Nearing two centuries of fragrance creation, Guerlain recently released their latest in the Aqua Allegoria family, Nerolia Vetiver — a sparkling scent inspired by the Italian island of Ischia and its sun-drenched landscape. As if this glorious fragrance wasn’t enough, the Maison has taken things up several notches by now making these scents refillable … and that’s just for starters.
My daughter was just in Paris and sent these photos to me of Guerlain’s flagship boutique on the Champs d’Elysée. I mean, is this not the most stunning display you’ve ever seen?
In early May, my husband and I were invited to a lovely Guerlain event: the opening of their new spa at the Four Seasons Hotel in the heart of downtown Montréal. What made this even more special for me, was the opportunity to once again meet up with the Maison’s Master Perfumer, Thierry Wasser — someone whom I also call a friend. We got the chance to sit down for a private one on one with both Thierry and Cécile Lochard, Guerlain’s Chief Sustainability Officer, and were given the breakdown on this newest fragrance launch, as well as learn about all the incredible ecological initiatives that the brand is undertaking, continuing to be a leader in this area amongst all the luxury houses.
Thierry Wasser, Cécile Lochard, myself & my husband sitting down for a chat at Montréal’s renown Marcus restaurant, The Four Seasons Hotel
I could go on and on about Thierry Wasser: he’s elegant & debonair without a doubt, but he’s also incredibly warm, charming, and drop-dead funny. Considering the position he holds with Guerlain, he is not only supremely talented in his field, but also one of the most down to earth people I have had the pleasure of meeting — and someone who shows his respect for nature with both his actions & words. By the way, he also gave me the biggest bear hug when we met up!
There were several fun stations at the event: I was able to choose two lipstick cases (both came with the most beautiful Rouge G shade in a rich red hue) and had them engraved — I selected the red velvet for myself and the burgundy velvet for my daughter
Following that, I got to experience the most amazing hand massage using Guerlain’s Orchidée Impériale cream (no biggie, only one of the brand’s most expensive ranges) and apart from the fact that hand massages are one of my favourite treatments, my skin felt like silk after. In case you’re curious, my nail polish shade is Orange Boîte from Hermès (reviewed here)
When Guerlain set out to reinvent the Aqua Allegoria range, any product environmental impact was first and foremost in the planning. To that end, the House went back to the drawing board and did something no other luxury brand has: sourced organic beetroot alcohol for the range. Composed of ingredients that are 90-95% of natural origin, sustainability and complete traceability also play a key role, and even the bottles are now made from 15% recycled glass — without affecting the lustre or transparency. But the biggest change is that each fragrance is now refillable, meaning you can reuse your favourite scent over and over again without needed to continually repurchase a bottle. The impact of these changes? Using the Refill helps to reduce carbon emissions by 60%, while also reducing glass use by 24% and plastic use by 44%. How impressive is that?
Guerlain also tapped Yann Arthus-Bertrand, famed Photographer, Director, Activist and founder of the GoodPlanet Foundation, to produce the ad campaign. To minimize any carbon footprint, not only was some existing footage used from his very own Earth From Above, but he & his team refused to travel by airplane to get to the location shoot, instead opting to use a local approach to film the new images in France, presenting nature in its natural state, with seasonal flowers sourced locally which follows a “slow flower” philosophy that is more respectful of biorhythms. Basically, this was no over-the-top excessive ad campaign, but one that was as mindful as it is beautiful. By the way, I highly recommend leafing through a copy of Yann’s book, which is filled with the most breathtaking imagery of our incredible planet. Truly soul-humbling.
Aqua Allegoria Nerolia Vetiver Eau de Toilette (CAN $125.00/75 ml, 2.5 fl oz) | Since 1853 the “Bee” has been a source of inspiration for Guerlain, and the bottle echoes that iconic symbol via the golden honeycomb ‘shawl’ at its shoulders & bee image engraved on the cap. The paper label has been given a new streamlined look as well, but still in keeping with the aesthetic of the range. Created by Thierry Wasser and Delphine Jelk, this latest addition is considered a green/floral/woody fragrance and the scent is filled with the promise of languid summer days in the Bay of Naples (how dreamy does that sound?). The composition has been designed around fragrant Neroli from Calambria and sparkling Bergamot continuing the Mediterranean theme. Zesty Petitgrain distilled from the leaves of the orange tree combine with the ‘aniseseed-like’ green freshness of Basil to pump up the herbal factor, rounded out by the delicious fruitiness of Fig Accord and finally grounded by a woody Vetiver base.
I wasn’t sure what to expect and while my personal Aqua Allegoria collection is quite extensive (see photo further down), I already have my existing favourites in the range. My usual tastes run along more creamy/vanilla lines, but in the last few years I’ve expanded my fragrance library to include select florals (dependant on what other notes are in the mix — I still can’t do anything overly floral), and earthy/woody or even incense-like scents (which I absolutely LOVE). That said, the Aqua Allegoria range is more about nature and a certain lightness, so don’t expect to find anything too redolent in the lineup, and I’m more than ok with that as I like having options. What surprised me the most about Nerolia Vetiver, is how much I love it from the very first spritz; it starts off very vibrant & somewhat minty[ish], which starts to soften a short while later into something unique — not quite floral nor fruity, but something in between and which makes me want to lean in for more. The dry down reminds me of warm skin, but with something sylvan about it, like a walk in a dappled forest. I have to say that while for years Terracotta from Guerlain has been my go-to, especially for summer, I’m going to be giving Nerolia Vetiver a whole lot of love because it’s just THAT good.
A side by side comparison of the labels
Aqua Allegoria Neroli Vetiver Eau de Toilette Refill (CAN $207.00/200 ml, 6.7 fl oz) | I absolutely love that Guerlain created a refill option for the Aqua Allegoria range (the option has already existed for the some of the more exclusive fragrances from the brand, but is a first for this collection). In my opinion, this action conveys the brand’s commitment to helping minimize their carbon footprint, while also clearly stating it’s not only about making a profit.
Quite the little family gathering
I’ve said often enough that fragrance is incredibly tricky to review as it’s so subjective; we all have our likes & dislikes and what works on me may not work on you (or vice versa). I’m also very scent-sensitive and need to be careful, as certain notes can trigger an instant migraine, but that’s so totally not the case here. Nerolia Vetiver was literally love at first sniff and what’s more, I’ll go out on a limb and say that this one will appeal to basically everyone. Not sure how Guerlain managed this sorcery, but there you go. Think I found my summer 2022 scent!
Available at Guerlain counters and Guerlain Boutiques
Kindly provided by Guerlain for my unbiased consideration