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July 28, 2005

Fragrance review: Hermes Un Jardin Sur Le Nil


Continuing with the gardens theme Hermès started in 2003 with Un Jardin en Méditeranée, in 2005 Jean-Claude Ellena created Un Jardin Sur Le Nil inspired by the travel in Egypt. Jean-Claude Ellena’s is one of my favourite contemporary perfumers, along with Maurice Roucel, Olivia Giacobetti, and Chris Sheldrake, however his creations for Hermès have been somewhat less innovative than some of the fragrances he has done before. Un Jardin Sur Le Nil is a masterfuly composed fragrance, possessing signature Ellena’s trademark of presenting the fragrance form as if illuminated by opalescent light.  The scent has been my summer staple, accompanying me on my exploits in Kiev and cooling me down in July heat of Chicago.

The explosion of green grapefruit segues gently into green mango with its piney floral fragrance, enhanced by translucent sweetness of lotus. While the initial impressions are not of much more than a pleasant fruit salad, resins and ashes seep through the fruit juices in the base, blurring distinctions and distorting the pretty affability of the composition, thus managing to lift the fragrance out of the domain of predictable. While I do not envision the street leading to a Nubian village where Jean-Claude Ellena discovered the mangos that inspired him, I am reminded of heavy clusters of fruit hanging from mango trees in India. Where one association does not resurface, a score of others are eager to take its place. I would also note that this fragrance is composed to blur masculine/feminine divisions, without being a typically conventional androgynous creation.

Photo: Tom Tidball.



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