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May 24, 2006

Sous le Vent by Guerlain : Perfume Review

Sous_le_vent2_1

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Star rating: 5 stars--outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars--very good, 3 stars--adequate, 2 stars--disappointing, 1 star--poor.

The dryness of Sous Le Vent stings mildly before the caress of flower petals tempers the rustic feel of the herbal notes gracing the top accord. The perfume was created by Jacques Guerlain in 1934, and while I would not call it modern, it has a timeless quality of an artwork that moves with its beauty. In the classical chypre family, Sous Le Vent holds a place as a composition that blends the sensual elegance of Mitsouko and the roughhewn character of Coty Chypre, with the most intriguing result. While it touches in a gentler manner than the green leather of another fascinating Guerlain composition, Djedi, its embrace nevertheless has a passionate quality. ...

What upon the first inhale conjures the sun scorched hills of Cyprus, an island that gave chypre family its name, is magically transformed by the lush notes of ylang ylang and sweet spices into the vision of tropics, where the trees are covered with flower vines and the salty smell of ocean is carried by the winds.

The opulent richness of Guerlinade, an accord of iris, rose, tonka beans and amber, is beautifully paired with the verdant top and the animalic base, providing an olfactory respite from the assertive green notes. The sand-like dryness of Sous Le Vent softened by the classically rich floral heart lends a remarkable languid aura to the composition, thus maintaining the suspense between the more aggressive aspects of this complex orchestration. Sous Le Vent makes me want to close my eyes and feel the warmth of sun on my skin.

Along with Véga, Sous Le Vent was recently reissued by Guerlain, indicating that the future might bring more gems from its archives. While I have not tried the new edition, based on my experience with Véga, I am hopeful that it shall maintain the beauty of the original. Anyone who loves green chypres, especially in the baroque orchestration characteristic of Guerlain will find Sous Le Vent beautiful.

Update: I had a chance to try the reissued version of Sous Le Vent. I would recommend it without reservations to those who chypres as a genre. It is luminous and airy. The composition oscillates between the languid beauty of floral and woody notes and the aromatic brightness of herbs and citrus. The delightful contrast of the original is maintained well in the reissue. Of course, it is not identical to what Sous Le Vent used to be--the new version is thinner, lighter, lacking the delicious animalic notes of the original. Its lasting power is surprisingly weak, especially compared to the tenacity of the original (even the EDT.) However, given that Sous Le Vent is such a rare discovery, I am glad simply to see it being made once again. 

Sous Le Vent features notes of basil, bergamot, lavender, tarragon, carnation, oakmoss, iris, woods, patchouli. It is available from Guerlain boutiques. 

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