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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Love of Lavender

Review by Tom

Lavender is of course one of the mainstays of fragrances for both men and women. Fragrances as diverse as Jicky and Gris Clair have it as notes, and despite my rep as skank-monster extraordinaire, it's a note that I love in several of my favorite scents.

Serge Lutens Gris Clair and Encens et Lavande

Colombina covered the latter and she and I covered the former so I won't completely go over these again, suffice it to say that I own a full bottle of one and am this close to jumping through the hoops needed to get a bell jar of the other. Gris Clair's dance from cold camphored lavender to warm incense is hauntingly complemented by Encens et Lavande's trip from churchy incensed lavender to it's lavender sage drydown.

Annick Goutal Eau de Lavande

I know this is damning this with faint praise, but I have been scenting my pillows with this for years, it's part of my bedtime ritual: cotton in the ears, melatonin, and a spritz of E de L. Sniffing it without expecting it to act like Ambien, I can appreciate that in 1981 Annick Goutal created something that had never been smelled in a lavender before: there's that bit of camphor that's played up in Gris Glair as well as the woods that are in Encens et Lavande. I would and do wear this out, but I am nothing if not hide-bound, so this as ever will be my night-time beddie-bye scent.

Now forget everything I've written.

Reverie au Jardin

First off, full disclosure. I think Andy Tauer is a genius. From what I've read, he basically does this stuff out his house: no focus groups, no baggage of even a house as large as Serge Lutens. (I know, heresy) No house perfumer mixing the juice. The first scent of his I tried was Lonestar Memories, and I was convinced that he was some ex-pat Texan who moved to Switzerland and mixed this up a'pinin' for the home place. Then I smelled Le Maroc pour Elle and L'Air du Desert Marocain and suddenly wondered, like he's from Morocco ?

Calling Reverie au Jardin a lavender scent in a way is like calling Le Labo Patchouli 24 a patchouli scent. In the case of Le Labo, the patch is buried under a heady (and I think divine) layer of smoky birch tar. In R au J, the lavender not only challenges what you think you want to smell when you think of lavender, but is woven in a hide-and-seek game in the various and myriad layers of the scent.

First off, the lavender: in the past weeks, Chandler Burr wrote about dryer sheets or something (I am willing to give them my email address, but I am not willing to pay them to reread the article) that most people when they say they want lavender don't want the actual smell, they want the simulacrum that they think they smell.

I'd like to write that of course being such a connoisseur of lavender that Reverie du Jardin didn't put me off at all. D'oh! At first sniff, I was like, whaaaah? So much so that I went to my local gourmet store to actually smell some of the actual herb. A little research showed that there are several different kinds of lavender, and the lavender that Tauer uses takes a good few moments to register as lavender at all, if you are expecting to smell what you are used to smelling in a lavender scent. It's green and fresh and slightly sweet, not heady and not minty and paired with a light vetiver. Then the reverie begins...

The only way I can really describe it as a day in your fantasy garden, starting in the late morning. It's one of those long summer days where thanks to daylight savings and the time of the year the sun doesn't set 'til nine. You are sitting in the garden, reading, Proust no doubt, or E. F. Benson, if like me you're looking for something lighter. As the day grows later and the shadows longer you might wander from the herb garden to the flower garden. Of course there couldn't be an incense garden, but this is a fantasy, so why not? You wander through these gardens, stopping for a while at a bench to read a page or two, to sip from your glass of water with a single thin slice of cucumber, smiling at Mapp being thwarted, to wander off to a bench at a different sunnier spot. Lavender is a recurring theme as is green leaves, roots and earth, but the scents journey through its metaphoric garden also weaves orris, woods, tonka and vetiver.

At one point on me the scent changes suddenly, like taking the path from the lily ponds at The Huntington Library that suddenly changes into the desert garden; a change so sudden, so Alice-in-Wonderland shocking in real life that the olfactory change from Jardin to Temple has the same effect: blank, if delighted consternation and a geeky squeal of delight. Other changes are more gradual; the orris on me comes in like a bank of dappled clouds, obscuring the sunlight briefly before receding and ceding the stage to the woods and light musk.

Just so you won't think this is a total love-fest, I do have one complaint: I wish it were stronger. I'd like a parfum. Now, please.

Gris Clair is available Barneys, $120 for 50 ml

Encens et Lavande is available at the Salon Shiseido only (they will ship in the EU if you know somene, 100eu for 100 ml).

