Sailing Upwind – Review: Guerlain Sous Le Vent + Giveaway!

Sous le Vent is the second perfume that came to me by way of the good people of Place Vendome Haute Parfumerie in Belgium.

This perfume was dedicated to Josephine Baker by Jacques Guerlain in 1933, it was re-released in 2006 along with Vega.

Sous Le Vent (French for leewards, upwind) features notes of basil, bergamot, lavender, tarragon, carnation, oakmoss, iris, woods, patchouli. It is available from select Guerlain boutiques worldwide.

Chypre perfumes always seemed very inaccessible to me, I was a bit afraid of them because I did not know them well. I always read about how the chypre genre is essentially dead, the modern chypre being something else entirely and that a real chypre can only be experienced in vintage perfumes to which I didn’t have access.

The wonderful Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and her Outlaw project perfume Mata Hari was my first “real” chypre. And it was love.

Sous le Vent is also a chypre, done Guerlain style.

It is an interesting perfume, unexpected and fascinating from first spray to late drydown.

Sous le Vent begins green and dry, evoking a tropicale locale from the start, a soft breeze keeps it moving and swaying, the dryness like sun-warmed sand on a remote beach. It is indeed exotic, but in a very french way. Like a Parisian would imagine the tropics. It is wonderfully vintage in feel, even if it is the re-release from 2006, its softly enveloping sillage takes me back in time and space to that unspecified island I have never been to in real life either.

In its development Sous le Vent gets sweeter, the Guerlinade takes over but without ever letting go of the green, the verdant freshness stays to the end.The current version is an Eau de Toilette and it wears for about three to four hours on me.

My beautiful apothecary style bottle of Sous le Vent

I love Sous le Vent for its softness that goes hand in hand with an assertiveness that makes its wearer sympathetic and respected rather than imperious and willful.

The more I wear it the more comfortable I become with it, it is a perfume that encourages snuggling into, encourages inhaling deeply and giving in to a wave of contentment and sheer pleasure.

It is a warm tropical breeze that lifts the spirits and makes everyone who encounters it, smile. That is a powerful thing to accomplish for a perfume and it reminded me of a phrase the talented Tarleisio used not long ago in another context, T. forgive me for paraphrasing: some perfumes are capable of spreading happiness in the instant of a breath.

I am giving away one 5ml sample of Vega and one of Sous le Vent. Two lucky readers will have the chance to try these rare perfumes.

Please leave a comment below to enter the draw. I will pick two winners in a weeks time, on February 9, 8am GMT, using The first winner to contact me can state his/her choice of sample. If you have any questions please let me know!

International entries welcome. Good luck!

Picture Sources: Vintage Ads via and, thank you!. Image of bottle: my own


About Olfactoria

I'm on a journey through the world of fragrance - come with me!
This entry was posted in Chypre, Fragrance Reviews, Guerlain and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to Sailing Upwind – Review: Guerlain Sous Le Vent + Giveaway!

  1. Gisela says:

    Funny – you ordered the two Guerlains I find most interesting. I read on another blog that they will discontinue Sous Le Vent. What a pity!

    • Olfactoria says:

      We both have excellent taste, it seems. 😉
      I heard that too, so I didn’t want to waste any time waiting around before Sous le Vent is no more…a pity indeed.

  2. Voyagetocythera says:

    I tried both of these in the Paris boutique but cannot for the life of me remember what they smell like. Don’t you just love that apothecary bottle?!

  3. Ines says:

    I would love to try any of those.
    Btw, the chypre genre has me confused a bit – I tried Mata Hari and that is not what I imagine a chypre is like, which just proves how the genre has changed in modern times. And I really like Mata Hari. 🙂

  4. Tara says:

    Ha! I”m getting to know your tastes B 🙂 Glad you treated yourself to a full bottle before it dissappears. So pleased you are getting to know chypres, I love them so – old and new. Please enter in the draw. Thanks!

  5. *jen says:

    Oh my. Yes, include me, too.

    You had me at “chypre”, but also…
    “…softness that goes hand in hand with an assertiveness that makes its wearer sympathetic and respected rather than imperious and willful” and “capable of spreading happiness in the instant of a breath”.

    Though I may hold a grudge if you get me hooked on a discontinued scent. 🙂

  6. lady jane grey says:

    Now, that’s an interesting draw – pls include me.
    After all those years I’m still not sure I know exactly what’s a chypre (and this one scares me utterly with its patchouli, carnation & iris…).

    • Olfactoria says:

      None of the notes you mention are really apparent in Sous le Vent, so no fear – it is just well blended green warmth. 🙂
      Of course you are in the draw, good luck!

  7. Tarleisio says:

    B. you are a minx! I suspected you and I have many similarities in our tastes – well, now I know it for a fact! Sous le Vent is my second-favorite Guerlain of all time – about equal with its cousin Jicky – and although I knew it had been reformulated (very well and true, I heard) and re-released, I never had an opportunity to try it. I came across it in an antiques shop in New Mexico, of all places, a dusty-looking box three-quarters full of Thirties vintage parfum I then bought for 2 dollars and carried home in triumph. That was eight years ago, and all that remains is a memory of ‘the-perfect-me-but-vastly-improved’ chypre I have never forgotten. Not that I am anything remotely alike to Josephine Baker…;)
    I would very much love to be entered in the draw, just for the opportunity to marvel and remember! 😉 Simply because…some passions, we never forget!

