Hermes Eau des Merveilles and Parfum des Merveilles : Perfume Review

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Eau_des_merveilles

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Hermès Eau des Merveilles, created by Ralf Schwieger (the nose behind Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose) and Nathalie Feisthauer for Hermès in 2004, is a fragrance that catches by surprise. From the first accord, it vacillates between reflecting either the translucent amber and delicately sweet tobacco or sweet glow of citrus. Intertwined with the scintillating central accord is lily of the valley. The floral aspect is rather subtle, resembling a crushed flower stem caught in the driftwood on the beach, however it lends an interesting facet.

An inky note appears in the heart of the composition, and although slightly sharp at first, it develops into salty undercurrent, touched by dry peppery warmth.  The base notes glow through the translucent layers, creating a scent of sand and sun warmed skin, which remains rather subtle. The winey veil of ambergris is touched by a lush whisper of hyacinth, which is elusive, yet during certain moments, its sweetness appears suddenly, caressing and seductive, only to fold back into the base accords.

Where Eau des Merveilles is punctuated by the green coldness of lily of the valley, Parfum des Merveilles, which has debuted in the fall of 2005, has a warmer feel. The winey warmth that gives Eau des Merveilles its elegant twist is amplified in the extrait de parfum. The smooth cognac-like sweetness runs in a rich wave under the jeweled citrusy veil. Yet, the citrus is closer to candied variety than to fresh zest, which suits the composition well. Its dark woody notes become more pronounced as the fragrance develops, following similar patterns as Eau des Merveilles, but reinterpreting each point as darker and richer. While Eau des Merveilles is a scent of sun warmed skin, Parfum des Merveilles evokes a vision of driftwood covering the water’s edge on the solitary beach. In order to so, it does not resort to the typical marine notes. Instead, the salty undercurrent provides an elegant counterpoint that acts as an olfactory surprise against the warm notes, recalling a sensation of biting into a piece of salt water taffy.

Notes include elemi, bitter orange, Italian lemon, Indonesian pepper, pink pepper, “ambergris accord”, oakwood, cedarwood, vetiver, balsam of Peru, benzoin. Notice the lovely Serge Mansau designed bottle that is ornamented with silver stars and glitter against orange background. Eau des Merveilles and Parfum des Merveilles are available from Hermès boutiques, Neiman Marcus as well as other selected retailers. The former can also be easily obtained from various online stores.

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42 Comments

  • Karin: You have such a gift of description! I will have to retry this fragrance. October 6, 2005 at 8:27am Reply

  • lachezanne: A review des merveilles, V! Your description captures exactly what I love about Eau des Merveilles, and now I can’t wait to run to NM to test the new parfum. Since I think of EdM as a summer fragrance, it would be wonderful to have this for the cooler months. October 6, 2005 at 8:46am Reply

  • Laura: I ALMOST liked EdM so I’ll certainly try the new one. I’m most excited about their new osmanthus fragrance, though! October 6, 2005 at 10:25am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Karin, thank you for such a lovely comment. I rediscovered Eau des Merveilles after dismissing at first as too light and too subtle. However, I wore it last night, and I woke up this morning to discover that salty ambergris trace touched by hyacinth remaining. October 6, 2005 at 11:25am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Lachezanne, thank you! I actually discovered that Eau des Merveilles is a perfect autumnal fragrance, because it has a serene and almost melancholy air. Parfum is much richer, with darker wood notes. If you are like the EDT, you are bound to fall in love with the parfum.

    BTW, I could not find a tester of Doblis in my local NM. Will keep searching. October 6, 2005 at 11:31am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Laura, I think that you may find it very interesting. It has an almost classical dark element, which is balanced really well against the other notes.

    Like you, I am excited about Osmanthe Yunnan! October 6, 2005 at 11:33am Reply

  • Marina: Lovely review!! The smooth cognac-like sweetness, you say? I must sample the parfum then, because Eau de was a cold, pale, gray scent on my skin. I want some of that cognac thing you got from the parfum!! 🙂
    Bravo Ralf Schwieger for creating scents as different from each as Eau de Merveilles and Lipstick Rose (and again we are operating on the same wavelength here, V.!). October 6, 2005 at 11:35am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, where Eau des Merveilles starts out a bit sharp, Parfum des Merveilles is a cascade of soft notes. Did you see my bit on the limited edition from L’Artisan for ArArAt (Armenian cognac company)? I would have loved to smell that. October 6, 2005 at 11:52am Reply

  • mreenymo: These fragrances are both examples of the salty fragrances that J-CE claims he loves best, don’t you think, V? And, since these are both Hermes fragrances, one would think that he may have been the nose behind them…but he’s not. 🙂

