17 Apr, 2019

An Eden in Venice: discovering Un Jardin Sur La Lagune

Essential oils will always have my heart but the power of scent and the art of perfumery has always captivated my imagination. To me, experiencing scent goes beyond the autonomic act of in the inhale and exhale.

As someone who has had the privilege of meeting and interviewing some of the world’s leading noses (all rockstars in my opinion as there are less perfumers in the world than say, well, rockstars), Christine Nagel is rare gem. She’s a scientist, alchemist, dreamer, creative, so generous, open, daring, and giving of her spirit. I love this interview she gave in BoF and it reminded me of the time I sat in an interview with her. It was something that she learned on her first day of work at Hermès.

You have the right to make mistakes.”

I was so profoundly moved by that, I flew back to Singapore and had my dear friend Trudy calligraph and frame that mantra as a reminder.

Hermès parfums, specifically that of the Un Jardin family have always been a bit of a haiku to me.

Nuanced and faceted, to really savor an Hermès fragrance—whether created by Jean-Claude Ellena or its present-day nose, Christine Nagel—one need only get still, and let the scent reveal itself to you.

Hermès has always been the ultimate storyteller, and perfumer Christine Nagel is our poet.

We begin our story in Venice in 1884. English lord, Frederic Eden exhausted with seeing nothing but water during his excursion in a gondola, yearns for a garden in the heart of Venice…

“Of sumptuous secrets as intense and strong as the plants that grew there – which had little soil to sink their roots into, but so much sky to breathe,” writes Olympia Alberti.

Despite being traditionally known as la tomba dei fiori, Eden and his wife Caroline, eventually realise their dream of an English garden in Venice. Hemmed in by ochre walls, the garden sighs in Madonna lilies, iris, foxgloves, larkspur, and Canterbury bells, according to Peter Parker, reviewer of Frederic Eden’s A Garden in Venice.

It played host to iconic visitors, namely Rilke, Proust, Henry James; was immortalised by Cocteau, and was eventually tended to by Princess Aspasia of Greece following the Edens’ passing.

Finally, says Alberti, after braving time, salt water and wind, nature prevailed.

Till now where a century later, Christine Nagel offers us the key to unlocking this secret garden. Through Un Jardin Sur La Lagune, she brushes past the overgrowth and absorbs its mysterious echoes to conjure a glimpse of this unforgettable, peace-filled oasis.

Here, sky, flowers and sea unite as time and memory is rebirthed.

In this eternal Eden, Nagel offers us a feeling of eternity where blooms, sunshine, laughter, and the sound of water is on loop.

“The woody, serene and tender breath of the garden is revealed on the shore of the lagoon, where the dreamy Salicornia bends towards the sea winds, the pittosporums, the Madonna lilies, the magnolias,” says Alberti.

While its first blush of flowers and piquant top notes opening the scent is undoubtedly joyful and arresting, it’s the exquisite dry down present in all of Nagel’s scents that I find so deeply alluring on my skin.

Spritz this on and be transfixed. x Alli

Un Jardin Sur La Lagune is available now at all Hermès stores.

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