Today we´re on a plane, I hope – first to JFK and then on Royal Thai Air to Bangkok. So I won´t be responding. I´ve put my big girl pants on and here we go.

In Bangkok, I hope to:

Take a long-tail boat tour of the Chao Phraya River and the khlongs (side-river-streets);

Visit Siam Square and the Central World Plaza for shopping (Central is 5.9 million square feet vs. Mall of America´s 4.2 million), or maybe the Emporium, which looks the most upscale (perfume!);

See the most revered Buddha, the Emerald Buddha, in the Grand Palace;

Get together with Posse commenter Noy, who lives in Bangkok, to eat some durian and, if I don´t embarrass myself, some farty veggies and maybe even the extra farty veggies (I have noooo idea);

Not die in the heat;

Not lose any children (I´m planning to label them with a return address);

Not freak out in the crowds. Small duh moment looking online: wow, there are eight million people in Bangkok! Have I mentioned how crowds freak me out? How we leave our local mall by noon-ish before the hordes descend? I´m the gal who ducked out of the Vatican tour early, when we got to the Leonardo da Vinci room or whatever it was, when everyone was staring up ooohing and aahing and all I could do was breathe and think, get. Me. Out. Of. Here. So. I´ll have to be the adult. Wish me luck.

Today I´m blogging about L´Artisan L´Eau de Jatamansi. But I need to back up a few months and say how bitterly disappointed I was about their Dzongkha. It was supposed to be perfect for me; it was everything I wanted in a fragrance. I wanted to be the mysterious woman wearing Dzongkha; I wanted it to cleave to me; I lusted obscenely and insanely after the idea that I, whitebread girl extraordinaire, would be worthy of the magic of Bhutan. I wanted friends to ask me what that extraordinary fragrance was that I was wearing, so I could say, with a knowing smile, Dzongkha. Instead all I got was a muddy, spiced-orange mess. I took it as some personal failure on my part.

So my hopes were pretty low for Jatamansi, the Sanskrit name for Himalayan spikenard, with additional notes of grapefruit, cardamom, clary sage, bergamot, tea, Turkish rose, ylang ylang, patchouli, gaà¯ac, sandalwood, papyrus and incense. Cribbing from LuckyScent: “The essential oil (extracted from the rhizome by steam distillation) has been used for centuries in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. It is known for its uplifting effects, and for harmonising the emotions and favouring inner peace.”

Jatamansi starts off with a burst of grapefruit that comes and goes within minutes; following close behind are the herbaceous notes (I love clary sage, even though it´s obnoxious in my garden and reseeds vigorously), and at that point it´s a ringer for the sharp, almost medicinal smell you get when you walk into an Aveda store. The florals then appear, adding the merest hint of sweetness, and the incense kicks in, along with a perfect measure of woody spiciness, courtesy of the cardamom and gaiac. The drydown features a fair amount of sandalwood and manages to be strongly woody but not obnoxious in the heat. It´s refreshing but not insipid. It´s more dry in the style of, say, Terre d´Hermes, although it doesn´t smell like TdH at all.

I find it enchanting. It´s clearly a summer fragrance; it is easy to wear but not dull. I enjoy it both on its own merits and because it doesn´t remind me of anything else I own. It retains a herbal-medicinal quality that is refreshing and appealing and interesting, not some sort of Herbal-Essence generic greenness.

I´ve read complaints about its brief lasting power. It´s designed to be a refreshing spray, not a tenacious one, and whether that concept appeals is up to you. I will note that lasting power wasn´t an issue on me or the one person (a male friend) I tried it on; I got the better part of a day out of it, although it´s not wafting any huge sillage, which was fine with me, particularly in our hot, humid climate. On the other hand, most scents are famously tenacious on my skin. My one complaint (maybe yours, too) is that it comes in a whopping 250ml bottle for $145, which would, according to my calculations, last me several lifetimes. I´m sure the idea is that I can apply repeatedly and ayurvedically with abandon, but even so, 100ml would be more than enough. Enthusiasm for Jatamansi among the perfume nuts seems to be pretty muted. Maybe that´s a reaction to the bottle size, or maybe (like Serge Lutens´ Chypre Rouge) I´m part of a really small fan club. And that´s okay, too.

image: 100-foot-long reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok; nighttime Bangkok, indodaman.com

  • Arhianrad says:

    Dzongkha is BEAUTIFUL to me and on me…Jatamansi was just OK. Takes all kinds to make the world go round, huh?

