PARIS — India in monsoon season inspired Hermès Parfums’ latest eau.
This story first appeared in the February 22, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The scent, called Un Jardin après la Mousson, or a Garden After the Monsoon, in English, will bow in May as part of the French luxury brand’s yearlong tribute to India.
For the third fragrance in the Jardins series, Jean-Claude Ellena, Hermès’ in-house perfumer, traveled to Kerala, in southwestern India, where he was inspired by nature’s revival following the region’s annual rainy season. The global introduction of the unisex scent, which features vegetal, floral and spicy notes, will coincide with the beginning of the monsoon period in Kerala.
With the latest addition, Hermès executives expect the Jardins series, which also includes Un Jardin en Mediterannée and Un Jardin sur le Nil, to generate a quarter of its fragrance sales in 2008. Last year, Hermès’ fragrance sales grew 20 percent year-on-year to 118.9 million euros, or $163 million at average exchange. Industry sources estimate Un Jardin après la Mousson will generate 16 million euros, or $24 million at current exchange, at wholesale in its first year.
“The Jardins series’ particularity is that it’s a meeting between Hermès’ yearly theme, its perfumer and a place,” explained Catherine Fulconis, Hermès Parfums managing director.
For Un Jardin après la Mousson, Ellena wanted to capture an unexpected aspect of India, so he visited Kerala several weeks after the long-awaited monsoon rains ended when nature had started to spring back to life. Though Kerala is a region renowned for its spices, Ellena eschewed hot spicy notes in favor of cooler vegetable notes such as cardamom, coriander, pepper, ginger and ginger flower. He also included a vetiver accord of his own creation.
“In India, your senses are arrested everywhere, you have a desire for calm,” explained Fulconis. “This was the idea of après la Mousson. While India abounds in colors and noise, with this fragrance, one has a moment of rest.”
The fragrance’s heavy glass bottle resembles those of the other scents in the Jardins collection. Its graduated green and blue color recalls the clouds of a monsoon and the vivid green of nature reborn. A frieze on its outer carton, designed by artist Karen Petrossian, who has also created Hermès scarves, is a playful take on nature, featuring elephants and monkeys taking refuge under umbrellas.
The eau de toilette will be available as 100- and 50-ml. sprays, priced at 83 euros, or $122 at current exchange, and 60 euros, or $88, respectively. The fragrance’s ancillary line includes a body lotion and a bath and shower gel, priced at 39 euros, or $57, and 33 euros, or $49, respectively, for 200 ml., as well as a body mist for 42 euros, or $62, and a dry oil for 40 euros, or $59, both 100 ml.
A gift set containing a 100-ml. fragrance, a scented home decoration and a book by journalist Sarina Lewis, published in eight languages, including Malayalam, the language of Kerala, will be sold in Hermès boutiques and select department stores for 115 euros, or $169.
Single-page advertising, created by the Publicis agency, shows an elephant’s trunk shielding the fragrance from monsoon raindrops with a leaf.