Thursday, April 26, 2012


I recently got my hands on 4 samples of Hermes' very exclusive Hermessence fragrances.  The official website has this to say:

"Hermessence. Sense, essence, essential. The essence of Hermes and the very soul of perfume. A collection of olfactory poems, with sobriety and intensity, which freely explore new facets of emotion. Nature reinvented, unexpected and poetic. Unique and surprising associations of the most noble elements of perfumery.

Jean-Claude Ellena, perfumer to the house of Hermes, has created this collection of fragrances for both men and women which touch the heart and speak directly to the senses."
I wish I had read this first.  I would have 'smelled' the hype and been prepared.

The first one I tried was Iris Ukiyoe.  It is certainly a more youthful Iris than the typical Iris based floral.  It's pleasant and girly.  Kind of innocent.  But all of these adjectives are not what you are looking for from a JCEllena/Hermes top shelf scent.  If I wanted girly/innocent/flowery I could find some very tolerable scents from L'Occitaine or Victoria Secret for that matter ( they really do have one or two worth  wearing).  Let's just say - not impressed.  Moving on...

Paprika Brasil.  Wow.  I need to be generous here...
Obviously when choosing paprika for a perfume one probably has the intention of being daring...or one is overcome with nostalgia for Aunt Olga's goulash.  It unfortunately leans to the latter.

Vetiver Tonka.  This one is wearable.  And unisex.  A little more mystery than the first two.  But again, definitely not 'the very soul of perfume'.   And all of these bottles look very manly.  I like the idea of packaging a unisex scent in two different bottles.  Same scent, but especially with the high price of this line it would have been nice to have a more feminine bottle available.

Rose Ikebana : 'a contrast between rose petal and crisp rhubarb'.  Actually my favorite of the bunch but not as successful as Dyptique's Eau Rose which combines rose and litchi. 

I guess my conclusion here is that while Jean Claude Ellena is a masterful nose, these scents are not living up to their own hype and not delivering the exquisite experience that seemed possible with this effort.  They are described as poetry but  come off more as nursery rhyme than Keat's love sonnet.  They are not challenging enough (except for the challenging price tag).  Well the search for art in every situation goes on and it's always worth the lesson learned.

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