Verbena (whose perennial varieties are common to both Europe and the Americas) has been used for centuries for its herbal remedial properties. Its abundant accessibility and aromatic character also saw it feature heavily in perfumes of the late 19th century.
Aimee Guerlain first gave prominence to verbena around the 1870's with the release of 3 fragrances; Verveine, Eau de Verveine, and Eau Spiritueuse Double a la Verveine. It was Eau de Verveine which re-emerged in the 1960's for a short time in the "Abeilles" bottle, and stayed in production up until the mid 80's where it could also be purchased in the flacon pictured above.
Eau de Verveine opens with a sharp, uplifting blast of citrus-green. Lemon verbena accords dominate the topnotes, which are piquant like the zest of a freshly grated lime. I find the very act of smelling this fragrance on the skin causes the ducted glands inside my mouth to flood with saliva. The shimmering topnotes are energising and bright, but below, I sense the prickle of something darker... a tiny scattering of carnation or clove perhaps; a few notes that in part, resemble the polarising "dirt" in Jicky. As the scent rests on the skin, it develops a dryness that I would liken to the aroma of dried tea-leaves. I can easily imagine deep glasses of iced tea perfumed with aromatic lemon verbena leaves, sipped as the shadows grow longer in a mossy sun-speckled garden. There is an inherent feeling of summer's end, and the chirrup of cicadas ringing in the ears.
Despite my vintage bottle being an eau de toilette, I find the longevity to be something more alike an eau de cologne. Eau de Verveine, like many of Guerlain's "eaux"; is something to be applied liberally and enjoyed for just a couple of hours.
This impossibly rare scent will quench your thirst, and leave you longing for more.
Tomorrow: Guerlain's Jasmin.