Rêverie Au Jardin (Day-Dreaming In/By The Garden) is the latest creation by Zurich-based independent Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer. The designer took on the challenge of working on a very common perfumery note of lavender, pervasive enough to scent all types of toiletries, betting on bringing out its less well known aspects "....ranging from herbaceous, spicy green notes to sweet, clean flowers and woody, vibrant chords."
The perfume has notes of lavender (high altitude mountain lavender from France), galbanum, fir balm, bergamot, rose absolute, frankincense, ambrette seeds, orris, vetiver, tonka beans, oakmoss, vanilla, ambergris, sandalwood and cedar wood.
If Rêverie Au Jardin was initially conceived of as a study of the complex facets of lavender, the result, however, like the movement of day-dreaming itself, goes beyond that original point of focus to expand and reveal a prismatic balsamic, floral, and woody perfume that behaves like a gem carefully cut out by a lapidary master, with its multiple facets shining alternatively in the clear light of the day.
The explanation lies in part in the use of a high proportion of natural ingredients as those present a multi-facetted character. For example, rose absolute, which is used in the composition, contains something like 300 different components, with olfactory nuances ranging from violet to banana and grapefruit. But it does not suffice to point out this aspect. The layering of the notes in the scent creates for me the possibility of an alchemical experience and makes me enter the realm of magic, lightly step into a fairy-tale world in which the objects are the scintillating, gem-like counterparts of ordinary stones......
In order to secure these impressions, it is important to stress that this perfume, more than is commonly experienced, should be layered several times on the skin over the course of a few hours. With the help of time, it evolves and slowly transforms itself into the mesmerizing day-dreamt plumage of a lavender-tinted phoenix letting out a few amberey flames from under its cool grey ash and mauve colored feathers.
We initially asked Andy Tauer what he meant by "classical", a word he uses to refer to his new creation. The reason for this question is that we are probably more used to seeing the term next to names such as Guerlain, Patou, or Dior. We are also for the most part used to considering independent perfumers as not being primarily interested in classical creations, but rather at re-defining the parameters of what the art of perfumery can be, hence perhaps an assumed automatic disregard for "classicism" in the minds of creators and customers alike when it comes to so-called niche perfumes. Andy Tauer explained to us what he meant in reference to this word.
"I used classical in "classical fragrance" in a sense to describe an (artistic) style and methodology.
Rêverie au jardin is classical in the way it was created. Meaning: Not worrying about marketing focus groups (like perfumes 100 years ago were not tested on a pre-selected focus group of , let's say, 35 year old sub-urban women with two kids, successful in their job,etc.) and not worrying what people might expect of a scent based on lavender, not worrying about sales figures and return expected in 6 months. It was created only driven by an inner image of the perfumer. I happen to have this freedom. Rêverie au jardin is classical the way it is composed of ingredients (natural ingredients), that are hard to get in reasonable amounts for reasonable money. I do not expect it -by the way- to be a mass market product, simply for the fact that some ingredients are not really mass market suitable ingredients. Now, classical does not mean natural only, (juxtapositioned to synthetics only) it just means good, really good ingredients, a creative composition process where the perfumer has freedom to create what he/she wants, and maybe classical also means a scented picture that is drawn in a way perfumers used to draw 80 years ago."
Eighty years ago, in 1927, Arpège by Lanvin was created and in Rêverie Au Jardin one can find some of the same shimmering, scintillating qualities of the-little-universe-within-a-golden ball that is Arpège except that with Andy Tauer's scent, one thinks rather of something more décalé like a grey diamond opening unto an unknown magical world, one that is found behind the mirror. It also possesses, generally speaking, a more mysterious aura than Arpège, something more difficult to define. It is forever elusive, yet constantly present as the scent can be made to last forever through several applications that feel like bejeweled touches of perfecting colors and nuances thoughout the day.
The scent is very much alive as it changes its main nuances every time one wears it. It is kaleidoscopic, yet without feeling dispersed as our impression was of Mandarine-Mandarin by Serge Lutens. It is both a cool and warm scent.
It can start with a pastel grey-mauve rendition of lavender or with a blue-green dance between orris and pine or one betwixt bergamot, lavender, and amber, the latter "pas de trois" being reminiscent of 31 Rue Cambon by Chanel and of its particular ferny/mossy juxtaposition with amber. It can smell of mountain flowers and of a balsamic forest, then feel much more abstract with time. It can also evoke a cliff by the sea with balsamic pines battered by the winds as the lavender feels very airy. There are flour-like nuances making one think of fresh bread and of Bois Farine by L'Artisan Parfumeur. There are metallic nuances making one conjure up the sight of a hot iron. There are also dark nuances making one think of spicy treacle.
I suddenly associate the scent with the scenes on a cliff by the redwood forest in Vertigo by Hitchcock. This impression becomes more marked as the next stage becomes very reminiscent of La Fuite des Heures by Balenciaga, created by perfumer Germaine Cellier. It turns into that herbal-amberey womanly perfume of the 1950s with unconventional herbal anise and fennel accents that Madeleine in Vertigo could have worn very well (Andy Tauer told us that he is not familiar with the scent).
The base notes are so complex and abstract that it becomes difficult to imagine anything more concrete than a moiré-like material that undulates and changes color and texture as it unfolds.The bottom note is subtle and exquisite bringing out the ambrette seed and even dusty rose petals. It smells, simply put, surprisingly good, as it catches the perfume wearer unaware each time with its, prior to that moment, unspoken beauty.
Photos are from easher.com (12th century Abbaye de Senanque in Provence, France) and the movie Vertigo.