Hermes Terre d’Hermes : Fragrance Review

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Klee_crystal_gradation

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

Terre d’Hermès proves that the best non-niche releases over the past year are taking places in the masculine perfumery. Dior Homme, an iris wrapped into warm, sweet leather, Lanvin Arpege Pour Homme, a velvety violet-iris fougere are among some of the recent examples. Likewise, the new fragrance by Jean-Claude Ellena, Terre d’Hermès, has a number of qualities that make it exceptional—chiseled refinement of its elegant structure, unconventional, transparent take on the woody notes and remarkable quality of its ingredients. The composition conjures the intensity of sunlight reflected against the white stones of Roman ruins.

Jean-Claude Ellena’s theme of multifaceted transparency explored in his other creations, from Cartier Déclaration to Hermès Un Jardin sur le Nil, will be immediately recognizable in Terre d’Hermès. Nevertheless, it seems as if the theme has received further polish, luminosity and elegance. …

Its leitmotif of dry radiance is introduced by the citrus notes which sparkle like crystals embedded in white marble. The clarity is extended by the slightly herbaceous green notes and the crisp silk of woods and vetiver.

Unconventionally, instead of arranging the composition into a classical masculine triptych of citrus, woods and musk, Ellena eschews the latter altogether. Instead, the mineral dust binds the entire arrangement, suspending the light and preserving the sensation of being dazzled by the sun.

Art does not reproduce the visible, it makes visible,” wrote one of my favorite expressionist painters, Paul Klee. Terre d’Hermès does not smell of anything readily identifiable in nature, yet it allows a glimpse into a dream conjured by the perfumer’s imagination. The denomination of the fragrance as masculine should not prevent women from trying it, especially if they are partial to Ellena’s fragrances. The nutty vetiver note that I loved so much about Vétiver Tonka, comprises the base of Terre d’Hermès. However, while Vétiver Tonka is a short story, Terre d’Hermès is a full-length novel.

Terre d’Hermès notes include grapefruit, orange, flint, pepper, pink pepper, geranium, patchouli, cedar, vetiver, and benzoin. Certain Hermès fragrances including Terre d’Hermès are available directly from Hermès website. Also, the website might be helpful to find a boutique near you.

Painting: Paul Klee. Crystal Gradation. 1921. Watercolor. Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland. from abcgallery.com

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44 Comments

  • helg: Great news and review V!
    You know I am an Ellena fan and this : “while Vétiver Tonka is a short story, Terre d’Hermès is a full-length novel” ,makes me want to try it ASAP. It’s one of the most anticipated launches. Thanks for the elaborate description.
    Dior Homme was indeed a masculine that is to die for : pure elegance and completely unique. For a change! ( in men’s at least) March 20, 2006 at 4:48am Reply

  • marchlion: You make it sound wonderful, I will have to smell it, skipping the musk for the dust sounds like a briliant idea. I know you’re so busy, could you give me just a 30-second impression of Arpege Homme? I found it absolutely entrancing. Why does it smell so unconventional? March 20, 2006 at 7:33am Reply

  • Laura: Another intriguing-sounding scent! Of course, you could make the aura left in the kitchen after cooking Bolognese sauce smell luxurious and desirable ;D. What, pray tell, is flint—as a note in perfume, I mean? March 20, 2006 at 8:38am Reply

  • Marina: Wonderful review! I have a sample coming and cannot wait to finally try this. From the moment I heard about Td’H, for some reason I thought I was going to love it. We’ll see…:-) March 20, 2006 at 8:48am Reply

  • annE: Thank you for the review, V! This one has been at the top of my “must sample” list for a while now, and of course, your description has done nothing to change this position. 🙂 I especially loved your quote from Klee, and the phrase “chiseled refinement.”
    Although some of Ellena’s fragrances fall a bit short for me, I greatly admire his artistic vision. He manages to keep its entegrity while creating accessible and popular scents. Not a small feat. March 20, 2006 at 9:04am Reply

