Limon Verde by Guerlain - A Review
The latest entry in the Aqua Allegoria collection by Guerlain is Limon Verde, an eau inspired by the national drink of Brazil, Caïpirinha, a timely launch when you consider soccer and media calendars. It's been done before with Outrageous! by Frédéric Malle, Nina Ricci Nina L'Elixir, CKIN2U Heat for Him and L'Artisan Parfumeur Batucada, so that what was once an exotic concept has become a relatively well-rehearsed accord. The name "Caïpirinha" has a tendency to sound far more evocative than the recipe itself smells, a spiked limeade on the rocks. For Guerlain, it's also an in-house re-take on their L'Homme L'Eau and its Mojito accord. Call it a study or a derivative work. We opt for the latter since a reference external to the house of Guerlain reveals derivation is at work...
Limon Verde smells like a fresh, citrusy and woody limeade with accents of salty coconut flesh and Sambac jasmine. This is a perfectly wearable and understated Aqua Allegoria whose most noteworthy trait is its sublety. It could come across as overly low-key, even if flavored with the Brazilian flavor of the month.
The composition opens on a calone-y and herbaceous top which lingers on as-is, instead of leaving space for the usual citrusy plume of notes at the beginning of a fragrance, especially a fresh one, but not always as the house knows thanks to its Shalimar with its bergamot opening. The caipirinha accord is both realistic and sophisticated.
As Limon Verde develops, it takes on a gourmandy, almondy macaron connotation - a tonka bean from Venezuela - with some white woods in the background. And then, the green lime note becomes more present and squeezable, in your mind's eye. There is this appealing cuisine quality to it that makes you associate it with lime leaves floating in a green Thai curry coconut milk base. Caïpirinha however is on the official menu whose ingredients are Cachaça - sugar cane alcohol - lime and sugar. It smells a bit transparent and green.
Nose Thierry Wasser imported a limette from Mexico for best green lime-y effect. It smells exotic, subdued, persistent and soft getting overcome by the gourmand tonka bean. Wasser appears in fact to have used this scent as another pretext to work on his almond note for L'Homme Idéal, the new, major masculine entry for the house. It's a compromise between a freshness effect and a Guerlinade pastry, as in a multi-flavored millefeuilles where the filling would be almond cream towards the base, the upper layers containing zests of lime.
The woody facet is also pronounced, smelling of "white cedarwood" if I had to call it, a less pungent version of cedar just like white patchouli is the cleaner version of raw patchouli. There are the nuances of sweat/cumin that you associate with cedarwood.
Then, something happens which feels a bit more magical: a delicate accord reuniting all these different threads takes shape in the air creating an invisible flower which smells more interesting, thanks also to Sambac jasmine, green tea and raspberry.
In the end though, try as you might to get hooked on this perfume, telling yourself it's a laid-back citrus, simple, discreet, pleasant, you have to admit that there is no powerful reason to select this perfume over others unless you're on an automatic monthly subscription program with Guerlain - or love lime and extra understated freshness. A piece of material you sprayed the fragrance onto overnight to have a new, more objective evaluation in the morning tells you something else too, which is not very exciting: Limon Verde is derivative not just of L'Homme L'Eau but most essentially and in a more closeted fashion, of Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue. Honestly, to me, they might just as well be putting up a sign with a "Buy the Original Instead!" mentioned on it and an arrow indicating where the entry to the Champs-Elysées Avenue Sephora store is, just next door. Unless you insist of course on getting those Brazilian hedonistic notes in your Limon Verde - also known as "Light Green."