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December 05, 2005

Fragrance Review: Guerlain Vega


“Aldehydic mist on white petals” immediately predisposes one to think of fragrances like Chanel No. 5 (1921) and Lanvin Arpège (1927). Just like Coty Chypre (1917) and Guerlain Mitsouko (1919), itself an offspring of Chypre, set the gold standard for the variation on the chypre genre, Chanel No.5 with its cocktail of aliphatic aldehydes, reminiscent of metallic dust and candle wax, became the inspiration for many aldehydic florals. However, Véga is a Guerlain, both in its joyful rendering of the chilly aldehydic theme and the vanillic warmth pervading its elegant form. As it smiles through the radiant veil of flowers, Véga makes sweet promises, many of which it fulfills.

Composed by Jacques Guerlain in 1936, Véga was recreated by Jean-Paul Guerlain for the opening of the renovated La Maison Guerlain in the summer of 2006, thus initiating a yearly tradition of bringing back a long lost Guerlain classic from the past. ...

I understand that the next ones to be resuscitated are Sous Le Vent (1934), a vivid green chypre hiding a delicate jasmine heart and Ode (1955), an opulent bouquet of rose and jasmine, the last fragrance composed by Jacques Guerlain and the first by Jean-Paul Guerlain.

Orange blossom and ylang ylang soften metallic chill of aldehydes with their honeyed luminosity. Scattered through the white floral bouquet are the dark rose petals. The dewy character of flowers begins to fade as the vanillic sweetness rises gently from the base. The flowers nevertheless preserve a delicate quality, and the lacy floral accord sustained elegantly over the rich woody base presents a vision of a dancer in an arabesque. The smooth as satin sandalwood is accented with vanilla and amber, yet the coolness of vetiver balances out the sweet warmth. A crisp touch of rosewood is another beautiful counterpoint that preserves the graceful arrangement of Véga.

For the lovers of the classical Guerlain fragrances, Véga will be an interesting discovery, because it bears a mark of Jacques Guerlain, both in the sweet tonality of its woody base touched by darkness and in the softness pervading the composition. Véga’s aldehydes are softer than those in either No.5 or Arpège as well as in another Jacques Guerlain aldehydic creation Liu, which makes it easier to wear. Nevertheless, it cannot be mistaken for what it is, a classical aldehydic floral. I doubt it shall convert those who do not care for this genre, however its fans will be delighted.

The fragrance is exclusive to 68 Champs Elysées boutique, and it can be ordered by emailing Antoine-Olivier Metz, the store manager, at Véga EDT is priced at 180 euros for 125ml.

Photo: arabesque, from



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