SmackDown: Guerlain's Aqua Allegoria vs 4711 Acqua Colonia


Post by Willa Zheng


Hello Perfumistas,

In the quest for the perfect orange cologne to splash about in summer, I am smacking Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic (2007, Marie Salamagne) against its cheaper drug store dupe, 4711 Acqua Colonia Blood Orange & Basil (2010) this month. To me, the perfect orange cologne is like mint julep on a hot day – refreshing, uplifting, but not cloying sweet.


Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic

Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic Guerlain FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Clementine, orange blossom, ivy, green tea, bitter orange
Heart: Peony, chamomile, mandarin orange, basil
Base: Sandalwood, amber

vs 4711 Acqua Colonia Blood Orange & Basil

4711 Acqua Colonia Blood Orange & Basil Maurer & Wirtz FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica Gives these featured accords in one line:
Blood orange, basil

SmackDown: The hit

Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic opens as a blast of the sweetest, juiciest mandarin juice. Five seconds later, the bitterness from the rind emerges. And it continues to push through and dominate, until you’re like: ‘hold on, I’m smelling a bundle of kitchen herbs sitting next to a plate of oranges and mandarins on the kitchen table’. Mandarin notes are typically sweeter than orange notes, so it was an inspired idea to pair this with basil to temper the sweetness. The overall effect is cheerful, fresh but not cloying sweet.

Blood Orange and Basil opens as a blast of synthetic room-fragrance-like blood orange and alcohol.
It is sweeter and more bitter than Guerlain. Whereas a soothing blend of herbs like chamomile, green tea and ivy become noticeable in Mandarine Basilic after a few minutes, you can’t really detect the basil in 4711 unless you really look for that green note. To a blind sniffer, it is an uplifting, orange with jasmine scent.

DCF 1.0Photo Stolen WikiCommons

SmackDown: The wake

An hour later, my impression of Mandarine Basilic can be best described as sweet and musky. Fragrantica’s description of its middle notes is pretty apt. Yes, there is still the sweet juicy mandarin and herbaceous basil, but they’re now the supporting players to the chamomile and soft floral peony notes anchored by sandalwood and amber. Those notes set the soothing and comforting experience for the rest of the wear of this juice. Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic is surprisingly tenacious for a citrus EDT. 6Hrs+

Unsurprisingly, you can’t really smell 4711 Blood Orange and Basil half an hour later. Junkies are advised to reapply to continue to enjoy the bursts of happiness.

Smackdown Happy woman Sunset Jill111 PixabayPhoto Stolen Pixabay

SmackDown: Verdict

Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic is the clear winner for me, not just in terms of its longevity and complexity, but because it hums so soothingly, melding with the chemistry of the wearer. It’s an exemplary idea of what the Guerlain Aqua Allegoria line can achieve – creating beautiful, affordable, naturalistic fragrances from quality ingredients.

Surrender To Chance has Mandarine Basilic samples from $3/ml

In any case, if you’re after a flutter, 4711 is a cheap thrill that will bring a smile to most wearers’ face. Just keep splashing, baby.

What is your perfect orange?
Willa Zheng xox

16 thoughts on “SmackDown: Guerlain's Aqua Allegoria vs 4711 Acqua Colonia

  1. Hey there Willa,
    I LOVE your smackdowns. It’s such a fun and interesting thing to do and as so many fragrances are quite similar it’s good to have a heads up on how they run side by side.
    Keep them coming,
    Portia x


  2. I love orange fragrances. My favorites are Houbigant’s Orangers en Fleurs and Kilian’s Sweet Redemption. I haven’t tried the Guerlain but it’s now on my list. Thanks for the comparison!


  3. Hi Willa,
    Thank you for your smack downs! They are so much fun to read and I find them very helpful as well. I have a very long list of favorite citrusy summer colognes and cologne like fragrances. I especially like La Comedie des Parfums Van Gogh (lemons and various oranges on top), Olympic Orchids Perfume (grapefruit with tarragon instead of the usual herbal combos) and Micallef Pomelos 21. Sweeter oranges and citrus favs include Cacheral Liberte, Curve Kicks, Basile Baslie, Peety…the list goes on and on.
    Azar xx


      • Just re-tested Orange Sanguine today. It’s very similar to AA. AA is juicier, sweeter at the start. In the drydown, orange sanguine is vegetal, whereas AA is a come hither musky amber. My personal smackdown win still goes to AA.


  4. Great read Willa. How does the AA stack up against 4711 for longevity really? Given the price differential, you could probably respray 4711 multiple times a day and still come out ahead. Last time I saw 4711 in a chemist, it was $5. 🙂


    • Hey Greg, you might want to keep the 4711 bottle next to your desk and respray every hour, on the hour. AA can probably last the whole workday, but it will be soft soothing and musky after the initial hour. I really love those middle notes and drydown – which you don’t get with 4711 at all.


  5. One of the few orange scents I like is Classic Orange by Von Eusersdorff. I wasn’t sure I liked it but since I seem to have gone through 10mls that I had I guess I must.


    • Hi Poodle, I have never heard of Von Eusersdorff and just looked up the notes for Classic Orange. To me, those notes are perfection. I’m adding this one to my must-sample list!


  6. Hi Willa! I too love your smackdowns, so thanks for keeping them coming. I have loved 4711 since I was a child when my lovely Nanna used to douse me on hot days. I will have to try the Guerlain Mandarine Basilic when I come across it, you have enticed me! 🙂 I’ve not been wearing much orange lately…so I am drawing a blank, but I was LOVING Hermes Pamplemouse Rose in the spring time…grapefruit:orange= kinda similar, right..? 😉


    • Hi Ainslie, I love Hermes Pamplemouse Rose too! I especially love wearing it during hot humid weather, when anything else floral would be too much. Yes, I’ll let you get away with pink grapefruit 🙂


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