Guerlain Vega : Fragrance Review

44444

Arabesque

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

“Aldehydic mist on white petals” immediately predisposes one to think of fragrances like Chanel No. 5 (1921) and Lanvin Arpège (1927). Just like Coty Chypre (1917) and Guerlain Mitsouko (1919), itself an offspring of Chypre, set the gold standard for the variation on the chypre genre, Chanel No.5 with its cocktail of aliphatic aldehydes, reminiscent of metallic dust and candle wax, became the inspiration for many aldehydic florals. However, Véga is a Guerlain, both in its joyful rendering of the chilly aldehydic theme and the vanillic warmth pervading its elegant form. As it smiles through the radiant veil of flowers, Véga makes sweet promises, many of which it fulfills.

Composed by Jacques Guerlain in 1936, Véga was recreated by Jean-Paul Guerlain for the opening of the renovated La Maison Guerlain in the summer of 2006, thus initiating a yearly tradition of bringing back a long lost Guerlain classic from the past. …

I understand that the next ones to be resuscitated are Sous Le Vent (1934), a vivid green chypre hiding a delicate jasmine heart and Ode (1955), an opulent bouquet of rose and jasmine, the last fragrance composed by Jacques Guerlain and the first by Jean-Paul Guerlain.

Orange blossom and ylang ylang soften metallic chill of aldehydes with their honeyed luminosity. Scattered through the white floral bouquet are the dark rose petals. The dewy character of flowers begins to fade as the vanillic sweetness rises gently from the base. The flowers nevertheless preserve a delicate quality, and the lacy floral accord sustained elegantly over the rich woody base presents a vision of a dancer in an arabesque. The smooth as satin sandalwood is accented with vanilla and amber, yet the coolness of vetiver balances out the sweet warmth. A crisp touch of rosewood is another beautiful counterpoint that preserves the graceful arrangement of Véga.

For the lovers of the classical Guerlain fragrances, Véga will be an interesting discovery, because it bears a mark of Jacques Guerlain, both in the sweet tonality of its woody base touched by darkness and in the softness pervading the composition. Véga’s aldehydes are softer than those in either No.5 or Arpège as well as in another Jacques Guerlain aldehydic creation Liu, which makes it easier to wear. Nevertheless, it cannot be mistaken for what it is, a classical aldehydic floral. I doubt it shall convert those who do not care for this genre, however its fans will be delighted.

The fragrance is exclusive to 68 Champs Elysées boutique.

Photo: arabesque, from amherstballet.org.

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36 Comments

  • Prince Barry: A lovely review to brighten up a dark and dreary Monday morning.

    I wonder if Jean-Paul tinkered with it a lot? I would love to have been able to smell the original. December 5, 2005 at 2:08am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Barry, thank you. It is rather dreary here too.

    I think that the softness of aldehydes is definitely a nod towards the modern tastes, however it seems very much like many of Jacques Guerlain compositions. Perhaps, the animalic aspect is softer. I would also love to smell the original, but this version is very beautiful too. I wonder if Roja Dove might have it. December 5, 2005 at 2:32am Reply

  • parislondres: I love Vega as you know! It is a floral with a lot of personality. It is charming, has a brooding quality and has depth. Something Marlene D would wear. ;D
    However, I think it may be a little too powerful for people who love soft citrus oriented perfumes or even transparent florals.
    Loved your review as always dear V! Thanks for your message. Sending you the bestest of vibes and will write a proper note soon. December 5, 2005 at 4:37am Reply

  • julien: I have had the privilege of smelling it.
    For me this perfume is the perfecr selfish perfume…i mean,like Mitsouko,you wear it as a jewel,for your own pleasure,being sure of yourself.
    It is not a fragrance made for seducing…

    It is strong,with much aldéhydes and of corse jasmine all over…

    Beautiful,but i guess i could never wear it.

    Thanks for the review.

