Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Guerlain Flora Nymphea: new fragrance, new film

To celebrate 10 years of Aqua Allegoria scents (meant to interpret notes in a simple, uncomplicated way), Guerlain releases this spring Aqua Allegoria Flora Nymphéa. Aqua Allegoria Flora Nymphéa, is composed of three main ingredients – seringa (NB this is not lilac but Philadelphus coronarius/mock orange which smells like heady white flowers), orange blossom and honey and was composed by in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser. To create the scent, Guerlain claims using "an exquisite orange tree flower that's been produced in Calabria for more than three generations". Fig and mimosa also combine with orange tree flower to create the romantic scent.

The outer carton of the fragrances in all the line of Aqua Allegoria scents changes: the symbol becomes the embossed bee in different colours upon a white background, instead of the romantic and swirling flower, herbs and spices designs of the past. In honour of the 10th anniversary Guerlain will also present an animated movie which will feature a nymph named Flora Nymphea who will tell the story of flowers and scents led by a bee, symbol of the brand. The movie was filmed in 3D production and is one minute long, told by Olivia Ruiz (click below to watch). The advertising campaign also features a feminine character – a nymph from a fairy tale, with pale pink floral petals. The Face is Anna Selezneva, photographed by Paolo Roversi.

Guerlain's Flora Nymphéa will be available as 125 ml of Eau de Toilette in a redesigned flacon by Robert Granai: the familiar honeycomb is reprised with its bee on the cap.


  1. They are probably appealing to a younger crowd with the anime type imaginary in the film. I'm wondering which ingredients are actually botanical and which are synthetic, I haven't heard of Philadelphus coronarius available as an actual botanical essence.

  2. Hello dearest E,
    I thought the original set of Aqua Allegorias were issued in 1998. That would make it the 12th anniversary?
    I am looking forward to trying this one. Frankly I have been a bit disappointed with the ones issued in the last three or four years.

  3. Very attractive, magic has been promised, but the truth will be in the sniffing.

  4. Linda07:19

    I find this utterly depressing. Now Guerlain has reached rock bottom in making a film with what looks like a child's drawing as the character. Pink, pink,pink. And "the face" looks about fifteen years old.
    This is not the Guerlain whose name evoked magic for me when I first became interested in fragrance...

  5. Zazie08:41

    I have mixed feelings for the movie while looking, but at the end I'm left with a seren pastel-colored feeling, so I must have liked it more than I though!
    The notes listed appeal very much to me, but as usual, sniifing will tell!

  6. Anonymous09:28

    When I first met Guerlain's scents/perfumes back in 1972 I was enchanted by the femininity and richness of scent, flacon, advertisement ( think of L'Heure Bleue..)- now it is cheap,infantile and off-the-counter. Very sad. I am not the target audience any longer, obviously.

  7. The film.... why, oh why the hell? A teenage Barbie, surreal kitsch, generally pointless. Sorry, but what's the plot of A girl goes windowshopping to Guerlain, a bee leads her through a particularly depressing acid trip despite all that pink and then, in a deus ex machina manner, the bee presents the girl with a perfume bearing her name. Include that pseudo-philosophic 'and she saw her own reflection' and everything is doomed.
    Nymphea is water lily, damn. I wanted a water lily fragrance, I don't like syringa.
    Guerlain, you're doomed. I'll stick to my AA Gentiana while supplies last and then I'll find something better elsewhere.

  8. Fiordiligi09:59

    Thank you, dearest E. I shan't watch the little film as I know it will be dreadful. Of course, I'm not in the target market for this either. I've always considered the Aqua Allegorias to be Guerlain for Beginners but perhaps now they are Guerlain for children. They are quite nice as room sprays, I think.....oh, how sad.

  9. The movie is more like a long commercial, a short. It seems it's targeting a young audience, perhaps daughters of wealthy French people. I guess only Guerlain knows what the intention was. Regardless, in all design and marketing, your intentions should look ...well, intentional! Here I see a short cartoon reaching out to tweens, and a gorgeous bottle design that reaches out to adults. The image with the model look spectacular, and seems to speak to young women. Being in marketing myself this looks to me to be a marketing attempt gone wrong. Guerlain throws money around all the time though, so not a big surprise there! I'm still a fan of "la maison" though.

  10. Anonymous14:52

    The notes sound lovely and I am definitely looking forward to trying out the new AA. Although the last few AAs have been disappointing, with Flora Nymphea composed by Thierry Wasser, I do have high hopes. Thanks!


  11. Anonymous17:13

    Dearest E,

    I am not enamoured of the Aqua Allegoria line, although Mandarine Basilic is a truly reviving summer spritz, so I am not holding out much hope for this new issue.