  • Helene: A beautiful review! I don’t even need to smell the scent, I just need to read about it. March 20, 2006 at 10:42am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: E, I was a bit disappointed with Jardin sur le Nil–lovely, but a little on the conventional side (perhaps, it is just because fruity is so overdone these days). Therefore, I was hoping for something interesting from the next big launch. Terre d’Hermes is certainly that! March 20, 2006 at 11:09am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, skipping musk is definitely a great idea. It makes the entire composition transparent. Very special. If you click on Lanvin Arpege Pour Homme above, it should take you to my review of it. It started out as a feminine fragrance, however Olivier Pescheux made it into a masculine. Very unusual! March 20, 2006 at 11:11am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, Bolognese sauce does smell luxurious and desirable! Especially right now, since it is nearing the lunch time. 🙂 Flint as a perfume note is probably more realistic than “girl dreaming about sea accord” and orange Siberian iris. It smells the way stones do when you rub them against each other. Quite interesting. March 20, 2006 at 11:14am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, knowing your tastes a little, I honestly cannot say whether you would like it or not. However, it is definitely worth trying. March 20, 2006 at 11:15am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ann, I think that you hit the nail on the head when you said that “He manages to keep its entegrity while creating accessible and popular scents. Not a small feat.” Cannot agree more! His fragrances are very easy to understand, but this does not compromise their artistic value and originality. I am very pleased that Hermes decided to appoint him as the in-house perfumer. Perhaps, we shall see some large scale releases that are actually great. March 20, 2006 at 11:21am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Helene, thank you! And yet, I would encourage you to try it. It is a wonderful fragrance. March 20, 2006 at 11:22am Reply

  • Judith (lilybp): Very interested in trying this! There seems to be some controversy about it over at Basenotes; some there do not like it at all. But I have been enjoying both Ellena and Hermes lately, so . . .(just got some parfum des merveilles and I love it:) March 20, 2006 at 12:23pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: J, I saw it earlier! Very interesting to see a range of opinions. I think that there are a number of ways to look at it. Of course, Terre d’Hermes is not the glorious Equipage or Bel Ami, but in the context of the modern perfumery, it is a very welcome release. It is different–fresh, yet substantial, transparent, yet lingering. It does not play the cliches of citrusy masculines colognes, despite being a citrus-woody fragrance. I do not feel that it is redundant in Ellen’a collection of fragrances, but for me, this release tops scores of forgettable others from houses that should do better. I am very much enjoying it.

    I also wanted to add that yes, I can see where the comparison to Un Jardin sur le Nil comes from, however Terre d’Hermes is without a doubt superior to it. If progress is defined by building on the existing theme and making it better, then it is definitely the case with Terre. March 20, 2006 at 12:31pm Reply

  • marchlion: V, of course, I’d forgotten you’d reviewed Arpege pour Homme… The first time I smelled it I was in Nordstrom sampling things next to a nice man who was looking for something new and different for a big date. The sales associate and I tried (unsuccessfully, I think) to bully him into getting the Arpege. He was pretty firmly convinced that Arpege was for women, and was not sure this new cologne was manly enough, even though we told him we’d loooooove to smell it on a man! March 20, 2006 at 1:32pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, I myself forget what I reviewed. 🙂 I think that Arpege would be great on a man. I do not wear it often, because fougere types always strike me as a bit too masculine for my liking, however it is great. March 20, 2006 at 2:14pm Reply

  • Robin: Lovely review, V. Like J, was very interested in some of the negative comments on the basenotes forum, and am most interested to see if this turns out to be a big seller or not. March 20, 2006 at 2:42pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, time will tell, I suppose. I think that given the Hermes range, it is a good addition. Most of the masculines are rather rich, therefore the diversification is a good thing, especially since the fragrance is well-made, in my opinion. March 20, 2006 at 2:50pm Reply

  • MarkDavid: Hi V! Great review, I’m wearing this today and have been smelling my arm nonstop. I can’t really pinpoint what I love best about this fragrance, but I seem to be attracted to fragrances that use Benzoin, I’ve noticed a trend with what I’ve been purchasing lately. March 20, 2006 at 5:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mark, if you like benzoin, then you probably enjoy many of Lutens’ fragrances, because a number of them use benzoin in their bases. I also like when it is subtle enough to give a velvety softness, without overtaking the composition with its incensey vanilla scent. I love the drydown of Terre d’Hermes–smooth woods, with just a touch of delicate sweetness. March 20, 2006 at 5:58pm Reply

  • MarkDavid: V, I have not tried a single Luten’s fragrance yet. I know, it’s sad, isn’t it? I’ve been meaning to, really I have. I fear getting into yet another line of fragrances will be very costly. Oy.

