Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia : Perfume Review

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An announcer on the Belgian weather channel–wearing sparkling eye makeup and a deep-cut sweater–says with a pout, “Le temps est exécrable” (The weather is awful). There are several ways to deal with Belgium’s dreary weather–to complain, to approach it with a sense of humor, or to ignore it. Belgians are good sports about it, and on any given day, as long as it’s not raining, the outdoor seating at cafes is full, regardless of the chill.lys-soleia-guerlain

I don’t fancy eating dinner in 40F weather outdoors, but I have my own ways to add a splash of sunshine to a grey, overcast day. Over the years, I’ve cultivated a little winter perfume wardrobe to which I add a new favorite from time to time. Last year, Guerlain Lys Soleia from its Aqua Allegoria collection became my cold weather staple. As its name promises, it’s sunny and bubbly.

Lys Soleia is also quite sophisticated for a simple floral bouquet. When you first put it on, you notice a rush of green leaves and white petals. It’s lacy and pretty, but a rich twist of ylang-ylang makes Lys Soleia more interesting. Ylang-ylang smells like minty jasmine and green banana peels, and it has a tropical, balmy character. What a perfect choice to make flower petals feel as warm as a cashmere wrap!

A dollop of vanilla further warms up Lys Soleia, and in the final stages of the perfume, it’s especially prominent. A whisper of woods and musk play up the sweetness of vanilla, but it never enters tooth-achingly sweet territory. Instead, Lys Soleia smells like sun-warmed skin rubbed with tropical monoi oil, minus the heavy coconut. To amplify this sensation, I sometimes mix a few drops of the perfume into a rich body cream.

I surprised myself by how much I loved Lys Soleia and its uncomplicated but happy character. Recently, I revisited Serge Lutens Un Lys, another favorite, and I recognized some of the same elements in Guerlain. Lys Soleia is crisper and brighter, but like Un Lys, it is a great antidote for the winter blues. It even rivals–if only on the price point–the sheer lilies like Hermèssence Vanille Galante and Frédéric Malle Lys Méditerranée. If your winter is as long as mine, you might as well be well-prepared.

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia includes notes of bergamot, lemon, lily, ylang-ylang, musk, and vanilla. Available at Sephora and all department stores with Guerlain counters. 75ml/$61

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48 Comments

  • GeM: When I tested it, my beloved Songes came to mind immediately!!! It has quite a lot of that, so I thought ‘sort of a copycat’!. Maybe just a bit lighter than Songes… and ironically longer lasting! Must be the pleasant tropical feel (plumeria) and the final stages of the perfume (vanilla).

    However, I don’t care much for the Aqua Allegorias because they usually are discontinued. I prefer going with perfumes that at least pretend to be on the market for the duration. January 16, 2013 at 8:40am Reply

    • Victoria: I believe it’s because most of them are launched as limited editions meant to be replaced by something else the next season. But some AA sell so well that they join the permanent collection. But I agree with you, it’s frustrating to fall in love with something only to find that it’s gone. January 16, 2013 at 11:20am Reply

  • Cyn: I received the Aqua Allegoria collection as a Christmas gift and was pleasantly surprised by this one. Perfect for a winter day. January 16, 2013 at 8:57am Reply

    • Victoria: I wore it a little bit in the summer, but in the heat, it felt too sweet. When I put some on during the first cold days we’ve had, it worked like a charm–cozy, comforting and uplifting. January 16, 2013 at 11:12am Reply

      • solanace: Good too know. It was too sweet for me, this and Juste un reve, but it was full summer here. Must try them when it gets cooler. January 16, 2013 at 1:22pm Reply

        • Victoria: It’s like a completely different perfume, so it’s worth smelling again in a cool weather. I was surprised how much it changed, but then again, white florals tend to be chameleons. January 16, 2013 at 3:02pm Reply

          • solanace: Always learning from you! Thank you for always taking the time for answering our questions and sharing your knowledge! I’ve always used white florals in full summer, which here can be over 35 C – and man are they heady! Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’m guessing Fracas and Songes will be even more beautiful and complex. Next winter I’ll have fun with my white floral samples (which should be a good exercise for the litlle perfumista :-))! January 17, 2013 at 4:03am Reply

            • Victoria: It’s mutual! :) I also have been experimenting more with the perfumes I have, rather than spend effort in seeking out the new ones, and I’ve made so many interesting discoveries.