    Why can't I work up any excitement over Guerlain's new releases? The classics make me swoon but Insolence (never smelled it), Idylle (quite beautiful actually)and the AAs leave me cold. Is it the history behind the fragrance that makes it exciting? Will these new issues be swoon-worthy classics in thirty years?

    My impression is that all the new stuff has very little originality to it, but that is just how I see it.

    I am curretly testing out Liu extrait and it is SO fine; a perfect composition without hard edges and without the feeling that it is trying to appeal to a demographic, which is sometimes the idea that I get when I smell the newer compositions.

    OK, enough whining. I will smell this new release with an open mind.


  12. Anonymous18:38

    it's a cute film. it's just another way to walk you through the notes. an expensive way. but that's what they're doing. i mean, how many ways can you describe a fruity floral? at least they tried to do it differently, and for that i give them some credit. i also came out of it wanting to smell the perfume, so it worked.

    what made me want to sniff it is when she dropped the fruit and it made such a heavy thud. it made me wonder if that was an allusion to some darker, earthier notes. but i'm probably making that up because it's wishful thinking on my part - i like darker, earthier notes.

    point is, it made me think that, so on some levels, this works. as a fellow marketer, i can appreciate that.

    - minette/scentsignals

  13. Anonymous22:08

    I've always liked the scent of mock orange and orange blossom and, with honey, this sounds edible. The proof will be in the testing. (Haven't watched the film - don't think that it's targeted at me!)

    Anna from Edinburgh,

  14. R,

    anime is huge right now so I guess they're not doing anything haphazard. As to the ingredients, LOL, I think they're actually subtly admiting it themselves: they merely present seringa (mock orange) as a note, but they insist on the orange blossom produced by a specific producer in Calabria. If one reads between the lines, that is ;-)

  15. Arwen,

    hello darling!
    The 10th year anniversary is the official blurb, so I went with that. I wonder whether it has to do with a certain perfumer working for the first (excellent) ones who is now persona non grata at the house, therefore making them even reposition the intoduction of the line? *my lips are sealed*

    I haven't liked most of the recent AAs either and didn't even feel like trying them. But I am rather intrigued by this one and the Travel Exclusive one, Bouquet No.1 (jasmine and peach).

  16. D,

    they were opting for something non realism-tainted, that's for sure. I hope they did well, this is a lovely theme to work on, how could it go wrong?

  17. Linda,

    I purposesly refrained from commenting on the film because I was expecting readers to provide their own juicy commentary (which you all have) and because I didn't know if I could hold my tongue :-)
    I think it's like Roxana notes anime-geared, which makes sense, but ultimately doesn't make sense (exactly as you note)!

  18. Z,

    I think they've touched upon a couple of interesting points (the fairy tale element, the allegory for the fragrance signifying a fragrant message), but not sure if I'm entirely satisfied. I assume I'm not the target audience though. I did enjoy the narrating by O.Ruiz, that's for sure.

    And yes, everything is in the sniffing, marketing be darned! :-)

  19. Chatelaine,

    welcome and thanks so much for stopping by and comment!
    I have to absolutely agree with you that the myth of yore at Guerlain has been the most successful escapist scenario of them all in fragrance history: They did make you dream...Every single perfume romantically embellished with a love story. Even if not true, it was so lovely.

    I guess times move on. I sure hope that some element of the tradition are retained, I wouldn't want them to do manga-inspired graphics too much.

  20. Liisa,

    as usual succinct and to the point!
    The elements you delineate are all there, all intentional IMHO: the Barbie-character a bit anime-like, so it appeals to youngsters (why am I being made to feel old when I'm not, I don't know!), the Alice-like trip (coincidental with the T.Burton film release?), the allegory and the tie-in with the story of Narcissus (there's a bit of mythology for you subliminally presented)...Perhaps we're overanalysing, what else is new.

    The matter of it being a non-water-lily fragrance I guess is accountable to them already featuring a lily one in there in Lilia Bella (a cross between bouquet floral, muguet-dominant and slightly acqueous). Or is this irrevocably discontinued? (somehow I think it is).

    Gentiana was nice! (try also Angeliques sous la Pluie if you haven't, if you like that one)

  21. D,

    dearest, oh well, it's anime-inspired, so I think out of your preferences. Not badly made at all, mind you, but a completely different aesthetic.

    I liked most of the first batch of AAs, they were intoducing lovely ideas to budding perfumistas and some of them are lovely to wear beyond room-spraying (Ylang & Vanille, Flora Nerolia, Winter Delice, Herba Frasca off the top of my head). Certainly they lack the complexity of the classics, but it's all intentional. However the latest AAs have left me with apprehension and not willing to try more, all those fruits, all those sweet notes...

