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.

thalassophile

– (noun) A rare word, thalassophile is defined as a lover of the ocean. A thalassophile appreciates the calm and violent beauty of the sea, as well as its natural duality between vulnerability and strength.

Water is the only element which is simultaneously strong to cause an uprising, but delicate enough to sneak into the Earth’s smallest creaks.

Rituals

I’m in my second week of ayurvedic oil pulling which is reported to promote brighter teeth, better oral health, and help relieve a whole host of sleep and sinus issues.

It seemed at weird first… the jarring sensation of solidified coconut oil melting on your tongue and being swished about. I pull for about 10 minutes in the morning (you’re meant to do 20 technically), followed with a rinse of himalayan salt water. The cold oil is always a jolt to the system but I’m loving it so far as a pre-tea ritual.

You read all these articles about how successful people spend their first moments each day. Most will tell you that they gym, journal, eat something ridiculously healthy, meditate or talk to God. They light a candle, drink their cups of tea or coffee, get intentional, get quiet. They employ these rituals that help frame their day ahead.

A part of me was thinking, really? You can’t just have bad breath and bushy hair just like everyone else?

In another article I read, the author shared how she sets her phone to airplane mode for the first two hours of the day. She doesn’t want to be connected to the world just yet, she doesn’t want to know what everyone else on social media is up to.

Last night, I watched Morgan Freeman’s Nat Geo documentary about God and what the divine means to different cultures.

It showed a ritual of a young Navajo girl, in her transition from childhood to womanhood. The excerpt seen here doesn’t really do it justice, but when she started running at dawn after several days of this rite of passage, I had tears in my eyes as it was so powerful. She and elder women of her tribe, running with her, calling out, wild, free. Their culture believes in that moment, she is the deity, Changing Woman. Sorry this can’t be embedded, you’ll just have to click and watch on the outlink. It was very moving.

Whether you’re having your daily first cup of tea in the morning or working on something as significant as yourself today, I hope you find a ritual that you can call your own. One that encourages you and celebrates who you are. x

Lost in the Right Direction

UNTIL I can really get away, I’m slowly savouring and living vicariously through Anna Chittenden’s Lost Guides: Bali.

You might have caught us last in Milan where we visited for the Salone del Mobile/Milan Design Week which was an incredible experience ticked off the bucket list. And while there’s Paris and potentially a trip home to Melbourne slated next, I am totally hanging out for the email-free days, discovering new spas, eating incredible food and being surrounded by the sea. I long for midnight swims, room service and frangipani-filled air.

ON REPEAT Beyonce’s Lemonade, on repeat since day 1. If you’ve been following our blog for long enough, you’ll realise we adore Warsan Shire whose poetry features in this album.

MADE Hor fun noodles and pulut hitam (Asian rice pudding made with black rice) for dessert for today with fresh ingredients from our neighbourhood market. Everything from noodles to black rice and eggs was purchased from our local, which is what I love. To make the most bomb ass pulut hitam, take 200 grams of black rice, a hunk of gula melaka sugar to taste, salt to taste & bring out the flavours, and a knot of pandan leaves. Throw into a pot with 5 cups of water and stir on a medium fire for an hour or so. Add a lash of coconut milk when the consistency is that of risotto – you know, gluggy, glossy and absolutely delectable. Serve warm or chilled.

THEY say to pick a job that you don’t need a holiday from and while I appreciate the sentiment, I think rest is so underrated. Rest is essential for sanity, creativity, for loving yourself and others.

Days of Quiet Thunder

I firmly believe in small gestures: pay for their coffee, hold the door for strangers, over tip, smile or try to be kind even when you don’t feel like it, pay compliments, chase the kid’s runaway ball down the sidewalk and throw it back to him, try to be larger than you are— particularly when it’s difficult. People do notice, people appreciate. I appreciate it when it’s done to (for) me. Small gestures can be an effort, or actually go against our grain (“I’m not a big one for paying compliments…”), but the irony is that almost every time you make them, you feel better about yourself.”
–  Jonathan Carroll

Never miss an opportunity to be kind.

aromatherapy art bon mots creativity design little things love music poetry power tripping self-care zen