The Garden of Eden first came to Christine Nagel in a dream. It’s not the biblical one, but one that bears that exact name, though the perfumer didn’t know that part at the time.
Nagel, the exclusive in-house nose of Hermès since 2014, dreamt of this green oasis, closed off to the world, but offering a restful sanctuary to anyone privileged to be invited in.
In this garden of Nagel’s dream lie secrets, kept behind brick walls, where the sweet scent of a thousand blooms cavorts with the salty zing of sea breeze, as church bells toll in the distance.
Nagel didn’t know at the time that such an actual place existed. Then she heard about this English nobleman named Frederic Eden, who lived in the 19th century in Venice, Italy.
Tale goes that Eden was tired of seeing only water, so he wanted to buy land to build a garden reminiscent of his native England. He and his wife Caroline bought six acres in the Venice island of Giudecca and built what would become Venice’s largest private garden, filled with trees, stone sculptures and animals.
Garden of inspiration
The Garden of Eden became the symbol of British presence in the lagoon city, where the likes of Henry James, Marcel Proust and Rainer Maria Rilke went to seek inspiration.
But it wasn’t open to just anyone.
After the death of its last owner, an Austrian painter, in 2000, the garden was left in the care of a foundation. Nagel wrote the foundation to request a visit. They said yes.
On her first visit in April 2017, Nagel was welcomed by the sweet, heady fragrance of thousands of white and yellow flowers from magnificent small trees called pittosporum. When she returned two months later, she was met by the fresh and delicate scent of magnolias, Madonna lilies and the green aroma of salicornia. The balmy woods lingered in her olfactory memory long after.
The result of those garden sojourns is Un Jardin Sur La Lagune eau de toilette, the newest in Hermès’ Garden Collection, a woody floral fragrance that, as Julien de Mestier, Hermès Parfums area manager for North Asia and Oceania, put it, is a “sweet scent of nostalgia without sadness, one that brings forth feelings of joy, rebirth and eternity.”
It’s Nagel’s first creation for the Garden Collection.
At the launch in Makati May 20, Hermès Parfums Asia Pacific regional director Jean-Philippe Collin expressed his enthusiasm about the Philippine market and Hermès’ partnership with Rustan’s, with good reason.
The Philippines has been enjoying 30-percent growth rate each year in the fragrance category.
It has overtaken Malaysia.
Beauty and skincare
Collin also announced the March 2020 launch of Hermès’ beauty and skincare line, starting with the lipstick.
This will be sold in new concept counters, the first to be unveiled at Rustan’s in October.
“The Philippines is a key focus market because of the high growth here, that’s why we want to put counters that are like the other premium and iconic brands,” Collin said.
The lipstick line will be followed by the foundations. “You can expect only the best of the best,” Collin said.
Hermès is riding on the success of the Twilly d’Hermes perfume, its first major move to court the millennial market. It now accounts for 17 percent of fragrance sales of Hermès in the Philippines and Asia Pacific.
The launch of the Twilly perfume was bolstered by a bath collection; a new fragrance perfume version will roll out in September.
To be introduced in March 2020 is a limited perfume collection, Charming Twilly, which will carry a charm to adorn mobile phones and bracelets. (The first Twilly bottle has a thin silk strip around its neck, which can be worn as neck or wrist accessory.)
Twilly is the no. 3 best-selling perfume of Hermès in Asia Pacific, after Terre d’Hermes and the Garden Collection, said Collin. In the latter, the citrusy Le Jardin de Monsieur Li and the green mango notes of Un Jardin de Sur Nil are top sellers in the Philippines.
“It’s really good to get such a good response from millennials for the Twilly,” Collin said. “But we’re also good at maintaining our loyal clients, that’s why we have our settled collections, under which Un Jardin Sur La Lagune belongs.”