Scent Sample Sunday: Le Jardin de Monsieur McGregor

Scent Sample Sunday: Le Jardin de Monsieur McGregor

Given how much gardening is on my mind (and under my fingernails) these days, it seems fitting to write about one of 4160 Tuesday’s quirkier scents, Le Jardin de Monsieur McGregor. Yes, it is named for the antagonist gardener in the Peter Rabbit stories, and also in homage to Jean-Claude Ellena’s Jardin series of scents for Hermes (all of which I own and enjoy). Perfumer Sarah McCartney writes that it was created during one of her perfume-making workshops, with a focus on the aroma molecule Hedione, which creates an impression of freshness and floralcy, with notes of jasmine and greenness. The goal was for the class to create the scent of a cottage garden in the Lake District.

For those who may not know, the famous author and illustrator of the Peter Rabbit books and many others, Beatrix Potter, played a key role in preserving thousands of acres in the Lake District, including leaving 4000 acres of countryside and 14 farms she owned to the National Trust. She was, of course, a marvelous illustrator, but she was also a gifted botanist, naturalist, gardener, and farmer, and the plants in her illustrations for her children’s books are botanically accurate down to the last details. They include many of the plants mentioned in the notes and materials list for Le Jardin de Monsieur McGregor.

Mr. McGregor in his garden, by Beatrix Potter

The 4160 Tuesdays website lists the materials as: orris, tobacco (for Mr McGregor’s pipe), blackcurrant bud, jasmine, parsnip, hay, lavender, cedar moss, vetivert, patchouli, cucumber, mushroom, cut grass, leather, strawberries, lily of the valley, blackberries, celery and musk. More prosaically, the major notes are described as follows: Top Notes: cut grass, strawberry, mint; Heart Notes: hay, rose, lavender; Base Notes: tobacco, moss, mushroom.

Beatrix Potter illustration of mushrooms, V&A Museum collection

This is a very clever, witty fragrance as one might expect from Sarah McCartney. It does indeed start out as a fruity floral but one with green notes, not sugary. The cucumber note is a nod to M. Ellena, who uses a melony note in some of the Jardin fragrances which some people perceive as cucumber (melons and cucumbers are part of the same plant family). The fruity note at the opening doesn’t smell much like strawberry to me but more like some other berry — maybe raspberry or blackberry? But not the artificial flavorings most of us know — it smells like a fruit growing in the garden, thanks to notes like vetivert, patchouli, moss and mushroom, which ground the fragrance with some earthiness along with the green grass.

As those top notes fade away, I smell hay quite clearly, with a touch of celery. I also smell roots, which may come from orris and parsnip materials. I really do smell the parsnip, by the way, which has a particular sweet but earthy smell when raw, which I recognize from peeling parsnips! My English mother brought us up with parsnips, and I cannot roast lamb without also roasting parsnips to go with it. Sadly, my own children claim to loathe them. It’s not the smell they despise, though, it’s the taste. Chacun a son gout!

The heart phase also has floral and herbal notes, but they don’t smell much like rose to me, and not much like lavender either. The heart notes smell to me more like an herb garden, with a melange of floral and green scents wafting on warm air in the sunshine. As the fragrance dries down further and the base notes emerge, it reminds me more and more of St. Clair Scents’ Gardener’s Glove and First Cut, both of which I love. There’s a reason why my blogger name is “Old Herbaceous”! A warmth emerges from the musk base note, which Sarah included to evoke soft bunny fur. It isn’t one of those animalic musks, it is a fluffy musk, and it feels just right.

I’m very tempted to experiment with adding some more floral notes to this Jardin, perhaps by layering it with one of the scents by Jo Malone or that perfumer’s newer brand, Jo Loves. Since the Jo Malone branded scents are designed to be combined, I might start there; or I could try the more affordable Zara Emotions line, created by the perfumer Jo Malone and also meant for combining. Any suggestions?

Le Jardin de Old Herbaceous
Scent Sample Sunday: Zara Emotions by Jo Malone

Scent Sample Sunday: Zara Emotions by Jo Malone

I have been eagerly awaiting the US launch of Zara’s collection of fragrances, Emotions, in collaboration with perfumer Jo Malone. I love some of her fragrances under her own brand, Jo Loves, so I was curious to see what she came up with for Zara, well-known as a destination for budget-conscious shoppers. Zara has released many, many fragrances under its own name, some created by famous perfumers, such as Vibrant Leather, created by Jerome Epinette. The Emotions collection launched in Europe in late 2019, but it took another year to become available in the USA. Luckily, it arrived in time for the holidays, and I treated myself and one of my daughters each to the sample/discovery set. It costs $25.90.

The discovery set is a nice size: eight long, narrow vials of eau de parfum, each holding 4 ml of a different fragrance. The collection consists of: Amalfi Sunray, Bohemian Bluebells, Ebony Wood, Fleur de Patchouli, Fleur d’Oranger, Tubereuse Noir, Vetiver Pamplemousse, Waterlily Tea Dress. The vials are “dabbers”, not sprays. Each fragrance lists only three notes, and I think they would be ideal for layering, with each other or with other fragrances. In fact, the Zara website sells “layering sets” with various combinations of the collection’s fragrances, with one scent in a 15 ml “paintbrush” format and two more in 10 ml sprays. The sets offer some ideas for layering which I plan to try with my discovery set.

