I have only been to Venice once. It was a visit which has lingered in my memory. One aspect was the secret of Venice. What lies behind the walls is beautiful. When we visited Mrs. C and I were fortunate to be invited to two private residences. As you walk through the city you are encased with walls which have doors. If you walk through those doors what we found were spectacular gardens leading to the door of the house. Because it was spring, we spent time with our hosts sipping our pre-dinner drinks. The scent of those gardens is a mixture of flowers, the water of the canals, and the stone of the walls. It is a distinct scent of place. Turns out perfumer Christine Nagel also must share my experience because she has made a perfume evoking exactly that; Hermes Un Jardin sur la Lagune.
The “Un Jardin” series might be the second most famous series in perfumery. That is because in a 2005 New Yorker article author Chandler Burr introduced the world to perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena and all that goes into making a perfume. If you have never read it here is the link. This would also become part of Mr. Burr’s book “The Perfect Scent” a few years later. While at Hermes M. Ellena created five “Un Jardin” perfumes with Le Jardin de Monsieur Li being one of the last perfumes he did before retiring. More than anything at Hermes this collection represented to me the overall aesthetic M. Ellena created at Hermes.
With the changing of the nose as Mme Nagel took over I wondered if she would even try to make her mark. Un Jardin sur la Lagune is the answer. If the Ellena Un Jardins were all about expansive transparency; Un Jardin sur la Lagune is working in a more compact perfume frame.
The press release tells me that Mme Nagel was inspired by a garden planted by an English Lord hidden behind walls. I am not sure who or when this took place, but I can tell you the secret gardens still exist. What Mme Nagel does is capture the closeness of the walls enclosing a blooming garden surrounded by canals.
Un Jardin sur la Lagune opens with the florals. When I first sniffed, I thought I detected a lot of florals. It wasn’t until I saw the note list that I learned it was only a couple. The floral keynote is magnolia as if that is the centerpiece of the garden. It is seemingly surrounded by wisps of jasmine, orange blossom, and osmanthus. All of that came from Mme Nagel’s inclusion of pittosporum. Some verbena provides a spicy green foliage effect. That is the “jardin”. Mme Nagel then surrounds it with a stone and sea accord capturing the rest of the milieu. If you tried Eau des Merveilles Bleue you have an idea of what this accord smells like. In that earlier perfume it is a focal point. In this perfume it is a framing device; a way to capture the floral quality in a gentle aquatic mineral embrace. This is where Un Jardin sur la Lagune completely captures a hidden garden in Venice.
Un Jardin sur la Lagune has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is such a perfume of exact geography I am enchanted by the way I feel like I’m back in Venice. Mme Nagel has taken me back behind the walls into a garden of terrestrial delights.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Hermes.