Hermes Doblis : Perfume Review

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Doblis

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

The trend of bespoke perfumery which has been growing steadily over the past few years has never interested me much. After all, almost the entire classical Guerlain line feels as if it were custom made to reflect my taste, from the bittersweet beauty of Après l’Ondée to the windswept elegance of Sous Le Vent. Yet, if I were to name my ideal fragrance, it would be Hermès Doblis. Its soft and gilded presence is always perfect, notwithstanding my mood or the occasion for which it can be worn. The harmony of the composition is almost mesmerizing. From the camomile accented aldehydic top notes that brush like warm sand against the skin to the supple leather base, Doblis never loses its luminousity. If it were music, Doblis would be Beethoven’s Cello Suites. If it were a painting, Doblis would be Raphael’s Fornarina. …

Doblis was created in 1955 by Guy Robert, a perfumer whose portfolio is quite dazzling : Hermès Equipage and Calèche, Christian Dior Dioressence, Madame Rochas, Gucci No 1, Amouage Gold, and several hundred others. Its birth foreshadowed the establishment of Parfums Hermès ; previously the Hermès company was renowned for saddlery, silk and luxury leather goods. With the launch of Parfums Hermès and the debut of the beautiful Calèche, Doblis sank into oblivion. Yet, in 2004, the company brought it back to life with the help of Guy Robert’s son, François Robert (the creator of many Les Parfums de Rosine fragances and Lanvin Vétyver).

The reformulated Doblis is just as breathtaking as its original counterpart. Its graceful form exemplifies the best of the French perfumery tradition—seamless orchestration, effortless elegance, and understated seduction. Its aldehydic top notes which are marked with Guy Robert’s polished touch fall onto a silky floral heart. The warmth of camomile is a perfect ornamentation for the rich rose, accenting its honeyed facets and balancing out the sweetness. The leather base is simply exquisite—tender and buttery like a calfskin glove, seductive like a sip of cognac and lustrous like a pearl. The leather is blended with woods, musk and moss, resulting in the weightless foundation for the rose-jasmine heart of Doblis.

While the mossy chill of Doblis recalls the refined beauty of Calèche, the smoldering animalic notes give the composition a completely different character. Doblis seems to straddle the line between a handsome classical chypre and a sumptuous woody oriental, presenting different aspects of its arrangement as time goes on. Doblis almost imperceptibly transforms from breezy airiness to seductive darkness. Revisiting it only heightens my love for Doblis, its beauty serving as a perfect antidote to the daily routine.

Doblis used to be sold at select Hermès boutiques, though right now auction houses are the best places to find it.

Photo of striking 1955 Doblis edition via Jaime L.

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50 Comments

  • Madelyn E: Dear Vctoria,
    I am now in a state of anticipated olfactory ecstacy due to your seductive ,come niw or ever review of an all time classic – Must-Have …Hermes Doblis 1 Yes, v.. I am now salivating over the prospecy that such a perfume actually exists. Jasmine-rose heart. woody-moosy leather drydown,,,Her I come baby.
    This review V was written with a godlike hand – presiding over you like an invisible godfather fiercing protection his charge. Your words are gilded –just likw you- dear V.
    Anyway, now that I am utterly and irresponsibly hooked – by your descriptive genius.
    Dear V. pray tell.exactly how can I get this bottle /what website, etc What phone number ? I am ready, able willing but exactly how ?
    MadelynE November 29, 2006 at 2:56am Reply

  • carmencanada: Victoria, that’s no fair. Tempting us with something so out of reach. Doesn’t even the maison-mère on Fg St-Hononé sell it? Just when I’d decided to tempt the ultimate chic leather experience by saving up for Cuir de Russie extrait…
    Bises,
    D. November 29, 2006 at 2:58am Reply

  • Lisa Carol: Oh Victoria, thank you! After hearing so much about the wonders of Doblis, your lovely review is like the nail in the coffin… Must. Have. I keep thinking of vintage Madame Rochas, adding leather…sounds like an absolute dream come true, or the answer to all prayers. How does it compare to Cuir de Russie? November 29, 2006 at 4:08am Reply

  • aryse: Every day, I can see I know nothing (arghhhhh).

    It’s a shame.I didn’t know DOBLIS.It is very sad because reading your wonderful description of this fragrance, I saw how much it was beautiful and great (especially for I loving leathers perfumes).Many thanks Victoria….