              Fracas definitely feels more understated in the cool weather. On warm skin, it explodes, but when it’s cool, it seems to develop slower. It’s still a statement perfume, but it doesn’t feel as heady. January 17, 2013 at 5:24am Reply

  • Rachel: I also thought that it smelled very much like Un Lys but fresher. I haven’t tried Lys Mediterranee though, but I recently read Jessica’s review and it sounded great. How would you rank them? January 16, 2013 at 9:07am Reply

    • Victoria: Do you mean Un Lys, Lys Soleia and FM? FM would be my top favorite for its gauzy floral impression, and then I would pick Lys Soleia. I find it even easier to wear than Un Lys. But honestly, they are more or less equal for me–uncomplicated but memorable florals. January 16, 2013 at 11:11am Reply

      • Rachel: Thank you! I’m always looking for a perfume that smells like fresh Madonna lilies. I might have to stop by Barneys to smell Lys Mediterranee. January 16, 2013 at 11:47am Reply

        • Victoria: Have you tried Penhaligon’s Lily & Spice? It’s another very good lily, with a delicious bite of clove. I still prefer the other perfumes I mentioned, but it’s worth trying. January 16, 2013 at 12:45pm Reply

          • Rachel: I don’t know that one. Thanks, Victoria! January 16, 2013 at 1:06pm Reply

        • GeM: Victoria, I don’t find Lys Soleia and Lys Mediterranee to have very much in common, I believe you don’t mean that, did you? However, I’ll have to test Lys Soleia again!

          To me, Lys Mediterranee isn’t a milky, warm/’solar’ scent like Lys Soleia, but cool and fresh/’aquatic’, instead. It also has a weird slightly buried note of funeral wreaths like SL’ Un Lys (sorry, it’s my mind’s fault!), although this note in Lys Mediterranee does not last to the end, turning into something wonderful more in the lilac/gardenia territory. January 17, 2013 at 8:39am Reply

          • Victoria: Their floral accords are more similar than they appear to be at first, and even Lys Soleia has a generous dose of green/watery notes to balance out its sweetness. So, in a way, they are in the same category for me. Of course, Lys Mediterranee is quite a luxurious lily, with some impressive raw materials. That is very obvious when you smell it right next to Lys Soleia. January 17, 2013 at 10:46am Reply

  • melis: What do you think of Jasminora? I love jasmine but I want something that will last. Some Aqua Allegorias don’t last on me. January 16, 2013 at 9:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Jasminora lasted really well on me, but I don’t remember much beyond that, not a good sign. If you’re looking for a good jasmine fragrance, I would recommend Serge Lutens A La Nuit or Dior J’Adore Le Jasmin. The former is rich and opulent, the latter is sparkling and bright, but both are quite good. There are many more, of course, but these are good options from the niche and mainstream lines. January 16, 2013 at 11:08am Reply

    • Austenfan: I actually like Jasminora but it got very mixed reviews when it came out. Robin of NST didn’t like it ( I can’t remember if she did a full lenght review of it though). Octavian ( of 1000 fragrances) was more positive and did a very good review of it. January 16, 2013 at 12:13pm Reply

      • Victoria: I have a sample someplace, so I should revisit. I remember that at the time there were several jasmine dominated launches, so I may not have given it enough attention. January 16, 2013 at 12:46pm Reply

  • breathesgelatin: You are not helping! Distribution of this across the US is not good and I’ve been contemplating a blind buy. Oh dear. January 16, 2013 at 9:59am Reply

