Scented Advent, December 11

Scented Advent, December 11

Today’s Advent Guerlain sample is Angélique Noire, which seems to have developed something like a cult following since it was launched in 2005. And I can see (or smell) why! It’s an unusual, distinctive fragrance, totally unisex to my nose. Fragrantica lists it as an “amber floral”, with top notes of Angelica, Pear and Pink Pepper; middle notes of Jasmine and Caraway; and base notes of Vanilla, Angelica and Cedar. Right away, upon spraying, I smell the angelica. It is green, herbal, aromatic but lightly so. It is made slightly but noticeably fruity by the pear accord, which is a very appealing combination. Some reviews mention bergamot, but I don’t really smell that. However, since bergamot is, to my nose, a slightly bitter, green citrus scent, a combination of green angelica and juicy pear may emulate it.

While jasmine and caraway join in for the middle phase, the angelica never goes away, and it persists through the entire drydown. That’s saying something, because I could still smell Angélique Noire on my wrist, albeit faintly, ten hours after applying it this morning. The caraway carries forward the initial herbal greenness of the angelica, while the jasmine brings a bit of floral sweetness. To my nose, the notes in this fragrance are really well blended, they just segue from one to the next, often overlapping. The perfumer is Daniela Roche Andrier, creator of one of my top fragrances, Tiffany & Co..

As the floral notes fade, the vanilla emerges and the angelica becomes dominant again as part of the base. At this stage, it reminds me of Vanira Moorea, the citrusy vanilla from Berdoues whose greenness comes from a petitgrain accord. Angélique Noire is a darker green, but still fresh. The base shows off more of its aromatic nature, which a cedar accord enhances.

I was interested to try Angélique Noire partly because Guerlain sales assistants seem quite enthusiastic about it. I first encountered it several years ago, when there was still a Guerlain counter at our local Neiman Marcus or Saks (can’t remember which!). I had asked the SA to recommend some vanilla scents and she immediately wanted me to try Angélique Noire. I remember liking it then, but my senses were overcome by Spiritueuse Double Vanille, so I don’t think Angélique Noire made much of an impression. Then, this past September, when I made my first visit to a standalone Guerlain boutique, the lovely SA literally pressed a sample of it into my hands, and sent me another one with the order I had placed. I had told her I like green scents, and I think that is the aspect of Angélique Noire she wanted to bring to my attention.

I really like Angélique Noire! I don’t find anything particularly “noir” about it, either. Angelica is an unusual note on which to center a fragrance; do you know of or recommend any others?

Angelica plant in bloom
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