Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
The new Hermès fragrance Un Jardin Après La Mousson (Garden After Monsoon) was among my most anticipated launches this spring, simply because I loved the fact that Jean-Claude Ellena, Hermès’ in-house perfumer, drew inspiration from Kerala, one of the most beautiful regions in India. Furthermore, my first stay in India coincided with the long awaited beginning of the monsoon. As the first few drops of rain fell on the dusty streets of New Delhi, the stifling dryness of the air was cleared, the dust settled and the stone facades of the grand Mogul mausoleums took on a mesmerizing sheen. I sat in the courtyard of my friend’s apartment building surrounded by the smell of wet jasmine and ate the most luscious mangoes I have tried in my entire life. It was pure bliss. On the other hand, the end to this season of never-ending and potentially destructive rains holds as much anticipation as its beginning. …
If one expects lush and hot in Un Jardin Après La Mousson, one would be sorely disappointed. Moreover, Jean-Claude Ellena’s style of perfumery lends itself far more to delicate, soaring arrangements in cool shades. Indeed, Un Jardin Après La Mousson is an ethereal, translucent fragrance, as perfect for a hot summer day as a sip of iced lemonade. It opens up on a vivid note of cardamom, a spice that is unusual for being cool and citrusy rather than, in contrast to cinnamon, hot and sweet. A crisp fruity note reminiscent of sliced watermelon contrasts with the cardamom.
As Un Jardin Après La Mousson develops, it loses some of its cardamom effervescence and takes on a delicate floral-woody character. However, its character overall is of a delicately spiced citrus, which persists well into the drydown. The softeness and sheer structure of Un Jardin Après La Mousson are quite expected given the two previous Jardins fragrances, Un Jardin En Méditerranée (2003) and Un Jardin Sur Le Nil (2005.) Although Un Jardin En Méditerranée is still my favorite perfume from the collection, I am pleased with Ellena’s monsoon fantasy, even if it has nothing in common with my own.
Light, pleasant, and delicate are the words that I kept jotting down as I was thinking about Un Jardin Après La Mousson. In most cases, it would mean a nice, but forgettable blend, but when it comes to Ellena’s compositions, they manage to eschew anything trite. At this point I should note that I love Ellena’s minimalistic, haiku-like fragrances. They are the fragrances I turn to when I am exhausted by the heavy smells of the lab, by New York traffic, by news reports and by French irregular verbs. Even when they disappoint me initially like Paprika Brasil or Kelly Calèche , I later find myself returning to them to experience that gorgeous clarity that Ellena does so well. Of course, if you have not found Ellena’s other work to be appealing, Un Jardin Après La Mousson will not change your mind. It bears the Ellena fingerprint proudly.
Hermès Un Jardin Après La Mousson includes note of cardamom, coriander, pepper, ginger, ginger flower, vetiver accord. The fragrance is available from the Hermès boutiques as well as Bergdorf Goodman.