    So, I started to find it but that seems very difficult.I phoned to the HERMES SHOP in Paris (I am french) and they said : DOBLIS is discontinued forever.
    But, it’s only the beginning of my search 🙂 November 29, 2006 at 5:54am Reply

  • chayaruchama: Vika-
    A masterful review of my favorite Hermes…
    ‘Mitsouko done one better’ is how I referred to it, when I first sampled it.
    There are a few bottles in the boutiques here and there, but generally, they are not displayed…
    And most folks ignore them, because they have no idea what they contain [the bottles are very simple, without chi-chi pretension, as you know- especially since the re-release a few years ago].

    What a glorious chypre it is.

    Thank you for the lyrical, passionate impressions…

    Sois sage, ma belle ! November 29, 2006 at 6:52am Reply

  • March: Victoria — thanks for this lovely review. I should have guessed this would be one of your favorites. FWIW I smelled this at the Hermes boutique in Chicago; I am not sure whether that meant they had a bottle available for purchase, or I was just lucky they had a tester. November 29, 2006 at 8:09am Reply

  • Christina H.: I suppose I am lucky enough to have a bottle and treasure it so , that I think I’ve only worn it once and given out 2 samples of it! It is very beautiful and soft. I can only complain that I really wished it would last longer than a couple of hours on my skin! It’s so gorgeous and I am very happy to own it, I just wish it would last longer on my skin. I should re-try it now that it is colder. Your beautiful review has given me the urge to run upstairs and put some on right away! November 29, 2006 at 8:24am Reply

  • Elle: I keep trying to develop selective amnesia and forget how wonderful this is. So *why* did I read your gorgeous review? Sigh. It really is a masterpiece and Fornarina was a perfect choice of image for it. Also love Jaime’s picture. 🙂 November 29, 2006 at 8:46am Reply

  • Quarry: Staggering prose. Oftentimes, reviews exceed fragrances for their beauty. November 29, 2006 at 11:56am Reply

  • anna77anna: Thanks for the review , Victoria
    If Hermes Doblis perfume ,crosses my path , i will take notice.
    and buy it.
    love anna November 29, 2006 at 12:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear Madelyn, you are very kind, thank you. I was hesitating to write a review of Doblis, because it is so impossible to find. However, I love it so much that I cannot but share it. Perhaps, you might see it at one of the Hermes’s boutiques and get a sniff. I saw it at Chicago Hermes boutique as well as Northbrook Court Neiman Marcus (also IL). Please let me know if you are able to find it. Otherwise, the next time I see you, I will be sure to bring a sample with me. November 29, 2006 at 1:42pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, Cuir de Russie extrait is worthy of saving for! I have been wearing it often lately (as you can see it ended up on my Winter Favourites, on the left sidebar). I do not want to tempt too much, but Doblis has such a fascinating history that I felt that it would be a mistake not to write about it. November 29, 2006 at 1:45pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Lisa Carol, I was lucky to be given a vintage bottle as a gift (not the one complete with the entire presentation as in the photo, unfortunately). Then I spent quite a bit of effort to track down a bottle of the 2004 edition. Doblis never fails to make me feel elegant, it never loses its special character for me. Perhaps, not everyone might develop this kind of attachment to it, but I feel like it was made for me. It is softer and more luminous than Cuir de Russie, and it is not as aggressive. November 29, 2006 at 1:55pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Aryse, I feel the same way as you. The more I delve into perfumery, the more I realize how much more there is to learn. This process of discovery only heightens my interest.

    The official word by Hermes is that it is indeed discontinued, however it seems that some still have leftover stock. I already used up all but a drop of my vintage and I am treasuring my 2004 bottle. November 29, 2006 at 1:57pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Chaya, thank you very much! Yes, I think that the presentation is very sleek and elegant, following the classical vintage Hermes look. I love these big squat bottles. Their heft is so wonderful. November 29, 2006 at 1:59pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, perhaps, Chicago did not sell all of it, because I have seen Doblis at a few places whenever I visited the city. Of course, it was almost a year ago. November 29, 2006 at 2:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christina, go and put it on! 🙂 I cherish my favourites, but I make sure that I wear all of them on regular basis. Beautiful perfumes are meant to be enjoyed and loved. I find that it lasts really well on my skin, more than 8h, however it is a soft fragrance, rather than something that would announce your presence. November 29, 2006 at 2:04pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Elle, it is a bittersweet review, because Doblis is so difficult to find. I fell in love with it even before I realized the extent of the difficulty. Well, Caleche is another beauty from Robert. It is another fragrance I feel that I can wear almost daily.

