New stuff: perfumes from garden and salon

Two little treats arrived in my post box today: samples of Guerlain Arsene Lupin Dandy, and Hermes Un Jardin en Mediteranee. Both are examples of high French perfumery, but very different.

The Mediterranee is sharper than I expected, and the fig more fleeting. There are citrus, tomato stem, and woody/earthy notes, and something that is too garden-y, as well: after half an hour I got an unpleasant scent that seemed like not-fully-composted compost. Urrk.

I don’t normally chase obscure Guerlains, but with this new one I was utterly captivated by the association between ALD and Maurice Leblanc’s detective hero, Arsene Lupin. I had not heard of this French Sherlock Holmes character before. I don’t have any of the books yet, but am intrigued by the perfume. There are reviews on NST, Bois de Jasmin, The Non Blonde and 1000 Fragrances.

It is a little, well, dandified for me. I get the leather and the violets, but they are overlaid by a sweet creaminess that I find quite dense and which lasts ages on me. This thing is not just dandified but, worn on a man, would be almost foppish. I wish it had a bit more backbone. Which is stupid really because dandies don’t come with backbone, do they?

I may eventually appreciate Arsene Lupin Dandy, but the weather here is wrong for a salon fragrance like this. Today is the most beautiful day, warm, still, cloudless, with no hint of autumn other than that the light is sharper and the sky not the pale exhausted blue of summer, but deep, rich and sparkling. You have to be outside, and I was.

So while the Mediterrannee ought to be perfect, actually I have real tomatoes growing outside my front windows and I have been tying up their branches and eating the fruit that has been warmed to perfection in the sun. I’ve got the real thing today so I don’t need the dream.

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15 thoughts on “New stuff: perfumes from garden and salon

  1. Very nice post, Anne Marie!
    I get the same strange note in Mediterranée, it really puts me off, I wanted to like this, it is an Ellena after all. 😉

  2. Whew! Not just me then. I have not given up tho’. My reaction was based on a single wearing. We shall see.

  3. Hi Anne Marie! Thanks for the scoop on Un Jardin en Mediteranee. I saw a discounted bottle the other day and was considering buying blind. I’m glad I didn’t as me and fig don’t mix.

    Your take on Dandy cracked me up. “Foppish” isn’t a word one hears every day and it brought to mind an image of Blackadder-era Hugh Laurie giggling like a moron and smelling of face powder and rouge, leather and violets.

    “I’ve got the real thing today so I don’t need the dream” – Love it!!

    1. Hugh Laurie, yes! Brilliant! Have you seen the musical interlude on the latest episode of House? It’s on Hulu if you haven’t.

    2. Hugh Laurie – yes! Perfect. What a talented man he is. Thanks for that.

      Un Jardin en Mediterranee is often mentioned in the context of fig fragrances, but to me it is not all that figgy. It might be worth your while having a sniff at some stage, if you can, even if it is just for the sake of your perfume education! ‘For research purposes’.

  4. I so wanted to love the Jardin’s (and still have high hopes for the newest rooftop garden themed one) but not a single one has worked for me yet! I soooo wanted to love the Nile one—especially after having read “The Perfect Scent,” but it was almost a scrubber 😦

    Like you AM, I try not to chase obscure Guerlain’s! Too much heartache, and not enough discretionary income! LOL. I thought that I was safe from ALD, but your description piques my interest—more than piques, actually. It has me fairly salivating…

    Another great review! Thank you so much 🙂

  5. Yes, I want to try the new Jardin too. Nil was the first niche, or niche-style, perfume I smelled (not sure if you count Hermes as niche) and it sent my eyebrows up through my hairline, I was so taken aback. I’d read ‘The Perfect Scent’ too. I didn’t like Nil but I think now I’ve tried Mediteranee I might have a go at Nil again. I have a better idea of what Ellena is doing. Still, on the other hand, a scrubber is a scrubber, make no mistake!

    Apparently ALD is selling well, and it is certainly highly regarded. Its companion fragrance Arsene Lupin Voyou, has not been so well-received (by perfumistas). I called ALD ‘foppish’ but that is a term called to mind by the naming of the fragrance, and by its reception in other reviews. On a woman (hopefully me, as the weather changes and I come to appreciate it more) it could be divine. But I’d rather smell a man in Mitsouko or Jicky than ALD.

    Bonus: the ALD juice is the most beautiful deep violet colour. I hope you give it a try!

  6. Many years ago I tried both Un Jardin Sur Le Nil and Un Jardin En Mediterranee – and didn’t like either one. Then in a while I retried them and unexpectedly liked Sur Le Nil – enough to buy a full bottle (Ok, at discounters, but still). I have less than 1/3 of it left now, but since then I haven’t changed my mind about En Mediterranee and I tried and didn’t like Un Jardin Apres La Mousson. I will try the latest (for some reason the name and the idea really appeal to me) but I do not have high hopes.

    Off-topic: annemariec, from where did you get that beautiful picture of a violet?

