Sunday, May 01, 2011

Fragrance of the Moment

Hermès Un Jardin sur le Toit is the latest of the Jardin series by Jean-Claude Ellena, a perfumer most widely known for his "minimalist" style, although I think of Ellena as a classic contemporary, rather than a modern contemporary, guy. That's neither here nor there; his own style is unique and distinctive. Although he has created a vast number of different fragrances, his "still life" evocations of nature and the countryside are some of his best known works. His creations are often vegetal and sharp, like French tomato soup - a slightly sour taste, devoid of any sign of sweet ripening of the tomato which, by the way, is technically a fruit like the cucumber, and a relatively unsweet one even at its fullest maturation. Although I wouldn't exaggerate and say this sharp, fresh "garden vegetable" sensation, smelled or tasted, makes me swoon with pleasure, it can be a beautiful scent to wear, creating a green, springlike, dewy sillage, bringing out the nymph or eternal ingenue in us all.

I am a fan of Jardin Apres La Mousson, the Jardin fragrance that came before Un Jardin sur le Toit. I've described it as a gingery watermelon scent, and I still stand by it, except I'd add that there is a wintergreen note in there as well - a note I've come to associate with tuberose. It's a gentle, fresh and spicy scent with equal parts vegetal and sporty, cool, fruity and aqueous character. The Jardin scents preceding that were also interesting, among them, one smelling of fig leaves, another of unripe green fruit. Even the ones I couldn't wear were interesting, and tasteful in the same way French cuisine, fancy or not, is refined. I'd anticipated Jardin sur le Toit to smell fresh, with nose-pricking sharp elements like tomato or violet leaf and such, but what I got was as unexpected as can be. It's a Fruity Floral! It's a sah-weeeeeet one at that. Imagine starting with strawberry oil, then moving onto Caron Or et Noir crossed with Yosh U4REAHH! ending on a giant woody dark rose a la today's modern chypre a la Narciso Rodriguez. It's decidedly more urbane this time; it's Idylle for the Le Cirque crowd. Kat Von D Sinner comes close, as does Victoria's Secret So In Love, except there is a green, herbaceous tree sap note here, like L'Artisan Parfumeur D'Humeur Jalouse, bringing it all together for a fairly dramatic rooftop garden theme.