Hermes Equipage : Fragrance Review

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Equipage

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

Fougère and chypre are the fragrance families that share some similarities in their classical interpretations, the main of which is the reliance on the fresh top notes and the somber richness of patchouli and oakmoss in the base, which result in a surprising juxtaposition of sensations. While both possess quintessentially masculine notes, the fougères tend to be more common in men’s fragrances. Indeed, masculine perfumery includes plenty run of the mill fougères (usually copies of highly successful Cool Water by Davidoff), which are so ubiquitous that one can hardly be excited by them. Yet, the best of this category present such a fascinating olfactory journey that they must be tried just for that experience. Such is Equipage, created by Guy Robert and Jean-Louis Sieuzac in 1970 for Hermès. The list of fragrances attributed to these perfumers reads like a compilation of perfume legends: Robert created Hermès Calèche, Christian Dior Dioressence, Madame Rochas; and Christian Dior Dune, Fahrenheit, Yves Saint Laurent Opium were composed by Sieuzac. Not surprisingly, Equipage is another treasure.

Equipage has a multifaceted top accord spilling in cascades of sweet spices accented by the slightly medicinal pungency of herbs. The dominant note of clove gently merges into the floral softness of carnation, slowly leading one into the chilled cavern of vetiver and oakmoss. The duskiness of the base set against the radiance of spices conjures a vision of sunshine refracted through the opaque glass of old churches–its glow is dimmed, and yet it is enough to illuminate the outlines of the kneeling figures painted in burnished gold.

Equipage has a conservative air, restrained and elegant. The lush note of carnation blossoming in its heart adds a floral touch that prevents the composition from attaining an overly virile presence. It is a great fragrance, and although it’s marketed to men, it can be worn by women too.

Equipage was relaunched in 1992, and while the formula has not been changed dramatically, it is softer than my older version. As I compare them side by side, I notice more leather and oakmoss in the 1980s edition, while the new sample is mellower. Either way, it is a great example of the elegance and complex beauty of classical fougères.

Equipage features notes of marjoram, clary sage, tarragon, carnation, lily of the valley, cinnamon, pine needles, hyssop, liatris, patchouli, vetiver, oakmoss, amber, coumarin, and tonka bean. It is sold at the Hermès boutiques and other retailers carrying the line, such Neiman Marcus.

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18 Comments

  • Laura: This sounds perfectly wonderful—yes, classical Hermes ARE slightly conservative, restrained and elegant. I would love to sample this. The list of notes is exciting! As I’ve mentioned before, my favorite newly released scent is Terre d’Hermes, which we got for D in Paris. I’m so envious of him. At any rate, this sounds like another Hermes winner! June 1, 2006 at 5:38am Reply

  • Nick: I am a huge fan of Guy Robert’s perfumes. I would love for him to do a perfume for
    Frederic Malle. If anyone has friends in high places, please pass this suggestion on!!! June 1, 2006 at 7:26am Reply

  • Marina: Sounds wonderful. I am slowly discovering and re-discivering the Hermes fragrances, and the thing is…everything I smell I like. I don’t think there is a scent in their line that I wouldn’t wear. Well, 24 Faubourg is a challenge for me to wear, but still… June 1, 2006 at 8:56am Reply

  • Robin: Lovely review of a really wonderful fragrance. You’ve inspired me to drag out my sample again, and one of these days I’ll have to buy a real bottle. June 1, 2006 at 2:32pm Reply

  • minette: Thank you for showcasing my favorite men’s scent, which I also love to wear, though it’s even sexier and oh-so-classy on men. June 1, 2006 at 2:51pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, it has a great carnation note, which is what probably makes it interesting to me. In general, I cannot think of a single Hermes I dislike. Well, I am not as fond of Rouge as I used to think I was. June 1, 2006 at 6:18pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Nick, now that would be great! He has done some great work for Amouage as well. I love nearly everything he has created. June 1, 2006 at 6:21pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, Equipage is great–lots of character and a wonderful signature. What more can one ask for? June 1, 2006 at 6:22pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I am glad to hear this! It is a fragrance I cannot imagine being without. I love to study how it unfolds on the skin–from the agrestic burst in the top notes to warm spices, to soft carnation, to seductive vetiver… June 1, 2006 at 6:24pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Minette, I am glad to see another woman enjoying this remarkable classic. I agree with you that on a man it is stunning and very sexy. June 1, 2006 at 6:25pm Reply

  • marchlion: Victoria, I’ve not tried this one, and now that you have highlighted the carnation I will do so, even though I am a little afraid of the vetiver lurking nearby…

    Also, is it possible that they have changed the formulation of 24, Faubourg recently (or an ingredient?) I tried on my mother-in-law’s bottle yesterday, which she’s had for some time, and either I’m losing my mind or it’s sweeter than I remember. I offered the bottle to my sister-in-law (we are tidying up the house) and the face she made! I had no idea how much she disliked it. Well, then, it’s mine.:-) June 1, 2006 at 8:00pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, it does have plenty of vetiver, therefore I doubt that you would like it enough to wear it. However, you might admire it nevertheless.

    I would not be surprised if 24, Faubourg has been tweaked. Caleche certainly was. I have a bottle of EDP from a couple of years ago, but I have not tried anything more recent. June 2, 2006 at 12:15am Reply

  • SF: Mystery solved! The reason I never see it at home is because it’s men’s perfume, and I generally look at the women’s counters, whereas in airports they put all the perfume together.

    That being said, I think it’s excellent for a woman, in the Chanel No. 19 “cold-hearted bitch” way. Since Chanel No. 19 tends to smell putrid with my body chemistry, maybe I will buy a bottle for when I need to destroy my frenemy’s life. 🙂 October 23, 2011 at 10:19pm Reply

  • Clay: i just got this. I smelled it when I was wating for my flight home in Heathrow and could not find it in Canada. finally, i got it at Hermes in Calgary. one has to take this scent in strides. not the kind to bathe in for sure. Unlike Terr d’hermes, this one stays all day and soften as the day goes. December 19, 2011 at 12:41am Reply

  • Ferris: I have to try this one next time I’m at Nordstrom’s. October 22, 2012 at 11:03am Reply

  • Farnas: What do you think,is Equipage a really sexy fragrance?I know it can be a silly question,but o ‘ve been always wondering this because it is so tastefull and neat,and..i don’t know,i need a confirmation from a woman!:))Is it sexier than Terre? December 5, 2014 at 8:09am Reply

  • john: Hi Victoria,
    Please forgive my posting on an old review, but I’m wondering if you’ve tried the reformulation of Equipage, or its cousin, Equipage Geranium? I have not smelled the vintage, but some say the Geranium flanker is more true to form — I’d be curious to hear your opinion.
    Thanks, November 19, 2016 at 12:25am Reply

    • Victoria: I have, and while I don’t think that the Geranium flanker is close to the vintage–it’s so much lighter, brighter, with a fresher top, it’s excellent and is true to the spirit of the original. At one point Equipage started getting too heavy and awkward, because of the constant reformulations, but today it’s much better. November 21, 2016 at 3:50am Reply

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