Le Jardin Retrouvé is a perfume house that’s both new and old. The nose behind the scents, Yuri Gutsatz, sadly died in 2005 and the brand closed. We owe Yuri a debt of gratitude, because not only did he create these beautiful scents, but he was also one of the founders of the legendary Osmothéque. His original work has been honoured and continued by his son Michel and his wife Clara, who have relaunched Le Jardin Retrouvé using Yuri’s original formulations.
The happy result is that the world gets to revisit these delightful, high quality fragrances anew, and what a joy they are!
I was sent a small selection and asked for my opinion, which I happily give, unburdened by bias or bribery. The tricky bit is choosing a favourite. That, my friends, is the hardest bit of all. Each scent comes with its own whimsical scenario that prompted my ever ready imagination to wander even further into colourful and fanciful territory.
Eau des Délices
1970: The garden of delight, painted in 1503 by Heironymous Bosch, intrigues everyone who comes to see it, including you
A bouquet of lavender, bergamot, mandarin, petitgrain and lemon makes this eau fraiche a classic cologne. Uplifting and invigorating, each ingredient is distinct, yet blended seamlessly. This makes me want to throw open the windows and belt out a Julie Andrews number. Fans of Eau de Cartier, O de Lancome and 4711 Aqua Colonia will love this.
1786:You walk towards a sacred grove that houses a small Hindu Temple…
This beautiful 70s style sandalwood reminded me of those wonderful ethnic market stalls I used to frequent as a teen. I’d buy pungent patchouli oil and floaty skirts with tiny mirrors on them. The sandalwood is soft with floral nuances (via orange blossom), a subtle undertow of patchouli and a delicately feminine white musk finish. It’s addictively sniffable and leaves a beautiful wake.
1878: You walk in the Summer Garden in the heart of St Petersburg…
With ingredients that smell so-fresh-it-tingles, this is a happy, playful scent in a similar vein to Eau des Délices above. With basil, lemon, bergamot and the all important verbena, this is the best verbena scent I have ever smelled, and I’ve smelled a fair few on my travels. There’s a trail of oakmoss in the basenotes, which makes me even happier.
Cuir de Russie
1920:The opera ball is packed. Diaghilev is presenting his Ballet Russes.
For some reason, I always get cuir (leather) mixed up with cuisse (thigh), so I initially read this as Russian Thigh. Actually, I’m not far off since this scent was inspired by the Russian Ballet. Cuir de Russie reminded me of those wonderful vintage chypres with strong powdery notes muffling the oakmoss in time honoured fashion. Specifically, this reminded me of the day I entered the chypre portal via Balmain de Balmain and never looked back. Cuir de Russie is violets, cinnamon, wood and styrax. The wood and spice gives it muscles and the violets give it delicate fairy wings. This is a stunning juxtaposition.
1935: Behind you, the Eiffel Tower. Before you, the Trocadero Palace.
Rose Trocadero is not your typically pretty rose petal scent. It’s darker than that. Using hefty Bulgarian Rose Absolute, this stuff will fill a room (in a good way). There’s something spicy and dark at the heart, but it may just be the genre of the rose. Fans of Miller Harris Rose En Noir will love this take on roses. I found hints of spice and heady jasmine. This rose is rich and deep and makes a bold statement.
2000: The view of Florence is stunning, but a grotto on your right draws you with chilled air.
This is another lemon based scent but has the distinction of added spice, namely cloves and black pepper. Opening with greener than green petitgrain, and bursting with the freshness of citrus, the spiciness gives this an almost sherbetty kick. I loved it.
1689:You are headed towards the Trianon in the garden of Versailles where the King has had a profusion of flowerheads planted.
I have somehow gone nuts for tuberose lately and cannot get enough. This may have begun back in October when I entered the By Kilian boutique in London and was greeted by Good Girl Gone Bad. Tubereuse Trianon opens with both tuberose and jasmine. The creamy headiness of both brings out the best in each other and this gives me an almost exaggerated soapiness that I cannot get enough of. The blurb says “your heart just encountered love. It melts” It did. It melted. I love this so much I think I may have to marry it.
You can buy these fragrances from the website, which launches November 2016 ( i.e now)
Acknowledgenments: samples kindly supplied by Le Jardin Retrouve. All photos are my own.