I smiled the first time I smelled this. I always liked the idea of a very french interpretation of violet but could never find one that was not childish or cloyingly sweet. This is young but elegant , clean but not naive . Powdery with fresh waves of green violet keeping it alive
Just beautiful. For days you want to be discreet but not unseen
Après l'ondée was described in so many ways and the notes breakdown detailed hundeeds of times.
It's one of the rarest perfumes that i don't want to analyze, i just feel it, l'heurebleu gives me that feeling too.
Apres L'Ondee is an experiential fragrance. It is an atmosphere, ambience. It was never meant as a vehicle for grabbing attention and making a grandiose statement. I can't speak for previous formulations and therefore cannot pine over how much more beautiful it may have once been. I just have this bottle, and it's more than beautiful enough for me. Moreover, the base lasts on my skin for several hours; perhaps I'm lucky.
As I apply this to my skin, my emotions are awash with nostalgia, distant echoes of the past. I am reminded of those moments in life where you just come to terms. Grief, impermanence, passages of time that shape and age and cause all that is vibrant to fade one day. This may all sound depressing to those who resist bluer feelings; but for those who embrace them as the fulcrum of life's rich pageant, they drive us to appreciate the joy that we know inevitably comes and goes. We have visual art and film that remind us of this and that nourish our soul, why not a fragrance? There are only a handful that come to mind, and Apres L'Ondee is one of them.
The many melancholic shades conveyed by the assemblage of iris, violet, heliotrope and mimosa as they sing a solemn, sweet chorus—the volume fades ever so slowly and lulls you. It's as if the dry down was imbued with raindrops slowly evaporating on spring flowers.
Today is mostly cloudy, with slivers of sunlight. As I write this, I am about to reapply Apres L'Ondee and go for a walk, and just be present moment by moment with this scent, and I will reflect.
Guerlain Après L'Ondée (1906) is not the first fragrance from the late and great Jacques Guerlain, but it is often considered his first breakthrough commercial success for the house, after such entries as Mouchoir de Monsieur (1904) and Fleur Qui Meurt (1901), the latter only existing as a name mentioned anecdotally online as most surviving examples remain in museums un-smelled by us common perfume fans. Unlike older turn-of-the-century Guerlains made by Jacques that remain in either limited distribution or not at all, Après L'Ondée (or "After the Rain" in French), would become the first perennial favorite of the house after the controversial Jicky (1889). Après L'Ondée was meant to smell like it sounds, as a garden of flowers after a freshly-fallen rain, and the scent carries a light dewy ephemeral quality that makes it hard to over-apply. Jacques showed his interest in building perfumes out of other perfumes he's made very early on with Après L'Ondée, as the core structure of Fleur Qui Meurt (or "Flower that Died" in French) was carried over to it, in which this case was a newly-synthesized violet accord. Combining this violet with an equally-new heliotrope accord (from heliotropin) and an anisic aldehyde, Jacques created a bright and crisp floral bouquet that nobody had seen at the time, laid upon a bed of a orris root and eugenol (clove). There was a lot of science going on in Après L'Ondée that not many wearers of the perfume were aware of, but the results of this orchestration led to an aroma copied then copied again by competitors much like the later Shalimar (1925) would be, making Après L'Ondée feel a bit ubiquitous in the modern day but no less quality.
The opening of Après L'Ondée is that aldehydic anise accord combined with orange blossom and a touch of damask rose. The literature of the day described Après L'Ondée as melancholic, and I can totally see it by the visions of a wet garden on an overcast day that the opening implies. The violet comes next, as does a lovely carnation note which helps connect the violet to the heliotrope and a dry semi-fruity hawthorn note flitting about through the heart. Finally, the orris root base shows up after some time on skin. There is an awful lot of orris in Après L'Ondée, so folks not fond of the note will likely not appreciate the final phases of this perfume, if they even made it past the powdery heliotrope in the heart anyway. The orris was flanked with a vanilla infusion and clove in early batches, but after the creation of vanillin some years later, was replaced by that synthetic to help with economy of scale. I can't vouch for what that vanilla infusion must have smelled like, since I only have a more-recent batch in my midst, but what I get here is a soft vanillic soap which underpins all the light florals above, creating what society would perceive as the quintessential feminine accord for decades to come. The finish of Après L'Ondée is powdery, a bit soapy, with wisps of heliotrope, violet, and the fruit impression caused by the hawthorn, which lasts for a few hours on skin at modest sillage. I don't think Après L'Ondée was ever meant to be a "statement perfume" like the assertive Mitsouko (1919), and shares more DNA with the later L'Heure Bleue (1912), which takes the floral accord of Après L'Ondée in a more ambery semi-fougère direction appropriate for its evening aesthetic. I enjoy what is on display with Après L'Ondée, but admit that represents a "dainty" mindset of femininity not entirely acceptable over a century after it was made.
Most modern noses won't perceive the melancholy that noses at the turn of the century seemed to pick up, and that is largely in part to the way every perfumer from department store to dime store created their own heliotrope and iris perfume throughout the 20th century in hopes of capitalizing on the trend set by Après L'Ondée, which is an unfortunate by-product of massive long-term success. Most notably, Avon would crank out iteration after iteration of ambery iris, carnation, and heliotrope perfumes in the US, further solidifying this accord as that of "old women" once sharper leathers, headier orientals, and tomboyish green oakmoss chypres came to the fore as the 20th century progressed. Après L'Ondée and all of its copycats would seem irrevocably dated in time, even if Après L'Ondée was considered novel upon creation, the origin of the species, and superior in most regards to its progeny. I give this an approval for being such a landmark perfume, but admit its interest for many will stem from an interest in perfume history, outside those who still relish the kind of quaint innocence on display with Après L'Ondée. Unisex appeal is rather low, making this one for the ladies, but transgender perfume enthusiasts or anyone that prefers soft, soapy, light, and somewhat transparent florals might find favor in Après L'Ondée as a great after-shower or casual summer refresher that lacks harsher modern chemical bite. For everyone else, this is just a window through time in perfume form before Jacques Guerlain really solidified the concept of "Guerlinade", and worth at least a sniff or two, if nothing else. Thumbs Up.