Fragrance Friday: Un Jardin Sur le Nil

Fragrance Friday: Un Jardin Sur le Nil

The weather has hit the high nineties in my part of the world, complete with dense humidity and hot skies. It is steamy and hot, and we just spent a weekend with friends at their lake house. The house has a huge, high-ceilinged screened porch with two swinging daybeds suspended from its beams and ceiling fans rotating lazily above. I spent most of Saturday lounging on one of those porch swings, reading and looking out over the lakeshore where my teenagers alternately baked themselves in the sun and dipped into the water. And boy, was I in the mood for Un Jardin Sur le Nil! I spritzed myself with it liberally throughout the day and just basked in its green mango and lotus flowers. This fragrance truly blossoms in summer heat and humidity.

Bottle of Un Jardin Sur le Nil fragrance from Hermes, floating on a lotus leaf

Un Jardin Sur le Nil; photo from hermes.com

Citrus-based fragrances are not usually high on my list but perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena is a magician with grapefruit. The opening of Un Jardin Sur le Nil is my favorite part of the fragrance — a gust of grapefruit and green mango that I find very refreshing and alluring. The entire impression is very green, which likely comes from notes like bulrushes, tomato leaf and carrot, with that wonderful fruity-but-not-sweet opening. It is a different green than most “green florals”, though light floral notes emerge as the citrus dries down.

The story of Un Jardin Sur le Nil and its creation has been masterfully told by Chandler Burr, first in this story in The New Yorker and then in longer book form, in The Perfect Scent.

Book cover of The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr

The Perfect Scent

After experiencing Un Jardin Sur le Nil on such a steamy, hot, humid day, I am appreciating its charms anew. In such an environment, it wafts off the skin in gentle waves of fresh coolness, as if one is about to sip the most delicious, refreshing drink in a green oasis. After the green mangoes and watercolor floral notes, the sycamore and incense notes at the base lightly suggest exactly the kind of setting in which I found myself this weekend: a wooden porch looking over a body of water, a humid breeze, a daybed heaped with pillows, ceiling fans turning gently above. In other words, there is a suggestion — just a soupcon, really — of this kind of room at the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan, Egypt, where the Hermes team stayed during part of their exploratory journey:

Porch of the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan, Egypt, looking over the Nile River

The Old Cataract Hotel, Aswan, Egypt. Photo: sofitel.com

Others have described and reviewed Un Jardin Sur le Nil in much more expert terms than I, and I encourage you to read The Perfect Scent, as it opens a window into the arcane world of perfumery in both Paris and New York. If you want to try the fragrance itself, I suggest that you try it on a hot summer day, when it truly comes into its own.

Bottle of Hermes fragrance Un Jardin Sur le Nil against background watercolor of lotus flowers

Un Jardin Sur le Nil, hermes.com

 

May Muguet Marathon: Muguet Porcelaine

May Muguet Marathon: Muguet Porcelaine

Thank goodness. I have been eagerly anticipating the release of the new (and last) Hermessence by Jean-Claude Ellena, Muguet Porcelaine. I love his Jardin series very much; the transparency of his fragrances appeals to me although some other perfume lovers do not like it. And I truly love lily of the valley scents, so I was keeping my fingers crossed that Muguet Porcelaine would not disappoint. And it doesn’t.

Before I got my own sample, I read some comments that used words like “cucumber”, “melon”, “watermelon” and even “bubble gum”! No, no, no, I thought, surely Ellena would not play such a cruel joke on perfume lovers who look forward to his new works, or on the lovely lily of the valley flower that has so inspired great perfumers like Edmond Roudnitska, whom Ellena holds in high regard.

He did not. Continue reading

Fragrance Friday: May Muguet Marathon

Fragrance Friday: May Muguet Marathon

As you may know, possibly my all-time favorite fragrance note is lily-of-the valley, or “muguet.”  I associate it with one of my favorite books, Elizabeth Goudge’s “The Scent of Water”: Fragrance Friday: The Scent of Water. I carried lilies of the valley in my bridal bouquet in April (flowers I grew myself), but May is traditionally the month for muguets, when the flowers often bloom and when the French give bouquets and sprays of the blossoms on May 1. So, since this is the first May since I developed my passion for perfume, I’m going to celebrate May by posting as many reviews as I can of muguet-focused fragrances, including the latest in the Hermessence line, “Muguet Porcelaine” by Jean-Claude Ellena as well as some classics and other new discoveries. Wish me luck! And please join me in the comments during this May marathon!

lily-of-the-valley basenotes

National Fragrance Day Today

National Fragrance Day Today

English perfumistas are celebrating “National Fragrance Day” today, so why not join in on this side of the pond? What to wear to mark the occasion? I’m thinking of Jean-Claude Ellena’s Un Jardin Sur le Nil, as it was reading about that fragrance’s creation in Chandler Burr’s book “The Perfect Scent” that started me down the path of obsessing over perfume.

Source: National Fragrance Day Today

The Perfect Scent, Chandler Burr's book about the perfume industry and the creation of Jean-Claude Ellena's Hermes fragrance Un Jardin Sur le Nil

The Perfect Scent, http://www.chandlerburr.com

Fragrance Friday: Monsoons

Fragrance Friday: Monsoons

I just read the most interesting article about a village in India that creates an attar to capture the scent of rain and the seasonal monsoons: Making Perfume From the Rain.

Every storm blows in on a scent, or leaves one behind. The metallic zing that can fill the air before a summer thunderstorm is from ozone, a molecule formed from the interaction of electrical discharges—in this case from lightning—with oxygen molecules. Likewise, the familiar, musty odor that rises from streets and storm ponds during a deluge comes from a compound called geosmin. A byproduct of bacteria, geosmin is what gives beets their earthy flavor. Rain also picks up odors from the molecules it meets. So its essence can come off as differently as all the flowers on all the continents—rose-obvious, barely there like a carnation, fleeting as a whiff of orange blossom as your car speeds past the grove. It depends on the type of storm, the part of the world where it falls, and the subjective memory of the nose behind the sniff.

Fascinating! The author, Cynthia Barnett, goes on to describe how she flew to India on the eve of monsoon season for the express purpose of visiting the village in Uttar Pradesh where, for centuries, villagers have captured the scent of the rain in their part of the world. They call it mitti attar. She describes in great detail what materials they gather and how they process them according to traditional routines. And then, she samples the end product, “Earth’s perfume”: Continue reading