Guerlain Apres L’Ondee : A Love Story

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Apreslondeelorenzi

The rainstorm… Après l’Ondée, which translates from French as “After the Rain Shower” seems like a radiant and exquisitely graceful composition, and yet there is the suggestion of a brooding darkness hiding in its opulent layers. My own relationship with it is complex; it is both a fragrance that served as a gateway for my intense passion for everything Guerlain and a scent of nostalgia. It reminds me of my first year in the United States, when feeling displaced and homesick, I would walk around Marshall Field’s, the large department store in downtown Chicago. The Guerlain counter, with its large booklet describing each fragrance, drew my attention. I was determined to find a perfume that would be mine because Guerlain had always fascinated me.

While growing up, the only place I encountered Guerlain was on the pages of the novels I read. The sultry red-haired witch in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita lured unsuspecting women with the promise of “Guerlain, Chanel No. 5, Mitsouko, Narcisse Noir, evening gowns, cocktail dresses...” The fantasies of Ludmila Rutilova from Fyodor Sologub’s Petty Demon (Melkii Bes) unfold in the rich fragrance of Guerlain Pao Rosa. These exotic and lush images flashed in front of my eyes as I sprayed the perfume from the gilded crystal bottles. Yet, while they were beautiful, I felt that none would capture my fifteen year old self. They were grand and rich, perhaps ever so slightly ostentatious, while I was shy and serious, a student of ballet and chemistry, subjects that required both discipline and precision.

When I discovered Après l’Ondée I knew that I had found my perfect Guerlain. Its velvety iris heart cradled in the ornate frame of spiced flowers and oriental resins seemed wispy and ethereal. Its bittersweet beauty captures the nostalgia that I felt and could not express. Like the memory of a first kiss, it was innocent and tender. It was born in 1906 during the joie de vivre of the Belle Époque with its vibrant art and social movements. It was a year when the famous actress Sarah Bernhardt still reigned supreme on stage; when Pablo Picasso was paid the enormous sum of 2,000 francs for thirty canvasses; when the Dreyfus Affair exposing French anti-Semitism came to an end and when Paul Cézanne, the father of modern art, passed away after being caught in a rainstorm…

More than ten years and many discoveries later, I have learned to love the stately Shalimar, the seductive Mitsouko, the dark Vol de Nuit and the resplendent diva that is L’Heure Bleue. I have unearthed Chypre, Jasmin, Coque d’Or, Ode, Gyrasol, Une Rose, and Rue de la Paix (which I am sending to the Osmothèque in hopes that this gem might be reconstructed). And yet, when a package from a friend with a bottle of Après l’Ondée parfum arrived this evening, I still felt a wave of emotion flow over me as I put on the perfume. It smells of iris and almond meringue, of the Belle Époque’s exhilaration, of warm spring Chicago days, of walks through the Impressionist galleries of the Art Institute and of ballet studios in the morning. In other words, for all of its own history, Après l’Ondée now holds my own.

———

Please see my other more objective review of Après l’Ondée.

“Après L’Ondée” dining gown, designed by De Worth and painted by A. Lorenzi. From the “Gazette du Bon Ton” of Paris, 1913. The Philadelphia Museum of Art Collection.

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50 Comments

  • violetnoir: Oh, V! You don’t have to be objective when it comes to Apres L’Ondee.

    Hugs!

    P.S.–What does Rue de la Paix smell like? November 21, 2006 at 11:53pm Reply

  • Tigs: What a lovely tribute to a scent that has lived with you. November 22, 2006 at 12:09am Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: R, it is true! On the other hand, someone might wish to know what it actually smells like. :)

    Rue de la Paix is a beautiful rose, with a rustic, herbal top, which gives it such an incredible complexity. November 22, 2006 at 12:13am Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Tigs, thank you! It has marked the inception of my love affair with Guerlain. November 22, 2006 at 12:14am Reply

  • Cynthia K: What a beautiful and touching story, V! It is my favorite post of yours! November 22, 2006 at 2:05am Reply

  • Anjali: How beautiful Victoria. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! November 22, 2006 at 4:20am Reply

  • Lisa Carol: Thank you for such a lovely, un-objective, story! I only met Après l’Ondée very recently, and it was quite an overwhelming love at first sight. On a day when I was quite low, it came over me as an otherwordly, enveloping, cloud of comfort. Almost magical, it creates a smokescreen to shield you from the world. For me, Après l’Ondée is very “out of the box”, not at all along the lines of what I usually like. Whereas most of my scents have a confident strength about them, Après l’Ondée is very vulnerable, up to a point that I find it difficult to wear it out of the house. However, I’ve been wearing it at home ever since I bought it, and it’s indeed a remarkable scent! November 22, 2006 at 4:45am Reply