    I foolishly put a bid on that presentation, but it went for such an astronomical price that my bid was never even registered. I had no idea that the bottle collectors valued it so much. November 29, 2006 at 2:06pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Quarry, thank you, although it is the perfume that serves an inspiration. 🙂 It is easy to find words to describe something beautiful. I just feel such an affinity with Doblis. November 29, 2006 at 2:07pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Anna, thank you! If you find it, please let me know what you think. I think that it is worth an effort to locate it. November 29, 2006 at 2:08pm Reply

  • Madelyn E: Dear Victoria,
    Update : Just got off the phone with Hermes NY Madison Avenue store. Guess what I asked ..—-no BEG G E D for ? Doblis. Colette S. the Fragrance manager was not there today . the store said they are trying to locate some bottles as there were ( coincidentally) 4 requests today. Cost about $400 .US. whew, huess I won’t be buying groceries this month! Thank you again Vic. With the power of your eloquent and graceful words, couldn’t you make a case to Hermes to reissue this classic ?? If anyone had clout – it would be you !!
    A Tout A L’heure !!
    Madelyn E November 29, 2006 at 2:16pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Madelyn, I have no contacts at Hermes at all, so I have never even thought of this. I simply took the auction house route and was successful in my attempts. However, it is such a great idea–to reissue this fragrance. Since it is my one true love, perhaps I should give this idea more thought. November 29, 2006 at 2:24pm Reply

  • LisaCarol: “Doblis never fails to make me feel elegant … It is softer and more luminous than Cuir de Russie, and it is not as aggressive.”

    Oh, and oh again… Last time I tried Cuir de Russie, I found it to be exactly that, too agressive. Of course, this was before I discovered Bandit and Jolie Madame, so perhaps today I might feel different about it. But still… I’ll be dreaming of Doblis tonight. And I’ll sign any petition!

    Also, considering the price, anyone here want to split (or divide in three, four or five more like it) a bottle? Assuming that one can find one in the first place, that is. November 29, 2006 at 3:05pm Reply

  • Tania: I can’t believe I forgot to smell this one. November 29, 2006 at 4:25pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Victoria, your review has been forwarded to a friend who holds a not insignificant position in the house of Hermès… November 29, 2006 at 4:41pm Reply

  • Dusan: Vika, I’ve never smelled Doblis and doubt that I ever will, unless they decide to relaunch it, but your review inspired me to wear Rocabar today – such a beautiful, warm and meditative scent! Actually, I also love Bel Ami and Equipage.
    Upon revisiting Divine perfumes today, I realized how much I like them. L’homme Sage and L’homme de coeur I simply adore and was wondering how you felt about L’ame Soeur? I know it’s off topic, but my nose is glued to my wrist 🙂
    Hugs November 29, 2006 at 7:03pm Reply

  • Dusan: Vika, I just read your review of L’ame Soeur and can’t tell you how glad I am that you like it! I am smitten… Actually, it reminds me of Rochas Absolu only without the aldehydes. Have you tried it? 🙂 November 29, 2006 at 8:23pm Reply

  • Ina: “Effortless elegance” – right on. Unlike Tom Ford Black Orchid which I reviewed today that’s all about forcefulness. We need more of this effortlessness in perfume. November 29, 2006 at 9:41pm Reply

  • Madelyn E: Dear Victoria,
    News Update ! I received a call tonight from Hermes – NY that they successfully located a few bottles of Doblis. I will call them tomorrow and discuss the EXACT PRICE. I am torn as I have so much — but from what I’m reading this one is worth it.
    Do you think the bottle will be “fresh enough” dear V ? I get pad on Friday and am thinking of buying it sight un sniffed. Will keep you informed of the outcome of this delightfull perfume caper.
    Madelyn E November 29, 2006 at 11:57pm Reply

  • assorted raisins: Victoria, What an amazing comparison and how delightful to see the Fornarina mentioned with perfume! She is one of my all time favorite paintings. I love the gaze in her eyes, and sometimes wonder what perfume she would have worn. Doblis is a very good fit, and perhaps mistuko. Too bad Doblis is so difficult to get ahold of, I’d loved to smell it! November 30, 2006 at 1:47am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Lisa Carol, I think that Doblis might suit your tastes well then. I find that the modern version of Bandit and Jolie Madame are rather tamer than their original counterparts (but still very assertive, as they were quite dramatic to begin with), but the same can be said of Cuir de Russie. I smelled it recently at the boutique and found the iris notes to be increased. I liked it in all of its forms. All in all, I am sure that you will find Cuir de Russie beautiful now that you are wearing Jolie Madame and Bandit. All of these are my favourites. November 30, 2006 at 1:53am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, I am sure that you will have an opportunity! November 30, 2006 at 1:54am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, how fascinating! Please keep me updated. I am so glad that I decided to write about my beloved one after all. November 30, 2006 at 1:55am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dusan, I admire Hermes fragrance line very much, although I was less than pleased with Paprika Brasil. I suppose that I really had high expectation for that one, and it simply did not live up. Divine is a very nice line, especially L’Homme de Coeur. I think that out of all of them I wear that one the most. As for Rochas Absolu, I remember it well, although I have not revisited it in a long time. November 30, 2006 at 1:56am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dusan, I forgot to say that I decided to resample L’ame Soeur tonight, and it is very lovely. I get aldehydes in the top notes, but then they slowly fade into the floral heart. November 30, 2006 at 1:58am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ina, you are right! There is nothing effortless about Tom Ford’s fragrance! It is striking, but not effortless. November 30, 2006 at 1:59am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Madelyn, I am so happy that they have a few extra bottles. I am tempted myself. I think that it should still be fine. My bottle is certainly very fresh, and I bought it from someone who changed their mind about it. Certainly, buying from the boutique should be safe.

