Monday 9 January 2017


The stock room floor is usually littered with boxes at this time of the year with "recall" written on them. In order for a company to make room for its latest fragrance another may have to go. This is always the way with Guerlain's Aqua Allegoria scents. Sometimes decisions are based on sales, sometimes on trends, and sometimes we struggle to work out what the reason is. This was how many people felt when Guerlain's Nerolia Bianca left the range in 2015. It was ultimately replaced by the short-lived Teazzurra and the question remains, did Guerlain lose one of Thierry Wasser's finest creations?

When Nerolia Bianca was launched in 2013 it was as a replacement for Flora Nymphea, which was by then two years old. Now, Flora Nymphea had been described as “the spirit of orange blossom and a note a honey”, but for some people the combination of lilac and honey proved problematic. So in an effort to enhance the freshness of the range, remember that 2012 had seen the appearance of the sunny floral Lys Soleia, Guerlain decided to look again at that original orange blossom note. What Theirry Wasser created was, quite simply, exquisite.

The idea behind Nerolia Bianca was to bottle the whole of the Bitter Orange tree and produce something that was both mouthwatering and sensual at the same time. The first hit that you get is peppermint along with bitter orange and it takes you slightly by surprise. It places you firmly in the open air, which is where the marketing quote from Thierry came from, “an afternoon nap in the shade of an orange tree with the delightful scent of zest and petals”. The various facets of the tree start to appear immediately and the use of both orange blossom and neroli means that you get that deep warmth at the same time as the more airy sensation.

As the fragrance develops you notice that the woodier petitgrain, which is present from the beginning, starts to link onto the cedarwood in the base. It essentially gives you a structure from which the whole perfume hangs. The very clever addition of ylang-ylang just nudges a feeling of holiday into this scent but it never overpowers. As you would expect from Thierry, there is a white musk in the base that helps to anchor what could be a fleeting fragrance onto the skin. His love of this ingredient is well known and it is used brilliantly in this Aqua Allegoria.

“The spirit of bitter orange and a note of orange blossom”, that was what was trumpeted on the arrival of Nerolia Bianca, and it was absolutely spot on. Thierry had taken the whole of the Bitter Orange tree and weaved it into the perfect summer scent. It was truly sensational on ladies and wonderfully intriguing on gents but unfortunately it wasn’t destined to become a permanent addition to Guerlain's Aqua Allegoria range. With the 2017 addition now announced as Bergamote Calabria we will have to wait and see which of the current range it is destined to replace, but I’m sure there will be tears.

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