Blog post by Gwen

Véga - refined and wanton and axis-shifting

I was sniffing around the Guerlain boutique one day, checking out fragrances I didn’t know much about and learning more about perfumes I thought I knew when I spied Véga.  

I'd smelled it on my skin before, but now I had the time to smell it and really experience it. And once I did, my perfume world shifted on its axis. The sales assistant noticed something because she came right over to me and began telling me about the inspiration for Véga.

Jacques Guerlain, I learned, was fascinated by astronomy, so much so that he created Véga, a floral aldehyde inspired by and named for Vega, the brightest star in the constellation Lyra and one of the most luminous stars in the sky.

She also gave me some context. Chanel No. 5, a floral-aldehyde, was launched in 1922 creating a seemingly insatiable appetite for aldehydic fragrances that sent perfume houses scrambling to get a piece of the market. With demand for aldehydic fragrances still strong in 1936, Jacques Guerlain introduced Véga. In 2006 it was recreated by Jean-Paul Guerlain for the launch of the newly renovated Guerlain store on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, but the changes weren’t dramatic. This is the version I have and love.

Ah, yes, aldehydes. Think of them as the seasonings in a fragrance. There are floral aldehydes, fresh aldehydes, green aldehydes, anisic aldehydes, fatty aldehydes with a soapy-waxy-lemony-floral tone and the aldehydes that give fragrances a fizziness.

So, what’s so axis-shifting about Véga?

Let me start with the opening. Fizzy aldehydes are nose-tingling, brightened fresh, tart bergamot and sweet orange blossom, giving it a crisp floral start. Orange blossom has an animalic aspect that hints at what’s to come. I smell a fatty/soapy note here too, but overall the effect is beautifully luminous. As it blooms, the top notes that reveal a rich floral heart that I can’t get enough of. This is floral to the max. Jasmine is sweet, opulent, wanton and narcotic, and it twins with lush, velvety, sensuous rose. Ylang-ylang sidles up to the flowers. It's  rich, floral and sweet it's dirty facet hinting at immodesty. The fruitiness of the ylang-ylang is countered with tangy blackcurrant blossom, making room for carnation that adds spicy undertones that warm the flowers, making them more erotic. Powdery iris adds elegance, sophistication and femininity as rosewood adds a floral woodiness that leads to a base of creamy, sweet vanilla, smooth, fragrant sandalwood and sweet, warm amber.

The drydown is refined, feminine and suggestive enough for whatever you have in mind.

Jacques Guerlain studied the stars so he would have known about Vega. He would have known that Ptolemy considered Vega a beneficial star that gives refinement and mobility to those it influences, but also wantonness and immodesty. And he knew how to take those same qualities and put them in an axis-shifting perfume.

And, by the way, I own the EDT, and plenty potent. I might burst into a supernova if it were a higher concentration.

Check out Véga in our Shop.