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.

The Weather Inside You

“Sometimes the greatest miracle is being able to face exactly where you are and say: This is where I am, no running, no hiding. There’s gold for me here, and I intend to find it, no matter what.”

Breakdowns or Breakthroughs

Choose one thing and become a master of it. Choose a second thing and become a master of that. When you become a master of two worlds, say, engineering and business, you can bring them together in a way that will a) introduce hot ideas to each other, so they can have idea sex and make idea babies that no one has seen before and b) create a competitive advantage because you can move between worlds, speak both languages, connect the tribes, mash the elements to spark fresh creative insight until you wake up with the epiphany that changes your life.” – Justine Musk

This one’s for the moments where you’re just awash with fear and are overcome with, “The fuck am I doing with my life?”

Dreams are cheap and easy. They come hot and fast. As any entrepreneur or craftsman will tell you, there are dreamers and then there are doers. The magic and ensuing madness lie in the execution. Sometimes the energy required to launch or re-launch— to get up when you’re down, to rise out of bed every morning—can be a challenge. And yet, you have to.

You must do the things you cannot do.

It can be demoralising and frustrating: to have a dream in your heart and want to be at Z when you’re stuck at B or probably worse, X. I used to tell the interns that there’s no such thing as microwaved success. You just have to do the work yourself.

The best example I can give of this is every time I work out. I have on occasion, ended my walks literally the minute (sometimes second) after my goal, for example 30:01.

Like, that’s it. Done with this shit. DONE. I can’t take a second more.

That’s all I have in me for the day. So I watch the green ring on my Apple Watch light up and get grateful for the moment, and thank my body for hanging in there. Sometimes that one second is about grace. Good for you for having shown up at all.

And if you’re in a dark night right now, good for you for being brave with what’s making you feel stretched and uncomfortable. Good for you for even having the guts to step into the arena. But back to that one second…

Perhaps the real breakthroughs come when you hang on just for another second more. Just one more minute, just one more day. Hang on.

Let’s have a glass half-full moment and choose a kinder, better thought.

What if you’re still in the thick of your lesson because you haven’t yet mastered what you need to know? What if this isn’t all for nothing.

Maybe one day you’ll be able to connect all the lessons you’ve learned on your journey and they light up your darkest nights like constellations, guiding you to your truest north.

Till then, do yourself a favour and choose better, kinder thoughts and, in the words of Wilson Phillips, hold on for one more day.

Little Light

If you believe the thing you make is really good, and really works, and if you believe this thing can help people, make their lives better, and give the planet a bit more positivity and peace, and you are NOT doing everything possible to tell people about it, that’s not just ‘bad marketing’ and that’s not just you ‘playing small’.On some level, you not sharing your gift, well, that’s immoral.” – Long Distance Love Bombs

Image by Georges Antoni and Windy Aulia for Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore

For My Highest Good

Resolutions. Who needs them, am I right? Here are some agreements with the self that I’ll be taking into the new year.

I am disciplined & honour my time. As time is my only non-renewable resource, I know what is worth my time, and hold myself accountable to deadlines. I only participate in events & projects that are worthy of my time & energy.

I listen to my intuition & say yes only to situations which make me feel energetically strong, positive, supported, empowered, challenged & appreciated. I say yes to reciprocal work partnerships that value my time, effort, passion, & creative expertise.

I will not punish myself for having a low-energy day but I will use this quiet time to be still, honour my body & balance by eating the right foods in moderation.

I am strong & tough. I move & keep fit because I love my body. I will close my exercise ring & move a minimum of 30 minutes a day. I am mindful that exercise has multiple benefits on my mind, body, self-esteem & spirit.

I process ideas & concepts clearly & with ease. I am mindful that keeping a tidy & organised space helps me to focus my time & energy of what’s important.

I advance my business every day. I make steps big & small to take my business to the next level. 

I am present. 

I am truly authentic & honest in the way I feel, but I also know that I can choose how I feel at any moment. I reset without judgment should I feel the need to realign, using yoga, aromatherapy, movement, prayer & meditation as tools to help me rebalance.

I am secure in myself & what I bring to the table. Only I decide that I’m worthy to be in the room. I know only God gives true promotion & so I relax, let God fight my battles & stay in my flow. 

I move confidently & authentically in my own path. The only perfect time & path is the one I’m on now. Everything is unfolding as it should.

I understand the difference between self-care & self-indulgence.

What beliefs are you releasing, and what are some new intentions you’ll be setting for the new year? x Alli

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