    Anyway, March, this is a bit late, but HAVE A GREAT AND SAFE TRIP!

    Can’t wait to hear about it 🙂

  • Solander says:

    Me, I think Dzongkha smells like chilli peppers! And I love it! I’m pretty sure it’s the vetiver/incense combo that somehow creates the effect – the intense bitterness of vetiver when combined with other notes has done that before (I’m thinking of Bois d’Ombrie, for example) I was expecting something rather bland, something pretty and transparent but dry with say tea, incense and florals, so I’m very happy about it.

  • What an exciting adventure you are on! I’m sure you will have enormous ups and downs and arounds, and I can’t wait to hear it all.
    Jatamansi is very masculine on me. Almost tough. It’s got an edge and a bit of arrogance that I shrug off, but don’t want to buy a giant bottle of. The herbal part I like is done better by Iskander, with a softer approach and better lasting power. Dzongkha I had high hopes for, but it smells like a green pepper gone soft in the sun. Not for my chemistry.

  • Amarie says:

    Let yourself go, don’t worry and have a wonderful time. Coincidently I was talking to a friend of mine last night who has just returned from Thailand and he couldn’t stop about what a lovely place it was and how great the people are. So, enjoy.
    I have put Dzongkha back on to remind myself that, yes, I love this one. It’s odd, but all those notes together really work for me. I no big fan of sweet, but the cardamom warms it up in this warm spiceiness that mixes seamlessly with the iris, then it goes all leathery. Plain yum.

  • Maria says:

    March, have a wonderful time in Thailand! An adventurous friend of mine went and loved it. She was enthralled by the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. I’d also like to see the Reclining Buddha. Remember that you’ll have to take your shoes off outside temples, so avoid wearing socks with holes. :d

    Dzongkha sounded exactly like my sort of thing (incense, temples, Bhutan, where I’ve never been), but it didn’t work out that way. Jatamansi was a momentary pleasure.

  • Christine says:

    Have a great time in Thailand!

    Also? Don’t feel badly about the Dzongkha. A spicy orange mess would be preferable to what I encountered which was a boozy smell so sharp (like freshly poured vodka) that it burned my nostrils. Towards the end (and I mean oh two hours later?) I finally got some dry woody incense but at that point I had such a raging migraine that I gave up. I was so upset!

    • pitbull friend says:

      My first note on Dzongkha was “whiskey and lilies,” which actually wasn’t so bad if you don’t mind going around smelling boozy. My second try was “Passage d’Enfer plus Manischewitz white wine in a silver cup.” I wonder where such a strong alcohol note comes from, since the notes I’ve seen are lychee, cardamom, tea leaves, peony, incense, iris? Ah, well, even my main man Duchaufour isn’t perfect… –Ellen

  • CH says:

    I’ve been going through my samples of Jatamansi off and on the last few weeks. It works for me. I don’t think I’ve found a L’Artisan that hasn’t been at least “nice.” I do wish that Jatamansi was available in a smaller bottle (50 ml would work for me)

    I am lucky that most scents linger on me a little longer than most people, with only a few exceptions. The Chanels (EDT and EDP)do not hang around too long on me – only a few hours! 🙁

  • Robin says:

    Bon Voyage, March! Hope the trip is fabulous, and hope you don’t lose any children.

    I really liked Jatamansi, but then, I really liked Dzongkha too. Bought the Dzongkha, not so sure I’ll buy the Jatamansi — as you said, who needs 250 ml?

  • tmp00 says:


    Have a great trip- can’t wait to read the account of it!

    Jatamansi was nice on me, but I just cannot commit to that huge bottle…

  • Dusan says:

    Enjoy yourselves like never before! Wishing you a safe trip and no end of fun in Thailand and thereabouts.
    Hugsies to the March family

  • Lee says:

    Have a wonderful time with all the family. Love to you.