  • Laura: Your story is as transporting to me as the perfume in question is for you. I can see the 16 year old Victoria as clearly as if she were here before me. I wish she/you were—we’ll miss you at the Thanksgiving dinner table this year. November 22, 2006 at 6:01am Reply

  • chayaruchama: Dearest Vika-
    You move my Slavic soul and mother’s heart.
    I feel for that displaced teenage girl- part woman, part child.
    It is courageous for you to be so candid- I treasure that.
    Autumn is a season which tends to bring out contemplative, profound reflection, and holidays are wont to do the same…
    Perfume only seems to magnify the intangible , but you are very adept at expressing it.

    Be blessed, and loved, and enjoy life’s bounty… November 22, 2006 at 6:43am Reply

  • k-amber: I am deeply moved by your story. Thank you for sharing it with us. I will cherish the love story…

    Kaori November 22, 2006 at 7:12am Reply

  • March: I suppose Mitsouko is my greatest passion … but Apres is my favorite. (shhhhh, don’t tell Mitsouko!) I remember I bought my first decant because everyone talked about it all the time. I was expecting I’m not sure what — something closer to Shalimar? Oh, V — that feeling, smelling Apres for the first time!!!! What a glory. Subsequent sniffs only enhanced rather than diminished my pleasure. I got busy and bought a bottle online when I read it would no longer be exported.

    So now I will ask you (having swapped away my parfum decant) — how do you feel about the EDT vs. the parfum? I expected to love the parfum. Somehow what it gained in sillage and tenacity, it lost in… effervescence? “Brooding darkness?” That almond creaminess should have been an improvement. Maybe it’s best to have both concentrations. :) November 22, 2006 at 7:13am Reply

  • Flor: I love, love Apres L’Ondee! Your post was beautiful, a wonderful way to begin my day. What a joy to stumble accross such a beautiful story about one of my favorite scents! If I could own a wall of Guerlain perfume (like the one in the Chanel 5 red riding hood commercial) it would be a wall of Apres L’Ondee, L’Heure Bleue, and Mitsouko. Of course, I have never sniffed Rue de la Paix, and the other ones you mentioned, but who knows, maybe someday. November 22, 2006 at 7:22am Reply

  • Judith: What a beautiful reminiscence! And I am so glad that you got a bottle of the parfum; it is incomparably lovely! My first Guerlain love was Jicky and my favorite is Mitsouko, but Apres l’Ondee will always hold a special place in my heart. There is really nothing like it! November 22, 2006 at 7:31am Reply

  • aryse: Hi Victoria, what a wonderful and true story about APRES L’ONDEE.

    I agree completly with you.In my opinion, APRES L’ONDEE is the best of all fragrances created by GUERLAIN and more especially by Jacques GUERLAIN the greatest of all time.

    This nostalgic and “métallique” fragrance, mysterious and melancolic is even, after hundred years, a very modern and “avant gardiste” perfume.

    It’s very sad to think APRES L’ONDEE is now only available in “eau de toilette” because européennes directives forbide some products include in the parfum, considering they will be bad for health.
    It’s dramatic November 22, 2006 at 7:35am Reply

  • Elle: Your memories are so beautifully written they’re worthy of being in a novel as excellent as those you read. Who was it who said that the personal is universal? Anyway, thanks for sharing. :-) November 22, 2006 at 7:47am Reply

  • Marina: Fantastic post! Thank you so much for this treat! November 22, 2006 at 8:56am Reply

  • Robin: Lovely tribute, V. Unlike Laura, I can’t really picture you displaced and homesick — guessing you were as poised as ever — but I’ll take your word for it. November 22, 2006 at 12:00pm Reply

  • miriam: This is beautiful, Victoria! Not only an evocative description of a perfume, but an excellent memoir. I hope you are writing your perfumed memoirs! I hope you will publish them! November 22, 2006 at 1:52pm Reply

  • Katie: It’s a day early, but I wanted to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving, V. I am sure you will be eating quite well, if your recipes as of late are any indication :)

    A lovely review, and just a perfect image choice to pair with your words. November 22, 2006 at 2:07pm Reply

