Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca (Guerlain)

Approaching a "fresh herbal" interpretation of an eau de cologne by Guerlain was something that required little hesitation on my part. I expected something delightful and simple, with very direct green notes, and a sparkly herbal drydown. Quality of materials would be top-notch, and the experience would be pleasant and unforgettable.

I was half-right.

Herba Fresca opens with an explosive lemon and mint accord, which is wedded to the most unpleasant synthetic "aqua" note I've ever smelled. The beauty of the citrusy mint is undone by something that belongs in laundry detergent, not a fine fragrance. Vowing to remain positive, I plugged through the first ten minutes of this fragrance as it settled into my skin, exploring how the green notes would reconcile themselves with that ugly chemical thing that refused to go away. Fifteen minutes, and then twenty minutes later, the "aqua" note faded a bit, and the herbal elements became stronger. Quite a relief.

The mint never disappears, nor does the lemon, but the two notes are joined by a very fresh green grassy element, as well as a green tea note, which smells designer-grade. Without exaggeration, the tea in Herba Fresca is on par with the tea in Liz Arden's $15 Green Tea spray. A grassy feeling pervades the rest of Herba's considerable lifespan, enduring for a good three hours with minimal application in high heat. By the ninety minute mark, that disgusting water note has vanished, and a lovely little melange of mint, grass, and something that resembles basil, without actually being full-fledged basil, fleshes out the base. It's very nice, and completely unisex - actually more masculine to my nose, thanks to all the bitter backyard greens.

My disappointment is not with the fizzy greenness of this scent, but with its horrible opening, and decidedly mediocre materials. I expected a little more from Guerlain. But then again, I'm a malcontent.


  1. Hello, Bryan! I was wearing this fragrance today after about a year of avoiding it, having not enjoyed my first test of a large decant.

    What I discovered this afternoon is that the odd opening seems to be created by the combination of anisic herbs and mint. It creates a pseudo-inky quality to my nose, which you seem to be reading as aquatic. I am a major aquatic fragrance-phobe, because they tend to make me sick, but this fragrance does not.

    When I did a side-by-side comparison with Anisia Bella from the same AA line, I realized that Herba Fresca is basically a cross between Mentafollia and Anisia Bella, strangely enough. There is definitely a blueish cast to the herbs here, which seem closer to tarragon and basil than to grass.

    Anyway, I enjoyed it this time, but I recall not having liked it initially. You might consider giving it one more chance. (-;

    1. Interesting to know, thank you so much for sharing. It's really not a bad fragrance overall. I've tried so hard to like that opening, but it's simply a combo that my nose interprets as "swimming pool." I do like everything from about ten minutes onward, though. Very green and cool. I'll have to try some other AAs including the ones you mentioned. Eau de Cologne Imperiale beats this hands down, though.

  2. Although I should add that my decant is from the original launch. You may have a reformulation, in which case nothing that I said is relevant! (-;

    1. Guess it's possible, although I doubt that would really impact the quality of the scent or change it noticeably. These AAs are definitely mid-shelf designer grade and I have to wonder if they're all popular enough to warrant going under the knife with subsequent batches.


Thank you for your comment. It will be visible after approval by the moderator.