Eau de Lavande is available at various e-tailers usually discounted, like Perfume Emporium, which offers the 3.4 oz (usually $95) for $72.99, and is sometimes available with the rest of the line at Bloomingdales, Neimans and Bergdorf Goodman.

Reverie au jardin is available for pre-order at LuckyScent, $85 for 50 ml

The first image is from, the second from


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice Tom. I think I hate Lavender, but after reading this - I guess I'm not sure what I think of lavender b/c apparently I've never smelled true lavender. That said, the lavender scents I have smelled were just not for me. Lavender is supposed to be soothing and calming but for me, it usually just makes me queasy.

HOWEVER: I really really really want to try Reverie b/c it sounds like its more green than anything. And I do love my greens.

Thank you for this article, and it was well worth the wait!!


11:07 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


This smells nothing lika any lavender before it. I love the other lavender scents in this review (and they do smell of true lavender), but R du J opens up a different world. It is green: that mountain lavender he uses must be all green shoots and stamens and wonderful rootiness..

It's as if everyone who did rose scents had only done tea-roses, and finally someone decided to do a rose based on one of those roses that smelled peppery: still rose, but not the one you're used to.

11:31 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So this could definitely be the Lavender scent that converts me, huh?

I'm ok with that...

The AG Lavender is a bit harder to find, isn't it? I'll have to seek it out in Bergdorfs this weekend - if anyone has it, they should. I love AG, I know you do, too. I'm wearing Eau de Camille right now...


12:16 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said... *is* lovely isn't it?
On me the beginning is green and bracing but after a few minutes it changes, almost melting into the skin-
sometimes powdery, sometimes velvety but mostly warm and enveloping.It reminds me of the sun in early spring

Veery nice review, btw..

1:16 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone out there familiar with the gorgeous scent of california's own "desert lavender" - hyptis emoryi?... (how 'bout you tmp00 as you seem to know every thing about any thing regarding this land west of the west)... anyway... california's lavender (the lanky shrub that it is) puts that europa sleepy herb to shame... my only hope is that mr. andy's lavender has done exactly that (being that i just impulsively two bottles of his stuff from those "nice people" at luilei in new york)

1:19 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, what a lovely, true description of the experience of wearing this magnificent fragrance. With it I have many experiences of revelation and then again envelopment in a mystery.

For me it was love at first hit. I say "hit" because that initial blast of lavender-galbanum-fir comes as a wake-up jolt--but what an enjoyable one. This opening has cured me of my green-scent shyness.

It's a shame that people are exposed to screechy, fake lavender--in Crabtree & Evelyn lotions, for example--and believe that's all the herb has to offer. I've recently ordered five lavender plants, each a different variety, so I can get to know the possibilities better. Now, if the nursery would get around to shipping my order...

2:19 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooops!!! When I say "this magnificent fragrance," I mean Andy Tauer's Reverie au Jardin. I so adore it that when it's under discussion I don't pay attention to anything else.

2:21 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

For people wary of typical lavender fragrances, I would recommend Grafton by Truefitt & Hill, a classy barbershop scent in the same vein as Caron pour homme but much less powdery and with a less biting lavender note.

3:01 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay, somebody who loves lavender! I adore the scent, both of the plant in all its varieties, the sharp scent of the blossoms, the more hay-like one of the leaves - I even managed to be rather fascinated by the combination of garlic and lavender sweating away in a sun-warmed car in the south of France. (By the way: in gardens, rose and lavender are a classic combination, but I don't recall seeing that in a fragrance. Is there anything?)

That said: I wholeheartedly agree that the Lutens lavenders and the lovely AG Lavande are scents to seek out, have and cherish. And that Andy Tauer is a genius, moreover an extremely nice one. So I'll definitely get RauJ as soon as possible. Unsniffed. Andy can do no wrong.

3:34 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, what a spendidly evocative review of RaJ... Living in France, I know what real, live lavender smells like. I remember a hurried hour with shears cutting off all the stems from the bushes in a friend's garden near Cahors, before the storm broke and hopelessly flattened them.
Encens et Lavande, though I own a bell jar, is too cold for me. I love lavender "warmed up" in Jicky and Sous le Vent. RaJ seems to belong to that family. Now a question: much as I admire Andy's scents, there is a note I have trouble with (in AdDM and LM), an amber note veering on pine (galbanum?). I think it's beautiful but once I notice it, I can't make it "blend in" again. Is that note present in RaJ?

3:39 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Silly me, I meant "labdanum", not "galbanum" (it's still morning in France).