  • Madelyn E: Dear Victoria,
    I just called Jason at Bergdorf’s to ask for a sample of Apres L’Ondee .et some other Guerlains you so beautifully referenced. Your gift for descriptive imagery was once again highlighted in this most poignant review of an all tine classic Apres L’Ondee. I too, share your sentimental, nostalgic (and surely “scent”imental ) attachments to memories associated with scent. Apres L’ondee obviously holds a special place in your heart. I associate Clinique Aromatics , Azuree , Calandre, Norell and Mis Dior with my college years. Often, I cannot bear the thought of revisiting a perfume associated with ( als ) a failed love affair .(Valentino, Climat, Oscar de la Renta (parfum). and more.There are too mant scents to mention.. I associate Diorissimo with the carefree days of my years as a nursing student .
    I adore notes of violet, iris, orange blossom , vanilla etc. I am looking forward to to experiencing the unique beauty of this treasure. ( Wish I could get my hanfs on the eau de parfum or arfum – I’m not a eau de toilette gitl !
    Will give you a report.
    I just received from Barney’s samples of FM’ Lipstick Rose, Carnal Flower And Iris Poudre. iust reexamined the Carnal Flower.. mmmm very sharp tuberose and orange blossommy. chillong effect. Lipstick rose – reflects a classic image of a beautiful woman in all her primping glory. love the violetty rose . I will have to wait for the drydown !
    Happy Thanksgiving dear Victoria. Perhaps you have another favorite holiday “russian” recipe treasure to share with us – your adoring fanclub !
    Madelyn E November 22, 2006 at 2:11pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Cynthia, thank you for your kind words! November 22, 2006 at 4:56pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Anjali, thank you very much! I am only glad to share. November 22, 2006 at 5:18pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Lisa Carol, thank you for sharing your own thoughts on Apres L’Ondee. I find it very touching, very tender, and everytime I wear it, I find it amazing to what extent Jacques Guerlain captured what I yearned and craved at the time. I wore it exclusively for a period of time, and then my love affair with Guerlain only grew stronger. November 22, 2006 at 5:21pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Laura, thank you very much! I also wish I could share this Thanksgiving meal with you. I miss not having you within a driving distance. November 22, 2006 at 5:22pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Chaya, you are so kind! You are absolutely right about fall and its ability to bring out the introspective musings. I certainly feel it particularly strongly at this time. Yet, it often gives me inspiration. November 22, 2006 at 5:23pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Kaori, thank you very much! It is such a kind thing to say. November 22, 2006 at 5:24pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: March, you and me both! Apres L’Ondee, Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue–I am a Guerlain addict, that is the best way of putting it. Somehow Jacques Guerlain’s work evokes the same response in me as reading Bunin, and that is just the most amazing feeling. When I was still at Yale, I would go to my Russian literature class wearing Guerlain fragrances. We read all of my favourite novels, and I was wearing all of my favourite Guerlains as we did so. Perhaps, that is a good subject for another post.

    As for the EDT vs the parfum, I have both, and I cannot pick. I love the darker iris in the parfum, and yet I enjoy the effervescence of the EDT. It is just beautiful in all forms. November 22, 2006 at 5:27pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Flor, your wall of perfumes sounds amazing! See my comment to March, those would be my top three choices too. Thank you very much for your kind words. I am glad that my story was interesting. I just felt so moved by this beautiful fragrance that I could not resist sharing what started it all. November 22, 2006 at 5:30pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Judith, I always had a difficult relationship with Jicky, because I was rather unprepared for the herbal vibrancy of the top notes (back then, mind you, I mostly preferred flowers). However, I grew to love it. It is certainly a fascinating fragrance. November 22, 2006 at 5:33pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Aryse, thank you very much! I am happy to see that Apres L’Ondee is loved by so many. It is definitely a special fragrance, and I hope that it will never be discontinued. I heard about the parfum discontinuation, and I have always tried to find a full bottle of it. It is now my little treasure. November 22, 2006 at 5:34pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Elle, you always find the most evocative comment to add! “Personal is universal”… Sometimes it certainly is! November 22, 2006 at 5:42pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Marina, thank you! It has been such a pleasure reading comments to this post. Everyone has such a unique view on this fragrance. November 22, 2006 at 5:43pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: R, I guess that I probably hid it well even back then. After all, I had my ballet background, and that was all about self-control. :) November 22, 2006 at 5:44pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Miriam, thank you very much! I have not had a chance to reflect on my writing projects lately, but it shall be my New Year’s resolution! November 22, 2006 at 5:45pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Katie, thank you very much! I am making turkey stuffed with walnuts, pomegranates and herbs, Indonesian vegetable saute in coconut milk, lemon lentil soup, and I have two cakes! We will have tons of food, and the party this year includes only 3 people. November 22, 2006 at 5:47pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Madelyn, oh, I am so glad that you called for samples, because I hope that you would be able to try these fragrances. Apres L’Ondee is very special. I think that you might enjoy it, even in the EDT. The parfum is all but impossible to find.

