Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Jardins de Bagatelle

Oh, Jardins de Bagatelle, why do you torture me so? I know I'm missing your jasmine notes, but the rest of your composition is so lovely-why must you do this to me?

Every time, without fail. I don't understand it. There's nothing in your listed notes that would indicate hours of itchy, runny eyes, scratching in my throat, under my chin, nose like a running tap. I'd chalk it up to seasonal allergies, making excuses when I knew the result would be the same in December. I love this perfume so much, but it ain't worth taking antihistamines just to tolerate it.

Aldehydes, gardenia, and tuberose dominate Jardins de Bagatelle in the most beautiful way. The fragrance opens big with all those aldehydes, and then goes sweet with the tuberose in a way that is nothing short of magic. Whatever it is in JdB that sets off my allergies isn't in the opening-it takes a while to get down to the allergic onslaught. Yes, the bergamot is there as well (it is a rare Guerlain composition from the 20th century where it does not make an appearance) but it is hardly noticeable against that floral backdrop. In a moment the violet, rose, and orange blossom come through and the whole garden bottle is alive. Few perfumes bring me as much intense enjoyment as the first ten minutes of Jardins de Bagatelle. I am thankful for it. What follows is anything but pleasant.

I have a vintage bottle from the 80's, and it does seem different to me. There's oakmoss in it, though it is not listed in the notes for the modern formulation. There's orchid, which I don't think I could identify as a single note, novel as its use is in a composition such as Jardins de Bagatelle. What is it that's making me suffer so? I have no idea, but much as I love it, I'm afraid my days of wearing JdB are coming to an end-no perfume is worth the itching eyes this one induces. It is worse than being around cats (I'm severely allergic to cats).*

People describe Jardins de Bagatelle as a typical 80's floral, but I really must disagree. Sure, there's quite a bit in there but it is more than a vat filled with cut flowers competing for dominance. I remember the 80's, and there were some terrific floral fragrances, but there was/is only one Jardins de Bagatelle. That said, I wasn't crazy about it in the 80's as it felt a bit too complicated for me. White florals weren't my thing, and they never really did become my thing-but Jardins de Bagatelle is different.

I know it is an unpopular opinion (believe me, I'm full of them) but I like the bottle's squared off shape, fiddly cap and all. Years ago I had a small bottle of the JdB bath oil that I wore as a concentrated perfume, and though the bottle was slightly different, it too had a top that threatened to spill the whole thing at each application. Guerlain could do better on bottle stoppers (we won't discuss the sheer terror I experience each time I remove the stopper from my bottle of Guet Apens). Beautiful, yes, but not for the arthritic. Still, I like the overall design because it seems a contrast to the floral juice inside. I should note that the edp can also be found in a bee bottle, and hell, who's going to find fault with that?

Notes according to Fragrantica:

Aldehydes, violet, jasmine, bergamot, lemon, magnolia, ylang-ylang, lily of the valley, orange blossom, gardenia, orchid, tuberose, rose, narcissus, vetiver, musk, patchouli, cedar, and neroli.

Notes according to Goody:
Aldehydes, tuberose, oakmoss, vetiver, bergamot. I get woody, and white, and mostly tuberose. My brain gives up after the tuberose.

I'll be giving JdB a rest for a bit, and hopefully whatever it is that's making me so allergic will go away in time (unlikely, but still). This is a beautiful floral fragrance, suitable for an office and nearly any environment except perhaps the allergist's office.  I wish I could pin down what it is making me so allergic, but until that happens, or I get better management of my allergies, I'll be saying goodbye to Jardins de Bagatelle.

*I really like cats too, but I have enough sense to stay away from them.


Beth Waltz said...

I've been told by medicos that allergies to animals are a variety of reactions to dander, essentially "skin dust". Now you've got me wondering if your reactions are a response to a specific "plant dust/pollen"? (Are these allergies genetic? As for example, an allergy to nuts? Nuts are fruit seeds, sort of.)

A college chum suffered mightily from all sorts of unpleasant symptoms whenever she ventured near the campus stately pines in pollen season. Lately we've learned that sorghum, a grain raised locally for winter bird feeding, is equally offensive, as is the pollen of the male cedar trees that dot the rocky slopes of scenic southern Indiana. There's more than corn in Indiana...

Goody said...

@Beth Waltz

I was the only member of my family going back a few generations that had allergies of any sort (cats, nuts, seasonal grasses). Danny is nut allergic, but our allergist wasn't willing to go out on a limb and blame me for that ;)

For the most part, my allergies are better in Nebraska than anywhere else I've lived. Less trees, I guess. I'm still allergic to nuts, and cats, unfortunately.

"More than corn in Indiana". Yeah, but no one's allergic to sand dunes!
(growing up, I thought Indiana was covered in sand).

Connie said...

I believe that they often change the ingredients in so many fragrances. I do not claim to have a sophisticated nose like yours but I have a very strong sense of smell and I notice this sort of thing from time to time. They think we don't notice but we do. It pisses me off. They also changed the sizing on my favorite bra. Ils ont change ma chanson!

Goody said...


The fragrances (mostly) underwent reformulation around 2000 because of ingredients that were banned for being allergens, animal cruelty, etc. Sometimes an ingredient just becomes too expensive to continue using in quantity (oud, ambergris, etc.). Changing the bra sizing is outrageous! Could it be quality control issues? I've bought two identical bras and had them fit differently. Connie, what has this world come to? I swear, if you and I were running things...I suppose the world isn't ready for that much efficiency!

Mim said...

It really is a beauty, that one.

In the Guerlain store they have china domes impregnated with the original formulae of various scents to sniff, and while most modern versions compare pretty well to the originals, the version of L'Heure Bleu available now is appallingly different, 'thanks' to the tighter ingredients regulations. JdB seemed relatively little changed - though I was going on the smell inside a porcelain dome, not on skin.

Goody said...

So I've gotta ask...did they have Terracotta in a terracotta dome?
L'Heure Blue always smelled "off" to me-like a violet scented hair spray. It wasn't until I got hold of a decant of the vintage that I understood the difference. I still don't love it, but at least I sort of understand the appeal of it.

I'm intrigued by the domes.