Guerlain Après L’ondée

At the mothership, the Paris Guerlain boutique. I’m trusting y’all not to stalk me!

Après L’ondée is probably my most-worn Guerlain. This is because Après L’ondée is more palatable to modern tastes than the other old-school Guerlains, by which I mean that it is much less likely than its contemporaries (Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue, Jicky) to elicit gagging noises from Perfume Muggles. Après L’ondée is a somewhat utilitarian fragrance for me, since it is what I wear when I need an inoffensive perfume. But of course, Après L’ondée is so much more than inoffensive.

Après L’ondée is an exquisitely gentle fragrance, a delicate composition that tenderly evokes the smell of sweet violets soaked in rain. Its anisic top notes evoke its sister fragrance, L’Heure Bleue, but the remainder of Après L’ondée is entirely original. Après L’ondée is said to have been inspired by the Impressionist movement of its era, and it does invoke the same wistful loveliness that one sees in Monet’s water lilies or in Renoir’s lush women. Après L’ondée is frusturatingly elusive: it can only be found in two places in the world (the Paris boutique and Bergdorf Goodman), and it has absolutely zero lasting power. It’s still worth it.

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Guerlain L’Heure Bleue

Two criticisms are frequently leveled at L’Heure Bleue, created by Jacques Guerlain in 1912. The first is that LHB smells too “old”. This is no doubt due to a hefty dose of aldehydes and powder, the hallmarks of classical French perfume. With its sweetness and delectable anise note, LHB actually feels very girlish and youthful to me. It reminds me of childhood ballet lessons- the dusty pink color of the slippers, the rustle of the tulle skirts, little girls twirling gracefully in imitation of their beautiful French teachers.

The second complaint is that LHB smells “sad”. After all, it was allegedly based on the concept of the “blue hour”, the point at which the sky has lost its sun but not yet found its stars. I searched for the sadness and melancholy in this scent, but each time that I smelled it I felt only joy. To me, L’Heure Bleue is a rapturous perfume. It is so utterly stunning, so very beautiful, that to celebrate seems to me the only suitable reaction. I imagine LHB on the almost unbearably lovely Keira Knightley.

L’Heure Bleue is available in three formulations in the US. The EDT is sold on the Sephora website for $70 for 1.7 ounces. The EDP is sold at Neiman Marcus for $118 for 2.5 ounces. The parfum is sold at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman for $317 (the websites don’t specify the amount of perfume).

Disclaimer: I brought a sample vial into Neiman Marcus and made myself a tester.