    Lisa Carol above was interested in splitting. Maybe, that might be a option to consider. November 30, 2006 at 2:02am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Assorted raisins, thank you very much! Fornarina is one of the paintings that never fails to fascinate me. I find her mysterious and complex, a true riddle. Of course, the backstory is very interesting. I think that Mitsouko is another great choice for Fornarina’s perfume. She was definitely a chypre/oriental lady. November 30, 2006 at 2:04am Reply

  • Emotenote: Oh! do please let us know if bottles can be obtained, this was one I loved and had only a bit left from an aunt who gave it to me. I thought is was never to be found again! A lovely christmas/chanuka/birthday/anniversary gift that would be! November 30, 2006 at 8:47am Reply

  • Judith: Ah–what a wonderful review. And, unfortunately, it reminds me how much I love this–the reissue, at least; I never had the good fortune to smell the vintage. And I never have had the good fortune to snag a bottle of any! Someday, someday. . . November 30, 2006 at 1:41pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Emotenote, Madelyn above mentioned that Hermes boutique in New York was able to obtain some bottles when she called to request them. Perhaps, they still have some in stock. November 30, 2006 at 7:47pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, thank you very much! It is definitely among my top favourites. This is one of the few examples where the reissue is just as wonderful as its original counterpart. November 30, 2006 at 7:48pm Reply

  • ula: sounds so good…what i don’t get is why did they discontinue something that is so perfect, something almost legendary? this is a mystery to me… December 1, 2006 at 3:51pm Reply

  • Tara: I am so glad to see the samples I sent you inspired such a love affair, and that it has been a requited love. You are fortunate to have both a vintage and a modern release. I only have the 2004 version, but treasure it greatly. It is my most expensive bottle of perfume but worth it. December 1, 2006 at 6:11pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ula, yes, it is a mystery to me too, although from what I understand, it was intended as a limited edition in 2004. Fortunately, some people wrote to me and said that they were able to find Doblis in New York and Chicago stores. December 3, 2006 at 10:29pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tara, you deserve a big hug for introducing me to the 2004 version of Doblis. I always think of you whenever I wear it, plus I still have one of the large samples you made for me in my handbag. December 3, 2006 at 10:32pm Reply

  • Joyti: You have wonderful taste, the mere title of your piece intrigues me.
    (sighes) If only I could find it myself I’d have a more intelligent comment about this scent. It seems quite beautiful. Your description reminds me of a beautiful film noir heroine… December 12, 2006 at 6:01pm Reply

  • patricia rojas: What exactly is an auction house? When you look for perfumes you say you go the auction house route, what does that mean, I am on the hunt for Doblis and I will not stop until I get it!!! February 16, 2007 at 3:21pm Reply

    • PERFUMEKEV: HERMES DOBLIS IS THE PERFUME THAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF.

      I have been a creative perfumer for over 20 years now. Victoria was the one that really got me started on Doblis.

      It is probably one of the finest creations in perfumery. Victoria’s description is perfection as usual.

      I totally agree. The Herbal notes and spice notes are so bright and perfectly balanced against the background of a very and perfectly smooth woodsy note of sandalwood and vetiver and Amyis woods. I love how Guy Robert pays Homage to Nuit de Noel de Caron in Doblis however as much as I love Nuit de Noel and I love it! There is a clarity to Doblis that is unparalleled.
      I feel as though it is perfectly suited for a man or a woman.
      Weather you are lucky enough to get the classic Eau de Toillette or Vintage Perfume or the remake from the early 2000’s do not worry they ALL smell AMAZING.
      I feel so comfortable in Doblis in any setting weather it is formal or informal. Summer, Winter, Spring and Fall!
      It is always just rite. September 28, 2015 at 4:33pm Reply

      • Victoria: I keep hoping they might reissue this one, but so far it doesn’t seem likely. September 30, 2015 at 11:44am Reply

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