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The spotlight of the global fragrance business now shines on the quality of juice within the bottle, rather than on marketing bluster that once powered a number of launches in the past. WWD has set up a panel of world-class experts to judge new scents coming onto the market. This week, Le Jardin de Monsieur Li from Hermès has been reviewed.

This is a blind test: Panelists are given vials of unidentified scent to judge impartially. Each of them gives a score ranging from 1 (forgettable) to 10 (unforgettable) and the numbers are computed into a final grade. The judges, led by chairman Michael Edwards, also make critiques, which are unattributed. Just as the identity of the product is kept secret from the judges to guard against bias, the panelists’ personal opinions are not revealed to encourage candor. The most promising scents are picked for judging and WWD buys the products at retail, like any other consumer.

This story first appeared in the May 20, 2015 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The Verdict: This was an extremely mixed decision. Some judges described it as an original, fresh scent, full of freshness like a garden. However, others used the terms “common” and even, “soapy.”

“A well-signed, technically polished melody.”

“Bright, zesty, green. Pleasant while it lasts, which it doesn’t for very long.”

“Very well done, chic and elegant.”

“Vegetal, sheer, so elusive it’s more an atmosphere than a fragrance, yet a signature develops and lingers.”

“This is a light but persistent fragrance; a lack of a full internal structure.”

“Perhaps the smell of an intergalactic garden, but after a short time I was brought back to earth as it morphed into the aroma of generic men’s deodorant.”

“Sheer, summerlike, fresh and unisex.”

“Few ideas, but confused. Underpowered, thin, smells like cheap soap.”

“A perfect scent for a flaneur drifting through Paris on a spring day.”

“Not feminine, too sharp.”

“The top note is extremely common. The back note is cute but also very common.”

ABOUT THE TEST AND JUDGES: This is a blind test, panelists are given vials of unidentified scent to judge impartially. Each of them gives a score ranging from 1 (forgettable) to 10 (unforgettable) and the numbers are computed into a final grade. The judges, led by chairman Michael Edwards, also make critiques, which are unattributed to encourage candor. The most promising scents are picked for judging in an effort to find and showcase excellence. WWD buys the products at retail, like any other consumer. The esteemed judges are: Michael Edwards, author of “Fragrances of the World” and “Perfume Legends”; Paul Austin, chief executive officer of sensory storytelling agency Austin Advisory Group; Jean-Claude Delville, senior perfumer at Drom; Karen Dubin, founder and ceo of Sniffapalooza; Victoria Frolova, fragrance industry analyst and Bois de Jasmin editor; Christophe Laudamiel, master perfumer at DreamAir; Nathalie Pichard, owner of training and evaluation agency Topnotes; Chantal Roos, cocreator of Roos & Roos Co.; Luca Turin, biophysicist and perfume critic for arabia.style.com, and Kevin Verspoor, founder of PerfumeKev LLC.

RATING: 5.9

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