    Hugs! October 6, 2005 at 12:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, you are right in pointing it out. I would imagine that when Eau des Merveilles was created, he was not yet the nose of the house. The salty element is definitely interesting. October 6, 2005 at 12:29pm Reply

  • linda: Wonderful reviews, V! Eau des Merveilles didn’t last on me. Is parfum longer lasting? October 6, 2005 at 12:41pm Reply

  • Marina: V., I remember seeing that post and salivating…I don’t think there is any chance I will ever get to try that Ararat perfume. They should send me some to sample though, they really should, my thesis dealt with Armenian Diaspora…I must be rewarded with at least a sample of Ararat. *pouts* October 6, 2005 at 12:43pm Reply

  • Robin: Must run off to Neiman Marcus and try this new concentration, V. I liked but did not love the original EdT. Agree that it “felt like” a JCE production though! October 6, 2005 at 12:44pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Linda, thank you. Parfum is definitely longer lasting, no doubt about it. I find EdM to be well lasting too, but it is definitely much more subtle in character than parfum. October 6, 2005 at 12:50pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, I shall be content with cognac though. However, I would be curious to learn what the fragrance is like! What was your thesis on exactly (in what discipline)? October 6, 2005 at 12:52pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, they have it, however it is not displayed yet. It is tucked away in the drawer and would be revealed only if you ask for it. 🙂 October 6, 2005 at 12:54pm Reply

  • Marina: Social Anthropology. Diaspora in USSR and Russia…
    *considers wearing cognac as a fragrance* October 6, 2005 at 12:56pm Reply

  • Sisonne: Dear V, what a lovely review! I don´t know both fragrances, but Parfum des Merveilles sounds more interesting to me than Eau des Merveilles, though I think I may have a sample of Eau de Merveilles somewhere…I´ve never paid any attention to it. After reading your review I´ll search for it 😉
    By the way: I´m just testing the 4 Hermessence fragrances – I really got samples:)!!! – & I love them! October 6, 2005 at 1:08pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Sounds absolutely fascinating! In fact, I would have loved to read it, if you are willing to share.

    Cognac as a fragrance… Hmmm, not a bad idea, although I worry how the alcoholic fumes might be perceived by others. 🙂 October 6, 2005 at 1:22pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, thank you. I am glad that I revisited Eau de Merveilles, because both the EDT and the parfum turned out to be quite interesting.

    I am very happy that you got samples! Which one is your favourite so far? October 6, 2005 at 1:23pm Reply

  • Laura/kyahgirl: I love reading your reviews V.
    I couldn’t love this scent when I tried it but you make it sound like heaven in a bottle!!
    Laura October 6, 2005 at 2:04pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, thank you. To me, it was wonderful (I love the salty-sweet element which runs through the entire composition like a leitmotif), however fragrance perceptions are subjective. I am sure there are plenty of other things you like! October 6, 2005 at 2:18pm Reply

  • Tara: I love love love the edt of EdM, can’t wait to try the parfum now that you have described it. The woods sound wonderful. BTW, if you need a liquid sample of Doblis let me know. October 6, 2005 at 5:16pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tara, in this case, you will definitely love Parfum. It is not unlike EdM, but softer in the top notes, as well as throughout the composition. October 6, 2005 at 5:27pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Your description has tempted me… I might zip over to Hermès between two fashion shows and try this one. It’s the salty part that got me. I’ve always love a touch of salt with the sweetness — in caramel, it’s so divine… Now, this is the post of a woman who’s had to subsist on two petits fours post show. *stomach growls* October 6, 2005 at 6:02pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, do get something to eat! I do know what the feeling is like really well. Whenever I am busy, I just forget about eating.

    As for a touch of saltiness, yes, it is just perfect. I also like to balance out the sweetness in some way. October 6, 2005 at 8:09pm Reply

  • julien: I guess Parfum des merveilles is made for me…lol
    It is very pleasant,indeed but extrait de parfum is too expansive for such a little quantity…what a pity!:(
    Well,otherwise,what can i say?
    It’s always lovely to read your comments …
    kisses dear.
    Julien. October 7, 2005 at 4:00am Reply

  • mireille: whenever I want to be reminded about how much I don’t yet know about fragrance, I come to you, V. What an amazing grasp you have of the language of scent. a wonderful review. xoxo October 7, 2005 at 1:10pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Thank you! I cannot wait to hear your thoughts, Julien. Parfum des Merveilles is quite wonderful, and it is very long lasting. However, yes, it is definitely very expensive. October 7, 2005 at 8:57pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, thank you for such a wonderful comment. Coming from a talented writer like you, it is a very special compliment indeed. October 7, 2005 at 8:58pm Reply

  • julien: By the way,i didn’t smell the extrait yet,but i did about l’eau des merveilles, the edt version and it is very good!!!
    Hespéridé,with amber and something young yet chic about it.
    Truly love it…This weekend i bought for myself Jicky and Shalimar(which is very leather on my man skin),i can’t buy all in one time!lol
    Kisses dear,promise you that when i would smell the extrait,i would tell you about it. October 9, 2005 at 10:24am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, that is a perfect description. I like the combination of amber and that sparkling note as well, and I cannot agree with you more on it being young and chic.