    Thank you for your report on Frederic Malle samples. Those are among my favourites. I love Carnal Flower so much (and in the winter, it is even more alluring, as it reminds me of the summer) that I have to force myself not to wear it every day. I worry that I might get tired of it (not perfume’s fault, it would happen with anything I indulge in too often), so I alternate.

    As for Russian recipes, I have unearthed my great grandmother’s recipe books as I was unpacking (yes, still!), and I decided to share a few of her specialties in the coming weeks! November 22, 2006 at 5:51pm Reply

  • Laia: The rise and fall of the house of Guerlain.

    Dear Victoria,

    what a pleasure to read your comments. Guerlain is a myth for all the perfume lovers. Helas! this wonderful house is causing us, perfume lovers, many dissapointments. Their last creations just don´t reach their standards. For me my favourites are Shalimar and Samsara and Jicky. Some weeks ago I went to a big store, at the Guerlains counter, to try their last production,Insolence. The women who was there told me young women don´t buy Guerlain anymore. It´s a pity. People here do not like their old ones like Aprés l´Ondée, Mitsouko, Chamade, Jardins de Bagatelle. I remember wearing Mitsouko one day at the tribunals (I am a lawyer) and a friend sniffed at me with a puzzled and disgusted look. November 23, 2006 at 3:26am Reply

  • evilpeony: What a beautiful, evocative story, V! It almost made me jump and frantically scour the dark corners of the WWW to sell my soul for a bottle of this rare elixir. I too, am starting my own love affair with the Guerlain classics, partly thanks to your stories. THank you so much for sharing your rich experiences to us perfume noviciates. November 23, 2006 at 5:30am Reply

  • Dusan: Vikochka, I have never tried Apres l’Ondee but although your ‘more objective’ review does bring its scent closer to my mind, I much prefer this subjective one. It was such a joy to read it! You, my dear, not only have a talent for expressing your ideas clearly, you also immerse them in vivid, liquid emotion for us to smell and contemplate long after the scent has trailed off. :)
    Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner, I know I would! :)
    Hugs November 23, 2006 at 10:44am Reply

  • Dusan: Vikochka, I have never tried Apres l’Ondee but although your ‘more objective’ review does bring its scent closer to my mind, I much prefer this subjective one. It was such a joy to read it! You, my dear, not only have a talent for expressing your ideas clearly, you also immerse them in vivid, liquid emotion for us to smell and contemplate long after the scent has trailed off. :)
    Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner, I know I would! :)
    Hugs November 23, 2006 at 10:46am Reply

  • TaoLady: Have been a Guerlainaholic for forty years but somehow had missed Apres L’Ondee until Luca’s book. Went through my first bottle in six months and – having been lured away by some newer,”niche” frags had forgotten the ravishing Apres until recently. This gloriously evocative review has pushed me over the edge! Gotta get some NOW! (And thanks for the smashing artwork – don’t you just CRAVE that gown!) Milles mercis!! November 24, 2006 at 3:16pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Laia, it is amazing how certain perfumes can elicit strong reactions. It is a good sign in my opinion, because at least, it means that the fragrance is striking, distinctive. November 27, 2006 at 7:10pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Evilpeony, thank you very much! I am very happy that my story was interesting. I was so moved by this perfume that I was inspired to jot down my thoughts that very evening. November 27, 2006 at 7:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dusan, how beautifully you put it! Thank you very much. I am very glad to hear this. November 27, 2006 at 7:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: TaoLady, yes, I love that gown, it is so elegant and delicate. I am very glad that I was able to rekindle your interest in Apres L’Ondee. It definitely deserves to be worn and loved. November 27, 2006 at 7:14pm Reply