    J. December 5, 2005 at 5:14am Reply

  • Sisonne: Dear V, wonderful review – as always :) !
    I don´t know Véga, but every of your reviews makes me want to discover the fragrance you´re writing about – this one is no exception :)
    I just wrote/ask some things on your Corso Como/Tam Dao review! December 5, 2005 at 7:22am Reply

  • annE: Good morning, V, and thank you for another wonderful review. I have never tried Vega, and I must now certainly add it to my list, since the category of classic aldehydic floral is one of my favorites.
    I think Guerlain is very smart to raid their archives for new inspiration. It seems to me that there is a growing interest among perfume lovers in vintage scents, and I applaud this trend. December 5, 2005 at 8:40am Reply

  • Marina: V, thank you for the review! I guess I am not the biggest fan of aldehydic floral, but since you say there is a sweet tonality here in Vega, I think there is a good chance I will be smitten :-) I am very excited because thank’s to someone’s incredible generousity I have a sample comning!! December 5, 2005 at 9:01am Reply

  • Laura: Hi V! I can’t remember if I tried this or not. I think not. I’m a bit off of aldehydes lately, but it sounds very nice anyway. Will have to check it out someday. Good luck with your work, btw. December 5, 2005 at 10:31am Reply

  • Judith (lilybp): This sounds lovely. Like M, I have some trouble with aldehydic florals: I have tried repeatedly to get along with Chanel No. 5, but so far, no go. But this sounds as if it might just be possible (at least, it sounds worth a try). Who knows, if I liked it, it might help me to appreciate more difficult ones (I find this often to be the case). But then again, do I really need more fragrances to admire? . . .So many ‘fumes, so little time. . . December 5, 2005 at 11:20am Reply

  • Robin: I do hope these will end up at Bergdorf Goodman — do you think, V? December 5, 2005 at 11:37am Reply

  • cait: Delightful post as usual, V! I am anxious to try these reissues. Do you know about the inspiration for its name? December 5, 2005 at 12:47pm Reply

  • mreenymo: I agree with Robin, V. I do hope these classic Guerlains end up here in the states. Otherwise, your reviews, though beautiful, make perfume fanatics like myself frustrated with envy. LOL!

    Hugs! December 5, 2005 at 12:53pm Reply

  • linda: Lovely review! I am green with envy. :-) I’ve been pestering the ladies at the Guerlain counter at BG to get the new fragrances. They told me that maybe next year they might have Attrape-Coer (sp.), Angelique Noir and Metalys. I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed. December 5, 2005 at 1:41pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear N, oh, you are so right about the dark quality, which to me is only a hint, but a very effective one. I love the aldehydic florals, and I love Guerlain classics, therefore Vega is perfect for me. Of course, it is such a beautifully done fragrance that anyone who loves the genre will appreciate it. I love the sandalwood note in it. December 5, 2005 at 2:06pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, it is very elegant and refined, and my favourite part is the dark element of the base. I do not find aldehydes to be stronger in Vega than in Chanel No.5 or Arpege, especially in side by side comparison. The initial burst is that of ylang ylang and neroli. It is lovely, and I am glad that they brought it back. December 5, 2005 at 2:12pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear C, thank you. I hope that you will get a chance to try it. I am not sure how much you like classical florals and Guerlain fragrances, but if you do, you will be pleasantly surprised. December 5, 2005 at 2:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: A, like you, I also applaud this trend, along with creation of new, innovative fragrances. I like to have both the modern and the classic, and it is such a joy to be able to smell the old compositions, which is why hunting them down is interesting to me. Ode is another one I am curious about. I have some, and it is a composition reminiscent of Joy, although it has a typical Guerlain sweetness in it as well. I would love to see it being brought back. December 5, 2005 at 2:15pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, the woody base is quite pronounced in Vega, which made me think of Bois des Iles (not quite the same, but a similar effect). Perhaps, you might like it. December 5, 2005 at 2:16pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, you are back! It is a beautiful fragrance, although yes, if you are not into aldehydes, you probably will not care for it.

    Thank you for your wishes! December 5, 2005 at 2:19pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, I think that Vega is much easier to wear than No.5. I love No.5, and I have it in all three concentrations, however when I put Vega on one arm, No.5 on another, Vega was sweeter, more luminous and less of a challenge. December 5, 2005 at 2:22pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I hear that they might, however I do not know when. I keep hearing divergent rumours on the topic. December 5, 2005 at 2:23pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Cait, thank you. I know that Vega is the fifth brightest star in the sky, and that the name means “stone eagle” in Arabic.

