How dreams of a garden inspired Hermès latest scent.
Christine Nagel, Hermès perfumer, talks to Cally Squires about the inspiration behind the brand’s newest Un Jardin scent.
“One day I read a wonderful text about a garden in Venice that had been planted on the lagoon, and had inspired the dreams of generations of artists.
“Of course I wanted to visit, but I discovered that it was completely inaccessible and impenetrable.
“It was much discussed, but no-one had seen it and nature had completely regained its rights.
“Eventually I wrote to the Hundertwasser Foundation, and the president gave me an appointment in Vienna. Even though he receives hundreds of letters every month, I think that mine had touched him.
“In January 2017 I was ﬁnally able to push open the secret door and immediately I was struck with emotion. With each of my visits, I enjoyed different olfactory experiences.
“For example, in April I experienced pittosporums, small trees whose branches plunge into the lagoon, covered with thousands of tiny white and yellow ﬂowers.
“They have a bewitching scent between the orange blossom and the jasmine.
“In June I was touched by the fresh and delicate smell of magnolia. These magniﬁcent white ﬂowers are perched so high in the trees you have to lift your nose to smell them. It’s as if the smell came from the sky.
“However, when it came to creating the fragrance, the grandiﬂora alba extract didn’t match the magnolia smell I wanted to express.
“So, I asked for a particular extract, made exclusively for our house – an extract from champaca.
“It’s that ingredient that gave me the soul supplement I was looking for.
“The bottle is our iconic lantern, created in 1951, and inspired by horsedrawn carriages of yesteryear. And the cap is shaped like a bowler hat.
“To create this fragrance was to give this garden another life, an olfactory reality, and to enable everyone to imagine and dream of this garden. To enable everyone to open the gate and discover this secret oasis.”