You are always being told about the most ‘precious essences sourced from the finest sources’ and all that rubbish: your nose and brain and your olfactory instincts, however, usually know differently. But at Henry Jacques, an exquisite perfumery serenely sequestered on the top floor at Les Salons at Harrods, I really did feel that the materials being used here were the toppest of notch: gorgeous, limpid, potent elixirs in pure perfume only that were expensive and unattainable in some ways but ones that I dream of and WANT: you never know, there might be a windfall at some point when I don’t hesitate to just treat myself and come home with a flacon of dream.
I wasn’t intimidated. We sat ourselves down in the two available arm chairs there (once they are occupied, no other customers are allowed in the space) and asked to be taken through the range. From florals through citruses and then other blends, please. Leave out the standard masculines. Just show me the flowers. And the orientals. And possibly the musks, and even a couple of oudhs. I want to smell them all, and please also seal the blotters in hermetically sealed envelopes. I want to smell all of them at my leisure later. These look really interesting.
We were there for at least an hour, undisturbed. The assistants, personable, enthusiastic, but with just the right level of dignity and mild hauteur, would then dip the paper blotters into the thickly glassed flacons and bring them over: I knew right from the very start that these were indeed made with principally natural materials of extremely high quality, and was pleased that there was no bullshit, no PR materials, no advertising, no extraneous imagery (the perfumes are available in the standard, almost Caron-like bottles or else fancy flourishes of glasswork that were housed in secret, walled cabinets, revealed to you at precise moments); just perfumes, made in Grasse, that you wanted to own, and cherish, and wear.
Opening my bag of about fifty Henry Jacques perfumes scent a strip a week later, I am amazed at how living and real and gorgeously fragrant all the perfumes still are on the card. Potent: undiminished. Their hearts on their sleeve, ready to seduce. Seemingly divided into soliflores, contemporary note-centric formulae, or else stunningly neo-classical aldehydes and balmy orientals, there honestly wasn’t a bad scent among the ones I tried: the extortionate Bulgarian Rose would be the best possible indulgence, just a dot on the skin, before going out in the evening – this couldn’t have been more reflectant, effulgent – the very heart of the Bulgarian rose essence. Picking up scent papers randomly (they are sprawled out as I speak on the bed at my parents’ house), Decibelia is a beautiful galbanum focused-sweet pea; Kavianca the most perfect aldehydic floral – all jasmine and rose and raspberry and iris, like No 5 raised up to goddess status and looking down through the crystalline clouds of Mount Olympus; Valentys probably the best peach perfume I have ever smelled; all honeysuckle, bright jasmine; Nahema roses and powder; and Whydia an almost Ysatis-like beauty of mandarin, neroli, ylang ylang and cedarwood balsamics.
Wisely, the assistants asked me to save the ones I wanted to sample on skin until last, although I was unable to resist trying the gorgeous rosa centifolia based Rose Myosotis on my left hand that put me in mind of the original Caron Rose, in extrait, but less mossy and Daltroffesque. On my right, though, I knew from the start that I was going to have to have the devastating Dentelle Dans La Coeur, the best tuberose I have ever smelled and that had me going goggle-eyed in ecstatic white flower pleasure: the tuberose to end all tuberoses (so fantastic to have this kind of revelation): shimmering, white inflorescences of sheer petallic pleasure; the wintergreen weirdness of Tubereuse Criminelle and Carnal Flower self-pleasured to perfume strength; outrageous; but no sweetness, no sugared, vanilla musks or sandalwood, just the most delicate, creamy skin scent that lasts underneath (and which merely from a little perfume on my hand, which graced my cashmere sweater, and emerged again, a few days later, when out with Helen, a non-tuberose lover who admitted that this indeed, smelled utterly beautiful on me; marmorean, like a ghostly but living white statue from another world.)
I had no more skin space. But I asked the two Henry Jacques assistants which scents they had left out of the equation, whether there were any that they had omitted. Although I had sampled some of the house’s masculines (very good: Fabian Absolue a more natural reworking of Fahrenheit; Soudain L’Hiver a deep coniferous rendition of the original Polo) this is never my main line of interest, and I wondered what the curious green-tinted bottle at the front of the tray of perfumes was: had I already smelled that one or not?
This is a lavender. I didn’t think you would like this one, given your taste for the white florals and orientals. Would you like to try it?
And good god. Lavenders are always too thin; too vanillic; too incensed; too cologned; too animalic. This one, this absolute beauty, though graced in the undertones with some sandalwood and light oriental facets, felt spiked; green; vivid ; alive: but not the almost gaseous evaporatorial emanations of the farm-distilled standard essential oil; that yes, but welded with the lavender absolute, cleaner, but deeper; purer; self contained. The sheer strength of this botanical panacea captured in perfume: I was desperate to just own the thing (‘we only sell about five pieces of this one a year’) : it seemed to hold tranquillity in concentration, as though spiritizing the plants on the stem, in the fields of England, Bulgaria, and France; so green, so replete………………. a marvel.
25 responses to “SWOON………the best lavender I have ever smelled and the most gorgeous, almost obscenely ecstatic tuberose: : : : : VERT GALANT + DENTELLE DANS LA COEUR by HENRY JACQUES”
I WANT TO SIT IN THAT ARMCHAIR AND EXPERIENCE WHAT YOU EXPERIENCED!!!!!
