Annick Goutal L’Ile au Thé & Hermès Le Jardin de Monsieur Li

With summer underway, I thought it might be worth looking at two fresher, lighter fragrances that were recently released: Annick Goutal‘s L’Ile au Thé and HermèsLe Jardin de Monsieur Li.

ANNICK GOUTAL L’ILE AU THÉ:

Source: annickgoutal.com

Source: annickgoutal.com

L’Ile au Thé is an eau de toilette created by Isabel Doyen. The fragrance comes in two different bottle designs, one for women and one for men, but they are the same scent. As a side note, Annick Goutal is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amore Pacific since 2011.

The women's bottle. Source: Annickgoutal.com

The women’s bottle. Source: Annickgoutal.com

The Goutal website describes L’Ile au Thé and its notes as follows:

L’Ile au Thé is an infusion of well-being, an invigorating and soothing perfume to be shared.

Between the sea and volcanoes, a stroll in the fields of mandarin trees and tea plantations, waving in the wind of an Asian island. The crystalline mandarin bursts into freshness, contrasting, in a soft and soothing breeze, with the tea, green and leathery, and the osmanthus, carnal and fruity, like a caress on the skin…

[Notes:] mandarin; tea absolute; osmanthus; and white musk.

L’Ile au Thé opens on my skin with massive amounts of extremely sharp white musk laced with green tea. Pinches of smoky Oolong tea follow on their heels, steadily growing stronger, though they’re never quite as pronounced as the green tea or musk. Dabs of tangy mandarin pulp smudge the edges, along with a quiet osmanthus apricot floralcy, but neither one is particularly solid or strongly delineated.

Green tea. Source: Supersehat.com

Green tea. Source: Supersehat.com

The result is a mixed bag. The green tea is very nice because it’s not pale, insipid, or thin like the jasmine tea in Kilian‘s Imperial Tea, but a robustly deep, almost grassy and leafy green tea with a natural sweetness and a touch of herbaceousness. It’s aromatic in the very best way possible, and I say that as someone who really doesn’t like tea as an actual beverage, particularly not the green variety. Yet, I find the aroma here to be really enjoyable, especially when there are flickers of smoky Lapsang Souchong with its tiny undertones of tannic bitterness.

Unfortunately, the tea is about the only thing of merit in L’Ile au Thé, and it’s not substantial enough over the course of the fragrance’s entire lifespan to save the scent from generic banality. The white musk is so potent, it gives me a huge headache whenever I smell the fragrance up close for too long. And the rest of the elements are blurry, inconsequential wisps: the mandarin isn’t a bold, robust, or vividly concentrated note; the osmanthus’ apricot facet is even weaker; and its floralcy feels wholly generic to me. The white musk clobbers most of them, but particularly the osmanthus’ delicate flower, into insipid slivers without much substance. It even dilutes the tea accords, which is a particular shame.

Source: pixshark.com

Source: pixshark.com

The main sense and bouquet that I’m left with is a nebulous, peachy-apricot-y-orange citrus medley infused with green tea, sprinkled with slivers of vaguely peachy flowers, then blanketed by ultra clean freshness. It’s not a laundry aroma by any means, but it’s still an excessive amount of cleanness with an occasionally sharp edge. By the end of the first hour, the white musk actually leads the charge, followed by the green tea, while the blurry mandarin and osmanthus trail far (far) behind. All of it is a gauzy, sheer bouquet, though there is quite a scent trail on my skin, thanks to the clean musk which tends to increase a fragrance’s sillage. Using 3 smears equal to 2 sprays from an actual bottle, L’Ile au Thé opened with 4 inches of projection and almost a foot of sillage. At the end of the 1st hour and start of the 2nd, the numbers dropped to 1.5 inches of projection and roughly 6 inches of sillage.

Source: walltor.com

Source: walltor.com

L’Ile au Thé shifts gradually and in small ways. At the 90 minute mark, the clean musk turns softer up close, but is still very noticeable from afar as one of the primary notes. Roughly 2.25 hours in, L’Ile au Thé is primarily a greenish bouquet of tea and citrus. The clean musk is almost gone but, consequentially, so is much of the fragrance which is now a thin wisp and a skin scent. It’s softer and smoother, almost pleasant in a way, though nothing really extraordinary or special in feel. Everything feels blurry, including the tea, and I can’t really pull out the green or black parts. It’s simply a competent tea aroma with crisp, lightly sweetened, citrusy fruitiness in a very fresh bouquet. At the end of 4 hours, L’Ile au Thé dies away as a wisp of fruited cleanness, a big start that fizzles out into flatness with a whimper.

