Le Jardin de Monsieur Li by Hermes Fragrance Review
In 2003 - under the guardianship of in-house nose Jean-Claude Ellena - Hermès invited us to stroll through a garden in the Mediterrannean; Ellena's first olfactory exploration in the Jardins perfume series. Since then, we have been taken to examine the garden oases of southern Egypt; the fragrant lawns of India after the monsoon; the verdant green of a rooftop Garden in Paris, and now - in 2015 - Ellena takes us for a stroll in a perfectly manicured Chinese garden... Le Jardin de Monsieur Li.
The flight of this perfume is a bright citrus with an unusual aromatic green undercurrent... it dances between notes of bittersweet kumquat and jade-colored aquatic accords. There exists a sense of balance and refinement right from the outset... a curious symmetry between components that feels effortless and precise; Ellena's very own Chinese 'masterstock', perhaps. Jasmine is listed amongst the olfactory notes declared on the outer packaging, and indeed one can find it there, but there appears to be an assortment of flowers that are not mentioned in the accompanying pyramid; rose? peony? magnolia? Again, Ellena has woven them all into the tapestry of this perfume with such mastery, that they are difficult to distinguish. The overall feeling however, is one of tenderness, filtered light, and an accomplished marriage of the elements, earth, water and air.
Monsieur Li feels incredibly diaphanous - as thin as Chinese rice-paper lanterns, and as semi-transparent as blooms of coloured ink dropped on wet watercolour paper. Over the hours, it tapers into a fine mist of clean musk and blonde woods.
As far as the Jardins series goes, Le Jardin de Monsieur Li takes up residence comfortably amongst it's older siblings and feels very much a part of the broader picture. Collectively, Ellena's Jardins creations form an aria to genderless perfection, each with a proficient sense of lightness and harmony.