FINALLY getting around to trying this Guerlain. It is a classic AND a masterpiece. Do you ever avoid sampling a perfume because you are afraid to fall for it? This is one of those for me. It's silly because I own so much perfume that it wouldn't have been that big of a deal to pick this up at some point. And I love it as much as I imagined I would!
Just want to mention that am not sure of the age of my sample as it was a gift from a fellow perfume worshiper. Judging by the color and the scent, it is probably not vintage.
In the first moments that I smelled Après l'Ondée for the very first time, two words immediately jumped to mind: delicate and serene. I envisioned feeling the silky, sheer, purple iris petals between my fingertips, taking deep breaths of clean air, my shoulders enrobed in warm sunshine.
Here's what I love and what is so unique about Après l'Ondée. Its notes not only evolve from the traditional French top-heart-base, but the scent also changes from one spot on my skin to another. It's as though I sprayed two different perfumes on my skin immediately next to one another. In one place I smell damp violets, but as I slide just an inch or two along my arm, I pick up sweet mimosa and a pop of cassis, which creates a vibrant green effect. Another few centimeters reveals the scent of rich and starchy orris root. The result is an olfactory impressionist landscape of a spring garden in the French countryside. On my arm sits a watercolor painting with swirls of purple and violet; hues of blue; a layer of green; brownish-gray round shapes strewn along the bottom. In my mind's eye I am Monet.
It's rare that I liken a perfume to a symphony, but the complexity and even feelings evoked by this perfume indicate that it was created by a master who is the olfactory equivalent of Beethoven. Après l'Ondée is a carefully orchestrated piece of art. The complexity, layering and harmonization of every single note is nothing short of genius.
Since violet is IMHO the biggest note in this fragrance, I want to focus on it a little bit. While the cassis does provide a green staccato (uh-oh! I'm breaking out the musical terms), the violet note itself hugs the line between a cool, wet, natural violet and sweet violette pastilles. I really like the fact that the violets are neither here nor there but strike a perfect balance in the middle, the likes of which I have never experienced in any other violet perfume.
Après l'Ondée is a classic that is still relevant today. And while perhaps marketed to women, in today's gender-bending society I can easily see it as a modern men's fragrance. We no longer have to adhere to the rules of "women wear violets and roses and men wear lavender and fougères." I can picture it on a man wearing a black suit as well as on a man who is enjoying Sunday brunch with family.
I am not a self-professed "violet lover" by any means. I am very particular about my violet perfumes. But if there were ever a violet perfume to own, Après l'Ondée would be it!
Just for the heck of it I will mention a couple of other violet loves: The retro-style green violet of Voile de Violette by Sonoma Scent Studio, good old patchouli-tinged Balenciaga, and I saved the best for last--Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger's gorgeously creamy Violette Sacrée.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on Après l'Ondée or your other violet faves ;)