    1. Hi Undina, the violet is actually a brooch – can you believe it? I got it from an online antique jewellery website:

      http://www.langantiques.com/products/item/50-1-2610

      Unfortunately, it is sold!

      I’m glad you went back to Nil; that is encouraging. I’ll give it another go too, but will probably wait until next summer now. I’m wearing Mediterranee today and finding it more pleasurable than the first time. I can see why people would become very loyal to these Jardins. You can sense the original character and brain behind them (Ellena). As with some writers, you really know that this guy has something to say.

      1. Actually, I realized it was a piece of jewelry – that’s why I asked. Nature-themed jewely is my second passion after perfumes.

        Ok, now I think I should try Mediterranee again. But I’m not sure if I should hope to like it or not?..

  7. I’ve tried Mediterranée, I’ve tried Après La Mousson, I’ve tried Sur le Nil. Liked if not loved the first, was rather diappointed in the second, and the third – Sur le Nil – was love at first sniff, and now a summer staple I can’t live without. Mango – calamus – incense. Felucca…take me away!

    But what I did like about all three is that very Ellena-ness that runs through them. Duchaufour may have his fans, Kurkdjian may have his acolytes, but when it comes to bottling spring and summer, Jean-Claude Ellena has it down to an art form. Like all the best perfumers, you can smell his soul in all his creations.

    I loved your description of Arsène Lupin, Anne Marie – foppish! Haven’t tried it yet, but it seems to be getting a lot of attention, whereas Dandy is being largely ignored if not derided for being not quite…’dandified’ enough?

    I wonder about Guerlain these days. So many of their releases have seemed to be too much marketing brief targeting the complete wrong demographic. As if teens and twenty-somethings give a good sniff about the venerable name of Guerlain, yet so many of their feminine releases are competing on the same disappointing turf, when there are so many of us – ahem – more…mature Guerlain fans who hopelessly await the next…Vega, or Sous Le Vent, or Shalimar – only to be left by the wayside…

    It makes me sad. And makes me feel like the last of the living Ostrogoths…:(

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful reply Tarleisio. Yes, Guerlain seems happy to see its loyal and discerning customers turn away to the niche houses while it plays the middle field. And yet – when it comes up with something like Arsene Lupin Dandy, which I think is a very fine bit of work – it puts it into limited availability. Presumably Guerlain believes that this will enhance the brand’s exclusivity and desirability, but all it does is annoy people – people who know that you can scootle over to Luckyscent, or some place like that, and make yourself the proud possessor of some of the finest fragrances on the market with a few clicks of the mouse. Why bother with Guerlain?

      Those people (let’s call ourselves ‘discerning’ shall we, rather mature) have also started following the work of individual perfumers, of course. So these days you buy Giacobetti, or Duchaufour, or Ellena, and the company that actually sells the stuff is a secondary consideration. This, presumably, is why Hermes gave Ellena freedom to do as he pleased when they signed him up. And you are right – his work is not to everyone’s taste perhaps but it is INTERESTING and INNOVATIVE. he has something to say.

      Anyway, I’m certainly going to try his Nil now!

  8. I came for the perfume reflections, I stayed for the tomatoes. You have them growing outside your window?! Here in my corner of the world I am just starting to dare imagining my own summer tomatoes…which are months away…

    Enjoyed your take on Dandy. I hope to try it myself some day, a leather + violets is a happy thing with me in, say, Jolie Madame, and the creaminess you describe could be a good thing.

    Chuckling with Tarleisio there…not sure if I’m an Ostrogoth, but I know I enjoy me some vintage offerings, long gone. On the other hand, I’m a fan of the modern…to the point that I have justified full bottles of L’Eau d’Hiver and Oriental Lounge…I guess I yam what I yam, and like what I like. (Afraid to categorize what that might be, as I’m still figuring this whole perfume aficionado usiness out.)

  9. I came for the perfume reflections, I stayed for the tomatoes. You have them growing outside your window?! Here in my corner of the world I am just starting to dare imagining my own summer tomatoes…which are months away…

    Enjoyed your take on Dandy. I hope to try it myself some day, a leather + violets is a happy thing with me in, say, Jolie Madame, and the creaminess you describe could be a good thing.

    Chuckling with Tarleisio there…not sure if I’m an Ostrogoth, but I know I enjoy me some vintage offerings, long gone. On the other hand, I’m a fan of the modern…to the point that I have justified full bottles of L’Eau d’Hiver and Oriental Lounge…I guess I yam what I yam, and like what I like. (Afraid to categorize what that might be, as I’m still figuring this whole perfume aficionado business out.)

    1. We are at complet opposite ends of tomato-dom then. I am in tomaoto glut, you are still dreaming of them. I’ll be bringing a big bag of them into work next week and begging people to take them.

      You’ve got me interested in both those fragrances now. Both sound interesting and innovative, and I have come to value that more than tradition. So thanks (I think … !).

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