The Gloriously-Scented Air of Hermès

Unlike Tom Ford’s hit-or-miss forays into the florals, Hermès – under the reign and guidance of sadly-soon-to-retire perfumer Jean Claude Ellena – knows how to cultivate a garden series in exquisite manner. Their Jardin line was recently capped by the final installment by Mssr. Ellena in the lilting ‘Sur Jardin Mr. Li’ – an elegant swan song that took its namesake and creation from an imagined garden in China. (I’m saving that for a little later in the summer.) While the line is decidedly sweet and feminine, it grounds itself with a green and woody base that runs through each individual offering, uniting but setting them distinctively apart. The first in the series – ‘Sur de Nil’ started things off on a delicious note, with the gardens of the Nile in Egypt used as the inspirational starting point. Green mangoes formed the slightly fruity base of it, and it’s the perfect spring scent as it ripens into summer – light enough to dissipate in the heat without overpowering, but deceptively lasting, throwing off unexpected notes hours into the day. It made the perfect anniversary gift earlier last month, and I’ll wear it until high summer, and likely beyond.

The creation of ‘Sur de Nil’ was immortalized in the exquisite book ‘The Perfect Scent’ and the journey to Egypt, the rides on the Nile, and the inspirational mangoes in the air all come to mind when I smell the fragrance now. I don’t always enjoy learning how a fragrance came to be – it can fall short of expectations and the impossibly-grand imagination, but on occasion a perfume opens up even more when you know the history behind it. That was the case here.

The Jardin line from Hermès has come to mean different things in my years of wearing it – I think of summer elegance, the sound of running water sparkling in filtered sunlight, and the languid repose required when the heat gets turned up to high. Somewhere, in the background, a tree blooms and invisibly disperses its sweetly-scented elixir.

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