Why are so many fragrances, not to mention entire fragrance lines, inspired by travel or destinations? Fashionista recently posed this question, without quite getting around to answering it. While I may not have the answer, either, I do know that it's not a new idea, no matter what Fashionista may say: I'm thinking waaay back to best-selling classics like Evening in Paris, but also to more recent destination-inspired scents from Hermès (remember Un Jardin sur le Nil?) and L'Artisan Parfumeur (Bois Farine! Timbuktu!), not to mention entire brands like Bond no. 9.
If you'd asked me a month ago, I might have had some deep theory about this, but my current reality is that I'm laid up with a broken ankle and I just want to close my eyes and imagine places other than my living room. So I'm back with two more fragrances from Le Jardin Retrouvé, following my thoughts on Cuir de Russie. This week I've been sampling Citron Boboli and Sandalwood Sacré, two very wearable scents that are intended to evoke different moments and locales.
Citron Boboli is a "spicy citrus" composition with notes of lemon, petitgrain, orange, black pepper and galbanum. Le Jardin Retrouvé assigned this vignette to the fragrance: "2000. After visiting the Palazzo Pitti, you blithely make your way to the heights of the Boboli Gardens. The view of Florence is stunning, but a grotto on your right draws you with its freshness. Just at the entrance, a statue is decked with beautiful lemons..." I haven't been to Florence in a very, very long time, but this fragrance does feel like a breath of Mediterranean air. The citrus notes are sharp and greenish, as though the twigs and leaves were included as well as the fruit. Citron Boboli's initial brightness is tempered by a soft wave of spice: in addition to the black pepper, I'm picking up some clove and a lovely cardamom note. This warmth makes Citron Boboli ideal for the strange, "is-it-still-summer-or-is-it-finally-fall?" weather we've been having in my corner of the "real" world.
Sandalwood Sacré, meanwhile, takes us from Europe to Asia: "1786. Near Chandod, on the banks of the river Nerboudda, you walk towards a sacred grove that houses a small Hindu temple. You set up your easel, get out your drawing tools, and start sketching..." This is a "woody" fragrance with notes of sandalwood, patchouli, oakmoss, musk, petitgrain, balsam and coriander.
As one of the seven holy rivers of India, the Nerboudda (or Narmada) River is a pilgrimage site for Hindus. Is the sandalwood in this perfume meant to suggest the trees growing around the temple, or the carved walls of the temple itself? In either case, it's enhanced with an aromatic resin note, as well as something syrupy-sweet that reminds me of immortelle. This isn't a "dry" sandalwood fragrance, if you know what I mean. Appropriately enough for its "setting," it feels a touch humid and it seems to include a subtle floral note (jasmine?). The base is an almost elegant take on patchouli; like the sandalwood, it's smooth and refined, but still sensual.
Like the other fragrances I've tested from Le Jardin Retrouvé, Citron Boboli and Sandalwood Sacré are playing on classical fragrance themes. They nod to tradition, but they also have a present-day, shared-gender feel. Because they're "revivals" rather than obvious innovations, they may require some quiet reflection in order to be appreciated; for better or worse, I have plenty of time to let my mind wander with them right now.
Le Jardin Retrouvé Citron Boboli and Sandalwood Sacré are available in sets called "Le Nécessaire," which include 125 ml of Eau de Parfum in an aluminum bottle as well as two empty glass bottles (50 ml and 15 ml capacity) to be filled with the fragrance; the cost of the Citron Boboli set is $185 and the Sandalwood Sacré set is $195. Refill bottles of each Eau de Parfum (125 ml) can be purchased separately. Visit the brand website for purchasing and further information.