Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Nerolia Bianca (2013): The Feminine Principle {Perfume Review & Musings}


Nerolia Bianca opens on a rather soft impression of hesperides, like a more childlike eau de cologne before revealing a hyper-realistic aesthetic take on the orange tree. In-house perfumer Thierry Wasser has worked on the veristic nuances of the bigaradier tree: you start by smelling the fruit, then some crushed leaves scent - enhanced by peppermint - then get further acquainted with the pulp of the orange fruit including its crystalline facets...

The bigaradier tree motif has been captured almost visually as if a camera were travelling from its summit to its foundations. Only a more artful note of amber and ylang captured in a more classic manner invites you to step back from the countryside to the high ceilings of a library harboring tomes on the history of perfume. It feels a bit like a retro flash to the 1950s, to a buxom both generous and sexy Sophia Loren dressed in a cinched black dress. 

Orange is one of the most optimistic and uplifting scents found in nature. Nerolia Bianca showcases the fruit realistically like Atelier Cologne did with the much-liked Orange Sanguine but insists more on its provenance creating an orange tree orchard motif while adding a feminine touch to the composition.

It has been said on numerous occasions that the great Guerlain fragrances have been inspired by love and the women that inspired it. We would like to stress the fact that more generally and aesthetically-speaking and almost mystical in its impact, Guerlain have a knack for introducing a feminine principle in a fragrance composition. If there is a house that is not interested in doing unisex in a modern sense, that would be them. For Guerlain "unisex" would mean first of all feminine and then adoptable by whoever feels comfortable with that proposition. Men are implicitly invited to embrace the feminine principle in the universe to dare wear their colognes and perfumes. 

This is what strikes us most as we inhale the latest Aqua Allegoria from the house. It is not its pastel colors, its watercolor technique, nor its figurative orange tree grove motif. It stands out not so much as an homage to the bigaradier tree in all of its splendor, which it does in fact too to some extent, but as a pean to the feminine principle that floats in the universe. She may be called Isis, Ishtar, Innana or Sophia, or go by any other name, but somehow Guerlain know how to capture that principle.

As long as they will live, they will always be on the side of women and love and the feminine universe, it seems. We as consumers and lovers of fragrances can be thankful that we can be reminded of this principle whenever we feel a crisis of identity and are invited to mimic men for the needs of a conservative professional world. Once you read the fragrance as being a bearer of this principle, you are struck by the tenderness, softness and sensuality of its composition. 

Notes: petigrain, peppermint, orange blossom absolute, ylang, white amber note, cedar wood. 

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