    Oh, Jicky and Shalimar are great choices. Enjoy them!

    Thank you! I look forward to hearing your thoughts. October 9, 2005 at 1:25pm Reply

  • Mercedes Rey: What can I say? I adore Eau des Merveilles from the beginning. For me, this is the kind of fragrance that you can wear in every occasion, working or partying, ha, ha,…Some people tell me it is a bit masculine, but I don´t think so. It´s one of the few fragrances that I re-buy again and again. Wonderful bath line, as well. November 28, 2005 at 1:14pm Reply

  • Mercedes Rey: What can I say? I adore Eau des Merveilles from the beginning. For me, this is the kind of fragrance that you can wear in every occasion, working or partying, ha, ha,…Some people tell me it is a bit masculine, but I don´t think so. It´s one of the few fragrances that I re-buy again and again. Wonderful bath line, as well. November 28, 2005 at 1:16pm Reply

  • Mercedes Rey: What can I say? I adore Eau des Merveilles from the beginning. For me, this is the kind of fragrance that you can wear in every occasion, working or partying, ha, ha,…Some people tell me it is a bit masculine, but I don´t think so. It´s one of the few fragrances that I re-buy again and again. Wonderful bath line, as well. November 28, 2005 at 1:17pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: It is a perfect ambergris fragrance, and I admire it very much. It even made my top 10 favourites list. Thank you for mentioning the bath line, which I have not explored yet. November 28, 2005 at 2:46pm Reply

  • Mercedes Rey: Hi, V! I would recommend you specially the bath and shower gel and the body milk. I also have the body cream, but, being much more expensive, I don´t think it is nearly as good as the milk, which is hydrating but no greasy at all. I love the top notes of cognac and wood. I only hope that nobody in my work would buy it, since they love it so much in me! (I must confess that I hate close people wearing the same scents as me). November 29, 2005 at 9:21am Reply

  • Sylvie: Hello,
    Thank you for the reviews! Since we have tastes in common, like Anisia Bella and Chevrefeuille, among others, I trusted you enough to buy EDM without sniffing it first and I am very happy I did. The only little problem is that during the dry-down it smells a bit like old lady perfume, but I re-spray it and it gets better. In fact, it smells better after a few layers have been sprayed. It’s like it gets very thin all of a sudden, with only a vaguely powdery scent… That lasts for a little while, and then the ambergris kicks in and it gets better… I have tried to find the perfume on the internet and I am not sure what it looks like; does it come in a rechargeable bottle which looks like it’s made of metal? Do they call it Eau Des Merveilles Pure Perfume? Do you think that there are chances that it will smell better during the dry down on me? Thanks,

    Sylvie January 25, 2007 at 5:22pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Sylvie, yes, it comes in a rechargeable bottle (metal) and it should be called Parfum des Merveilles or Eau des Merveilles pure perfume on some sites. I am not sure what note does not agree with your chemistry, but I think that if you like the top notes better, you will not enjoy the parfum as much. It is heavier and richer. Still, it is worth trying. January 25, 2007 at 5:45pm Reply

  • Sylvie: Thank you for your response! I tried Eau Des Merveilles on my boyfriend, and it smells perfect! I am so jealous! I think that my skin is too dry and the perfume sort of dies on me. He is darker than me and his skin is oilier; I am afraid that my skin is too dry, although in the summer it might work. The top notes seem to be the problem, so I will order the pure perfume. If I am not being too indiscreet, are you a brunette or a blond? Maybe you are in between like me?My boyfriend and I both have mid to light brown hair, but he tans easily(I don’t) and his complexion is naturally darker. Do you agree that some scents are geared towards dark skins and some towards light, and where would you put Eau des Merveilles, Parfum, and Elyxir? Thank you so much for your enlightened comments!

    Sylvie February 22, 2007 at 6:05pm Reply

  • RMF325: My favorite everyday scent; your talents for description are spectacular! April 18, 2011 at 2:20pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you so much!
    I agree, this fragrance is amazing and very original. April 18, 2011 at 2:28pm Reply

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