    I too love the drydown, but I think I love every stage of this fragrance equally. I think it’s just fantastic. March 21, 2006 at 1:13am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mark, hey, I understand what you mean. However, I still cannot prevent myself from naming a few favourites of mine anyway–Chene, Bois de Violette, La Myrrhe, Borneo 1834 and Rose de Nuit. I do not like everything in the line (as to be expected), but there are a number of fragrances that alone make Lutens a line I would recommend exploring. The export line also has a few interesting creations, and one of them is Ambre Sultan. Is this devious of me? 🙂 March 21, 2006 at 1:29am Reply

  • Donna: I have not tried it, but now I am even more curious. I didn’t like Jardin sur le Nil that much. Would I still like Terre d’Hermes? March 21, 2006 at 2:02pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, I cannot email you back. My message bounced back. I am not sure what is the matter. Typepad has been a mess over the past couple of days. I can see your comment, “I have not tried it, but now I am even more curious. I didn’t like Jardin sur le Nil that much. Would I still like Terre d’Hermes?” Nothing else. I myself just tried to post a comment, but it did not work. Try again later or just do Ctrl+F5 to do a hard refresh.

    To answer your question, I think that Terre is more interesting. Take a look at reviews on Basenotes, because there are some negative opinions that should be helpful to read. March 21, 2006 at 2:29pm Reply

  • Tara: I tested Terre d’Hermes this weekend and I am enthralled. It is my favorite JC Ellena release in a long time, and I loved Un Jardin sur le Nil. But I think this one is even better. Your description is so apt: fresh, yet substantial, transparent, yet lingering. I am also a big fan of benzoin and Serge Lutens, so it’s right up my alley. I think it will be very successful for Hermes. Smelling it, I can see the rocky hills of Provence and feel the warm stones. March 21, 2006 at 7:09pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tara, yes, I am happy with it, and I especially love Terre d’Hermes after the first hour. It really seems to unfold and lose the sharpness of the acidic top notes. I think that First and Vetiver Tonka were always my favourite Ellena fragrances (or at least, they are the ones I wear most often). However, Terre d’Hermes has all of the qualities I love about Ellena’s work and more, so it is a contender. March 21, 2006 at 10:10pm Reply

  • violetnoir: I received a large sample of this from a lovely fragrance friend. You know me–I usually do not wear men’s fragrances. But this…oh, this is gorgeous! I love the way the citrus melds with the vetiver.

    Seemless!

    Hugs and love! March 22, 2006 at 11:46am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I am glad you liked it. I think that it is definitely a seamless composition. The top notes have this sharp acidity, and yet the rest of the development is anything but dissonant. Today I am wearing another Hermes–Rocabar. It is, of course, more obviously masculine and very different from Terre d’Hermes, but it is just excellent. All in all, I love the entire line, from feminines (esp. Caleche and 24, Faubourg) to masculines. March 22, 2006 at 11:54am Reply

  • biagio: lately the only fragrances in the male range that impressed me more than the others millions pulpish male frags produced are dior homme ,arpege pour homme,and this beautiful terre d’hermes undoubtedly better than le jardin sur le nil that i’ve bought but i dont like at all the very unpowerfull sillage and the affinity with my skin icall it the ghost perfume cos i didnt smell it at all March 24, 2006 at 9:51am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Biagio, I agree. I definitely prefer Terre d’Hermes over Un Jardin sur le Nil. I seem to like Ellena’s work the further it develops, although I love Van Cleef & Arpels First, which is one of his own first major fragrances. It still remains among my favourites. March 25, 2006 at 1:09am Reply

  • biagio: first is one of the frag i’m very tempted to buy do you think is one of the so called super feminine or it could be suitable even for a man? i ask you this cos i didnt have the chance to smell it March 25, 2006 at 5:45am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Biagio, it depends on what you wear. First is a floral aldehydic fragrances, with a pronounced jasmine note. I have never smelled it on a man, but I wonder what it might be like. I think that it is one of the most beautiful fragrances. I have a review of it in my review index. March 25, 2006 at 3:52pm Reply

  • biagio: thank you so much.i read your reviews and im very tempted, honestly i have to say that i collect all your reviews and i ve made a little treasure album fragrance reviews thati constantly read cos i just want to learn the more i can about perfumes ,i hope one day you will publish a book of yours it would be great March 26, 2006 at 3:51am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Biagio, thank you very much! 🙂 I am glad to hear this. If I ever do publish, it will be because of all the support for this proposition I get from my readers.

