Hermès un Jardin sur la Lagune : Perfume Review

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How could something smell salty? It’s true that salt has its own rather mild scent, and depending on its processing and provenance, it ranges from bitter and iodine to flinty and flowery. However, perfumery is about creating an illusion, and many perfumers are masters at making us think that we smell salt. My teacher Sophia Grojsman used to play tricks on me by giving me accords to smell and then laugh seeing me lick my lips. Some of her combinations were so salty that I could almost taste the salt crystals. More typically, however, perfumers approach salty accords by relying on marine effects, as does perfumer Christine Nagel in Hermès Un Jardin sur la Lagune.

Of course, should one search for salt in perfume, one can do no better than to explore the whole Hermès collection. Eau des Merveilles is one of the best salted ambers. Un Jardin sur le Nil salts green mangoes. Voyage d’Hermès starts pickling bergamot and leaves a salt trail well into its drydown. Hermès Un Jardin sur la Lagune is very much in the same tradition. It’s a cologne based on citrusy flowers and finished with a briny accord. The place is Venice, the flowers are magnolia and Madonna lilies, the effect is salt and sunlight.

Unlike traditional colognes, however, Un Jardin sur la Lagune has a soft citrus note, and so the first impression is of orange blossoms (dark indoles includes) and green leaves. It reminds me of café blanc, a Lebanese drink of water mixed with orange flower distillate. While the floral accord in the composition has the spice of lilies and the lemony verve of magnolia, for me, the orange blossom impression is pronounced.

Later as the orange blossom melds into magnolia, the salty, briny notes appear. Some of you will say that it smells of melon, and those of you who will observe a similarity to L’Eau d’Issey will be likewise spot on. The marine notes in Un Jardin sur la Lagune are subtle enough, however, and they only serve to highlight the softness of petals and the delicacy of the composition.

With time, the flowers wear out and so does the sweetness. The salty impression lingers, along with the green wood shavings and musk. The finish is less thrilling than the opening, but it doesn’t distract from the overall appeal of the perfume. Simple, elegant, easy to wear. Yet, I’ll be frank–it may not be a good choice for those of you who dislike marine notes. Or who, unlike me, don’t have a soft spot for L’Eau d’Issey.

I also predict that it will appeal more to men than women, since the drydown veers towards the fresh “sports cologne.”

Hermès un Jardin sur la Lagune includes notes of magnolia, lily, samphire, and woods. Suitable for both men and women. As for sillage, it’s excellent, although because the character of the composition is delicate, its presence won’t overwhelm. The lasting power is likewise very good for a cologne, around 5-6 hours.

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50 Comments

  • Austenfan: It’s always interesting to read a review of a scent that I didn’t like at all, and that you apparently did. I’ve tried it a few times now, and, no it isn’t for me. It’s not the briny note, but some woody material that I find almost offensive. For me, it also drowns out all of the floral notes that you describe. It may just be that that particular aspect of the scent gets almost all of my attention.

    And I went through at least 4 bottles of L’eau d’Issey at the time 🙂 April 1, 2019 at 8:07am Reply

    • Victoria: I liked the salty, almost savory aspect of the woody notes, but my favorite part is the orange blossom/magnolia start. On the other hand, I find this Jardin to be less overall successful and evocative than some others in the collection, because there is almost too much contrast. Eau de Citron Noir is not my top favorite either, I have to say. April 1, 2019 at 9:07am Reply

      • Austenfan: Not a favourite of mine either, and that is putting it mildly ; I do like Rhubarbe Ecarlate though. April 1, 2019 at 9:36am Reply

        • Victoria: Christine Nagel’s interpretations of colognes aren’t my favorites from her portfolio, I have to say. Rhubarbe Ecarlate, however, is fantastic. April 2, 2019 at 5:37am Reply

    • Figuier: Austefan I too went through ca 4 bottles of L’Eau d’Issey as a teenager! So I’m v curious to try this. I still like ‘watery’ scents such as Jardin sur le Nil, so this might be to my taste. April 1, 2019 at 1:39pm Reply

      • Victoria: It’s saltier and more marine than all of the other Jardins. April 2, 2019 at 5:41am Reply

  • Noah Powell: What is the trick to making salt accords? April 1, 2019 at 9:05am Reply

    • Victoria: Using a combination of dry, mineral or marine notes. April 1, 2019 at 9:09am Reply

  • maja: I only tried the sample card but I loved it so I am looking forward to trying it on my skin. April 1, 2019 at 9:14am Reply

    • Victoria: It has a nice sillage, by the way, and I like it even more on others. April 1, 2019 at 9:19am Reply

