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.
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!