  • Catherine Czerkawska: As a novelist and playwright with a strong romantic streak (I also collect antique textiles – it’s all linked, I suppose) I have adored Guerlain for as long as I have been wearing scent – your blog is wonderful – and what a splendid review of Apres L’Ondee – which makes me desperate to find some! Mitsouko has been my favourite for a long time but there’s a story I have to share with you. Many years ago, as a very young student, living in Edinburgh, I managed to scrape together enough money to go to a concert – part of the Edinburgh Festival – and was enchanted to see a world famous conductor sweep past me with a bejewelled diva on his arm. It wasn’t just her appearance, which was fabulous, though she was no longer young (well, not to me – I was only eighteen or nineteen at the time!) but the scent of her. It was evocative, obviously expensive, timeless and utterly mysterious. Some part of me has hunted for that scent ever since, until a couple of weeks ago, I was acquired a bottle of l’Heure Bleue – and there it was. I’ve been wearing it ever since, if only to revisit that time and the girl I was then, with all my youthful ambitions and dreams. Now you’ve set me off on the hunt for another wonderful scent – how to explain the feelings these perfumes arouse? But nice to know there are kindred spirits out there! April 10, 2007 at 4:08pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Catherine, thank you so much for sharing this story, which illustrates beautifully the power of scent. I am so glad that you were able to discover this mysterious perfume and to make it yours. I hope that Apres L’Ondee discovery will be in the near future! April 10, 2007 at 4:16pm Reply

  • Catherine Czerkawska: As a sort of footnote to my post about l’Heure Bleue above, the whole memory has been working away like yeast in my subconscious, and now I’ve written a long poem called The Scent of Blue, probably triggered as much by an encounter with an old friend as by my unexpected re-encounter with this old and magical fragrance. The two things somehow came together in my mind. You’ll find the poem on my blog at http://wordarts.blogspot.com July 19, 2007 at 12:16pm Reply

  • soul: This evocative piece of writing inspired me to track down this fragrance. That took some time, and even so all I could find is the eau de toilette, which arrived today. I sprayed it on and breathed it in and “ohh my lord” came bursting out. This is beautiful. Thank you. November 30, 2011 at 1:10pm Reply

  • perfumekev: Ahhhhh! Apres L’Ondee I was lucky enough to be gifted a full set of the Gold Guerlain Parfum testers from Roja Dove. Le Parfum Apres L’Ondee is a truly Extraordinary thing. I also have 3 bottles of the vintage EDT. Layering the Parfum on top of the EDT is a fragrance experience everyone should have the rite to smell!

    I just layered the parfum, the vintgage edt and the new edt oh my hand. the first notes are so soft whispers of angelica root, anisic ald. surrounded by a burst of lilac’s , hawthorn , jasmine, carnation and rose de mai, I’m lulled to into a twilight state in a transparent cloud of smiling flowers, perfectly textured orris. the fragrance finally begins to morph into a hallo of soft nitro musks, delicious balsams, and the deep notes of more orris, carrot seed oil, vanilla and civet tinctures. This fragrance is one of the Masterworks of perfume. It is truly a shame that it does not exist in the parfum formula.
    I hope one day Patricia de Nicolai will inherit the Gueralin company of which she is the true Heiress. Guerlain does not belong in the hands of a huge multi national puzzle of fragrance brands smashed together. Nor should modern regulations “only figured out yesterday” apply to perfumes that are really works of art. and have lasted for countless decades or even centuries. 1+1 is not equal to 2 in thuis situation.
    It is time for Guerlain to go back to a place where the true perfume lovers can count on the amazing collection of the original stable of perfumes, plus a rotating roster of all the other great classics that are not available any more,
    That means at least 4 bottlings a quarter: Rue de la Paix, Fleur de Feu, Eau de Vervienne, Guerlinade(original version please) Bouquets des Fauns, Jasmine, Guerlarose, Coque D’Or, Dawamesk, it is like a collection of hidden masterworks of one of the greatest impressionists such as Manet. because a little to much Jasmin or rose is “bad ” for us, What if the regulators decided the color red is bad for our eyes do you think all the great paintings based on red would be locked up for no one to enjoy. I hardly think so.

    this is similar to trying to regulate these truly Fine Fragranes, There is a very big difference between dabing on some amazing Fine Parfum and a fragrance that goes into the next laundry detergent. I mean really these (“regulations / monetary pay offs”) have destroyed the lineage of the Art of Perfume

    To not offer educated clients all of these beautiful perfumes truly is a shame.

    When it comes to Guerlain there is no place like home.

    have a beautifully scented day.

    kind wishes perfumekev July 29, 2013 at 12:15pm Reply

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