Hermes Un Jardin Apres La Mousson : Perfume Review

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Hermes_jardins

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.  

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43 Comments

  • Annapurna: V,
    This really echos how I felt about it…its lovely and cold, with a touch of that icy beauty so much the trademark of JCE.

    It isn’t what I would put together, if I were given the assignment, but it is a lovely perfume and such a different take on India that I still enjoyed it. I do wish it were a bit wetter some how, and at the same time had a more wet-clay like note. Capturing that specific and short lived smell one gets when parched earth gets wet would be a really engaging scent.

    Lovely nevertheless… May 1, 2008 at 1:08pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: A, I know exactly what you mean about the smell of parched earth getting wet. It is such a beautiful scent that is powerful and tender at once. As much as I dislike rain in the city, I love stepping into the humid air as the first drops hit the hot pavement. Actually, New York is a very scented city (which is both positive and negative.) Each morning I trace my walk through smells–hot bagels from a coffee shop, detergent from dry cleaners, dank smell of subway, and a blast of something roasted and savory, if I take a different route to the office. May 1, 2008 at 1:31pm Reply

  • Andrea: Hi Victoria:
    Thanks for the review. I will see it it’f arrived to the Hermès store in Dublin this weekend.
    I absolutely adore Ellena’s creations, and they never disappoint me. He is a watercolour artist, and I love his sheerness and clarity.
    Does it remind you of a rainy day? I love the smell of rain.
    I come from Brasil and one of the things I miss the most is summer, tropical showers…
    Talk to you soon,
    a. May 1, 2008 at 2:04pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: Cardamom and citrus! I must try this. I find that the lighter, delicate scents (like Diorissimo, which I’m wearing today for May Day) work better on me than the heavier, complex ones – though I have my favorites among those, too. 🙂

    I’m half Indian, so any fragrance with an Indian reference will catch my attention. My father was born there, in Hyderabad, but I haven’t had a chance to visit the country yet. Hopefully I will soon! May 1, 2008 at 2:25pm Reply

  • Six’: I had the very same impression about UJALM, the fantasy-monsoon aspect, the translucency, the citrus-spicy character, down to the “as refreshing as lemonade” part… except I perceived the “fruity” note more like green melon than watermelon 😉
    I’ll also say it’s perfectly in line with the rest of the Jardins series – a nice example of Ellena’s style altogether, even if it’s not my favorite of his.

    (Oh, and hi! I believe this is my very first comment here, luuuurve your blog :)) May 1, 2008 at 2:36pm Reply

  • Marina: Am scared by the watermelon note. And that is on top of the fact that JCE’s style is not what I am usually drawn to. But I am very curious to try this nevertheless. May 1, 2008 at 4:10pm Reply

  • Erin T / Tigs: I have just smelled this and, well – perhaps it will grow on me? I quite like the cardamom note, but the whole thing seems a little too transparent and anemic for me. It being by JCE, I didn’t expect density, but would have prefered some more earthiness, maybe, something a little more grounded. The bottle is fab, though, my favourite of the Jardin series so far. May 1, 2008 at 6:38pm Reply

  • Cynthia: When I was younger I lived in India for four years, some of the happiest and most exciting years of my life. I look forward to smelling this. I love your description of “haiku-like” fragrances by Ellena. To me they are shimmery light fragrances, my “comfort” fragrances, if you will.

    It’s great to see you writing again! May 1, 2008 at 9:03pm Reply

  • k-amber: Judged from the note, this new Jardin sounds rather potent. As I have finished the other two Jardin bottles, I believe I must test new one. Off topic, I have sent a message regarding Lutens as instructed, wondered if it works or not. If not, I will send it to you again. As always, your blogs make my day!

    Kaori May 1, 2008 at 9:56pm Reply

  • March: So wonderful to see you back. I need to smell this, and I love what you said about the JCE fragrances being something you turn to for respite. May 1, 2008 at 10:00pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Andrea, it does have a wet note, which makes me think of watermelon, but without candy-like or metallic aspects one usually finds associated with this note in perfumery.I also love the smell of rain, and I know what you mean about the smell of a tropical rainstorm. It is simply unlike anythong else! May 2, 2008 at 6:57am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Elizabeth, that is exactly what appealed to me too. The cardamom and citrus combination is wonderful. Given its lightness, I have to say that Jardin Apres La Mousson has a great sillage. Hope that you will be able to visit India. It would not be an overstatement for me to say that it was an experience that changed my life dramatically, in many different ways. May 2, 2008 at 8:52am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Six, thank you for visiting! I agree with you on the melon note, I can see it that way too. All in all, I am happy with this Jardin. It is not beating my favorite Un Jardin En Méditerranée, but I prefer it to Un Jardin Sur Le Nil. May 2, 2008 at 9:02am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Marina, I do not tend to like these notes, but here it is just perfect and refreshing. I would love to hear your thoughts when you try it. May 2, 2008 at 9:05am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Erin, I am surprised myself, but even by the end of the day I can smell the fragrance. It is sheer, but very persistent. May 2, 2008 at 9:13am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Cynthia, thank you! Where did you live in India? The more times I visit, the more I want to return. May 2, 2008 at 9:18am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Kaori, thank you. 🙂 It seems potent based on the notes, but the effect is quite light. Still, it is very persistent.