  22. R,

    thanks for chimming in with your expertise! I have to agree that there is some inconsistency between concept and visualisation: The composition seems more floral than teenagers are comfortable with, the film looks like something that would make 16 year olds swoon. So....
    I believe Guerlain is having a very hard time to reconcile past and present; it's not an easy task at all!

  23. Dagney,

    it does include some lovely notes and I think Wasser would try to prove that he's not a one-trick pony (since Idylle proved popular, not sure about Guerlain Homme).

  24. Natalia,

    hello darling!

    Some of the AAs are well-made, solid if simple ideas. Smell Ylang & Vanille for instance and you see the bare-bones basic accord of a couple of Guerlain greats, smell Pamplelune and you marvel at the realism of the grapefuit. But that's neither here nor there. As a line they present incosistency.
    It's rather difficult to come up with too original things, because there are so many releases these days and not just at Guerlain, in general!

    Liu is an amazing specimen of how something can be smoothed out to its extemities, it's as if it never ends but creeps into the surroundings...You do know the little story/anecdote I have written about how it was conceived to please ms.Guerlain who was a fan of No.5, haven't you?

  25. Minette,

    thanks for chimming in!

    I think from a marketing perspective as you note they create some intrigue as to what it might entail. It did make us watch the film and wonder. On the other hand I think they're producing a floral, not a fruity floral per se. Which is a bit of an incongruity with those who would be attracted by the film supposedly (grossly generalising on the tastes of youngsters, so bear with me).
    It would be great if all that nectarous beauty had a dark note in there to jarr things out of the comfort zone, wouldn't it?

  26. Anna,

    thanks for commenting, nice to see you!
    Yes, the notes are beyond lovely. There is something uplifting about these smells and honey can lend an intriguing, somewhat animalic facet if treated a certain way. Not that I think they'd go overboard with that, because well, it's 2010 and we don't want to offend...(the dread!! *enter sarcasm*)

  27. Anonymous14:11

    Dearest E,

    I shall certainly try Ylang et Vanille, but Pamplelune has only managed to repel me whenever I caught a sniff; nevertheless I promise to approach it with an open mind again based on your recommendation.

    As for originality in our age, yes it is true that with so much out there it is difficult to be different but I think perfumers like Andy Tauer (here's looking at you Lonestar Memories) and Vero Kern still manage it; in any case it is not so much the lack of originality that leaves me cold, it is the loss of Guerlain's identity as a risk-taker, which I think they were before (wasn't Shalimar initially shunned as inappropriate for ladies?). It seems there was less market-research going on at the time, and more intiution, creative freedom and soul.

    Why of course I have read and reread your Liu story. I am only trying it because you suggested it to me when I once commented that Chanel No 5 and I could never get along. You encouraged me to try Liu to experience another interpretation of an aldehydic floral. Your ideas never fail to impress me.


  28. Natalia,

    awww, you're so kind, I'm blushing, really!
    Don't worry, Pamplelune and I don't fit on the same skin real estate either, but it is a great composition nonetheless. I would suggest trying it out for surroundings or on clothes.

    Let me expand with some thoughts on the general issue here:
    In comparing truly indie firms such as AT and VK to a major company tied to a conglomerate I feel is rather unfair to more ways than one, even if I agree that there is evidence that the former are paving untrodden paths amidst all the difficulties. I kinda feel for Guerlain because they have a very tough time reconciling the past with the present (and the future) and it's very, very difficult. The history of yore is beautiful, but tastes change and people want new things. It would really impress you how many youngesters do not know of major figures of the first half of the 20th century for instance: to them, it's as antiquated as the Mycenean and Aegean history I teach. You say Ethel Kennedy, they say, "come again"? You say Turandot by Pucinni, they can only think of Madame Butterfly if at all. Flappers are but a distant reference to them. And we're talking college-age, fairly cultured people who know a few things: They just seem antiquated to them.
    So it's not easy to reconcile that absence of cultural familiarity with the rich history of the house, which is what makes me think they're trying to expand. They have to respond to that I guess, even though sometimes we don't agree.

    As to the Guerlain stories, several of them are just stories. but beautifully crafted, which is why they make us dream. But several of their classics are built upon well-popularised ideas of the times, really, taking cues from literature, from other perfumers (Coty, Beaux), from the zeitgeist...This was their grand success, they took elements that were introduced and made them wearable, smooth, pliable, friendly to the wearer. Without losing complexity and artistry. Even the modern ones (most of them) are better renditions than the majority of the "inspirations" circulating on the market (ie.a Paris Hilton fruity floral is worse than a Guerlain fruity floral)

    And Liu is among the successes, of course; thanks for reminding me, how unforgivable of me to have forgotten I had recommended it to you!! *slaps self*

  29. Anonymous12:59

    I would like to know which AA is the most favourite one among us. I like Flora Nerolia most.


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