The world is Hermès’ field of exploration, the earth its garden. In 2003, Un Jardin en Méditerranée, guided by in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena and other garden-fragrances followed, from Un Jardin sur le Nil to Un Jardin sur le Toit. Each steeped in the theme of the year, they testify to an encounter between the spirit of Hermès, the soul of a place and the inspiration of their creator.
And what could be more irresistible to a wandering nose than flânerie, the theme chosen for 2015? What could be more appealing to Jean-Claude Ellena, admirer of the Oriental, disciple of harmony and travel, than the country where it is said that “life begins the day you start a garden”? So Jean-Claude Ellena travelled to China. He visited gardens. Many gardens. Each one was unique but they all spoke the same language of fluidity and precision. So he created his own garden. An imaginary place inspired by the symbolic power of all the gardens he had seen.
An earthly paradise in miniature, on a human scale. A retreat in which to converse with oneself and with others, and to honour one’s ancestors. A vantage point from which to observe the soul and creation, where different kinds of beauty never compete but rather complement and enhance one another. A place that can only be fully experienced if one takes a partial tour of it every day, humbly and eagerly, with an eye that is ever fresh and a heart that is ever pure. A walk that offers glimpsed surprises and chases away barren spirits at every turn.
A place of meditation where flânerie and thought go hand in hand, where every step liberates the imagination.And since a Chinese garden remains unfinished until every element, be it pond or pavilion, has been named, this new garden-fragrance is called Le Jardin de Monsieur Li. So that everyone can find in it a haven of peace, a place of their own where rest, work and life become one. Because whether we are learned or not, Chinese or not, gardeners or not, “we all have something in us of Mr Li”, a surname which, although commonplace in Creating a garden.
Said the sage,
Is like writing on a page.
lines, between the lines
Create a garden
To be transported away from the world’s turmoil,
And far from its constraints.
Live in one’s garden
To be immersed in the beauty of the world,
And become one with its imprint.
Chinese contemporary artist Li Xin was born on the banks of the Yellow River, his home perched on the cliff that towers above it. His entire childhood was influenced by this immense and powerful watercourse – its visual presence, of course, but also its aromas and the constant murmur of its flow. He has created a series of paintings for Hermès, one of which was chosen to envelop, like gift-wrap, the bottle containing the garden- fragrance by Jean-Claude Ellena, inspired by the journey they undertook together.
A river of ink, ultra-grey, undulates without beginning or end, on fine paper. A secret landscape emerges from the union of paper, ink and water. The elements that inspired the fragrance now come together to protect it. A circle closes, before opening again to reveal the mystery of a scent. Echoing nature and tradition, an imperial yellow shot through with a vibrant, acid, aniseed green crowns the box and illuminates the bottle.
“I remembered the scent of the pools, of the jasmine, the wet stones, the plum trees, the kumquats and the giant bamboo. It was all there, even the carp in their pond, taking the time to live to a hundred. The Sichuan pepper bushes were as thorny as roses and the leaves gave off a lemony scent. All that remained was to compose this new garden, one which contained all the others.” Said Jean-Claude Ellena.