  • cloudywings: finally a proper review ! i have been waiting to read something a little more indepth, based on real wear test. thanks for this ! i am also rather dreading the sour woody note – if that’s what it is – of the drydown, which is what made me very disappointed with eau de citron noir. EVERYTHING else about it was lovely, except the drydown, and this seems unfortunately similar, but regardless – will give it a sniff once it’s in stores… April 1, 2019 at 9:14am Reply

    • Victoria: I think that you’ll find it here too. It’s not quite as prominent, but it appears late in the drydown. I don’t mind it, but I want to highlight it (along with the marine note) to set–or to reset–the expectations. April 1, 2019 at 9:18am Reply

  • Neva: It’s so interesting to find out how differently we perceive scents. I didn’t feel anything salty in Jardin sur la Lagune. It only reminded me a lot of Cartier Declaration, the latest Parfum version. The notes are different and I didn’t test them side by side but to me they are so very similar. April 1, 2019 at 9:19am Reply

    • Victoria: I need to test them side by side! April 2, 2019 at 5:37am Reply

  • Matty: I must try to get a sniff of this as there are different reviews. April 1, 2019 at 10:23am Reply

    • Victoria: Please do and let me know what you think. April 2, 2019 at 5:38am Reply

  • Debby: Thanks for this review, I thought it sounded lovely when I first heard about it, but it’s getting some serious hate on Fragrantica! I think I will get a sample, it has a lot of notes I love in it.
    Speaking of L’eau d’Issey, has it been reformulated, or has my taste changed? It was my signature when it first came out, but I tried it a couple of weeks ago and really wasn’t keen, too much melon. I didn’t get that olfactory time machine effect, so I’m thinking it must have changed, not me. April 1, 2019 at 11:07am Reply

    • Austenfan: I think it has become a lot harsher over the years. April 1, 2019 at 2:46pm Reply

      • Victoria: I agree, and yet, if you smell it next to the latest launches, it smells so lush! April 2, 2019 at 5:42am Reply

    • Victoria: Perfume lovers have a thing about marine notes, and it always surprises me how many people dislike them. April 2, 2019 at 5:40am Reply

      • Victoria: P.S. Yes, L’Eau d’Issey has been reformulated countless times. April 2, 2019 at 5:41am Reply

      • Debby: I love marine notes, and have been very disappointed by the reformulations of some of my 90s marine favourites (Escape is particularly awful now). I got to try Un Jardin sur la Lagune today, didn’t expect to find it in my rather dire local department store, and I love it! It has such a beautiful lily note, and the saltiness is perfect, full bottle worthy for me, and a great replacement for some lost wonders. April 3, 2019 at 6:17pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’m very glad to hear it, because for me it fit into the same spot that was vacated by the reformulated L’Eau d’Issey. It’s very easy to wear, at least for me. April 4, 2019 at 2:59am Reply

  • Figuier: Austefan I too went through ca 4 bottles of L’Eau d’Issey as a teenager! So I’m v curious to try this. I still like ‘watery’ scents such as Jardin sur le Nil, so this might be to my taste. April 1, 2019 at 1:41pm Reply

  • OtherWise: I think cumin sometimes leaves me with an impression of salt-scent, perhaps because of the association with sweat? In any case, I like this Hermes release and have a more general curiosity about the magic that goes into creating salty, ozonic, and marine vibes. My impression is that lots of folks have an aversion to them and I’m really grateful that I don’t…. April 1, 2019 at 6:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: Perhaps, that’s it. In Cartier Declaration, cumin and a mineral-woody notes also create a salty impression. April 2, 2019 at 5:42am Reply

  • Zoe: I have a question for the readers. What do you do with your beautiful empty perfume bottles? I can’t bear to throw them out. Thank you. April 1, 2019 at 7:45pm Reply

    • Victoria: You can display them. It seems a pity to toss them, especially if you have a shelf where you can arrange them nicely. April 2, 2019 at 5:44am Reply

    • cloudywings: i always keep the bottles, and there’s usually a drop of the scent left, so it’s lovely to have a sniff once in a while. furthermore, we are now living in an era where nothing is made to last, so the perfume-bottle combination we currently have may never be reproduced; i.e. reformulated scent / new bottle design / complete discontinuation… April 3, 2019 at 8:48am Reply

      • Victoria: I do that too. Just a drop of some of the most special scents to remind myself what they smelled like. April 4, 2019 at 3:00am Reply

    • Debby: I’ve seen some lovely display ideas on vintage cake stands on Pinterest. April 3, 2019 at 6:20pm Reply