    Let me know how First works on you when you try it. I think that jasmine is one of those scents that might be great on a man. March 26, 2006 at 11:42pm Reply

  • biagio: jasmine it’s my most beloved and reminiscent flower after rose ,it makes me reminds of my homeland when i was a child in sicily ,i use to stay in my grandparents garden and it was full of jasmines and calla the smell was great ,my granmother use to put a lot of jasmine flowers in the ashtrays and her house its always permeated of jasmine effluves March 28, 2006 at 3:10am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Biagio, I also love jasmine and rose. They are definitely two of my favourite flowers, although tuberose comes close. I have studied in Italy and then spent a fair amount of time there, and although I have never been to Sicily, I always wanted to go. One of my Italian friends used to make the most delicious gelato al gelsomino, which I loved. The taste of jasmine in that ice-cream was heavenly, not to mention the aroma. March 28, 2006 at 9:26pm Reply

  • sam: I just got some Terre d’Hermes. At first, I didn’t like it at all. Way, way too feminine for me (as a guy). But after about ten minutes, the scent is really starting to grow on me. I’ll reserve judgement for another hour or so. December 29, 2006 at 4:33pm Reply

  • Rita: I was in Paris 2 yrs ago and purchased the following cologne: L’eau Qui Pique or Eau Qui Pique. I want to get another bottle of this but cannot remember where I purchased it. I know that it was created by Olivia Giacobetti. Can anyone help me? It is special to me because I purchased it while on my honeymoon. December 1, 2007 at 1:42pm Reply

  • Jordi: I come to Terre many years later after it has already proved to be a modern classic, my first love in perfumes and the one to blame for my perfume addiction.

    I love how it’s citrusy start is not overly fruity more like a bitter/sweet orange if that makes any sense. And the evolution gets simply better from there. I only have one issue with it, after a rather short time I literally can’t smell it, it’s gone. I read it might be due to a mollecule called Iso-E-Super. I have the same issue with poivre Samarcande which happens to be known to have that mollecule too.

    It might be all just one of those misconceptions in perfumes like the mollecule crushing.

    Any way Terre d’Hermes is one of the candidates for my signature scent.

    PS I love your reviews Victoria, I keep digging in the archives to discover and learn! October 2, 2014 at 5:08am Reply

    • Victoria: Can you ask someone if they can smell it on you? It’s possible that you simply get used to it. I have this happen with some fragrances too, incidentally, with some of my favorites. But others can smell them, and I can smell them after I take a break. Not overapplying also help, interesting enough.

      Thank you, Jordi! I’m very glad to hear it. 🙂 October 2, 2014 at 7:49am Reply

  • Jordi: I asked one of my coworkers who spends more time with me and she mentioned a couple interesting things.

    One she mentioned that I always smell nice in the morning meetings which was a surprise since I cant smell anything on me by then 3 hours after I left home.

    The other thing she mentioned is she preferred what I had been using lately more than my usual perfume. These days I have been playing with Hermessences so thats what she liked over my usual TdH.

    It really helps when other speak their minds about our fragances since we can affect their day with our smell which makes me more cautious to not overapply but at the same time enjoying I can leave a print in their days like a pleasabt smell in a meeting October 3, 2014 at 7:23am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s some great feedback! If you wear Vetiver Tonka around her, then I understand why she loved it. 🙂 I get so many compliments on that perfume, and a male friend who wears it said that a woman once asked him in the street what fragrance he wore. But the whole collection is beautiful. Which ones do you like the most? October 3, 2014 at 11:19am Reply

      • Jordi: I bought the 4x15ml coffrette with vetiver tonka, brin de reglisse, poivre samarcande and epice marine. Vetiver tonka and brin de reglisse were instant wow the first time i smelled them. I feel like something is missing when i am not wearing vetiver tonka and brin brings me great memories of my childhood sharin the love for licorice with my mother.

        I got 2x4ml samples from the hermes boutique that day of santal massoia and osmanthe yunnan which i still need to try.

        I am amazed with this line of perfumes I feel I could find use to each one of them 12. In general I think I qualify for J.C Ellena fan 😛 October 3, 2014 at 6:12pm Reply

        • Victoria: There is something wistful about his perfumes, and I like the way Ellena pairs materials and accords. There is often a surprise, something to discover, and I enjoy trying his work very much.

          Osmanthe Yunnan is my favorite Hermessence (right now; it always changes), but I also love the new Cuir d’Ange. October 4, 2014 at 4:40am Reply

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