    • Victoria: I would recommend getting a sample first though to make sure that it lasts well on you, etc. I usually find Aqua Allegoria fragrances a bit lackluster, but this one is pretty and interesting. January 16, 2013 at 11:06am Reply

  • sara: i smelled ylang ylang at a botanical garden and i want to find a perfume that smells exactly like it. lys soleia sounds sample-worthy. thanks for a review. January 16, 2013 at 10:27am Reply

    • sara: hope that your weather improves! January 16, 2013 at 10:28am Reply

      • Victoria: It snowed heavily, but at least it was sunny today. Yes, some improvement! :) January 16, 2013 at 11:03am Reply

    • Victoria: Lys Soleia is a great option if you enjoy ylang ylang, but you might want to try Estee Lauder Amber Ylang Ylang. Guerlain had another beautiful ylang ylang perfume in their collection, Ylang Vanille, but I think that it has been discontinued. January 16, 2013 at 11:02am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: I have a bottle Ylang & Vanille, bought a long time ago. This one is also an Aqua Allegoria, beautiful but discontinued! January 16, 2013 at 11:10am Reply

        • Victoria: Lucky you! It was a fantastic perfume, another great winter white floral. January 16, 2013 at 11:20am Reply

  • Mel: This sounds beautiful. I think mixing a few drops of perfume in a body cream is a great idea! (Saves you money).

    Tell me, Victoria – do you do it with spray perfumes and parfum? I wonder if I can spray a few squirts into a unfragranced body cream. January 16, 2013 at 10:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Mel, either one works well. Warm up some cream in your hand and spray the fragrance into it. Mix with your fingers and apply. January 16, 2013 at 11:00am Reply

  • Merlin: I tried this at the airport in Cairo in June, but together with all the other things I tried I don’t think I got any definite impression! In any case it hasn’t come to South Africa yet and I don’t know if it will – I used Herba Fresca quite a bit last summer and am quite taken up with Pampelune at the moment. Another that I really like is Mandarine Basilica, but give that it only lasts about 15 minutes on my skin, its a bit of a no-go.
    Lilies is a recently acquired taste for me which began with Cartier’s B.V. (it has plenty of detractors but it was a gateway lily for me). Next came DK Gold which is lovely and lavish. And I have samples of un lys and Lys M. but have not made up my mind about them. The guide mentions the fleshy ham-like nature of lily which is very evident in Gold, but while it fascinates me, it can put me off as well! U.L seemed a bit too realistic and L.M. while sophisticated and delicate may be a bit too evanescent for my blunt nose. January 16, 2013 at 12:46pm Reply

    • Rachel: It makes me sad that by time I got to liking lilies Gold was discontinued. Baiser Vole had a super opening but too musky on the finish. The search continues! January 16, 2013 at 1:08pm Reply

      • Merlin: I’m sure it can still be had from some discounters? January 16, 2013 at 4:23pm Reply

        • Sebastian: Merlin!I am also in South Africa,looks like we are the only 2 perfumista’s here!Would love to make contact with you!Sebastian.Oh,and Hello Victoria!;-) January 19, 2013 at 9:49am Reply

    • Victoria: I like Baiser Vole very much, especially the new EDT version (and the parfum). Gold has a different character, and the fleshy description is perfect. An acquired taste, to be sure. January 16, 2013 at 3:01pm Reply

  • Alityke: I adore Lys Soleia. It has very different characteristics in different weather. The heat brings a blast of the Ylang banana note especially if it’s humid as well.

    In coller weather it was a lily/jasmine mash up. I love both.

