Hermes Un Jardin Sur Le Nil : Fragrance Review

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Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

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 favorite 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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13 Comments

  • parislondres: Hello V! Though I admire JCE very much as a perfumer – I find some of his creations not terribly easy to wear. This creation is lovely indeed and reminds me of India too and it takes me back to my rather idyllic childhood in India. I have not bought a bottle and cannot wear this – perhaps because I do not want to feel India-sick. :)

    xoxo July 29, 2005 at 4:42am Reply

  • Laura: V, I bought a bottle of this and have worn it often enough this summer, but I don’t love, I finally admit. There is an odd bready or doughy note that spoils the opening of the fragrance for me. I guess it is the mango, but for me, as I said, the note smells like bread. The drydown is nice. I love the bottle, I love the story behind the perfume’s creation that appeared in the New Yorker, and I love the concept. I just wish I loved the creation. July 29, 2005 at 6:08am Reply

  • Robin: I love Jardin Sur Le Nil, but agree that it is not exactly innovative. It will be interesting to see if Hermes does a more general release, in other words, something that is not the Jardin series or the Hermessence series. Then we will know what JCE will be able to accomplish at Hermes. July 29, 2005 at 9:50am Reply

  • Tania: I thought it was a startling single idea expressed with virtuosic clarity, but I actually prefer it as a home scent (sprayed on the sheets and sofa) than on the body. It smells, like so many fragrances these days, like an outdoor aroma in the atmosphere, and not like a person. Beautiful, but in my opinion, not to wear. July 29, 2005 at 10:56am Reply

  • mreenymo: A Nubian fragrance this is not! Can you imagine Queen Nefertiti wearing Un Jardin Sur le Nil? I think not! I consider myself descended from the ancient Nubians (at least that’s what my loon of an uncle used to tell me as a little girl), and I would not wear this fragrance while touring the pyramids, or touring anything else for that matter. :)

    I love J-CE’s creations, but this one is fairly pedestrian, perhaps because the honchos at Hermes all had to have a say in its final composition. I prefer his Different Company’s Divine Bergamot. They are similar, but DB has a way of slowly developing on the skin into something that has a quiet, yet definitive, presence.

    Hugs! July 29, 2005 at 11:50am Reply

  • Victoria: Dear N, I love Indian mangoes. I am so spoiled by their wonderful taste that I cannot eat any other ones now. That is a reason enough to go back to India!

    L, I wonder what you are detecting. I do not recall anything that smells of bread, but I am curious as to what notes might be creating this impression. Will retest later to see it for myself.

    R (from PA), I cannot wait for another release. It is going to be fascinating, indeed! Will the company go mainstream or will it create something innovative… That is a question in my mind.

    T, I like it enough to wear it in the summer–light and pleasant, but I think that come winter it will be hidden away. However, I would love a candle in this scent!

    R (from LA), it is hardly innovative, I have to agree. I still find it great for the summer (as I do TDC Divine Bergamot as well), because the mango accord is rendered well. It captures the scent of green mango really well, and it is something I find very appealing. I have few mango fragrances I like, but this is one of them. On the other hand, Nefertiti fragrance it is not!

    xoxo to all! July 29, 2005 at 1:43pm Reply

  • Leigh: I wonder why it is that I recognize green mango in this, but it is not the green mango I know. I like it, and it was my hot weather staple. (Now it’s the rainy season and I am longing for things that smell like soil and rain but not Demeter PMU Dirt.) As it dries down, I don’t get a doughy note, but something else – like cardboard, like a drizzle of Dzing! just passed me by.

    I remember reading that the ladies of old Egypt would put perfumed beeswax in their hair, and the perfume would spread down their faces and bodies while the beeswax melted in the heat. Perhaps that would be an interesting take on a Nefertiti fragrance.

    :-) July 31, 2005 at 6:37am Reply

  • Victoria: Leigh, I recall reading the same thing about Egyptian way of perfuming the body. You can even see tomb paintings depicting men and women with conical piles of scented wax and lard on their heads. I read that the most favoured fragrances were water lily, resins from the plants of the balsam family, oakmoss, pine, cedar of Lebanon, bitter almonds, mint and various herbs. July 31, 2005 at 11:55pm Reply

  • Lilly: I love the freshness and elegance of this scent. When I smelled it for the first time I was not much impressed but on the second sniff I noticed all the different aromas in the perfume and how well they blend into another. When wearing it I receive nice compliments – even from my boss :-) Anyway, I bought it at Sephora Champs Elysees in Paris and so it remains a very nice souvenir that brings back memories of my favourite city when spraying it on. May 25, 2007 at 1:37pm Reply

  • Margot: I feel this perfume is very interesting. I don’t like floral perfumes in general, but this one has an interesting composition. I like how green it smells. It’s perfect for a hot summer night and day. It’s fresh and clean, but with a twist. Delinitately sultry. I get so many compliments on it by women and men alike. It’s the kind of fragrance that if you walk in streets of Cairo, Instanbul, Amalfi, Mexico City in a hot summer night people will comment on it. July 26, 2007 at 6:05pm Reply

  • Fanny: I went to visit in jerusalem when I just met this ver very nice,interesting,mystic ,fresh fragrance.

    As I see its produced a while ago and I just found it now. September 17, 2011 at 12:23am Reply

  • Annette Reynolds: I’m just trying this for the first time and I, too, notice that odd yeasty odor in the very first spray. It only takes a moment for it to go away, and then it becomes quite intriguing. But I’ve sprayed it on my wrist 4 times in the past 4 minutes because that’s how quickly it completely vanished from my skin. Disappointed! July 31, 2014 at 2:48am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t get that kind of note, but it’s very sour right away. That’s the only thing I don’t like. And yes, many complain that it vanishes too fast. July 31, 2014 at 7:06pm Reply

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