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Scent Sample Sunday: St. Clair Scents’ Frost

Scent Sample Sunday: St. Clair Scents’ Frost

I have long been a fan of Diane St. Clair’s fragrance creations, especially Gardener’s Glove but also First Cut. Frost is the third of that trio, her first releases which arrived in 2018. (For three very comprehensive reviews, you must read Kafkaesque’s detailed dissection of each). When I first read the name of that scent, I thought it would relate to frost, as in fall and winter temperatures, but instead, it refers to the poet Robert Frost, who wrote many of his most famous poems a short distance from Diane’s dairy farm in Vermont. Per her website:

“This scent follows the story of Frost’s poem, “To Earthward” which describes the transformation of youthful love, from “sweet like the petals of the rose” and “sprays of honeysuckle” to painful love, which stings like “bitter bark”, “burning clove” and “rough earth.”

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Scent Sample Sunday: JD Mimosa Mixte

Scent Sample Sunday: JD Mimosa Mixte

I’m a fan of Jeffrey Dame and his fragrances; they are well-crafted, high-quality, and reasonably priced. I love Duality and Black Flower Mexican Vanilla. I really like Vanille Farfelue. The JD fragrances are created with perfumer Hugh Spencer, a longtime collaborator of Jeffrey Dame’s. The JD website lists Mimosa Mixte’s notes as mandarin, basil, bergamot, mimosa, violet, ylang ylang, heliotrope, sandalwood, vanilla and musk. Fragrantica classes it as a “floral woody musk”; a number of commenters refer to it as a “yellow floral”, and I agree with that, given the prominence of mimosa and ylang ylang.

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Scent Sample Sunday: Diorella

Scent Sample Sunday: Diorella

Christian Dior’s Diorella was created in 1972 by the legendary perfumer Edmond Roudnitska, a sibling of his masterpiece Diorissimo. It is one of the fragrances awarded five stars by Turin and Sanchez in their book “Perfumes: The A-Z Guide.” Although they docked one star from it in their 2009 update, they still found it excellent. I have a bottle of Diorella that I think dates to 2002, according to the guidelines described in the “Raiders of the Lost Scent” blog (a great resource).

It smells great! Continue reading

Scent Sample Sunday: Lady Stetson

Scent Sample Sunday: Lady Stetson

I have decided to seek out, proactively, some black perfumers and black-owned fragrance brands to highlight periodically, because I’ve been so concerned about the racial tensions in my city, state, and country lately, and this feels like something positive I can do through my little blog (I regularly encounter and try to handle issues around racial justice in my actual job). And someone I have recently discovered is Howard Kennedy, a longtime perfumer and “nose”, who created Lady Stetson and won five FiFi awards for “Fragrance of the Year” during his long career. He is one of the rare black perfumers recognized as having made important contributions to fragrance in the 20th century.

Today’s “Scent Sample Sunday”, then, will be Lady Stetson. Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: And The Winners Are …

Roses de Mai Marathon: And The Winners Are …

Today is the last day of May, and the end of my blogging “Roses de Mai Marathon”! Thanks, all of you who came with me on this journey — I have loved reading your suggestions and comments. Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: L’Opera des Rouges et des Roses

Roses de Mai Marathon: L’Opera des Rouges et des Roses

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is not only one of the most gifted American perfumers, but one of the most beloved. I’ve never had the privilege of meeting her, but I follow her doings and have bought some of her lovely offerings. It feels even more important to do so when able, to support our independent artisan perfumers. Today’s penultimate entry in the “Roses de Mai Marathon” is her creation L’Opera des Rouges et des Roses. Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rrose Selavy

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rrose Selavy

“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose,” said Gertrude Stein in 1913.  Rrose Selavy is named for the alter ego of Stein’s contemporary and acquaintance, the Dadaist Marcel Duchamp. I really can’t explain this any better than perfumer Maria Candida Gentile’s website copy, so here it is:

A velvet rose, persistent and unique, dedicated to one of the leading artists of Dadaism: a homage to Marcel Duchamp and to his “double” Rrose Sélavy.

With Rrose Sélavy, Maria Candida interprets the “double” of Marcel Duchamp, and his jeux des mots Rrose Sélavy which sounds in French like “eros, c’est la vie”, or “arroser la vie”, to make a toast to life. Maria Candida pays tribute to Duchamp, making a toast to life with her velvet, soft, fresh, just harvested scent, with its olfactory vibration and which fills the air and the space, tridimensional just like his art crafts. The name Sélavy emerged in 1921 in a series of photographs by Man Ray of Duchamp dressed as a woman. Throughout the 1920s, Man Ray and Duchamp collaborated on more photos of Sélavy. Duchamp later used the name as a signature name on written material and signed several creations with it.

What does this perfume smell like? Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rose d’Amour

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rose d’Amour

There is only one perfume house totally dedicated to the Rose, and it is Les Parfums de Rosine. I previously reviewed its beautiful Clair Matin. One of the house’s classic fragrances is Rose d’Amour, which Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez gave four stars in their book Perfumes: The A-Z Guide (referring to the 2006 version, the one I have). Continue reading