Ambivalence – Review: Hermes Un Jardin Aprés La Mousson

Un Jardin aprés la Mousson, a garden after the Monsoon, is a creation by Jean-Claude Ellena for Hermes from 2008, the third in the Jardins series.

The notes include cardamom, coriander, pepper, ginger, ginger flower and vetiver accord.

I like to have complete sets, so when there are fragrance series like the Voyages by Dior I recently reviewed or the Jardins, I am wont to strive to smell them all, for the sake of completing the set, even if I am not primarily interested in the concept of a scent. This may be a good or a bad trait I have, what it has invariably led me to were surprises.

I did not expect the last of the Dior series that I tried – Escale à Portofino – to be the one I most liked, I just wanted to complete the set.

It is the same with Jardin aprés la Mousson, I needed to complete the set, especially since the fourth fragrance in the series is looming on the horizon. (Jardin sur le Toit is slated for launch in April.)

I remembered vaguely having read about melon, aquatic notes, spices. Not something I would seek out, but it being an Ellena creation, what could go wrong? Right?

Upon first sniff I was not immediately delighted with Jardin aprés la Mousson. I am not a big fan of melon, and this one smells like melon gone over ever so slightly mixed with cardamom, a cool spice with a citrus twist. So I am glad when the melon starts to fade slowly, to be replaced by a warm, watery, somehow reedy smell that combines cool spices and vetiver.

If not my personal favorite, Un Jardin aprés la Mousson is the most interesting and challenging and plain weird of the trio. Or maybe of all of Ellena’s oeuvre as I know so far.

This is a fragrance that makes you stop and sniff and ask “What is that?” instead of immediately falling into a category like “Ah, citrus cologne!” or “A fig perfume.” like the two others in the line could be easily, if reductionistically (not sure this is an actual word, but it sure sounds good!), quantified.

Its main virtue for me is its ambivalence. I am attracted and repulsed in equal measures. I want to get rid of that gone over melon and at the same time cannot stop sniffing my hand.

I do not enjoy aquatic notes, yet here I love the waterlogged transparency that it conveys. I am not exactly a sucker for vetiver, here it is oddly compelling in its grey-greenish, swampy-boggy and simultaneously dry grassiness.

It is a perfume of contradictions, of simultaneously existing antagonists with neither one winning nor cancelling the other out. Un Jardin aprés la Mousson exists in a state of high tension because of these antagonistic forces, and so do I when wearing it, because of the ambivalent feelings it evokes. Relaxing it is not. Interesting? Oh yes!

And who knew Ellena could do weird?

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22 Responses to Ambivalence – Review: Hermes Un Jardin Aprés La Mousson

  1. Tara says:

    I too have an ambivalent relationship with melon and vetiver notes so I can imagine just what you are experiencing with this scent. It all depends on the composition as a whole and this certainly sounds like an unusual one. I definitely think weird is a positive thing. It’s the word that popped into my head the first time I sniffed Mitsouko and that turned into love. At the very least, weird is interesting, which is more than can be said for a lot of new releases. Your review is also a lesson to try perfumes that you may discount just from reading the notes. It’s true you never know what might surprise you, even it’s not exactly love.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Weird is definitely a positive thing! Weird means different, interesting and the antithesis of boring. I have long abandoned the notes list as a guide line, it is just not representative. Only the nose can be trusted. 😉

  2. Marina says:

    I’ve never seen that ad with an elephant, it is great!
    Mousson is my favorite “jardin” so far.

  3. lady jane grey says:

    Again, such a lovely name – one can phantasize a whole film around…

    Strangely, I remember I sniffed it several times, but can’t remember nothing about the scent itself (not a good sign…)

  4. Axum says:

    I’ve been meaning to seek out reviews of this Jardin, as I have seen it at a certain shop on sale (no tester), and am considering whether or not to ‘risk’ purchase. On balance I think I will, so thanks! I don’t mind melon on very hot days, and I love vetiver. Lately I’ve been layering soft fruit scents with Eau d’Issey, and it’s been working out well.

  5. Tarleisio says:

    Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, B! It was that melon thang that killed this one for me – can’t abide, stand, bear the stuff. (I’d much rather eat it than breathe it! 😉 ) Which is a shame, because it IS…a tad strange. I read somewhere that this is Ellena’s ode to Kerala (one of my top-three travel destinations), and if that’s the case, that might explain the sheer – and it is! – overlay of…over-ripe?

    But even if it’s not for me, at least it’s not at all like anything else out there, and for that alone, I am very, very grateful!

    • Olfactoria says:

      T, I would adore this were it not for the melon, but as it is it leaves me at least interested and engaged.
      “I’d rather eat than breathe it” made me laugh, so true! 😀

  6. RH says:

    Tee hee. I have a friend who is so averse to the smell of melons that it gives her goosebumps and makes her eyes water- she won’t even eat anything in that “family”- cucumbers, melons, watermelons etc. When I first smelled this a wicked part of me wanted to push a bottle in her direction. Shame on me!

    I think the weirdest Elena creation for me was Bois Farine. A lot of people call it “cozy” and “nutty” but I thought it smelled like unwashed wool socks that stepped on a peanut butter sandwich…

    • Olfactoria says:

      Lol, somehow I totally understand your impulse, when I think of a not so beloved aquaintance who has a similar distaste for melons 😉

      Bois Farine is lovely to me 90%of the time, the other ten percent it smells like an explosion in a chem lab. I am stumped as to why that is…

  7. Yup, gotta say I’m ambivalent about all the Hermes “Jardin” perfumes. I own nary a one of them! Thanks for the review of this one, though, I’ve not quite figured out WHY it makes me go “meh.” :^)

  8. I really like Mousson. The melon hasn’t scared me and I like it in the way that I like Beyond Paradise for Men. The thing to remember about Mousson is that it isn’t the best scent for feminine. Melon in feminine perfumes is awful, over done, and well, reminds us of cheap-o air freshener. Now, think of melon in a masculine and on a masculine fellow and it seems more interesting like the EL. Mousson on a man’s skin in the summer is wonderful. The cardamom sparkles and the melon is unexpected, sweet & juicy, and then I get the dry, grassy vetiver. I like it. And yes, I wear it too 😉

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