More Mousson

Hey, fragrant friends — here’s a link to an interesting review by Chandler Burr of Hermes Un Jardin Apres La Mousson and thanks Musette for emailing it to me.  I am assuming that this will also appear in print in the NYT magazine supplement tomorrow, if I recall correctly how this all flows together, but maybe I don’t.

I am not always in agreement with Burr, but I thought he hit the nail on the head with this one and provided information that I (a rank if enthusiastic amateur) don’t have access to. I would describe the fragrance differently than Burr does; it’s clear I find it much more horrifying than he does — he’s merely baffled — I think I’m getting a lot more melon. Anyway, enjoy. The review, that is. My advice is to stay away from the fragrance itself. He gives it one star for “inoffensive” but yikes!

While I’m doing this post, here is what I think is a working link to the whole set of Scent Notes fragrance reviews, which (if you have ever gone looking as I have for one of these on their search engine) can be hard to find.

  • iMav says:

    It bugs me that Chandler started sounding more like a chemist tasting a pot of ragout and growling over the ingredients and proportions, but I do admire the honesty. Interesting that this scent pulls people in different directions. I think people are forgetting what a monsoon is — a disturbance in nature…so why not a disturbing fragrance? I think Ellena is dead on with the impression. It’s a good thing I like melon notes because the note juts out on my skin. The cumin does make it tolerable and takes some of the sweetness out.

    I think he did good :)>-

  • BBJ says:

    I went and put a dab on my wrist before reading, and I have to say that my impression now is a lot more favorable than the first time I tried…oh, heck, I’m gonna call it ‘Mousson’ for short.

    I actually like the melonissima-ness of it, which I realize for a lot of people is a deal-breaker. I love watermelon, and this is a nice, realistic watermelon, not the sticky fake stuff you get in Bath and Body sprays.

    What develops after that, for me, is this sort of brackish, musty quality, like a tidal inlet–I think Burr gets that entirely right. It reminds me a bit of parts of the California coast late in summer. The ‘lighting’ (must remember that–quelle pretentious!) is soft, maybe coming through cloud cover, but not artificial.

    I just fell crazy in love with the Mediterranee, and I don’t know if I could see wearing the Mousson much, but I do think that just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it doesn’t ‘work’ or have a vision. It’s a landscape smell, and not everywhere smells like Provence.

    • March says:

      Hey, you and Alba should get together, it sounds to me like you are getting sort of the same smell. And I kind of liked the way Burr used the lighting in his description. I know, that stuff can make your eyes roll. But seriously, even for amateur bloggers like me, trying to find a new, precise way to capture the way something SMELLS and not make it sound exactly like the last fifteen times I described jasmine or what have you… it’s hard. I can feel perfume in terms of light and darkness (although I agree that’d be darned impossible to quantify.)

      • BBJ says:

        Yeah, that makes sense. I tend to describe things in color–equally hard to defend. But something about Burr’s writing style makes me want to poke him gently with a stick…in a friendly kind of way…just to see if there’s a human being in there!

      • BBJ says:

        However, I have read further in his reviews, and discovered that we agree that Eau d’Italie’s Sienne l’Hiver is ‘transcendent’, so I am inclined to cut him some slack.;)

  • alba says:

    I must admit that UJALM (such a long name!) is not an easy scent at all. However, I find it is much more pleasant if you’re actually wearing it than on a piece of paper and on your wrist. It kind of surrounds you, and the “jardin” thing is more understandable. The buttery melon seems to fade more quickly and what’s left reminds me of … tilleul? I’m probably one of the few people who enjoy this fragrance, so let me speak out for it.

    • March says:

      Alba, you know how much I love it when people stand up for something they admire. Honestly, given the wide range of ways I have read people describing this, I think there is some huge skin chemistry component. It smells absolutely wretched on me, melon gone bad, but I would not be at all surprised to find it woody/marine/delicate on someone else, to use some of the descriptors I’ve seen. I am glad you like it. :)>-

  • Vidalicious says:

    “a rank if enthusiastic amateur” You, my dear, are NEVER “rank”! (that 80’s highschool term for foul odor, to those youngsters who don’t know the term…) You always smell FINE!

    • Musette says:

      Unless she’s wearing Mousson, in which case she smells like a rotting melon (at least to her!)b-(

    • March says:

      Musette is so right. And sometimes I smell extremely rank — Just ask my family how they feel about Le Labo Vetiver, Yatagan and a few others they hate. 😉

  • Masha says:

    I love the Nil and like the Med, so I was very excited to try this. Unfortunately, on my skin, it’s “Monsoon ‘o Melons”, and I think Chandler Burr got it right. Fortunately my disappointment led me to try other Ellena scents, and I found his Eau de Lalique to be very much to my liking. So all’s well that ends well….

  • 2scents says:

    For a different take altogether, I enjoyed Marie-Helene’s piece on The Scented Salamander blog. She describes it as, in part, a riff on Parfum de Therese.

  • Musette says:

    Talking about ‘damning with faint praise”!!! (CB, not you March:-) Like Nava, I’m impressed with Burr’s honesty in reviewing this scent – JCE seems to be the current 800lb gorilla of fragrance (or the Emperor – wait, that’s LT but you know what I mean8-|

    Anyway, I didn’t get much melon, I don’t think; like Nava, I got a lot of vegetal…rotting vegetal, like Eau de V8 left out of the refrigerator for a week…or maybe some slimy salad greens or something. Not the absolute worst smell on earth but not one I would willingly wear.

    • March says:

      Slimy salad greens… wow, there’s one to file away mentally under “things I don’t want in my fragrance.” Here’s another one that always gets me: old vase water. :-&

  • Nava says:


    If anything, you do have to admire CB for his unabashed honesty, since in “The Secret of Scent” he was JCE’s shadow during the development of Jardin Sure Le Nil.

    My first impression of Mousson was Demeter Tomato. I have not revisited it since, but if memory serves, I didn’t find it that weird, only very “vegetal”. Kinda like Eau de V8. Just goes to show you how open to interpretation fragrance is. I guess that’s why I love it so much. 🙂

    • Nava says:

      Any chance of adding an editing function, so dimwits like me can edit their inner monologue before they post?

      I meant “The Perfect Scent” and “Un Jardin Sur Le Nil”. Off to go have a cocktail now…


      • March the Apologetic says:

        No, no, it’s one of my vicarious pleasures, reading the typos. 🙂

    • March says:

      Nava, I would have killed for something that smelled like V8. I got the rotting melon … that gamey, sweet/overripe cantaloupe vibe combined with a lot of regular watermelon, and I can make my stomach flip just by meditating on it. I find it interesting that a lot of other people get the rotting/seaweed deal instead, and others just found it kind of blandly inoffensive.

      And yes. It took some stones for CB to write this after his book. I wonder whether he ever tried to contact Mr. Ellena to ask for further insights?

      • Nava says:

        Maybe CB’s “stones” came courtesy of his NYT editor given what was in his book? I’m just guessing…