Considering that Guerlain’s Aqua Allegorias are promoted as "the Collection of Fresh Fragrances," it’s quite remarkable that we had to wait almost twenty years to get one named after bergamot, perfumery’s most widely used fresh note and even featured in the list of Guerlinade ingredients. Maybe one reason is that bergamot is not what it used to be. Thierry Wasser has explained that while raw bergamot oil smells heavenly, deep, complex and rounded, almost like a perfume in itself, it can cause allergies when exposed to sunlight and therefore has been substituted with a “cleansed” product that smells somewhat flat and lifeless in comparison. According to Wasser, the absence of raw bergamot oil is one of the main reasons why modern Shalimar is so different from the vintage version.

For a brief moment in the top note of Bergamote Calabria, we get the juicy, fruity-green, astringently petrol-like feel of what bergamot should smell like. After this, the scent seems to have trouble deciding whether to be fresh or sweet. Like Limon Verde from 2014 (reportedly discontinued this year), it chooses the sweet side, where we find vanilla and an excessive amount of puffy white musk. In recent years, the Aqua Allegorias seem to have become studies in white musk. One would think that now that Sylvaine Delacourte has her own line of white musk it would be less emphasized at Guerlain.

The white musk nullifies any remains of Bergamote Calabria’s bergamot, but luckily the citrus note is carried on by petitgrain, one of the staples in the Aqua Allegoria series, with its distinct woody-orange, floral and metallic facets. The woodiness is underscored by earthy-spicy notes of ginger and cardamom. This mixture of woody orange, ginger, and sweet white musk remains the main accord of the scent. In fact, this fragrance ought to have been called Gingembre Arancia.

The Aqua Allegorias are not meant to be grand perfumes, but rather little olfactive trinkets that come and go each year to ensure Guerlain’s visibility at airport shops. None of them are really bad, none are great, most of them are just nice. I must admit that I’ve never used up a whole bottle of any Aqua Allegoria. Read more about Aqua Allegoria
(February 2017)

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