    Adding: yes, I just verified with the booklet I have. It was indeed the inspiration. December 5, 2005 at 2:26pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I hope that they will end up in the States soon. I would have loved all of these fragrances to be much easier to find.
    xoxo December 5, 2005 at 2:27pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, thank you. Please pester them some more! I heard that the new boutique might have the fragrances in November, but it is already December, and we have no news. December 5, 2005 at 2:28pm Reply

  • Qwendy: You know, Vega could have been called FlowerBomb! I loved it when I tried it in the boutique Paris in September, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It’s nice to have my sense of it backed up by you, with your keen scentsibility and elucidation of the notes, which my nose doesn’t “do.” Now that I read them, along with your interesting description of how they work together I know why I loved it, it’s everything I want in a scent, and to keep the wine analogy going, it’s “big.” Now I’m not an big aldehyde fan at all and I must say that they were not in my way at all when I covered my arm with Vega. I would have bought it, but I decided on Vol de Nuit Extrait instead, which, luckily, I don’t regret!

    Will they continue to carry the rereleases after they make new ones, so I’ll be able to get some next fall? December 5, 2005 at 8:17pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Wendy, so true! It is indeed a flower bomb. The explosion of ylang ylang, neroli and then all of that lush jasmine is just wonderful. I would have made the same choice as you did, but like you, I would find that the bottle of Vega is a must. I love that the drydown has so much warmth to it, and it is what makes Vega unusual.

    I thought that Vega entered the permanent collection. I certainly hope so! December 5, 2005 at 10:57pm Reply

  • julien: Maybe my test wasn’t accurated enough…
    Well,i really felt it was a strong aldéhydic perfume.
    II don’t like aldéhydes,so chanel N°5,Arpège or another,it is not my cup of tea,even though i find VEGA very beautiful…selfish but beautiful!lol December 6, 2005 at 4:44am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, oh, you are right. It is a big fragrance and the aldehydes are prominent. I suppose that if you do not care for either No.5 or Arpege, you will not find it as appealing as I did. December 6, 2005 at 5:34am Reply

  • julien: Well,i really can’t bear Arpège.
    I come to appreciate Chanel N°5,N°22 and also the beautiful Iris poudre(which has got an orientalistic background)… so give me time to love VEGA ;)
    Kisses,dear.
    J. December 6, 2005 at 12:55pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: J, you have all of the time in the world. :) I only hope that they will not discontinue Vega again. December 6, 2005 at 2:12pm Reply

  • julien: And we are to young to know the real VEGA.
    The reeditions are not completely the same as the perfumes were before.
    I don’t know if it is going to last…but i would love to.
    Kisses,j. December 6, 2005 at 5:54pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, you are right. I am sure the original Vega was different. Nevertheless, I am happy with this version, which is simply beautiful to me. December 7, 2005 at 12:09am Reply

  • Qwendy: I must say that Chanel 5 and Arpege etc do not work for me at all, I think because of the aldehydes, but I had none of the same sense of the Vega! I hope I’ll get to try it again before I go, it seems like a long time to wait after getting my appetite whet like this! And I’m always looking for a heady rendition of Orange Blossom, so perhaps this is it! December 7, 2005 at 3:14am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Wendy, I felt the same way about Vega (even if I do wear No.5 and Arpege). It has everything Guerlain is famous for. December 7, 2005 at 3:22pm Reply

  • cathy paul: I just tried Vega and love it. The warmth and classic structure are just what I am looking for, it seems a true Guerlain signature scent with all I love about all the Gueralain fragrances I have worn. March 10, 2006 at 1:52pm Reply

  • julie: I just got a well-preserved half-full bottle of Véga off ebay. To know this scent is to love it. Repeated wearings, especially on consecutive days and nights, have been revealing. Lately, I’m noticing what I call the “deep drydown”—what linger after more than 8 hours, a phenomenon that seems to track directly with quality ingredients—and Véga’s is haunting. After all that vanilla, amber, and wood, a fruited flower emerges, overtaking and supplanting in particular the dry vetiver from the earlier phase of drydown. Twice now I’ve smelt apricot, so I’m wondering if it’s osmanthus I’m smelling. Or perhaps it is the ylang/rose combo reasserting itself. Whatever. I am so grateful to a fragrance friend who sent me a decant some time ago. It took sniffing, setting aside, and revisiting to fall in love. I’m now feeling the urge to explore Guerlain some more. “My” house has been Caron of late, and I favor vintage Weils for their animal bite. I find Guerlain’s funk to be latent rather than blatant, and more vegetal than animal. I have to love that its secrets aren’t divulged all at once. March 24, 2014 at 2:37am Reply

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