Pack your trunks… Jungle l’Elephant by Kenzo The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

This isn’t the elephant in the room, nor is this the giant mammal in the jungle.

This beast commands the crowd, has its own palace and travels in splendour in the streets around the temple at the time of the festival.

This is the ceremonial Indian elephant. The Kerala pachyderm. Dressed up with somewhere to go.

From the very start of the proceedings the impression is overwhelming and impossible to ignore.

As if her enormous vanillic mass: metres high, tall and wide, were not enough there are her spiced up personal effects.

The ornaments and adornments of our lady of Guruvayur.

Golden head shields – nettipattam – glistening with clove oil. Bells and necklaces studded with mandarins and nectarines rendered in amber.

Atop her convex back the mahouts, her faithful attendants perch precariously holding silk parasols aloft – muttukuda – embroidered with the perfume of ylang ylang, gardenia and heliotrope.

Swaying white tufts – vencamaram – and peacock feather fans – alavattam – slice the air with scents of cardamon, caraway and cumin all to the rhythm of an ambulant orchestra.

This is chaos transubstantiated into communal devotion.

Personified in the glimmering deities some sons and daughters of the sahya carry on their circumnavigations.

This is spectacle beyond considerations of taste and the partialities of prickly western palettes.

This is, like the sub-continent itself, a vast sensuous vista of the sacredness and vulgarity of existence laid out like a feast.

This is a moment to put aside discernment and discretion.

This is a time only for surrender.

A great fashion editor once quipped that ‘pink is the navy blue of India’.

So Kenzo’s Jungle L’Elephant, for all we know, may be the eau de cologne of the sub-continent.


What to our noses is a great, brash, bold statement of sweet and spicy intent, may well seem as commonplace as cirise in a country where cardamon and cumin are mere condiments.

This is not a fragrance for the feint-hearted.

No caution has here been exercised in the deployment of great discordant symphonies of notes from mandarin, clove and caraway atop the stave through a middle section of exotic flowers to a dirty syrupy sweet and massively vast vanilla made darker with patchouli and saltier by amber in the base.

It would be easy to dismiss this scent as mad self indulgence put together with a poverty of ideas.

How wrong.

This incredibly amiable animal works to its own higher intelligence and a logic that is not circumscribed by notions of ‘neatness’ and ‘politesse’.

Catch it while you can for it may soon be sadly extinct.

I believe many of the pantheon of the Hindu faith some gods have neither sex, or both.

Can you guess who that fashion editor was and to what exactly she was referring?

The clue’s in the review.

Happy long weekending.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Pack your trunks… Jungle l’Elephant by Kenzo The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

  1. Lilybelle

    I LOVE Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant! For me it is all warmth and homeliness, like spicy rice pudding in grandmother’s kitchen, except that grandmother’s kitchen in this instance is someplace very different and more exotic than my own grandmother’s. I love all those colorful images. ^^^ I’ve never smelled the Tigre one. I think Le Tigre has become extinct by now. Lovely review, Mr. Dandy. Did Diana Vreeland say that, about pink being the navy blue of India?

    • Dearest Lily
      Isn’t Jungle l’Elephant just delicious!?!
      This was a totally unexpected discovery for me. Proof positive that vanilla can be grown up, exotic and absolutely unhinged all at the same time.
      It was indeed Diana Vreeland who (nearly) said that in very specific circumstances.
      Right. I really must get on with my packing…
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  2. brie

    I won’t even fathom to guess (and Lillybelle has already answered correctly :)!!) but I will say that I loved this review…have been meaning to try this one as it is a favorite of the Black Narcissus…sometimes discord can be quite lovely!

    • Dearest Brie
      Oh do try… I’m sure you will like it.
      In this case I think it’s the discord that makes the scent. It’s what prevents it from toppling over into an uncontrolled sickly-ness that I find can sometimes afflict so far as vanilla is concerned. My skin seems to amplify anything sweet, so The Dandy is quite radiant in this one I can assure you!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • brie

        He he! You are speaking to one who went so far as to wear vanilla extract on her alabaster wrists years ago when no commercial uber vanilla fragrances were available! Like Neil I am a vanilla fiend!

      • Dearest Brie!
        Now if extract there is anything like here you must have had amateur henna tattoos to go with your gorgeous scent!
        That is true devotion!
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  3. say it isn’t so…….it cannot be discontinued!!!!!!! I recieve many compliments when I wear this. A word of warning though….go easy on zee spritzes…..three is enough to keep one smelling fabulous all day I do have a back up..perhaps I need a second back up?
    .

    • Dear Saffy
      I’m afraid I think it might be. A very helpful SA I know has been trying to get an answer out of Kenzo for a while and they have gone from being unsure to downright negative about the prospects for the long term future of this particular natural habitat and the wild beast it supports.
      Jungles and elephants everywhere are at risk!
      Oh yes, point well made and taken about this perfume’s potency.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  4. ‘Twas my signature for a long while; I terrorized both myself and others with its monstrous clouds (the dry down used to smell fantastic on me). The beginning, though…..jeez…

    A gorgeous review, Mr Dandy!

    • Dearest Giza
      I rather like the opening… well, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I admire its ‘bravery’!!
      I can well see how this would be a vanilla-phile’s signature.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  5. As majestic and exotic as only one of your reviews can be… I just read that the reason plant extracts are so prevalent in perfume is because they smell like flesh (an attractive force) — the next time I stick my nose in my elbow and smell like a flower I’ll let you know 😉

  6. Very true that it’s not for the faint-hearted, but it is fantastic! And so happy to see it get some blog love! Thank you, dearest Dandy!

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