Le Jardin Retrouve’s scents fill me with glee in ways a perfume ought to. They laconically reflect where and when they’re from. Without a forceful element or being too cerebral; they’re plainly delightful scents, and read as if they were created from the heart from one who wishes to explore unknown places yet link them to tender memories.
Le Jardin Retrouve’s angle (to me) is nostalgia and sentimentality, wielding it and fusing it onto their perfumes. This is done with great effect, and the perfumes have an immediately appreciable quality from the beginning.
Le Jardin Retrouvé’s take on the tea rose in Rose Trocadéro demands immediate admiration as an alternate take on a soliflore, moving closer to abstract than figurative without taking the leap into that territory. Trocadéro offers a restrained yet concentrated intensity at the centre of a shimmery rose. Covered in icing sugar and fruit, the edible characteristics of the flower are emphasised. Stopping at a point just before luminism, Trocadéro gives a sensible approximation with a shimmery cascade of pink colours and what is generally a mandatory application of blackcurrant.
Sandalwood Sacré maintains a classic masculine chypre structure (Antaeus, Aramis, No. 88) in the way the wood component is sketched as dark and shady. With more floral components than one would initially expect, in my mind capturing the targetted Hindu motif. A moment of serenity is cut with a hum of coriander seed and the pure springtime breath of orange blossom.
Citron Boboli is a quaffable take on lemon, so cheerful in that it reminds me of the giggling stage of drunkenness which will inevitably follow with a searing hangover. The naturalistic pithiness of lemon, petitgrain, and green leafy geranium is muted against what can only be described as a flat facet, paired cleverly with clove and black pepper. It is this lingering flatness against the explosive citric radiance which is an unusual and rare combination; almost odd, and very sharp yet blunt all at once.
Verbena of any degree in perfume is going to nudge the segment of my memory that independently holds Chanel’s Pour Monsieur, and Verveine d’Eté is no exception. The same principle applies for Eau Sauvage’s citrus meets florals and herbs quality. Verveine d’Eté is what seems to be a dream come true if one were looking for the best of both worlds within these masculine giants, but I choose to hold the view that perfection continues to be unattainable. Verveine d’Eté finishes as a reduced cologne, fixed with rhubarb and a vertical curtain of musk. Familiar in that it falls in an architecturally clean style, and at once retro yet nouveau. Eau des Délices also captures a similar style, stretched to its very limit and anchored around a salty and virtually non-existent fougere base.
Tubéreuse Trianon is a tuberose focussed indulgence on a diet, harmonised with a spiced menthol purr and a dash of well-pitched raspberry. This doesn’t fall into the minimalist camp because the tuberose still reads as plump and full. Rather, it’s a simple pleasure; a grand note of miniscule size.
The masterpiece of Le Jardin Retrouve’s rereleased collection without any doubt whatsoever is Cuir de Russie. Despite not being very cuir or very russie, Cuir de Russie moves with an unhurried yet punctual French disposition as it’s injected with a candied violet. Leather, violet, and powdery fragrances in the realm of fragrant marketing and mythology seem to be inextricably tied to stories of Russians and/or ballerinas, and Cuir de Russie is no different. In a stroke of genius it is driven by bluntness and earthiness, pulled down and given a breadth I see in more contemporary suede leathers, giving a tremendous worn-in effect. Combining this with violet flower adds an earthy puff of powder over the body of the composition, reinforced through cinnamon and soft resins. It was as if the floral leather decided it wanted to become orris root, and what results is something quite there but also distinguishably different. Sublime.