Monday, September 21, 2009

Fragrance Bouquet Presents Le Jardin Retrouvé (Part 2)

This past Friday we put the spotlight on a man who was part of a team that shaped the face of modern perfumery by producing perfumes that we now consider classics, a man who first took part in a project combining music and perfume (even though last year journalists credited Francis Kurkdjian as the first to perfume a music event making use of ‘special machines’, it was in fact Gutsatz who in 1952 first took on the task to perfume an Opéra-ballet - “Les Indes Galantes”- and who figured out a way to dispense perfumes of his creation through the ventilation), and finally, a man who was at the forefront of niche perfumery. Today in the second part of our presentation of Le Jardin Retrouvé, we let the man, Yuri Gutsatz, take a background seat and bring his work, the perfumes he created for Le Jardin Retrouvé to the foreground.

Citron Poivré: Let me start by saying I am not a huge citrus fan. I appreciate the sparkle and freshness they can bring to the opening of complex blends and as perfumery has advanced to allow for citrus notes to last longer and longer I have also come to love the way they can exalt other notes later in the development. It is rare however, the perfume that is entirely based on citrus and still manages to grab my attention. There are but a few exceptions and, I am glad to say, this is one of them. Citron Poivré is built around an exceptionally beautiful note of Calabrian lemon, which while retaining its bracing sharpness manages to also transcend it, being rendered at the same time as both creamy and candied. How this result is achieved, I do not know, but I can tell you that it is glorious. The candied, creamy character leaves behind all notions of lemon as a predominately cologne-fresh ingredient and elevates it as the main character in a composition that is, to my great surprise, a spicy oriental in character. Although come to think of it, the surprise mightn’t be so great, considering that Boucheron has similarly created a spicy oriental with a heavy citrus emphasis in the form of Trouble. This however, is far superior. The most winning feature of Citron Poivré is the marvelous interplay between the bright, candied lemon and the spicy, dark bursts of black pepper that give off like fireworks from the skin. While this pair dances its duet in the prolonged stage of the opening, one cannot possibly imagine a more pleasant combination of notes that could reach the nose. Slowly, the stage fills with yet more dancers, and while the lemon and the pepper remain at the center, the wearer’s attention cannot help but be drawn to the rest of the beautiful cast: pimento and geranium, a hint of bay leaf, but most importantly, cinnamon and clove. The cinnamon/clove pair is formidable and demanding: on the one hand, they complement the peppery lemon to perfection, on the other hand, the risk is high that they overwhelm the composition with their forceful character. One cannot help but marvel then, at the technical brilliance of the perfumer: the procession is slow; the main characters will not be obscured until the deep drydown. The composition bears however their strong stamp and Citron Poivré reads beautifully, like an exceptional Caron.

Jasmin: Of all the Jardin Retrouvé fragrances that I’ve smelled, Jasmin is my absolute favorite. It is also the most interesting jasmine-based floral I’ve ever had the pleasure to come across. If you are looking for a photorealistic image of jasmine, you won’t find it here: the simple name might lead one to think this is a run-of-the-mill soliflore, but it isn’t. The perfumer has chosen to reveal to us not the scent of the flower in the absolute sense, but rather, the glory of its exotic nature. At the heart of the perfume, there’s always jasmine, true beautiful jasmine absolute, rich, exotic, warm, diffusive and animalic. What you cannot possibly be prepared for, is the complexity. The opening is smoky and dark and as this darkness dissipates, the following impression is that of a floral full of buttery, intriguingly oily nuances courtesy of the high concentration of ylang-ylang. This impression in turn is counteracted by an intensely green floral note that spikes through the composition. The slightest hint of clove spices the blend, while a supple note of leather hugs it all gently. It is the leather, along with the exceptionally intense animalic undertones which make this the most interesting jasmine perfume I’ve ever smelled. Simply astounding.