    I shall make this my SotD tomorrow when the weather I’d forecast to be below freezing all day January 16, 2013 at 2:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: Now, I cannot wait for the warm weather to give it another go. All in all, it’s such a happy scent. January 16, 2013 at 3:04pm Reply

  • maja: I tried this last summer but wasn’t really impressed. Maybe I should give it another chance in these cold months. :) January 16, 2013 at 2:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: I didn’t expect it to be so different, but it was a pleasant surprise. So, if you have a chance, do give it one more try. January 16, 2013 at 3:06pm Reply

  • Tiffany: I love this fragrance- it’s so happy and just makes me smile when I put it on. I wore it this summer and given the comments am going to try this for winter. Thank you! January 16, 2013 at 4:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s definitely such a mood lifter for me. Easy to like, easy to wear, but still with enough twists to be interesting. January 16, 2013 at 6:32pm Reply

  • annemariec: I tried Lys Soleia when, much to my surprise, it turned up at my local Guerlain counter (usually rather poorly stocked). A scrubber! A total right-off. The note that I hated was one that I was unfamiliar with, so maybe it was the lily. (I don’t know any lily fragrances really well.) I’m normally okay with tropical fragrances though.

    My fave AA is Flora Nymphea: orange blossom and honey. Yummy, but surprisingly dense and green as well.

    It is frustrating when the AAs get d/c but my attitude is that if you love one, don’t hesitate: buy it. They are generally not too expensive and one bottle will last forever. And the bottles are lovely to own.

    Hope you can smile through the winter somehow. Where I live, 37C is forecast for today (about 98.6F). Pretty warm … January 16, 2013 at 5:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, that sounds awful! We can’t win them all (and that’s a good thing for our wallets, I suppose)!

      The main issue with the Belgian winter is a lack of sun. It’s fairly mild, and I’m already used to the rain. But the lack of sun can be very hard to get used to. (And I’m not even much of a sun worshiper, since I slather myself with sunscreen even indoors.) January 16, 2013 at 6:31pm Reply

      • annemariec: I would find lack of sun very hard indeed. I’m lucky – even our winters are sunshiny, though quite cold.

        To cheer you up, you may enjoy this:
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18986041 January 17, 2013 at 2:28am Reply

        • Victoria: What a great article! It must just be the perception that the lack of sun is draining, something that we grow up believing. During the intensely sunny spell for a couple of weeks this summer, I definitely was much less productive than I have been in the past couple of months. It was hot and humid too (and our place has no AC and lets in a lot of light).

          Anyway, I can gripe about the weather time to time, but the truth is that I prefer overcast and chilly to hot and humid. January 17, 2013 at 5:20am Reply

  • figuier: Love the concept of summer-in-a-bottle, a very timely article! I use Yves Rocher Frangipane shower gel, it’s the happiest smell ever and wakes me up gently mid-winter. And as GeM said, Songes is also in that category.

    Lys Soleia should be exactly my style, and I do wear it quite often, but an unpleasant palm-oil note frequently makes an appearance. Haven’t quite got to the point of putting my bottle on ebay, but it might come it :( January 17, 2013 at 4:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Yves Rocher Frangipani products are wonderful. Mimosa is also excellent.

      The oily note can be a problem with some florals, which naturally contain a milky, coconut like facet. If your skin pushes it, or if you’re sensitive to it, it can be a turn off. January 17, 2013 at 5:27am Reply

    • GeM: Figuier,
      if you come across l’Erbolario, try their Tiaré line as well. Despite the name, it’s not “too coconutty” at all, just perfect tropical balance between tiare flowers and vanilla (actually, I get more flowers than any coconut effect)…

      It’s a swooning bath self-indulgence, fabulous for the senses, an ‘uplifting trance’ like just a few I’ve ever had. :)

      – and since Annick Goutal discontinued Songes’ bath line, this products are the perfect match I ever found -. January 17, 2013 at 7:54am Reply

      • figuier: Thanks GeM, I’ll certainly keep an eye out for these, sound fantastic.

        Victoria, that does make sense – I think the milky facet combined with green notes combine somehow to read ‘cooking oil’ on me. Such a pity tho. January 18, 2013 at 7:46am Reply

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