A few weeks ago, I had the chance to sample Eau d’Italie’s new scent at Aedes de Venustas in Greenwich Village, and one of the co-founders of the brand, Sebastián Alvarez Murena, was there to introduce it.
Like the other fragrances in the Eau d’Italie collection, Jardin was created by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour (who also did much of the L’Artisan Parfumeur line and recently created Sartorial for Penhaligon’s). “The inspiration for this fragrance is a tale from a bygone era, when nations where ruled by poets, and poets were sacred to Apollo,” reads the press material. “In those days Sicily was a Greek colony, Syracuse was a fragrant court, and its gardens vibrated with the scent of citrus orchards and rows of aromatic plants. Thus ‘Jardin du Poete,’ the poet’s garden, a luminous fragrance to evoke Sicily and all things Sicilian.”
It comes on strongly with grapefruit, then bitter orange (which reminded me briefly of Frederic Malle’s Bigarade Concentree, only sharper), then there was a brief lemon phase, followed by more grapefruit. Soon, this is all softened by some mild floral notes, a complex blend that really works well with the grapefruit.
This is a very green, vegetal fragrance, very fresh, and yet not at all your standard citrus. As Sebastián told us, the combination of floral notes somehow helps the citrus notes last longer. And while grapefruit can be a sharp-smelling citrus (and pungent, too), this one is quite nice. Again the florals not only give it lasting power, but new depth and complexity.
It reminded me immediately of childhood, sitting in the grass or in a garden, and pulling up weeds. The strong, fresh smell of picked dandelion greens and other plants is powerful. When I mentioned this later to Sebastián in an e-mail, he told me that it may be the unlisted tomato leaf notes: “Tomato leaf is the greenest, most pleasant and stimulating of green notes,” he wrote. “If this summer you happen to get near a tomato plant, just touch the stem, smell your fingers and you will understand what I mean.”
The official notes, as listed by Eau d’Italie, are:
Top notes: bitter orange, grapefruit, basil.
Middle: Angelica, helicrysum, pink pepper.
Base: Cypress, vetiver, musk.
I asked Sebastián to describe it in his own words, and he said, “The top notes (grapefruit, bitter orange, basil) are supported by traces of two flowers (angelica and helycrisum, the ‘curry flower’) which make the top notes very long lasting, some 6 to 8 hours (whereas normally citrus fragrances don’t last long because notes are very volatile). The bottom notes (cypress, vetiver and musks) give it a deep resonance. The whole fragrance is effervescent, vibrating, alive.”
Wearing it on the second day, the top notes remind me of Infusion, the Bombay Sapphire gin-inspired fragrance that perfumer Geza Schoen created for the gin brand in 2003. It too was driven by a citrus and floral combination.
I like Jardin du Poete better than both Infusion and Bigarade Concentree. It’s more a more successful blend of citrus and floral than Infusion and it’s more complicated and green than Bigarade. Like those fragrances, it’s clearly a summer scent, something that would refresh in hot, humid weather.
Jardin du Poete will be available by June in Aedes de Venustas and Lafco’s Santa Maria Novella stores, with wider distribution by October. Like the rest of the Eau d’Italie line, a 100ml/3.4oz bottle will sell for $140.