It evaporates

The physical nature of the perfume is that it evaporates, and disappears. Nothing can prevent the perfume from disappearing. Because it disappears, if you want to find that sensation, that smell again, you have to perfume yourself again. It’s the same thing with food. It's more interesting because you take a spoon and taste something and the actual taste only lasts one or two seconds, no more. But you start again, and you eat again. To start again and again and again and again until you are filled up.

— Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, talking to New York Magazine (along with Christine Nagel, whose first perfume for Hermès will apparently launch in January). Read more at Dump Someone If You Hate Their Smell.

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Trying 20 times

"My approach is very intellectual. I don’t do a lot of work,” [Jean-Claude Ellena] said, smiling. “I’m thinking a lot and making tiny changes. Christine [Nagel] is trying 20 times – her approach is much more intuitive.” On the day that we met, this was made manifest by two blue stickers on Nagel’s arm – perfume trials that she had been working on earlier that day. Ellena, by contrast, never wears scent – save for Terre d’Hermès about three times a year – the better to neutralise his nose.

— Read more about the changing of the guard at Hermès at Hermès perfume: scents of beauty at The Telegraph.

I Try To Take You By The Hand: Jean-Claude Ellena At The Launch Of Le Jardin De Monsieur Li

Jean-Claude Ellena

Today’s guest post is from Persolaise, the author of the Le Snob – Perfume guide, published by Hardie Grant. He is also the editor of the Persolaise blog, as well as a regular contributor to Basenotes. He has won three UK Jasmine Awards, most recently for Guardians Of The Past – A Trip To The Osmotheque. He attended the press launch of Hermès Le Jardin de Monsieur Li in February (and you can find his review of the fragrance here).

There was no escape. From across the other side of the room, an actress clad in black caught your eye. She strode across to you, her gaze locked on yours, her head fixed in that infuriatingly perfect immobility which only dancers and stage performers seem to be able to pull off. Then, when she was a few paces away, you noticed she was holding a long, narrow tube. With smooth movements, she raised it and brought one end close to one of your ears. The other end neared her mouth. And then she whispered, slowly, breathily, pausing after each word. “What is difficult… is to be open… to the open… in the open.” She searched your face for a reaction, but you didn’t have the heart to tell her that you found all of this rather peculiar. So she gave you an enigmatic smile and wandered off, probably to look for another unsuspecting ear.

The setting for this bizarre exchange was the pagoda on Paris’ Rue De Courcelles, the venue chosen by Hermès for the launch of Le Jardin De Monsieur Li.

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Hermes Le Jardin de Monsieur Li ~ fragrance review, with an aside on Rose Amazone

Hermès Le Jardin de Monsieur Li, brand drawing and bottle

“I remembered the smell of ponds, the smell of jasmine, the smell of wet stones, of plum trees, kumquats and giant bamboos. It was all there, and in the ponds there were even carp steadily working towards their hundredth birthday.” — Jean-Claude Ellena1

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li is the fifth fragrance in the Jardin series from Hermès, and reportedly the last.2 I do not know if it is also the last scent we’ll see from perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, but either way, smelling it gave me an advance pang of nostalgia. I will miss Jean-Claude Ellena when he retires.3

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li is an aromatic citrus, reportedly inspired by a Chinese garden. The notes (something like kumquat, mint, jasmine and sap) sounded tantalizing, but as is often the case with Hermès and Jean-Claude Ellena, the juice is not quite what I expected…

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