God, these sound incredible, Neil. (All of it does. Like dreams I have of transcendental perfume-sniffing, ecstasy-provoking.) Do they really have great performance on skin — as in sillage?
And what happened to the last post? It seemed to go POOF? I found it so interesting. Wondered if things would pull together for you when Duncan returned . . .
Mmm. I decided to pull that one for a number of reasons (even though I did kind of like it).
On skin…..I wonder. The tuberose definitely worked, I know that.
I kind of liked it, too.
I take it these don’t come cheap?
Starting at £405: check out the Harrods web site. I mean they ARE too expensive, but at least I felt they weren’t a complete rip off like I often do. I WANT THEM.
I just looked. Whoah. Up to $925 — for 15ml, from what I can tell. Sounds like they’re just about attar-strength. With that kind of concentration, if I had that kind of money, I’d definitely buy. You make Decibelia, Whydia and Kavianca sound irresistible to someone like me.
And just so reassuring that some ultra-high-end niche releases aren’t all b.s.
Those three you would definitely I think have similar initial reactions to (and yes : attar-ish strength). I haven’t tried them all on skin though, but I feel they would be really good.
Oh, I’m looking further, and prices can go above two grand.
Yes, but the majority were in the £400 range, and we don’t need ‘royal oudhs’ and all that in any case. The main collection, though expensive, doesn’t require you to re-mortgage your house.
You’ve got me wanting to try these SO SO much. I’m at that point where I don’t need “volume” in my collection and so to spend that much for such beauty wouldn’t be impossible to contemplate. A shame I probably will never have a chance to.
I mean it’s possible that on the skin they might disappoint. I know the tuberose didn’t though, and that is the thing. I LOVED the dry down. And that made me believe.
I Had heard of these perfumes, but like so many niche perfumes these days, wondered if they were really worth the price. So nice to hear they are! Sounds like a wonderful experience. Maybe someday!
Compared to the truly overpriced, at least they felt full and brimming with essence, if you know what I mean. Effortless.
How wonderful – I was nosily wondering what the Harrods tuberose was. Adding to the list for that lottery win…
Do you like Moon Bloom by Hiram Green? Just bought a travel spray and really like it. Very tuberose in a cool, green, elegant way.
I do quite like it but I like it straighter, purer – like the Dentelle Dans La Coeur. This IS my tuberose!
Lol. Thanks for reminding me of my dream last night w/ your “lavender” words.
I was in my German grandmother’s old room (b. 1890s) w/ my mother & on her large curved front dresser in front of the large swiveling mirror was a large beautiful bottle w/ a ground glass stopper of something 4711 had just released to bring back lovely refillable bottles & a new very modern warmer lavender scent within.
Of course it doesn’t exist. Nor does the dresser nor the room. And my Oma in a place where there is probably beautiful scent without need of bottles…
The strong lavenders were meant to cover people rarely having a fully immersive bath (or shower) then… just the twice daily basin wash! Let’s be honest. xx
Swooning with you as I read this…I can just imagine this experience in its entirety where every detail is exquisitely resolved.
A very nice way of putting it!
Hello Neil, Ormonde Jayne here, and we hope you will be able to pop in to the new boutique tomorrow! Sarah
I would love to (sorry, I have been unable to access my email account here), but alas on this occasion I don’t think it will be possible due to family commitments. I do like several of your perfumes though. Is there a new range?
Hello – thank you for the insightful comments on Dentelle. Do you think it’s a feminine scent? I know I shouldn’t get caught up in gender assignments to perfume, but I’m wandering if you think people would perceive that scent as feminine in a man? I’ve smelled it on a scent strip but never smelled it directly from the bottle onto skin. I really like the scent from the scent strip but if it turns overly flowery on skin then it won’t be for me. Would you consider it to be more feminine Smelling that Carnal Flower by Malle ?
I don’t think slight hints of lavender could ever smell very feminine on a man – I don’t remember it turning sweet. If you love it, go for it
Hello – thank you for the wonderful post. I keep discovering your blog, one article at a time, and it’s brilliant! 🙂
I wonder if you have any recollection of HJ’s jasmine attar? I know it’s been a very long time since you wrote this post….
I have been looking, for years now, for an attar to replace my sadly discontinued Amouage Jasmine – which forever will be my dream jasmine. Last week, I finally took the courage to wander into the Salon in Harrods and asked to sample the HJ jasmines. Although all beautiful, not surprisingly I liked the pure Jasmin de HJ the best. It’s somehow softer and creamier than the Amouage, but not at all sweet and I liked it a lot. I asked the assistant to put a little bit on my wrist (she wasn’t very obliging, to be honest, and looked and sounded very uninterested in her job). I was ecstatic for the next few hours, sniffing my wrist continuously until the scent started to fade. About 4 hours later it was pretty much gone. Now, I know that the SA put a VERY little amount on me, but even just half a drop of the Amouage radiates on me like crazy for almost 8 hours, and that is a shocking difference, especially with HJ’s much higher price points. So I wondered if you have any thoughts on the jasmine attars, if you can recall your Jasmin de HJ encounter?