For those of you unfamiliar with the Aqua Allegoria range from Guerlain, they might be seen as "entry level" Guerlains; they are supposed to "showcase nature", and they tend to be lighter, younger and simpler in composition than the perfumes in the regular line. For the past few years they've been introducing two new Aqua Allegoria scents a year, and discontinuing those that don't do well. There are a few I really like (Herba Fresca, Anisia Bella, Mandarine Basilic), and despite the fact that some years they're just duds, I always look forward to trying the new editions. The 2008 entries: Figue Iris and Laurier Réglisse.
Aqua Allegoria Figue Iris is attributed to perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain. I'll start right off with a disclaimer: I love fig and I love iris, but the combination doesn't entirely appeal to me, and I've yet to meet a powdery fig I could love. This one starts with a sparkling burst of grapefruit, nicely sharp and summery, and for a few minutes as the juicy fig joins in, I am in love (the notes: bergamot, grapefruit, violet, iris, fig, milky notes, woods, vetiver and vanilla). The heavily figgy stage doesn't last, unfortunately; it's mostly taken over by the iris, which comes on slowly but gets stronger with time. Eventually, it's a middling sweet floral with creamy-powdery iris and lightly figgy undertones. The vanilla is subtle, and the far dry down is earthy enough to keep this from being girly-pretty. It isn't my cup of tea, and anyone looking for tons of fig may find themselves disappointed, but it's very nicely done and the lasting power is good.
Aqua Allegoria Laurier Réglisse, developed by perfumer Marie Salamagne, is my Aqua Allegoria pick for the year. This is a bright, citrus-orange blossom fragrance with lots of greenery, right up my alley. Like the Figue Iris, is is nicely sharp and juicy in the opening. The licorice is strong only for a very short time, but it lingers long enough to provide a nice bite (the notes: bergamot, orange blossom, licorice wood, bay laurel, violet, galbanum and amber), and the woody-musky dry down stays green all the way to the end. Laurier Réglisse is drier and closer to unisex than Figue Iris, and doesn't last nearly as long — isn't that the way? — although given the price, hey, just spray on some more. This one goes on my "buy when it shows up at discount" list, where Mandarine Basilic has been languishing since it launched last year.
Although I didn't like the Iris Figue, objectively speaking (yeah, like I'm objective, ever) I think this is the best Aqua Allegoria set since I started paying attention in 2004. I know many of you haven't tried them yet, but please speak up if you have — I'd love to hear what others think.
Guerlain Figue Iris and Laurier Réglisse are available in 75 and 125 ml Eau de Toilette. The larger sizes can be found now at Sephora for $50 each.