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QUAND VIENT LA PLUIE

Thierry Wasser 2007, reissue Place Rouge 2013
[kɑ̃ vjɛ̃ lɑ plɥi]
Family: floral, ambery
Notes: bergamot, rosemary, orange blossom, heliotrope, violet, jasmine, cinnamon, orris, praline, musk, amber, patchouli
Poetry, praline and patchouli
Period: The haute cuisine years
Quand Vient la Pluie collection

One of Guerlain's offerings in the haute parfumerie genre, made in just 140 boxed sets, Quand Vient la Pluie ("when the rain comes") was a tribute to Guerlain's most poetic perfume Après l'Ondée and its celebration of how nature smells after spring rain, the impressionistic pride and joy of the house. The vision was "to treat Après l'Ondée in a more contemporary way, with an intenser and more addictive base," as Guerlain's then artistic director Sylvaine Delacourte put it, and hence it shared the Insolence brief of taking Jacques Guerlain's romantic violet and repainting it with vivid colours. Unlike Insolence, however, Quand Vient la Pluie retained some of the rustic folklore. Thierry Wasser created it, a further development of his first fragrance for Guerlain, Iris Ganache, maybe as the test piece of work as apprentice before being chosen as Guerlain's master perfumer the following year.

Officially composed as a "poem" to elicit the sensation of an aromatic herb garden splashed by raindrops, Quand Vient la Pluie was aimed to explore the redolent moment of cloudburst when the sky is lead-coloured and the air densely damp and electric. The initial impression was indeed marked by Après l'Ondée's chilly accord of violet, orris and herbes de Provence, while an infusion of narcotic orange blossom and the almond-sweet "cherry pie plant" made some think more of L'Heure Bleue. But, where L'Heure Bleue was sensually warm, Quand Vient la Pluie remained cool and therefore more analogous to Après l'Ondée. Notwithstanding the heavyweight references, it uniquely stood on its own, beyond any suggestion of powder, with gourmand notes of licorice, cinnamon, praline and amber. Sneaking up from below, an unpredicted gust of patchouli right out of the chypre realm, strongly earthy and humid, ambushed any remaining images of rainbow-framed landscapes. Colourful and dramatic and odd like a chocolate stout beer, yet as pensive as Debussy on an overcast day, Quand Vient la Pluie was one of those beautiful artifacts evincing that Guerlain is neither trendy nor antiquated.

Bottle. More sculpture than mere flacon, the presentation for Quand Vient la Pluie, designed by French artist Serge Mansau who was also behind the controversial Insolence bottle, imitated a big raindrop on a leaf, as poetic and luxurious as the scent itself. The box set featured a piano-lacquer shell and black velvet lining, a 7.5 ml "drop" decorated with Swarovski crystals in cobweb pattern, a glass brick base, and a 490 ml refill bottle. There was also a smaller and less extravagant presentation for the EdP, which came without the Swarovski crystals. The EdP reappeared briefly in 2013 in the bee atomizer as an anniversary edition, named Place Rouge, to celebrate the 120 years of Moscow's GUM department store.

Parfum, EdP. Extremely robust as Parfum, the scent was also made in a lighter, less gourmand EdP version.

  We love: that Guerlain's deluxe editions were affordable back then

  A darker Après l'Ondée

  If not for anything else then for the sound of its name


Some images courtesy of guerlain.com


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