I´ve been sniffing my samples of Guerlain Sous Le Vent and Guerlain Plus Que Jamais, from Patty (thanks, P!)
As I expected, I loved one and thought the other was just okay.
In one of life’s little surprises, I got the order wrong, however.
Guerlain Sous le Vent has been described as “herbal” and “green,” words that ring my warning bells. Green frequently means vetiver, which smells awful on me, or some other note that basically smells like (sorry) urine. Green can also be too bitter – the in-your-face pugnacity of Balmain Vent Vert, or the greens, galbanum and clary sage in Ma Griffe that send me screaming out the door.
So I was hoping, at best, to tolerate Guerlain Sous le Vent (which translates as leeward or upwind, according to my French dictionary.) Instead, I adore it.
I´m going to crib here from the estimable Octavian on 1000 Fragrances, who explains the scent so beautifully:
“Sous le Vent was named after some islands around Reunion, the source of beautiful ylang-ylang and vanilla essences used in all Guerlain fragrances. This chypre is rather austere and dry with vanilla and amber without beeing sweet, sticky or creamy. It has some exquisite powderiness (not the cosmetic one) but that suggested by a delicate granulated sand. It has some Amber83 and a little indolic nuance.”
Let me go out on a limb here and say it reminds me a bit of Djedi – it is clearly a first cousin, with a dollop of Djedi´s haunting spice note but without Djedi´s supreme strangeness. (For one thing, it doesn´t remind me of meat stew with cardamom.) It is spicy/sweet chypre rather than green, and it is strong but not overly assertive. Yes, it is dry, but dry like the high desert of New Mexico in June rather than the surface of Mars. It doesn´t remind me of any of the rest of the Guerlains, except at its base. Because waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy down there at the bottom, after you´ve danced the fandango with the vanilla and amber and the floral notes, that “indolic nuance” is lurking there, waiting to pinch your fanny. This thing? Is pure heaven.
The Guerlain Plus Que Jamais – I am not going to rag on, because, objectively, it is gorgeous. I wrote a small review earlier but ultimately I felt I needed a bigger sample I could really soak myself with in order to make an informed decision. Well, I´ve been soaking, and my decision is: this is a Guerlain perfect for those people (like Patty) who aren´t huge Guerlain Whores in the first place.
Remember, Guerlain Plus Que Jamais is the scent humorist Gene Weingarten flipped over as he was searching for a fragrance for his wife that didn´t make him think of, as he put it, “streetwalking skanks.” So. The closest comparison I can make is Apres L’Ondee without its floral sweetness, and with a much richer creaminess, and that is high praise. Guerlain Plus Que Jamais is tasteful in the extreme, elegant without aloofness, a very expensive-smelling skin scent that is the sort of thing you’d be wanting to wear to bed with your sweetie. It could be described with words like creamy, delicately musky, gentle, polished, expensive, silky, smooth – you get the picture. It is a sublime, unadorned composition. It is the most expensive cashmere you can buy.
But here´s the rub – I don´t buy my Guerlain for subtle, expensive simplicity. Give me the baroque strangeness of Mitsouko and Vol de Nuit, the animalic fug of Jicky, the bite-my-ass bouquet of Chamade, the floriental sucker-punch of L´Heure Bleue, the sultry, shocking rose of Nahema, the — I could go on and on, you get the idea. Who the hell wants a subtle Guerlain? Well, Gene Weingarten did, and maybe you do too. Patty thinks it is breathtaking, supporting my theory. If you have been trying (and failing) to find a Guerlain to love with, this one’s for you.
So don´t let me stop you from buying that tasteful cashmere. But I´ll stick with the Pucci print shift, the leather shorts and and the fishnet stockings, thanks.
Reunion Island volcano, anytravels.com
Elodina perdita miskin, ento.csiro.au