Three gleaming black laths stand side by side at the threshold, like so many “ancestor totems” in a Japanese Shinto temple. A means to bar the way in, certainly, but also to catch our attention and draw our eye, only letting the light within filter through the few narrow breaks between them.
Inside, an intimate blackness awaits – an asphalt pathway, its oddly sensuous matt surface in marked contrast to a desert composed of flakes of shimmering black mica. A few rocks are strewn here and there, their black surfaces asparkle, along with explosions of white flowers interspersed with a scattering of red blooms, unfurling their petals as the days and weeks pass. Further off, the intriguing thatch of a forest of coal-black ophiopogons mixes with the ingenuous whiteness of China asters… and then, as if sprung from the volcanic soil, four majestic trees spread their branches, guardians of passion decked in fiery red, wood brought to life under the scalpel and the messages of imaginary lovers.
Hidden away in the heart of this haven of mystery and meditation, a perfumed fountain, its waters falling into a crystal-clear white pool surrounded by sparkling black walls, distils its bewitching scents as days and nights succeed one another, an all-transforming love potion created by the perfumer Francis Kurkdjian as a gift to all the “Yous” and “Mes”, to celebrate that ineffable spark when two pairs of eyes first meet, that sacred union of all the senses.
A few benches are set around this water mirror, dedicated to contemplation and to the wonder of feeling and seeing anew, and protected by the benevolent shadow cast by screens of black bamboo. And finally, for those who are drawn to commune more closely with this wondrous spring, a shallow clearing hollowed out alongside the pool enables them to reach out and brush the surface of its magic waters, almost to caress their delicate fragrance…
Nicolas Degennes – Creation and staging
Francis Kurkdjian – Perfuming of the fountain
Production – Parfums Givenchy
Nicolas Degennes au Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, 2012 - © E. Sander
Artistic Director of Makeup and Colours at Parfums Givenchy for over ten years, Nicolas Degennes knows above all how to capture the spirit of the times – a true creator of imaginary and sensorial wonders. He designed this garden as a palette of colours and materials, a world of synaesthesised perception where every sense comes together, blending into one to carry us off into a nature that overflows the confines of reality.