On Fragrantica, there are only a handful of reviews that describe L’Ile au Thé, and reactions are mixed. Two people describe it as “nothing special” or “boring,” while a third calls it a “huge disappointment.” For this group, L’Ile au Thé is essentially either a fresh green tea scent with a lot of citrus, or a citrus fragrance with some green tea:

  • A classical, dated, boring and uninspired fresh green tea fragrance. Very citrus (along the lines of Eau d’Hadrien), with notes of petit grain, lots of green tea (slightly smoky) and musky base notes. It smells like most of the clean unisex fragrances massively launched during the 90s. I don’t understand why Camille Goutal decided to add this to their range.
  • Very huge disappointment. Same as Vent de folie.
    Nothing Special. Little spicy mandrine(maybe they insist this sent is Mandarine blossom I guess) and some tea scent… Where is rest of them? [Emphasis to names added by me.]
Source: TongRo Image Stock

Source: TongRo Image Stock

On the other side, two people think L’Ile au Thé is quite enjoyable:

  • a very pleasant and solid green tea fragrance: its green tea note is very natural and realistic, not too sweet or watery or wispy or overly synthetic like some fragrances of the same genre can be. For a refreshing green tea experience, I think it worths a try.
  • This is a warm and shimmery tea fragrance that’s a true unisex scent. It opens with a burst of citrus which bears some resemblance to Eau d’Hadrien, but this is distinctly greener. It’s a really lovely perfume, lasts quite long into the day, although very lightly. A perfect perfume for after shower on a warm day. [Emphasis to name added by me.]

I think L’Ile au Thé had promise, but the execution fell short. This could have been a fun scent for summer because the green tea note is enjoyably deep, leafy, realistic, quietly herbaceous, and non-synthetic. But the balance of notes skews too much towards the mainstream, generically “fresh and citrusy” side that is so popular with department store buyers. It robs the fragrance of its character, so I agree with the Fragrantica posters who felt L’Ile au Thé wasn’t special, though I don’t think it’s quite as clean as “most of the clean unisex fragrances massively launched during the 90s,” the way one person wrote. I also think it says something that many of the detractors seem to be Goutal fans in general.

In fairness, I’m not in the target audience for a fragrance like this, as neither citrusy fresh nor green tea scents are my thing, but if you love either then you should probably try L’Ile au Thé for yourself. Just keep your expectations low.

HERMÈS LE JARDIN DE MONSIEUR LI:

Source: Douglas.com

Source: Douglas.com

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li is a new eau de toilette created by Jean-Claude Ellena. It is reportedly the final fragrance in Hermes’ Jardins Collection, though it’s unclear to me and other bloggers whether this will be the last fragrance that Monsieur Ellena creates for Hermès before his retirement.

Source: Hermes.com

Source: Hermes.com

As Hermès explains on its website, the inspiration for Le Jardin de Monsieur Li is Jean-Claude Ellena’s memory of a Chinese garden:

“I remembered the smell of ponds, the smell of jasmine, the smell of wet stones, of plum trees, kumquats and giant bamboos. It was all there, and in the ponds there were even carp steadily working towards their hundredth birthday.” Jean-Claude Ellena

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li describes a Chinese garden somewhere between reality and imagination. A place for meditation where strolling is allied to thought, and every step sets the imagination free.

Hedione or methyl dihydrojasmonate. Source: Wikipedia and chemistryx-file.blogspot.com.

Hedione or methyl dihydrojasmonate. Source: Wikipedia and chemistryx-file.blogspot.com.