3:48 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the interplay between the two lavenders in the top note of this - I think Andy said that it's absolute and concrete, hitting your nose one after the other. To me, it smells like Lavandula angustifolia followed by Lavandula stoechas - two different lavender species that bounce off each other smell wise.

And although there's something about this fragrance that makes it my least favourite of the Tauer line (a Chanel like quality from the aldehydes, perhaps?), it's still a masterful scent and lovely to wear.

4:04 AM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

My sample of this is with my other mail at my sister's house!!! I can't wait.

5:07 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:52 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Am not much of a lavender fan, but I do love Encens et Lavande and I can't wait to try Reverie Au Jardin. You make it sound absolutely ideal. I think I will try to arrange it so that my first sampling is done outside on the back porch w/ Mapp and Lucia.

7:53 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Oh, wow, oh wow--I am so excited.!I missed out on Andy's samples (doing something foolish like work), but ordered a bottle unsniffed because
--I love all of Andy's creations
--I love lavender (although this sounds quite different).
And I have heard many wonderful things about this fragrance--but I have also heard some negatives. That's to be expected, of course, but it got me a bit worried. Your review, however, makes me SURE I will adore this! It's supposed to arrive tomorrow. Oh, wow, oh wow!!!!
PS I also love EeL and Gris Clair. Haven't tried the AG.

7:54 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Love the reviews, love the lavenders you describe! Especially the new Tauer scent. I think the scent shows how much Andy's skills have matured. The scent is opulent, very much in Tauer style, but it is obvious that masterful restraint was exercised. Along with Maroc, this is now my favorite Tauer scent.

8:37 AM EDT  
Blogger donanicola said...

Thank you for a lovely review especially of RauJ a sample of which I have ordered and can't wait to receive. What a beautiful name for the scent too don't you think? It sounds to be a perfect fit. I am going to the nursery this evening on my way home and one of the things I intended to pick up was a lavender plant. I shall pay close attention to the scent now rather than just its looks. BTW i read somewhere that you can o/d on lavender (inhaling the oil I suppose) when far from calming you down it over stimulates. Maybe that's the problem with poor Mark's queasiness.

9:47 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


This may be the one, and Andy is coming to Brooklyn to premiere it there this Saturday:

11:30 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I don't get the powder part (which I am fine with), but I do love what I get

11:31 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I don't think I've smelled that lavender: I've only been to the desert once or twice and stayed huddled in the AC both times. I might have to make the trip just to sniff that though..

11:34 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm totally digging the idea of an incense garden *heads out to backyard with spade and Bois d'Encens*

I really loved this, and it is beautifully done, it just wound up not being me in the end, which is okay. I still admire it greatly.

Great review!

11:34 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


You said it perfectly: So many people "don't like" lavender because they grew up smelling some awful scent that scarred them.

I had to relearn patchouli and musk since I was scarred growing up in the 70's by those god-awful oils that everyone seemed to wear. I had to get the headshop and stinky hippie association out of my head.

11:36 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I will have to give that a try. I'm all for more and better lavender.

11:38 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'm almost afraid to have anyone try to get lavender and rose in a fragrance. I'm afraid that someone will come along and do something dreadful.

Can we carefully nominate someone to do it for us? Christopher Brosius perhaps? Andy? The nice people at PG? Sheldrake?

11:41 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I nominate Roucel. Or Ropion.

11:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

I adore Encens et Lavande - the perfect lavender scent for me. AG's version is pretty cool, too. As for Gris Clair, I've said it before, and I'll say it again - overheated lightbulbs. *ducks* I'm yet to give a proper sniff to Reverie.
P.S. Remember to review the new SJP Covet that's supposed to have lavender and chocolate (*major gag*). ;D

11:45 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I got none of that note at all (I think I know the one, I get it in both Lonestar and l'Air) in this one. There's a hint or rootiness to the green and the incense, but not that note.

We have lavender here as ground cover, as a matter of fact it kind of became a bit of a cliche that every front yard had lavender, rosemary and thyme in it (just needed parsley and sage, I guess). I think it fell out of favor because of the water needs and the fact that rosamary at least will just take over. Now it's all about the different grasses. Front yards in LA have become as much a victim to the whims of fashion as hemlines.

11:47 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


It's two lavenders? I was swearing I smelled vetiver in the opening, but maybe that's not it.

I don't get any aldehydes (at least not disernible). But even if this one is fourth place on your list of his, considering that list, that's not bad..

11:50 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


When is she sending it to you? Or does she deliver?

11:51 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think practically everything in life would be better on the back porch with that book..

11:52 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think you will be surprised and delighted.

