One Thousand Scents

Friday, May 09, 2008

Summertime: Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Anisia Bella

Anisia Bella's perfumer, Aurélien Guichard (son of Jean Guichard, who had a hand in Obsession and made the sublime eighties scents Loulou and Montana Parfum de Peau), describes Anisia Bella as having "an overdose of anise", but he must be speaking proportionately, because Anisia Bella doesn't have an overdose of anything. It's the definition of a transparent scent: light, fresh, gauzy. It doesn't project at all. If I don't count Demeter scents, it's by far the lightest thing I own, even more so than such watery fragrances as Bulgari Eau Parfumée. Even the original Aqua Allegorias Herba Fresca and Pampelune have more body than this.

Under a cold, crisp opening of citrus notes, the anise bursts forth, accompanied by just a little bit of something that I thought smelled like a freshly peeled carrot, but not quite: it took me a while to realize that what it smelled like instead was a freshly peeled parsnip (a botanical relative of the carrot), and that is a lovely thing to smell like.

There isn't much development; Aqua Allegorias are made to be simple and straightforward. The middle of the scent is mostly that anise, accompanied by some vague nods at floralcy, mostly violet, and the base is an equally vague woody warmth. Anisia Bella, with its violet and anise, is suggestive of Guerlain's own Apres L'Ondee, though much simpler and lighter, of course. It lasts in a meaningful way for only two or three hours, but what nice hours they are!

I can easily imagine someone going through an entire bottle of this over the spring and summer. Not me, obviously, because if I had to wear the same thing every day for six months, I'd go insane. But if you fell in love with it and made it your signature scent--which could easily happen, if you love anise--you could really shower yourself with it: four or five spritzes sounds about right, and later in the day you'll probably want to dose yourself again, because it'll have vanished by then. A bottle wouldn't last very long at all. Just long enough for fall to arrive.

Anisia Bella, if you should be interested in buying it, has been discontinued, like most of the Aqua Allegorias (Gentiana: toast. Lavande Velours: gone). It was launched in 2004 and cut from the lineup a year or so later, as I whiningly noted a couple of years ago before it finally occurred to me that I had no choice but to buy it online, a dangerous road that I was reluctant to head down, because I have no self-control when it comes to scents.

So, discontinued or not, you can still get it: I got some at Imagination Perfumery for $23.99, and they still have it, but other places sell it, too, and just about as cheaply. Worth it!

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