According to Fragrantica, the notes are merely “kumquat, jasmine and mint.” Sephora, however, states that they are “Jasmine, Watery Notes, Kumquat, Grassy Notes.” I think it’s a mix of the two, but the one thing neither of them mention and that I’m certain is a key element is hedione. To be specific, I think the supposed “jasmine” note is actually hedione, one of Monsieur Ellena’s favorite materials and a synthetic that he uses in a lot of his scents: First for Van Cleef & Arpels (the fragrance that made his name so many decades ago), L’Eau d’Hiver for Malle, Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert for Bvlgari (as detailed in a New York Times article on its creation), Voyage d’Hermes, Terre d’Hermès, and Un Jardin sur Le Nil (whose compositional development, including the hedione, was described at length in an old New Yorker article that covers Monsieur Ellena’s interactions with Hermès executives and how he finalized the scent).

The Perfume Shrine has an article that describes hedione, as well as Monsieur Ellena’s love for it and its use in some famous fragrances, like vintage Eau Sauvage  (before it was removed in newer versions), Chanel No. 19, and L’Eau d’Issey, among others. In a nutshell, “methyl dihydrojasmonate is an aromachemical (patented as Hedione by aroma-producing company Firmenich) that is often used in composition in substitution for jasmine absolute, but also for the sake of its own fresh-citrusy and green tonality.” For many people, the scent has a fizzy green “sparkle” and luminosity. It certainly skews green for me — far more green and heavily citrusy than anything close to actual jasmine, and always with a crisp, synthetic freshness.

Photo: Ryhor Bruyeu or Gbruev. Source: Dreamtime Royalty Free Stock image.

Photo: Ryhor Bruyeu or Gbruev. Source: Dreamtime Royalty Free Stock image.

I absolutely loathe hedione in huge dosages, which is unfortunately how Monsieur Ellena often uses it and Le Jardin de Monsieur Li is no exception. The fragrance opens on my skin with endless waves of citrusy hedione, laced with mint and splattered with a drop of aromatic herbs. It’s neither indolic nor real, actual jasmine by any means. Rather, it smells like very crisp, brisk, lemony, fresh greenness that bears a suggestion of nebulous, wholly abstract, quasi “jasmine” floralcy and an undertone of effervescent coolness that is vaguely watery. It’s a hugely clean scent, helped by white musk that is both slightly soapy and occasionally similar to floral hairspray. There is no kumquat at all on my skin; it is a fruit I am very familiar with because one of the places I grew up had rows of the trees in one part of the gardens, but that is not the scent here. Rather, it’s more like the bitter oils from a mandarin rind used in such a delicate way that it merely creates the quiet whisper of brisk, crisp citruses.

In the New Yorker article on Un Jardin sur Le Nil, Monsieur Ellena talked about how he created illusions that only indirectly reference the targeted bouquet:

Ellena is proud to be an illusionist. “Picasso said, ‘Art is a lie that tells the truth,’ ” he told me. “That’s perfume for me. I lie. I create an illusion that is actually stronger than reality. Sketch a tree: it’s completely false, yet everyone understands it.” The point of Un Jardin sur le Nil, he said, was not to reproduce the scent of a green mango but, rather, to create a fantasy version of green mango.

Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai via visitourchina.com

Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai via visitourchina.com

In the case of Le Jardin de Monsieur Li, I suspect the goal is not to replicate the actual scent of kumquats, jasmine, tea, and gardens, but to create a wholly impressionistic mirage thereof. I suppose he succeeds to some extent. On a purely fantasy basis, if I squint hard, perhaps it does vaguely and theoretically evoke a Chinese-y garden in a way, with the Hedione’s fantasy “jasmine” freshness and green liquidity, as well as its subtle suggestion of tea, a suggestion that is helped along by the mint. And I suppose, if I really pretend, the bitter orange rinds may possibly approximate “kumquats.” But it’s an effort and an imaginary exercise, because what I really smell is a bucketful of hedione generating citrusy greenness and nebulous floralcy, infused with clean, semi-soapy, semi-hairspray, white musk freshness and with a smidgeon of bitter mandarin peel oil. Ribbons of mint curl around the main accord, but they don’t last. After 30 minutes, the mint retreats to the edges, then disappears completely before the 2nd hour is over.

Source: footage.shutterstock.com

Source: footage.shutterstock.com

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li doesn’t change substantially from that point forth except in the balance, order, and clarity of its notes. Roughly 3.5 hours into its development, it smells of soapy clean citruses layered with hedione’s indistinct, fantasy “jasmine,” white musk, and a hint of wateriness. There is no mint or kumquat. At the end of the 6th hour, the scent turns slightly creamy in texture, reminded me of a lemon chiffon mousse wrapped up in cleanness and with a hint of green floralcy. All the notes are hazy, minimalistic, and impressionistic. Finally, 7.75 hours from the start, it dies away as a blur of clean greenness that is vaguely citrusy in nature, and perhaps a bit flowery.

