Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lavandre Velours

As I've owned this bottle over a dozen years now, I thought it about time for a review. It is now, discontinued but widely available on eBay, and not too terribly expensive. A little goes a loooong way, so don't despair if you can't source a 4 ounce bottle. I've been using mine roughly once a week for twelve years and there's still plenty left.

Yes, Aqua Allegoria is a lavender, and that's the first thing that hits you ("hit" being no exaggeration-it practically kicks your teeth in) but then the violets bloom and the whole thing starts to remind me of those C. Howards violet candies and gum they used to sell at the corner drugstore. You know, the stuff you bought to cover up the smell of cigarettes (Dunhill, menthol) when they were out of packets of Sen Sen. On the odd chance any youngsters are reading this, it doesn't work. Your parents know you've been smoking, and the violet candy is a dead giveaway. Anyway, Aqua Allegoria Lavandre Velours is a bit like that, but without the breath freshening quality. I can't wear it on my person, it is just too aggressive.

I do like the fragrance however, and being in possession of a gigantic bottle of anything Guerlain is almost always worth working out another use (with a few exceptions-I'm looking at you Jicky and Liu) and I found mine in changing the bed linen. Once a week, I give the sheets a good spritzing, and make-up the bed. The first night, as I pull back the bedspread and the now calmed-down lavender and violets drift up from the bed, it is glorious. Nothing could snuggle me off to dreamland in a better mood than soft feather pillows and AALV. By the fourth night it is still there, but muted and when Thursday rolls around (I have always changed linen on Thursday because that was when our housekeeper did and I'm a hopeless/helpless creature of habit. If I've had clean sheets every Thursday of my life, I see no reason to deviate from that pattern) you'd have to stick your nose directly to the sheet to catch a whiff. It would still be there, but sniffing week-old bed sheets would be John Waters quality weird, even if the sheets are your own. The point is, the shit lasts and lasts which is great on your bedding but kind of terrifying on your body...or mine anyway.

I had a friend years ago that sprayed her cupboards with Yardley Lavender, until it was discontinued in the US. It was a difficult time for her (this was pre-Internet when you couldn't be reunited with your favourite scents with a couple clicks of a mouse and a credit card). I was in one of those shops that sell cosmetics and perfumes that still had their stock older than I was when I spotted a bottle. I came to find out they had several bottles in back, and I bought them all to surprise my friend. She was happy to have them, but after a couple years of not having it, she'd moved on (Something carnation if I recall correctly). I imagine that will be a similar feeling of dismay when I finally exhaust my bottle of AALV. At first, I'll feel adrift-what on earth will I use in place of it? How will I sleep? But in the end I know, like my friend with her Yardley, I will find something else in a gigantic bottle to take me through another decade of Thursday linen changes. I still have a few years left in that bottle (I may even make another 5-6 years) because as I said at the beginning of the post, this stuff is strong. Perfume reviewers like to talk about sillage in terms of feet...AALV's sillage could best be described in rooms away, or city blocks. This isn't something you should wear in close contact with others, unless of course they're hopping into your bed, in which case you should atomise liberally!

Officially, AALV has a base of vanilla and sandalwood, and I believe it, but I don't smell it. I suspect that's down to the perfumer's talent, but it could just be that my sense of smell grabs hold of the violets and won't let go. Sandalwood is one of my least favourite notes (break out the incense burner and Jefferson Airplane records*) and I prefer tonka bean to vanilla. If it were there in any significant amount, I'm fairly certain I wouldn't be able to tolerate it in my bedding. Just imagine the sorts of dreams/nightmares sandalwood would induce.

"Don't take the brown acid man, it turns people into the Lucky Charms leprechaun, maaaaaan."

Yeah, that's  not my idea of a restful night's sleep.

One point worth mentioning is that AALV is about as unisex as fragrances get. I know it is marketed for women, but there's no reason that a man couldn't wear it. In fact, Lavender and violets are both commonly used in men's cologne and I would associate them as typically masculine.

The Guerlain Aqua Allegoria series have been interesting with some being better than others. I like the idea more than the execution in several of them, but then something like AALV comes along that I like very much in my environment, if not directly on my body. It is not for the timid, that's for sure.

* But if you must burn incense sandalwood will always be less headache-inducing than those awful strawberry scented ones. As for the Jefferson Airplane records, you can't go wrong with, Bless Its Pointed Little Head.


Mim said...

I really like sandalwood, though good ones are rarer than awful ones. Never tried any of the Aqua Allegorias long term, it's Mitsouko and the odd squirt of Shalimar for me, though I did sample the grass/mint one (Herba Fresca?) and liked it. You make the lavender sound very interesting.

Goody said...

You must get a whiff of Judith Muller's Bat Sheba-it is sandalwood, patchouli, and all the rest of the 60's-but done so much better than it sounds.

Curtise said...

Lavender, sandalwood, and vanilla sounds like a combination of my least favourite smells! But hey, each to their own, with perfumes as with all things (nipple exposure included!)
You are only the second person of my acquaintance who changes their beds every week. When my friend Jo said she changed all the beds in the house every week (Fridays, if you want to know), I nearly fell over with shock. She insisted everyone does; I insisted everyone doesn't, so we conducted a survey. Turns out, we know a lot of filthy people who like their grubby old sheets! xxx