Thierry Wasser 2007, reissue Place Rouge 2013, reissue 2017
[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

One of Guerlain's offerings in the haute parfumerie genre, made in just 140 box 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 repainting Jacques Guerlain's romantic violet 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 like a "poem" to elicit the sensation of a herb garden splashed by raindrops, Quand Vient la Pluie was aimed to explore the moment of cloudburst when the sky is lead-coloured and the soil is damp and fragrant. The initial impression was indeed marked by Après l'Ondée's chilly accord of violet, orris and herbes de Provence, while an infusion of orange blossom and almond-sweet heliotrope 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 these heavyweight references, the scent was completely unique and stood on its own, beyond any suggestion of powder, with gourmand notes of licorice, cinnamon, and praline. Sneaking up from below, a gust of patchouli right out of the chypre realm, earthy and humid, erased any remaining images of rainbow-framed landscapes. A peculiar scent, strong like a stout beer yet as dreamy as Debussy on a rainy day, Quand Vient la Pluie was one of those beautiful artefacts evincing that Guerlain is neither trendy nor antiquated.

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 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.

Parfum, EdP
Extremely robust as Parfum, the scent was also made in a lighter, less gourmand EdP version. The EdP reappeared briefly in 2013 in the bee atomizer, named Place Rouge, to celebrate the 120 years of Moscow's GUM department store. In 2017, it has been reissued exclusively for the Guerlain Parfumeur boutique in Brussels, to be had in 125 ml coloured bee bottles.

  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

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