AG lavender is worth seeking out. Like most AG scents, she kind of points in the direction of the path that later niche houses happily went down.

11:54 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I couldn't agree more. I can jsut imagine what else Andy has up his sleeve. Maybe he's our boy to do that definitive Chypre? We could be guinea pigs!

(odd that the word verification for this post is "urshady"

11:57 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I am starting to think that maybe black-thumbed little me should get a lavender plant as well...

12:04 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I love the idea of an incese garden as well. Now how to make one....

12:05 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


that's right! I forgot you got the "soft whites on fire" bit. so odd..

12:06 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Roucel woudl be wonderful!

12:07 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is an something about this fragrance that reminds me of the bitter-crisp scent your hands retain after you've been working with marigold plants. I've not seen anyone else comment on that, so perhaps it's my own peculiar body chemistry.

And Tom, I DO see your point about how this resembles the love child of herbs and incense. I find elements of both in it.

I didn't think I liked it at all upon first sampling, but I kept coming back and 'not liking' it over and over. lol I'm still not sure I'd want an entire bottle, but I'd be thrilled to own a decant.

And to Andy, if he's prowling the boards....thank you so much for sharing the generous samples with us. You do splendid work and each of your scents is truly an adventure.

12:27 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Now that you write that I do see it.

At first sniff I was sort of on the fence, but then I got to the incense garden and I was hopelessly lost in thrall...

1:03 PM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Tom -- EetL is one of my most favorite fragrances, and one I wear when I'm feeling a little mournful (I am NOT the queen of Lavender.)

I loved the mod -- I got an early sample. However ... I got a sample of the finished product. Which I clearly need to re-try. But I am sad to say in the final version (I've tried my sample twice) I get something that's very Pine-Sol-ish -- if Pine-Sol were a perfume, that is! I mean, it smells nice, but it's overwhelmingly evergreen-ish with a dab of turpentine, and the lavender is almost lost. I love his others, though. I did the same thing you did with Lonestar -- I thought, how did he manage this?!? And Orris is a stunner. -- March

1:12 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I hope I didn't get an early sample- the one I got didn't have that at all and I don't think I'd be happy if it did.

EetL is so lovely. It really is more about the incense though. I feel like I should be drifting through an Abbey in linen vestaments when I'm wearing it.

That would be a sight, eh?

1:18 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I don't know if anyone cares, but something has come up and I will not be at ScentBar to meet Andy on Friday as I told several people I would. I'll be there at 5 on Thursday.

2:49 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aww...I was looking forward to seeing you there..:(

Anyway..have fun!!!

8:18 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I was looking to it too, but I got a last minute invite out of town. :=(

9:39 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice reviews all.
Have you tried the classic Caron pour un homme?
If you have, I'm curious about your views on the scent; if you haven't I fancy you'll enjoy it.

11:46 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


you are tempting me. I'll be hitting the shops on Broadway tomorrow...

12:20 AM EDT  
Blogger billssteelpeach said...

First I want to say, THANK YOU SO MUCH for this article listing other Perfume with Lavender notes. I want to add few you have not listed that your readers might want to explore.
1. HALLOWEEN - For over 10 years this has been my "signature Scent" it is by J. Del Pozo - Madrid Spain. it was Intoduced in 1997. The Fragance notes are floral iris, lime blossom, gardenia, mimosa, rose, lavender, a wonderful feminine scent.
2.Le Couvent des Minimes
Eau de Provence
Lavender & Acacia
This fragrance reminds you of the sparkling freshness of lavender fields on a sunny afternoon.
Delicate, femine and sophisticated scent that can be worn all day.
3. Bath and Body Works Aromatherapy Lavender Vanilla(Yes, I know some will think this should not be listed as "a real Fragrance" but it has a wonderful soothing scent. Made with essential oils of true Lavender and infused with Vanilla essence. When I was taking care of my grandchildren, they were always easier to get down for naps when I wore this scent.
4. Yes, another Bath and Body Works - Moonlight Path.
Lavender. Roses. Violets and musk. The heady scents of a garden at midnight are blended into this soft and sensual fragrance.
Fragrance Top Notes: Bergamot, Lavender, Mandarin, Coriander
Fragrance Mid Notes: Rose, Jasmine, Violet, Tuberose, Ylang, Lily of the Valley
Fragrance Base Notes: Sandalwood, Vetyver, Oakmoss, Vanilla, Amber, Musk

1:30 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Thanks! I will have to try these! That lavender and vanilla one sounds like it would put me down too! (and since I devoted am to more and better sleep, that's high praise!)

11:36 PM EDT  

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