Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Flora Nymphea, 2010

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(image Gucci Nymphaea handbag.)

Perfumer Thierry Wasser

I tried Flora Nymphea on a whim and it surprised me. I don’t think of the Aqua Allegorias as very complex in intent or execution. They’re the Post-It notes of French perfumery. So Nymphea took me by surprise. It’s fairly linear, yes, but it’s complex enough to be conversational, long lasting and isn’t a one-liner. Every time I catch a whiff of it, it takes me to the very top notes of Guerlain’s Insolence eau de toilette. I know the hairspray feeling of Insolence’s start is derided, but I quite like it. I find it striking and appealing. Nymphea is a long-lasting play on that hairspray note.

Guerlain’s press describes this as a honeyed orange blossom and syringa. The only syringa I know is lilac, one of the spring scents I waited for all winter as a child. The combination of lilac and orange blossom makes for an interesting premise. A floral perfume is certainly nothing new, but taking these two flowers, who grow nowhere near each other, and juxtaposing them makes for an successful perfume. It demonstrates the difference between the simplistic, which others in the Aqua Allegoria line can be fairly accused of, and simplicity. It’s poised and it’s full, and demonstrates that linearity can be an attribute and not an insult.

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