  • bregje: The way you described this sounds absolutely delicious!
    So i’m definitely going to give it a try.
    Interesting to read how subjective a scent is.
    I think we have talked before about how much i love sur le toit on my skin, while it didn’t really work for others.
    Sur le nil doesn’t work for me it’s ok but nothing special.I love l’eau d’issey but it hasn’t always smelled good on me(my mom and some of my friends wore it better) but it does now. April 1, 2019 at 9:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: Scent, taste, art, books, etc. That’s part of the fun! April 2, 2019 at 5:45am Reply

  • Mariann: Im a Hermes fan and adore the Eau de Merveilles series, Jardin apres la Mousson, Jardin au Bord du Nil and used to wear Eau de lIssey. But I tried this on skin and something is just off. I thinking it may be one of the woody notes or musk? April 1, 2019 at 10:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: I think that it’s in particular the marine note paired with musk. April 2, 2019 at 5:45am Reply

  • Klaas: I am a great fan of salty notes in fragrance, but I do have a problem with the Miyake/CK one/Aqua di Gio ‘mineral’ effect (is it calone?). Great things can be achieved with vetiver, licorice or crunchy woody touches. My favorite salty (or should I say savoury?) fragrances are Sel de Vetiver, Sycomore (extremely salty on my skin) and Brin de Reglisse, which is sweet and salty at the same time. Terre is also deliciously mineral! April 2, 2019 at 4:06am Reply

    • Victoria: I like all of the fragrances you’ve identified as your salty favorites. And then Jean-Claude Ellena is a master of salty perfumes, and under his reign at Hermes, their whole collection became accented with this kind of effect. Even Osmanthe Yunnan, not an ostensibly salty perfume, has a touch of something briny to balance out the osmanthus and apricot notes. April 2, 2019 at 5:47am Reply

      • Klaas: Yes, Ellena is my hero! He likes salt and bitterness, which I love as well. I find these ‘flavours’ so much more interesting then sweet. Campherous notes are also great, when handles with care…..one doesn’t want to end up smelling like glue. Or mothballs…… April 2, 2019 at 8:32am Reply

        • Victoria: I also like the way he makes floral accords so luminous and airy–and unsweetened. April 3, 2019 at 1:29am Reply

          • Klaas: Jour d’Hermes is incredible that way! April 3, 2019 at 9:04am Reply

  • Andy: I happened to wear one of the other Jardins today (Monsieur Li, which I’ve warmed up to considerably), so this reads as a welcome addition to my list of releases to try. I love the way Ellena played with a spicy marine impression in Après la Mousson, and I’m curious to see how Nagel crafts a vignette of saltwater and flowers. April 2, 2019 at 1:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: I was thinking of you as I was trying it, so I can’t wait to hear what you think. April 3, 2019 at 1:30am Reply

  • Tara C: I tested this a couple of days ago, it was just okay on me. Some fruit, some wood, didn’t really notice the salt. The whole Jardin series is pretty much a bust for me, the only one I could wear even briefly was Sur le Nil. Oh well, more money saved! April 2, 2019 at 2:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: Exactly! I’m sure this spring will bring something else to tempt you. April 4, 2019 at 2:56am Reply

  • Lydia: Victoria, I think you just helped me understand why I found Elixir des Merveilles so odd. I was prepared for orange, patchouli, and a sort of chocolate effect, but not for salted chocolate!

    I have to admit that this isn’t a combination I gravitate to (I always rub the salt flakes off my caramels), but now that I have a better idea what I’m smelling it definitely seems more interesting. April 3, 2019 at 2:28am Reply

    • Victoria: I liked Eau des Merveilles the most from this collection, since all of its elements are so nicely balanced. Have you tried it? April 3, 2019 at 4:39am Reply

    • Victoria: I, on the other hand, love to salt my chocolate. 🙂 April 3, 2019 at 6:16am Reply

  • Lydia: Thanks for the suggestion. I think I tried it years ago and liked it. I know Sephora carries it in the store, so I’ll definitely stop by and try it again sometime.

    I have a theory that I’m not so drawn to salty notes because I’m almost always thirsty and my instinct says salty perfume will make me thirstier.
    I should notice next time if Hermes perfumes make me reach for my water bottle. 🙂 April 3, 2019 at 1:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: Perhaps that’s why. Some of these notes can also be too sharp on skin. April 4, 2019 at 2:58am Reply

  • Fazal: Polge’s work at Chanel and Nagel’s work at Hermes has not moved me so far. There is no doubt both are extremely talented perfumers but being good at ideas and being a good perfumer are two different things.

    I think the true potential of some perfumers only emerge when they work with talented creative directors. I consider first version of Dior Homme to be the best perfume of the 21st century so far, men or women, mainstream or niche, and Polge created it but I don’t think we would have gotten Dior Homme were it not for the creative direction of Hedi Slimane, Dior’s designer at the time. April 4, 2019 at 6:07am Reply

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