Chèvrefeuille: Honeysuckle is one of those plants that fill my heart with happiness just by looking at it, no doubt due to associations formed in early childhood. Memories, fragmented but vibrant like snapshots, place me giggling alongside my friends in front of a huge honeysuckle bush, gorging ourselves on the nectar of its blossoms. Every spring I’d plunder the generous plant, the nectar seeming all the sweeter, for it was forbidden by my father - likely worried I’d get stung by a bee. For years I’ve searched for an accurate interpretation of its beautiful, seducing scent - a difficult task, considering its scent cannot be distilled or extracted. The closest I’d come to finding one I liked was Yves Rocher’s Chèvrefeuille, which although beautiful, and despite the company being famous for producing some of the most realistic soliflores, does not really come close to approximating the scent of the beautiful honeysuckle. Yuri Gutsatz’s imaginary reconstruction however, is a gift to all romantics like me, who love the gorgeous blossoms as much for their nectar as for their scent. Blossoming on the skin with the soft, hay-like, balsamic note of St. John’s Wort and fresh, Calabrian lemon, the perfume shows us already from the beginning the balance that will be held throughout the development: equal measures of fresh and sweet, to capture the marvelous character of honeysuckle, as fresh as it is nectarous. Although nothing can come close to the true flower, Le Jardin Retrouvé’s own interpretation comes as close to the ideal as I’ve found.

From the wide selection of perfumes Le Jardin Retrouvé offers, I’ve come to love most of them: Cuir de Russie, with its unique, surprisingly floral character, Verveine Cèleste which adds a beautiful, intense grassy element to the traditional fougere blend, Eau de Tubéreuse for its enthralling, compelling femininity (if you love tuberose, you must try this!). There were also others that left me less enamored, such as Santal or Pour Homme, the first one being too simple and powdery, lacking the essence of true sandalwood (a bit like Roger Gallet’s version), the latter too traditional and outdated. Today I’ve presented to you the three I love most, although I’ll admit it was a hard call choosing between a review of Chèvrefeuille or one of Eau de Tubéreuse. In the end, I chose the honeysuckle because there are simply not so many honeysuckle perfumes in the market, and moreover none so beautiful and realistic, despite the fact that Eau de Tubéreuse is in my opinion a superior perfume and probably one of the best tuberoses I’ve smelled. I’ve come away from these past weeks of researching Yuri Gutsatz life with deep admiration for the man himself as well as his work and I won’t hide it, a little sadness. Sadness for not knowing about him earlier, sadness that I still don’t know as much as I would like, sadness that I won’t ever get to speak with him personally, or shake his hand. There’s happiness too, for I got to smell some of his creations, got to meet his family and for the fact that I can tell you about him here, on Fragrance Bouquet. If you would also like to sample the perfumes of Le Jardin Retrouvé, follow this link for instructions. By paying 2 euro postage through pay pal you can sample three perfumes of your choice. Through this link you can access the order forms to order full bottles of perfume or other products, such as candles. If you wish to contact Le Jardin Retrouvé per mail, you can find all the information you need here. Lastly, for those of you wishing to find out more about Le Jardin Retrouvé, Yuri Gutsatz and his life, click here to access the website’s own forum, which has countless of interesting materials to read. Most of them are in French, but there are plenty in English as well. If I may suggest something to get you started, here is a beautifully written piece on the perfumes and scents of India written by Yuri Gutsatz himself.

Images: Lemon slice via, jasmine via Wikipedia, honeysuckle via


PinstripedZebra said...

Interesting information in the first paragraph! I am totally wondering what scent he had chosen to use during the opera!

I really wonder how you developed the skill of portraying scents in such a way that even one with only a fleeting interest in the subject matter is drawn into it!


Ines said...

What a lovely discovery both for you and for us (your readers)! :) I will definitely try Mr. Gutsatz's creations.

Le Jardin Retrouvé said...

PinstripedZebra, herewith is the summary about the "Rose Opéra":

In 1952, Yuri Gutsatz was asked by to perfume the Paris Opera House for « Les Indes Galantes », an opera by Rameau.

He conceived, for the 2nd Act of the "Ballet des Fleurs", in the splendid décor created by Wakhevitch, a Perfume called "Apparition de la Rose".

"L'Apparition de la Rose" was his source of inspiration when he created his Rose Opéra!

You can read the whole story, still French written here:

I hope this will help!


Nota Bene : Divina, have you received my last mails?

ScentScelf said...

Hmm, interesting reading this has been. My attention is also captured by the comments about Rose of the first scents I fell hard for was Bois des Isles, and that comes with a creation story involving an opera (Tchaikovsky in this case), off I went to order samples.

I look forward to experiencing & learning more.