As a whole, Le Jardin de Monsieur Li had soft projection but good sillage, thanks to the quantities of hedione and clean musk. Using 3 smears equal to 2 sprays from a bottle, the fragrance opened with 2 inches of projection, but the scent trail was about 6 inches at first. It turned into a skin scent at the end of the 3rd hour, but I could smell tendrils of citrusy cleanness wafting up at me whenever I moved until the start of the 4th hour. As for longevity, it was better than I expected for both an eau de toilette and one created by Jean-Claude Ellena, but I should stress that my skin holds onto things with a lot of clean musk or hedione for a long time. Others have not fared as well, as you will see below.

I don’t like Le Jardin de Monsieur Li, just as I don’t like any of the Jardin fragrances and the vast majority of Jean-Claude Ellena’s creations, period. In fact, I’m sick to death of his hedione and his minimalism; I don’t share his feeling that it’s so damn cool to be an illusionist creating imaginary, fantasy mirages; and I can’t wait for him to leave Hermès and for someone else to take over. There, I said it. I cannot wait for him to leave, and I cannot stand his fragrances.

Source: Colourbox.com

Source: Colourbox.com

Since I’m not a fan of the man and his creations, I’ll give you the perspective of someone who is. Robin of Now Smell This thought Le Jardin de Monsieur Li was “simply lovely.” A clean “watery” jasmine that initially made her think of a lotus flower first was mixed with aromatic citruses, a “glimmer of pale green,” and a hint of cold wet stones. The scent didn’t last long at all on her, even less than the “few hours” it endured on a paper blotter. She makes it clear that the scent is like a “whisper” after its opening:

think of the most gauzy and transparent Jean-Claude Ellena fragrance you can, and then make it even more soft-spoken. Everything past the opening is like a whisper, or a meditation, or a garden seen through the haze of a long-ago memory. To my nose, it is easily the mildest fragrance in the Jardin series. [¶][…]

it struck me as having a wistful aura — and a spareness, or economy of notes — that seems a fitting end to the series that started with the far livelier and more direct Un Jardin en Méditerranée. It’s the closest yet to a true haiku, even more so than the Hermessences, and I fully expect that many will find it too insubstantial, and many others will find it too short-lived on skin.

On Fragrantica, Le Jardin de Monsieur Li is a hit with those who like fresh, crisp citruses and Ellena’s Jardin collection. A small group of dissenters, however, either find it boring, don’t think it’s very special, see too many similarities with Jour d’Hermes, or prefer other Hermes’ creations. I’ll leave it to you to read the reviews if you’re interested, as I’ve had quite enough of Ellena’s imaginary garden and aesthetics.

DETAILS:
ANNICK GOUTAL Cost & Availability: L’Ile au Thé is an eau de toilette that comes in two sizes: a 50 ml bottle for $105 or €79; and a 100 ml bottle for $149 or €104. There is also an accompanying candle. As a side note, some places sell a Women’s bottle, a Men’s one, or both. It’s the same scent with only a difference in a packaging. In the U.S.: you can buy L’Ile au Thé from Goutal’s NYC Bleeker Street store, Bloomingdale’s, or Saks. While Neiman Marcus carries some Annick Goutal, it is only the eau de parfums, not the eau de toilette line. Nordstrom and Bergdorf’s only show the Vetiver on their websites. Outside of the U.S.: In Canada, L’Ile au The is sold at The Bay. In Europe, you can buy it from the Goutal website which also offers a free 15 ml travel spray with orders over €130. They ship to the UK and throughout Europe at different rates. In the U.K., John Lewis carries the scent. Harrods does not yet show it, though it does carry the brand. You can also find L’Ile au Thé at: Goutal stores throughout Paris and France; Germany’s First in Fragrance; the NL’s Celeste; Essenza Nobile; Italy’s Alla Violetta; Romania’s Elysée; Spain’s El Cortes Ingles; Australia’s David Jones; and Asia’s Isetan. For all other locations, you can use the AG Store Locator guide. Samples: Surrender to Chance sells L’Ile au The starting at $4.49 for a 1 ml vial.
HERMES Cost & Availability: Le Jardin de Monsieur Li is an eau de toilette that comes in a two sizes: 50 ml size for $97, £59, or €59; and 100 ml for $135, £84, or €84. In America, you can’t buy it directly from Hermes online except in a huge 6.5 oz for $194, but you can buy it in their shops, at Sephora, Nordstroms, Neiman Marcus (in the 100 ml size), Bloomingdale’s, and other department stores. Outside the U.S.: you can buy it from Hermes Canada and probably The Bay, though the fragrance is not currently listed on their website. In Europe, you can find it at Hermes UK, Sephora France (which also sells a rare 30 ml size), Ici Paris XL, Italy’s Alla Violetta, the NL’s Celeste, and Douglas. For other stores or locations, you can use Hermes’ Boutique guide. Samples: Surrender to Chance sells the scent starting at $3.99 for a 1 ml vial.