  • Amy says:

    Have a safe, wonderful, amazing trip, March! Can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

  • parisa says:

    I was eager for Jatamansi as well, and when I finally received it, it reminded me of my husbands Aveda perfume for men, a lot. Pleasant but too similar. Dzongkha, on the other hand, is perfect on my skin, as is Timbuktu. I love the smoky, earthy tones and I feel like that mysterious woman that you were mentioning when I wear it:)

  • Marina says:

    I hope you have wonderful time! Everything will be absolutely fine and you all will enjoy the trip tremendously!:x

  • Judith says:

    Have an absoulutely wonderful trip!!!

    I am right there with you and Elle on all things today!!

    –Thought I would love Dzongkha. Was grievously disappointed.

    –Didn’t expect to think much of Jatamansi, but after buying shoes on sale in Barneys, I sprayed some on, and found it lovely! I probably would have bought it if the bottle hadn’t been so big and/or I hadn’t been so broke from the shoes. But I will be on the lookout for a decant.

  • Theresa says:

    Have a great trip! The mango with sticky rice and coconut milk is NOT to be missed.

  • katia says:

    I’ll look for my Jatamansi sample and try it today !
    Have a nice trip, and I’ll be waiting for your next post !

  • Elle says:

    Hope you’re having a fabulous time!!!
    I wanted to love Dzongkha too. I couldn’t see how it could possibly go wrong. But it did. Completely. Apparently it’s the same muddy mess on me that it is on you. If the intent was for me to have a more suitably zen like detachment from yet another scented desire, then they succeeded brilliantly. However, I’m right there w/ you in the Jatamansi fan club. I had extremely low expectations for this since I can’t stand the smell of real jatamansi. My ayurvedic aromatherapy teacher told me the scent would grow on me and I’d come to love it – it’s been many years now and it never has. L’Artisan’s Jatamansi produces all the calming, grounding effects of the real stuff for me w/out the noxious odor. It’s my go to scent for sleep these days.

  • rosarita says:

    Have a wonderful, memorable trip, March! Looking forward to all the stories when you get back (or while you’re there, as you’re planning to blog (!):)

    I’m taking my time in sampling L’Artisans – haven’t yet found my eureka! scent from this line.

  • Gail S says:

    Have a great trip and be safe! And for Louise, I got a good 30 seconds worth of good smells out of Jatamansi before it was gone :d At that rate, I would need the full 250 mls to get through a week!

    • Louise says:

      Let’s see, at $145, we could buy….100 mls. of so many other delightful frags…that might last, oh, several years…

  • Amy K says:

    Have a great trip! I can’t wait to read about your adventures abroad 🙂

  • Gina says:

    I hope you have the greatest time in Thailand, lucky you!!!! I too like Jatamansi, but not enough to get a full bottle. At first spray Dzongkha smells like Jack Daniels on me. Wretched. When that fades out and all the memories of throwing up Jack Daniels when I was 16 go with it, I get cardboard. Which is just “eh”…not FBW. BUT, I love love love Dzing! I’ve been wearing for a few days straight lately.

  • Louise says:

    Happy Trails, Dear March!

    Lordy, I am excited for you. Don’t let those crowds put you off your hunt for fragrances and farty veggies. Oh, is that crowd thing why we always meet early at the mall???

    L’Eau de Jatamansi sounds so delightful. And like it would last, oh, about 4 seconds on my skin. But ya know, it’s fluky-I sprayed my rather boring but pleasant Marc Jacobs on yesterday morning, and I could smell it still this morning (apres bain). So Jatamansi will get a spin.

    Do be in touch-

    Huge hug!

    • Louise says:

      Oh, that’s M.J.’s Violet I sprayed-the regular stuff is nasty on me.

    • Maria says:

      Louise, I’ve tried Jatamansi. The five to ten minutes of grapefruit were nice. Then there wasn’t much of anything else on my skin. The vaguest shadow of a scent. Your instincts were right, perfume twin!