My first official introduction to this 1906 classic Guerlain was through the newer EDT. I tested it many times and was always struck by the difference between the beauty wafting from the bottle and the way it smelled on me. I declared my skin as the place violets go to die. But that was not the real Après L'Ondée.
Last year I had the incredible luck of finding a full bottle of the vintage parfum. I proceeded cautiously to make friends with it and discovered love. Apres L'Ondee is not so much about violets as it is about atmosphere. It's somewhat sheer and floral, but the notes that stand out to me are heliotrope, anise and lots of lots of very pale dry iris. It's interesting how even with all the licorice and almondy heliotrope, the perfume never turns gourmand. It actually lacks that pastry shop quality you find in many Guerlain perfumes, even though the connection to Guerlinade (both the classic base and the 1998 special limited edition) and to L'Heure Bleu is there. It's just a very different kind of perfume.
Sometimes smelling Apres L'Ondee in parfum feels like entering a dream. It can be familiar, like a memory you can't quite place but you know you've been there, maybe in your subconsciousness. The iris is almost otherworldly. It's not earthy or dirty, nor is it buttery. How can something so rooty feel this sheer and delicate, like the wings of a dragonfly? That's the art and genius of Jacques Guerlain. He created an emotional experience of the first degree, which is perfume at its very best.
Art: Nocturne by Kirsty Mitchell