The latest from Jean-Claude Ellena at Hermès, Un Jardin Sur Le Nil, is finally available at Neiman Marcus. I was not able to score a sample (drat!) but did give it a quick try. The verdict: an absolute must have, but as I am too cheap to pay full price, I'll be waiting impatiently for it to appear at the online discounters. The notes are: green mango, lotus flower, aromatic rushes, incense, sycamore wood.
It starts with a buzz of citrus (grapefruit? maybe some lime?) and intense green notes; the green mango lends some fruitiness but is thankfully not overly sweet. The top notes have a fizziness that reminds me of Diptyque Oyedo, although they smell nothing alike. The citrus fades, leaving a high-pitched green over a woody base. I cannot make out the lotus flower at all.
I was unfortunately not able to try them together, but I would say Sur Le Nil is considerably less sweet and fruity than Un Jardin en Méditerannée. They are very much in the same style though: sheer but deep, a watery, aquatic feel, a woody base note and a touch of spice.
Despite the watery aspect, this is a very dry fragrance, with a slightly spicy-peppery undertone. The incense is subdued but adds to the arid, almost dusty feeling. It smells very fresh, but without that heavy ozonic accord that always makes me feel like I am wearing air freshener, and by the same token, I don't catch that synthetic marine accord that most aquatic fragrances have in abundance.
Jardin Sur Le Nil is billed as a unisex and I think it could in fact be easily worn by a man or a woman, but if Jardin en Méditeranée was already too masculine for you, this is almost certainly not going to work. And one final caveat: first impressions can, of course, be deceiving. I can think of any number of fragrances that I loved when I tried in a store, but after taking home a sample (or worse yet, a bottle) I decided they were not so impressive after all.
Update, 2/2007: In this case, at least, my first impression held: Jardin Sur Le Nil remains one of my favorite summer fragrances. I must add that the body lotion is really wonderful. It is rather thin — closer in consistency to a body milk — but the scent is true to the fragrance and very long lasting.