    No, the email has not arrived. Can you please try it again? May 2, 2008 at 9:20am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: March, I would love to hear what you think! It is definitely going to be a staple this summer for me. Do you like Un Jardin En Méditerranée? I am concluding that it is my ultimate fig–ripe, rich, and yet still with a beautiful green note. May 2, 2008 at 9:22am Reply

  • Robin: The first sniff was a shocker: cantaloupe! New West! Now I have to figure out if I like it or not. May 2, 2008 at 10:25am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: R, I know what you mean. I was about to dismiss it, but as I wore it, it charmed me, and now I am already tempted to buy a full bottle. Given that I am drowning in perfume as it is, this should say something. 🙂 May 2, 2008 at 10:39am Reply

  • March: I am wild for fig. There are several I like. I wear Mediterranee when I want something greener, and (Robin’s first love) Philosykos when I want something figgier. I am getting a sample of this soon and cannot wait to try it. May 2, 2008 at 2:51pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: March, I love the idea of fig more than its perfume version, but Ellena’s take on it swayed me. I still dream of a perfectly ripe, sweet and juicy fig. May 2, 2008 at 5:39pm Reply

  • Cynthia: Hi Victoria
    I lived in Bombay, when it was called Bombay…not Mubai…the early 1990’s. Back then there was very little Western influence. I was overcome with the total originality of being immersed in a culture so unlike my own. Wonderful people, great parties, fine old crumbling buildings, and seeing something that would make my mouth drop open at least once a day! Cable tv lines were snaking their way down the streets when I left, and I’m sure that influence has brought many changes. As you say, it was life-changing. Do you travel there on business, or strictly pleasure? May 2, 2008 at 7:55pm Reply

  • QuinnCreative: I’ve been holding my breath to see if I will like this. I like Nil, but Mediteranee and I are not close friends, although we behave politely with each other. Cardamom is a deep love of mine, but if it really has watermelon in it, I’ll pass.
    Great to see you back! We’ve missed you! May 3, 2008 at 1:17am Reply

  • Laura: Ooh, this sounds delicious, V! I’ve been thinking a lot lately of rain after dry spells, so this one is very alluring. Your description makes me FEEL the scent. May 3, 2008 at 6:56am Reply

  • QuinnCreative: I found, I sniffed, I Visa’d. It’s my favorite of the three. The melon is linked with a lovely floral, and although I hate melons in any form in any scent, this is wonderful. The reviews say it’s a dry scent, and I’ve decided I’m not smart enough to know what that means. Because it’s rich and transparent and another Elena sensation. I know most of the perfume bloggers I read aren’t in love with it, so send me your rejects. I will take good care of them. May 3, 2008 at 9:26pm Reply

  • k_amber1: Victoria,

    I created my new account for my email address as the mail address you instructed did not work. Let me know your shipping address. The brochure is ready to ship 🙂 May 3, 2008 at 9:39pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Cynthia, I travel there for pleasure, and I always look forward to my next trip. Bombay/Mumbai–however one wishes to call it is such a vibrant city. I spent some time in New Delhi too, but Mumbai swayed me completely. There are plenty of Western influences, to be sure, but its rhythm is its own and completely unlike anything else I have experienced. The scent of Mumbai as I imagine it must have this smoky, dusty note. May 4, 2008 at 4:15pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Quinn, believe me, ordinarily I run away from melony notes, but this one is completely different and works remarkably well with the rest of the composition. Cannot wait to hear your thoughts. May 4, 2008 at 4:16pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: L, I am very much enjoying it. Its wet-floral-citrus composition is very appealing. I already bought a bottle, if that says something… May 4, 2008 at 4:17pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Quinn, oh, I missed this comment. So glad to hear that you tried it and loved it. I do not find it dry at all, it stays wet and sparkling all the way into the drydown and then persists in this manner. May 4, 2008 at 4:19pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Kaori, I just sent you an email. Thank you very much! May 4, 2008 at 4:20pm Reply

  • QuinnCreative: I gave it the tough test this weekend. Put it on and went for a hike in the desert. Before it went on, I put on sunblock. The hike was hot and I gave it a sweat bath. By all counts, Jean Claude Elena should have been cursing me and the perfume should have either vanished or taken revenge. It stood up well in the heat, and left me with a wonderful spice mix. The melon/floral disappeared. When I came back I showered and applied it again. Seven hours later it is still flirting in and out of the air around me. No, it’s not got the sillage of Fracas, for which I am deeply grateful, but the drydown is lovely and not harsh or linear. I do love it and don’t regret buying a full bottle at retail prices. May 5, 2008 at 12:41am Reply

