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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Hermes Cuir d’Ange ~ fragrance review & quick poll

Hermès Sac à Dépêches

I said when I reviewed Épice Marine that a new fragrance in the upscale Hermessence range from French house Hermès always makes me happy, even when I don’t love the juice. Part of the reason is that they rarely bore me, and another factor is that the relatively easy availability of the 15 ml bottles means I can get some if I want it.1 So the news of the latest (and the 12th in the series), Cuir d’Ange, was welcome, although I find now that every new fragrance from Hermès brings with it a little twinge of anxiety: will it be the last from house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena? (Please, Mr. Ellena, don’t retire just yet.)

I tend to divide the Hermessences into three categories: the few I don’t care about at all (sorry, Paprika Brasil), the few that I need in 100 ml (Osmanthe Yunnan!), and the rest, which I generally need in 15 ml (Vanille Galante, for instance). Sometimes I’m wrong, of course; I think I’m now on my third 15 ml bottle of Vetiver Tonka and my second of Rose Ikebana, and I’m heading fast towards another bottle of Brin de Réglisse. Cuir d’Ange, for now, is going in the 15 ml category — I’d like to own some but I’m not at all sure I’d run through 100 ml…

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