20 thoughts on “Annick Goutal L’Ile au Thé & Hermès Le Jardin de Monsieur Li

  1. “There, I said it. I cannot wait for him to leave, and I cannot stand his fragrances.” I LOVE your posts! I haven’t tried any of his fragrances. They haven’t stirred up my interest, though I will try some eventually. I’m also grateful that you mention synthetics. I recently checked out samples and a perfumer that I don’t like and the common denominator is…..white musk.

    • White musk… you have my full sympathy. You know how much I struggle with it, too. Unfortunately, it seems to be one of the most commonly used elements in perfumery — both niche and mainstream — and it’s often used in such quantities that there is really no escaping its impact. So, it ends up requiring a trial-by-error process to find those scents where it doesn’t ruin the overall bouquet.

  2. Summer was definitely here today with a high of 89° & heat index of 94 until we had some terrific thunderstorms and lightning with torrential downpours. Neither of these fragrances sound like anything I would enjoy, especially the white musk of the first one and I wholeheartedly agree with you on Ellena’s minimalism and imaginings. Blah. But I enjoyed your review though. 😉

    • I can’t see you in citrusy scents, Don, no matter what the temperature or humidity. lol 😉

  3. I have a great sentimental attachment to jeju island and so I was so hopeful about L’ile au The but really I’ve only read bad things so I’m afraid to try it. 🙁

  4. Know what you mean about the much lauded god of transparency, JCE – your description is most amusing! Its got to the stage where I feel I must propitiate the god by dousing myself in pure ascerbic, I mean ascorbic acid! I’m not a huge fan of grapefruit.

    Having said that, my male friend was wearing Sur le nil the other day and it smelled really lovely as a passing waft. I also got a discount bottle of Kelly Caleche edt (preferable I think to the EDP) and do enjoy it on occassion, I think of it as suedey grapefruit, with a touch of mouldy biscuit, sort of reminds me of that aspect of champagne

    I’ve never fully loved an AG. Used up a bottle of Ninfeo Mio but the problem was no-one else really liked it, except my mum who’s a keen gardener so loves authentic green notes. Soudns like this recent one you describe doesn’t have the usual Goutal touch with natural essences. My favourite is probably Songes, which is a bit uncharacteristic of the house. I’d like to try Heure Exquise but already have various versions of No 19 which it’s supposed to resemble

    • Grapefruit is definitely another note that JCE seems to love to excess. And ISO E Super is on the list, too, unfortunately. Others may find his concoctions worthy of obeisance, but not me. His “First” for VC&A so traumatized me as a child starting to explore perfumery that it almost put me off fragrances for life, and I’m truly not kidding about that. For 30+ years, this man’s fragrances have been… unappealing… to me, to put it politely, so I shan’t mourn his retirement.

      As for Annick Goutal, I understand where you’re coming from completely. Songes is the one Goutal I like quite a bit, in large part because it *IS* uncharacteristic of the house, as you so accurately noted. Stronger, deeper, heavier, and richer. Ambre Fetiche is another one with some appealing parts (for amber and smoky leather lovers), but generally and with only a few exceptions the line does skew more towards the airy, sheer, green, citrusy and/or translucent, imo.

