearences on Ebay however, so do keep an eye for it from time to time.

  7. I was revisiting this text today since i'm doing a Guerlain month and picked two of this line to wear. It's quite curious that the mimosa one reminds me somehow of L'Abeille, but more floral. On me the floral aspect is very noticeable from the first moment. Exaltant is very spicy, woody and somehow sweet on me and very good for a winter day,
    I don't know why, but i suspect that if Jean Paul Guerlain created them, it was with help of Mathilde Laurent. You say that Exaltant is more Guerlain, but i see it more as Guerlain seen through Mathilde eyes.

  8. Henrique,

    very interesting! Thank you for writing your impressions here.

    To be honest, I'm pretty sure none was composed by Jean Paul himself (he would OK the mods) but they deny it. So I'm with you. ;-)


Type your comment in the box, choose the Profile option you prefer from the drop down menu, below text box (Anonymous is fine too!) and hit Publish.
And you're set!

This Month's Popular Posts on Perfume Shrine