The inspiration: The Jardin series perfumes generally find an inspiration, however manufactured it might be (remember The Perfect Scent: A Year Behind the Scenes of the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York by Chandler Burr?), in some exotic garden someplace else — that is, not in New Jersey (which really does have lovely gardens, but you know what I mean), or your own backyard…
She was bewitched by its abandoned romance and returned through the seasons, as she told me, delighted by its poetry and its strange, haunting melancholy. In April, for instance, the pittosporum tree was completely covered with yellow and white flowers, smelling like orange blossom or jasmine, whilst in June, as Nagel recalled, “the magnolia smells so delicate, and of course the odor comes from the sky!” She also loved the smell of the trees’ roots, which cover the ground “like the lines on your hands” because they can’t burrow into the salty earth. The fleshy saltwort, the Madonna lilies, and the smell of the salt air were also amongst the smells that the alchemical Nagel (whose fragrances for Jo Malone included a collection inspired by traditional English desserts) blended together into her fragrance, aptly titled Un Jardin sur La Lagune.
I don’t know how to really explain this, but I touch the texture with my eye, whether its silk or leather of cashmere. For example, in my building, I work on the second floor and on the ground floor we have the stock for the men’s collection, and very often I go alone to the atelier to touch and smell the fabrics. They have a special sensuality, and when I talk about my perfume I often use words related to the clothing, like round, straight, soft, tough.
— Perfumer Christine Nagel talks about synesthesia and her approach to perfumery. Read more at Inside the Atelier of an Hermès Perfumer Who Can Smell and Taste Color at Architectural Digest.