    • Olfactoria says:

      I was thinking about you when writing this review, but I didn’t know how much you love Sous Le Vent, but it seems there was a reason why you were on my mind.
      What a beautiful story, I should have paid more attention to Antiques shops in New Mexico, there are treasures buried there obviously! 😉 Never underestimate the Wild West!
      Of course I never smelled the original, but I trust Victorias judgment who says the re-release is very well done. Good luck in the draw, T! 🙂

  8. Marina says:

    Somehow both Vega and SLV to me are so fitting for you. I am just going by a photo and your writing, but in a way I can’t really express they suit you 🙂

  9. Victoria says:

    I am with Marina, I also see these fragrances suiting you perfectly!

  10. deeHowe says:

    Sous le Vent!

    Ah… I can see you sailing in Newport, wearing perfectly cut khaki’s and striped boat-neck top, grinning into the wind.

    Both of your fabulous selections surprised me! Queue Deborah Kerr: “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you…”

    • Olfactoria says:

      Oh wow, a video in the comments, the technology today… 😉 I would love to sail in Newport, I’d quite like one of those mansions there too. Well, to stay in context: that ship has sailed, I would have needed to marry an American billionaire, sigh. It is not to be.

  11. kjanicki says:

    “Like a Parisian would imagine the tropics.” I love that.

    I need to learn to appreciate Guerlain. I think I’m held back I think by their love of bergamot and lavender, two of my least favourite notes. But I’ve never tried either Sous le vent or Vega, so if I win your giveaway, I promise to write about them.

  12. Vintage Lady says:

    I would love to tenter the draw. Josephine Baker, I read a few weeks ago her biography. I didn´t know there was a perfume dedicated to her. Fantastic!

  13. Alice C says:

    These sound wonderful! Please enter me in the drawing! You have a knack for bringing these fragrances to life. 🙂

  14. Denise says:

    I have wanted to try Vega for the longest a time. I tried to try it at a Niemans and the the SA and a male co worker could not get the stopper out! So no luck. I would love to be in the draw.

  15. Paul Bunyan says:

    Would love to enter the draw. Thanks..and nice blog! 😀

  16. taffynfontana says:

    Good Evening

    I am a Guerlain newbie and have enjoyed both your reviews of Vega and Sous Le Vent. They sound luxurious and filled with “Joie de vivre” please enter me in the draw and have a great weekend

  17. Sharon says:

    Please accept my entry and my thanks!

  18. “I love Sous le Vent for its softness that goes hand in hand with an assertiveness that makes its wearer sympathetic and respected rather than imperious and willful.”

    This is such beautiful and interesting phrasing, and gets your idea across perfectly! I an definitely use some education in the chypre department, so enter me in the draw, please. 🙂

  19. I went on a month-long Guerlain sampling spree last year, but managed to miss Sous le Vent and Vega . Especially intrigued by the idea of a tarragon chypre…. count me in! 🙂

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  22. Great review, thanks so much Olfactoria! I have only sniffed Sous le Vent once, and am dying to try it again. My impression of it definitely matched your description of a dry and elegant thing that starts to purr after a while, making you keep your nose glued to your wrist. Please enter me in the draw.

  23. Denise Miller says:

    I am late to the chypre scene as well as your blog I’m afraid. Better late than never, right? I was looking for reviews on another house earlier today (Puredistance) and found your site! 🙂 So much catching up to do! Lovely easy to navigate site you have here. Thanks for your generous giveaway. Please add me to the list. Off to read some more reviews…

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hello Denise, I am glad you are here, late or not! 🙂
      I am flattered you like my site, thank you so much. You are entered in the giveaway of course, good luck to you!

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  27. PERFUMEKEV says:

    VERY NICE SITE! I will be returning.

    I am late to this discussion and wanted to add to it.

    I am a perfumer and now work independently. I have been a perfumer since I was 18 and now I am 40.

    I own the new Sous Le Vent and the classic. Since I own a large bottle of both , I actually took the classic and modern and mixed them in a 50/50 ratio then I really got something that was spectacular, the fresh top notes from the original helped where they had degraded in the old bottle and the old bottling added all the dense but translucent notes.

    The original Sous Le Vent is VERY animalic I smell real musk, Ambergris, civet, and castorium.

    the top notes are a lovely combination of bergamot, Italian lemon, lots of tarragon, narcissus, neroli, jasmine and rose. The base has moss, vetiver, very animalic and warm tropical balsams such as Peru balsam, tolu balsam & Tonka = benzoin.

    This perfume is a truly spectacular thing it is a shame that Guerlain has so many restrictions we are all missing out on the original

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hello perfumekev,

      thank you very much! Glad you have found my site.
      Vintage Sous le Vent sounds wonderful indeed. I quite like the modern version, but it is sad to hear something better can’t be made anymore because of senseless regulations… 😦

  28. PERFUMEKEV says:

    Sorry I ment to say I own the classic and the modern bottlings

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