  • Sveta: I love UJALM (can I make it shorter like this?) 🙂 It is so refreshing. I think that it will be very good for the summer. May 5, 2008 at 12:22pm Reply

  • Annapurna: Hi V,
    I saw that there is a new movie coming out called “Before the Rains” that takes place in Kerela; it is about an Englishman (Linus Roach) who falls in love with his Indian housemaid (Nandita Das). The poster made me think of UJALM, which was inspired by Kerela…I’ll have to wear it to the movie theater! May 9, 2008 at 2:11pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Quinn, it lasts and lasts on me, even though the sillage is moderate. This is very impressive. May 12, 2008 at 9:50pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Sveta, I am glad to hear this. 🙂 May 12, 2008 at 9:50pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Annapurna, I have not seen this movie yet, but it sounds very good! I also love Nandita Das. May 12, 2008 at 9:52pm Reply

  • Elena: Hi, V!

    I have been reading your amazing blog for such a long time (yes, I am a long time lurker!). I am very happy to see you back!

    I cannot wait to try this perfume, although I am a little wary about JCE’s penchant for watercolors when it comes to perfume. I hope it is not going to be too insipid or “thin.” But I think I could get that bottle just for the name! I am an easy sell when it comes to Indian stuff. My favorite of the Jardin series is the Mediterranean Garden.

    I am Russian and has lived in US and in Mumbai. I lived in India for almost a year. I fell hard for that place and I don’t know how am I going to pull my heart out of there. And yes, India stays with you forever and changes you forever. And there is nothing like Bombay. It is *very much* a scented city – some are the best smells I have ever experienced (incense bazaar, smell of fresh tobacco, jasmine or chai) and some are the worst (not going to go there, lol). Well, it is all ying and yang, makes it for the fullness of life, I guess. Have you read the book “Shantaram”? It’s almost all about Bombay. Amazing and exciting read.

    Write me if you want to chat about India (I hope you can see my e-mail)
    *Please* keep writing. May 17, 2008 at 2:01am Reply

  • Tom, Lancashire, England: I have just bought UJALM for my wife. She’ll get next week when she finishes her degree. I bought it at Barcelona Airport with 5 minutes to go before boarding. I sprayed a sample on my shirt and spent the flight back to England exploring a mix of sensations – it smelt damp and pungent to start but then opened into an amazing light, citrus, woody concotion. 12 hours later and it feels a natural part of my body odour. Last night in Barcelona the air was heavy with thunder then rain so this fragrance already takes me back to the stormy early summer skies of Spain. We’re huge fans of UJALM, the first in the trilogy which is a true masterpiece – the best fragrance ever. Better than the leathery Terre d’Hermes. Un Jardin apres le Mousson (12 hours in) is an accomplised piece of apothecary and olfactory engineering. It’s like wearing a simple but perfectly tailored silk and linen suit in the rain, then enjoying the smell as it dries. June 8, 2008 at 6:49pm Reply

  • Tom, Lancashire, England: Slight correction on the above. When I said we were huge fans of UJLAM, clearly that cannot be the case as my wife hasn’t even receievd it yet. Obviously, I meant Un Jardin dan le Medeterranee. However, I can see us both becoming big fans of UJLAM. If my wife doesn’t get her degree it’ll have to be mine. By the way, the duty free shop at Barcelona Airport made the purchase extremely favourable. Smells even sweeter because of it. June 8, 2008 at 6:56pm Reply

  • tamara: I bought this again .I like citrus fragrances ( Jo Malone Grapefruit ) is a favorite and i have trouble with mainstream fragrances.I thought about getting the Stella McCartney L.I.L.Y. but at the end of the day I like the Annick Goutal Eau de Hadrien the Grapefruit Jo Malone t\.Sometimes I like something very floral I enjoyed Flower Bomb by Victor Rolf but in general I dislike most commercial offerings.I can see why Apres la Moussant is odd to many but to me it is lovely-it appeases my desire for a really oriental perfume( I love ylang ylang and jasmine but cant tolerate a full bodies version)Tjis with its ginger is close to those but not overbearing and more like the citrus fragrances that I love. December 7, 2012 at 6:48pm Reply

  • Julie: A great review Victoria. I tried this one today, feels like spring/summer in New England, 71 degrees. 🙂 I visited Nordstrom & was given a sample of Un Jardin En Méditerranée….A very beautiful scent indeed. They are having an event at the store in the next two weeks, so I’ve been thinking about this as the bottle would be especially pretty engraved & gifted for Christmas.
    Another choice would be L’Ambre des Merveilles, a fall favorite! November 3, 2015 at 2:26pm Reply

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