  5. Lol..I was wondering how Secretions Magnefique would fare on a 90° humid day! Kafka, anymore I prefer Gorgonzola and Goats to Clean and Fresh
    😀

  6. I’m one of the people who enjoyed L’Ile au Thé. 😀 I hardly find a tea fragrance that impresses me, either it’s too synthetic, too watery, too sweet, too citrusy, or not leafy enough. But the green tea in L’Ile au Thé really manages to hit the balance for me. But I do agree that the supporting notes didn’t do much favour to the whole fragrance. I don’t get much mandarine or osmanthus (which I love), except for the soapy white musk. It’s not that annoying to my taste, but it does reduce the charm of the green tea note for me. I also find that it lacks a certain emotional or whimsical quality that I appreciated in a few Goutal offerings. L’Ile au Thé is eventually a fragrance that I enjoy just now and then, but not enough to actually investing.

    As for Le Jardin de Monsieur Li, I actually do get the kumquat. But it feels like it’s been washed with a lot of water, and its tartness and delicate spiciness are lost, which is quite disappointing. A pleasant fragrance, but I can certainly do without it. 😛

  7. My biases…but are there any good “green” or minty scents? I don’t know I can think of one I really love. Is it just me…?

    • I think it really depends on what sort of “greenness” there is, and how individual notes (like mint) are handled. There are so many different forms and types of “greenness,” do it will make a difference if the focus is on galbanum, oakmoss, herbs, mint, vetiver, citruses, or some combination thereof. For me, the more citrusy or galbanum-based greenness are not my thing, and neither is heavy herbaceousness or vetiver. Vetiver in particular can skew into powerful mint on my skin, but it doesn’t on others so — once again– skin chemistry becomes an additional variable.

      One thing I really love that has some mint in it, along with other herbs, but is primarily a chypre is a fragrance called Chypre Mousse from Oriza L. Legrand. It’s really like nothing else out there, a totally otherworldly scent, imo. It replicates the forest floor in detail, from wet leaves to humus debris, wet black earth, mushrooms, leathery resins, violet leaves, mint and a plethora of mossy greenness. However, Chypre Mousse is one of those polarizing Love It/Hate It fragrances. For some people, the greenness involves too much mint or takes on a slightly medicinal quality. For others, it is a fairy northern forest with an otherworldly quality. It really depends, but it is a fragrance that I strongly recommend people try for themselves if they are a lover of chypres or green fragrances. You can read the review here: http://www.kafkaesqueblog.com/2013/11/04/oriza-l-legrand-chypre-mousse-horizon-reve-dossian/ Oriza, as a whole, is a fascinating house with a history that goes back to the 1700s as the perfumers to several royal and imperial courts. And many of their scents are re-tweakings of the old and original formulae, including Chypre Mousse. It might be worth checking out to see if it’s an exception to your usual feelings about green scents. 🙂

  8. Well… I adore JCE and am very sad about his retirement. But I can see why his ephemeral creations might not appeal to your tastes! I have stereotypical Asian fragrance tastes and love light, breezy scents (although I have also grown to appreciate heavier, richer fragrances). And I liked Jardin de Monsieur Li. It didn’t really remind me of the gardens in Suzhou, where I grew up, but — oddly enough — more of cold chrysanthemum tea, the kind that is popularly paired with dim sum.

    • The Suzhou gardens are beautiful! I liked the city as a whole, in fact. I’m glad Jardin de Monsieur Li works for you, Septimus, and I know your feelings about JCE are shared by most perfume lovers. I’m the lone weirdo here. 🙂

  9. Hi all
    It’s not quite summer for me (still waking to 6celsius) but I enjoyed reading about hoping for summer scents! A must mention for green, sharp and Goutal: Ninfeo Mio is one of my must have’s. As for JCE: his Hermessence range is very pretty with no sillage, no longevity. They work as room /house scents. Though too pricey for such use.
    Have yet to read the next new post: how’s Zola?

    • It’s summer here, in full force, so perhaps I can send you some of my heat and humidity? 😉 As for green fragrances, I’m afraid that’s not a genre I myself enjoy, unless it’s chypre greenness, but have you ever tried Oriza L. Legrand’s Chypre Mousse?

