Jacques Guerlain 1936, reissue 1997, 2005
Family: floral, aldehydic, oriental
Notes: bergamot, aldehyde, jasmine, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, carnation, rose, orris, sandalwood, rosewood, amber, musk, vanilla
Shining jasmine star
Period: The flight years
Véga collection

Véga was perhaps the most luminous of Jacques Guerlain's perfumes, so it makes sense it was named after a shining star. The fascination with astronomy and outer space was prevalent in the late thirties, and Vega, the star, is the brightest one in the Lyra-constellation, so immensely bright it has served as the baseline for calibrating the photometric brightness scale.

The perfume Véga was released in 1936, and it was Jacques Guerlain's second attempt after Liu to excel in the floral aldehyde genre. While the naked coolness of Liu was obviously a response to Chanel's cult perfume No.5, the inspiration for Véga, with its far more burning heart of narcotic flowers and sandalwood, could perhaps be linked to Chanel's Bois des Îles. However, unlike the latter which was promoted as the world's first woody perfume for women, Véga was not very light, but based on the grand musky-ambery-powdery leitmotif of Jacques Guerlain. Yet, it was a long way from his dreamy and cushiony L'Heure Bleue. Véga was literally drenched in jasmine from top to bottom, richly flowery and warm. The way that this jasmine, as well as rose, ylang-ylang and orange blossom, were made to sparkle with aldehyde, imparted a lively, unsentimental elegance, as illustrated in the stylized Art Deco advertisement. Véga smelled like thirties Hollywood stars and smoky jazz clubs. The fragrance was discontinued by the end of the 1950s, but it was reissued in its original bottle in 1997, and was also the first to be re-created in the "Il Était Une Fois Guerlain" EdT collection. Sadly, the production of this collection was discontinued in 2014 due to low demand.

Bottle. For Véga, Guerlain made the so-called inkwell bottle whose sphere-shaped stopper when seen from above, resembles a star with its circumstellar swirl of cosmic dust. Its whole design, the robustness of the bottle, the octagonal black Bakelite base, and the severe box logo, was very much Art Deco, and quite metropolitan-American. For the American release, the base of the presentation was covered with black velvet, and it was this edition that was re-created in 1997. The reissued Véga EdT came in a laboratory bottle of true retro Art Deco beauty, a replica of flasks used in the Guerlain laboratory in days gone by.

Parfum, EdT. The floral richness is full scale in the Parfum, but Véga is so rich that either version smells very intense.

Reformulation. The reissued EdT leaves nothing to be desired. Read more

  We love: that Guerlain reissued it, until they took it away again

  The 1930s mood

  Use it with a sweater on a cool day

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