Le Jardin de Monsieur Li by Jean-Claude Ellena for Hermès 2015


Post by Portia


It’s time to bid farewell to Jean-Claude Ellena at Hermès. I’m sad because he really came to embody so much of what I think Hermès is famous for: the interesting, not fashion, best of, made to last, made to use, made to love and for people who can still feel love. JCE being the nose at Hermès felt like their visions were aligned, sheer beauty could sum up Hermès or Jean Claude Ellena’s fragrances for Hermès. Here is Le Jardin de Monsieur Li: his last opus for the company, his last fantastical garden……

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li by Hermès 2015

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li by Jean-Claude Ellena

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li Hermes FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Kumquat, jasmine, mint

The garden series are polarising, as much of Ellena’s work is. One of the interesting things about them is that we have been able to see into this particular artists creative journey with some of these scents through his own, and others, written words. Though we know little it’s more than we know of other perfumers and that for me makes JCE a bit of a mate, a friend or acquaintance that has let me a little behind their eyes into the workings of their brain. WE have been there when the unripe mango triggered a fragrance, through some of the depressing routes that led to failure and we also know something of his love of fragrance, his bringing home freaky scents the kids asked for, the love for his wife and his engaging personality that has made him a fragrance lovers household name.

So, how does Le Jardin de Monsieur Li smell? Bittersweet, ethereal, sweet and cool, sparkling yet curiously oily too. Le Jardin de Monsieur Li is about drinks in the shady garden in the afternoon as the sting of the days heat abruptly cuts off, the gardeners are watering or maybe there’s just been an afternoon storm so the air is clearer, less dusty and the fragrance has changed from dust to fecund wet earth and grass and you have a champagne fruit punch that is so delicious and the first one hardly even touches the sides of your thirst. Refreshing, lifting, light and elegant, Le Jardin de Monsieur Li is a fond and fervent farewell.

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li HermesPhoto Stolen Hermès

The Le Jardin de Monsieur Li artwork looks like they have a new artist too. The modern/retro feel of the watercolour is so much more computer-generated looking than previous pictures and while I think it lovely there is a feeling that the Hermès crew is already moving on from the JCE years. Moving away from the lovely home made feel of the naughties and into a more hipster/art-without-creativity/big-business-boring feel for the future. It’s a shame if it’s true, one of the things I love about Hermès is their quaint and homey version of world domination. The free spirit has been caged and trained.

Further reading: Candy Perfume Boy and Perfume Shrine
Hermes stores and some larger department stores carry the Jardin range
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $4/ml

What is your favourite Jean Claude Ellena fragrance for Hermès?
Portia xx

18 thoughts on “Le Jardin de Monsieur Li by Jean-Claude Ellena for Hermès 2015

  1. Lovely review, Portia. Like your sentence THE free spirit has been caged and trained (and wearing an orange Hermes leather collar 😉 None of JCE fragrances really appeal to me as they are gone too quickly and not layered. But I do like Ambre Narguile when it is really cold outside and snowing.


    • Hey Esperanza,
      I find the Jardin series last much better than the Hermesssence range. I also have a Sur le Nil oil which is gorgeous and extremely long lasting. Respritzing about an hour after initial application extends the lifespan too.
      Ambre Naguile + HEAVEN.
      Portia xx


  2. Hi Porita,
    I have to admit to loving Hermessence Santal Massoi – thanks to you, Portia! On me it is so peculiar, a taste of my favorite pickle and a slightly figgy and fruity wood. And yes, looking at those SO controlled computer generated graphics inspires me to dig out my paints and spread them all over the place in the most haphazard fashion to keep the “big-business-boring feel for the future” at bay, at least for a little while.
    Azar xx


    • Azar,
      I LOVE YOU.
      Santal massoi is lovely, I totally agree.
      As to painting with verve and a touch of madness, go forth a colour the world in your vision.
      Portia x


  3. I saw a small exhibition of contemporary Chinese art yesterday and was interested in how new media, including digital media, was used to re-interpret ancient styles and techniques. I wonder if something like that is going on in the Li artwork for Hermes. I don’t love it myself, but it does suggest to me that perfume, like other art forms, is artificial. (Gardens are always artificial, or they would just be wild landscapes.) This perfume is a creation of the lab, the garden, and the imagination. So I would not be concerned just yet for Hermes’ future in perfumery, though of course things are about to change.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking review. I will certainly seek out Monsieur Li, although it may take ages to get to my DJs. I own Nil and Med and really like them. The lasting power of both is surprisingly good. What’s Li like? I’ve heard it’s rather ephemeral.


    • Hey Anne Marie,
      They currently have a really great free exhibition at the Art Gallery NSW where they are reinterpreting Asian historical works in a modern day vein and with loads of propaganda and irony. Is that the show you saw? I have been though it 5 or 6 times because it’s so good. If you didn’t see that one then it’s worth the trip to Sydney.
      You may definitely be right about the Li artwork.
      I too find the Jardin series have better longevity, Le Jardin de Monsieur Li is similar yet the fragrance is not so full, it’s a whisper on the wind after an hour but stays at this level surprisingly well.
      Portia xx


  4. Really nice post Portia, I’m looking forward to smelling this one. Hands down JCE Hermès favourite is Paprika Brasil, closely followed by Poivre Samarcande, with honourable mentions to Un Jardin en Méditerranée, Osmanthe Yunnan and Rose Ikebana. I must dig out Méditerranée again, I haven’t worn it for ages.


    • Hey there greennote2,
      Evcery time someone mentions another JCE for Heremès I think, “yeah, I really like that one too”. I have most of the set in 15ml Travels. Perfect size.
      Portia xx


    • TOTALLY! Eau Claire des Merveilles is gorgeous. I really like the whole Merveilles range but only have the original and amber ones.
      Portia xx


  5. Beautiful post, Portia.

    I absolutely love Terre d’Hermès on my vSO. I don’t have any real favorites for myself but I like and wear Brin de Réglisse, Eau de Mandarine Ambrée, Eau de Narcisse Bleu, Rose Ikebana, Vétiver Tonka and Un Jardin sur le Nil.


    • Thank you Undina.
      Always a treat when you drop by, I get a big grin when I see your avatar.
      It’s easy to imagine you swanning around in Eau de Mandarine Ambrée or Rose Ikebana though I’ve never met you face to face.
      Hug Rusty from me please.
      Portia xx


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