      The Hairy German is doing much better, my dear, and I thank you for asking. He’s finally stabilized on the new medication doses, with few negative side-effects. Or, at least, just manageable ones at this point. It was a bit touch-and-go there for a moment at the start, but twice daily doses of Zantac seem to have minimized some of the gastrointestinal upset, so that he’s better tolerating the meds. More importantly, the bloody lesions and oozing abscesses are slowly — very slowly — drying up, which is a huge relief! 🙂

      • Fantastic Zola news – most excellent. I hope it continues to get better and better.
        I do have Chypre Mousse – Got a laugh when reading your comment as I actually have it on today 🙂
        Wanted to also thank you for the Amber suggestions: you’re right, ambregris+vanilla combos work just great on me. I am particularly enjoying my sample of Ambre114 just that much more than Ambre Precieux/or APUltime… The AP’s smell just that much too close to Nicolai’s Amber Oud on me which I already own…although now that I have a better sense of the difference with regular amber and/or labdanum, I think I need to try Ambre Aurea before making a commitment… what do you think?
        Also: second update- on orange blossoms. Rubj was very girly pretty – perfect for my adolescent goddaughter! and George was great – except no orange blossoms to be sniffed on my skin. All darkness. So – the available at the drugstore “Bois d’Orange” by Roger & Gallet is actually the best one for me right now (until my Pichola decant empties out and I need to buy the full bottle).
        So thank you for all the consults! If you have another amber you think I should try, please please do make a suggestion. I definitely am getting hooked. Thanks!

        • I don’t think it’s the ambergris-vanilla combo that you’re drawn to, but a benzoin-vanilla accord with just a touch of labdanum. Ambergris is a whole other kettle of fish, and quite a different aroma entirely. What I was trying to explain earlier, and my apologies if I did not convey it sufficiently clearly, things like Ambre 114 are really much more fluffy, mixed accords with a heavy emphasis on the softer, lighter benzoins — a sort of resin cut through with vanilla and, in some cases, a few synthetics. What most brands call “amber” is that mixed accord. It’s not actual ambergris in most cases. (That is too expensive, too rare, and has a marshy, salty, musky, wet undertone to its caramel-ish smell.) Far too often, in my opinion, people use the word “amber” as an umbrella term to reference a whole host of things, but I think it’s better to distinguish between types because not everyone likes the same sort of component.

          In your case, you said that you originally don’t like very heavy, thick “amber” fragrances, and referenced Ambre Sultan. That is labdanum. If that one is too thick for you, I doubt you’d like the Ambra Aurea which is primarily ambergris with some labdanum, but even thicker, denser, and heftier in nature. I love it, and think Ambre Sultan is quite sheer in comparison. So, if it wasn’t sheer for you, the likelihood is that Ambra Aurea would be suffocating. (Especially if you try it in the summer heat.) I do think it’s a great fragrance as an educational tool to teach you what ambergris is like, but I don’t think you’d enjoy it. A lighter, quieter (but partially synthetic) take on ambergris that might work better for you is Dior’s Ambre Nuit.

  10. Hi there! I’ve recently started to read your blog when I wanted to learn more about perfume. It’s really informative and I’ve been learning so much. It’s quite interesting, it wasn’t until yesterday that I realized that many of my favorite perfumes come from Jean Claude Ellena. In fact, the ones that I’ve bought with my husband as special gifts for me are from Jean Claude Ellena.

    I’m not providing any criticism at all! I really like how you provide your honest opinions. Even though you don’t care for certain perfumes, you still try them to understand and break down why you don’t like them. That’s what I’ve taken away the most from your blog! So I’ve been trying perfumes that sound like the complete opposite direction for me (and find some are, and some aren’t).

    Anyway I liked finding out the realization about many of the perfumes I own 🙂

    • First, welcome to the blog, Erica. Second, I understood completely what you meant about JCE and his fragrances, so no worries. 🙂 I never have problems with people having completely different feelings about a scent (or perfumer) than I do. That’s life, and the world would be a boring place if we all liked or hated the same things. There is something for everyone, and something for every taste out there. So long as one phrases disagreement politely (as you did!), it’s never a personal thing and Vive La Difference! 🙂

      The fact that you love JCE’s aesthetic tells me something about your overall perfume tastes and style, so that’s great. My tastes and style skew to the opposite end of the spectrum, but hopefully I will be able to point you to a few new things that you may enjoy in the weeks or months to come. I look forward to getting to know you and your tastes better.

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