Hermes Cologne Trio : Fragrance Review

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Hermes cologne trio

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

The refreshing crispness of classical cologne with its brilliant citrus-woods accord and the uncluttered simplicity of its composition can belie a mesmerizing richness. One only needs to experience Guerlain Eau de Cologne Imperiale or Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien to understand how alluring a cologne can be on a hot summer day. Or, for that matter, on a freezing winter morning when reminders of spring are so welcome. At the same time, even more interesting are modern interpretations seeking abstraction where classical tradition relied on nature. For this reason, Hermes Cologne Trio was an anticipated launch for me, including as it did the classical Eau d’Orange Verte as well as modern renditions such as Eau de Pamplemousse Rose and Eau de Gentiane Blanche.

The original in the series, Eau de Cologne Verte/Eau d’Orange Verte, was created in 1979 by perfumer Francoise Caron. A cologne married with the mossy chill of a chypre, Eau d’Orange Verte maintained a beautiful citrusy effervescence, underscored with the slight dryness of lemon peel and patchouli. Yet, the composition seemed to skirt the edge of harshness, with the bitterness of citrus peel adding a jarring note. In this light, I much prefer the newly rebalanced version, which is more luminous and elegant. The juicy mélange of citrus notes, from Seville orange to mandarin, is rendered bright and lively, while the moody darkness of the base only serves to highlight the overall vibrancy.

The most avant-garde of the trio, Eau de Gentiane Blanche is a curious juxtaposition of dry woods and stemmy greens. In a sense, it is a weightier, richer take on Paprika Brasil, which I dismissed as bland when I first tried it three years ago. Eau de Gentiane Blanche, on the other hand, is a revelation, as it fills in gaps that Paprika Brasil leaves open. The vegetal richness of leaves and twigs set against the luxurious backdrop of musky iris is captivating and memorable. The composition oscillates between the photorealism of a classical cologne and a modern abstraction, and this dissonance creates a memorable effect.

Eau de Gentiane Blanche is my favorite fragrance from the trio, given its unconventional allure, but fans of Jean Claude Ellena will find much to love in the scintillating Eau de Pamplemousse Rose. Sure, it would be a familiar composition to anyone who has followed Ellena’s creations closely over the years. From its green basil and grapefruit top to the base of fresh woods, Eau de Pamplemousse Rose echoes Yves Saint Laurent In Love Again as well as Hermessence Rose Ikebana. Yet, the whole is more than the sum of its parts, and Eau de Pamplemousse Rose delights with its smiling, uplifting loveliness. The juicy, tart and ever so slightly bitter grapefruit accord is reason enough to revisit this fragrance again and again.

Eau d’Orange Verte includes notes of orange, mandarin, lemon, mint, along with black currant, oak moss and patchouli. Eau de Gentiane Blanche is composed of white musk, gentiane root, iris and incense. Eau de Pamplemousse Rose interprets the theme with notes of lemon, orange, pink grapefruit, and rhubofix (rhubarb-floral Firmenich aroma molecule,) rose and vetiver.

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17 Comments

  • Eric: I ran right over to my local Hermes once I heard these were out and was not disappointed. Of course, I already liked Eau d’Cologne Verte. I’m not a citrus person, so it wasn’t something I needed. I do enjoy getting a tester strip of it to scent a good book, though.

    Eau de Pamplemousse Rose was my least favorite, though it was not bad. Enjoying it is like eating a sweet fruit with your bare hands, it’s juices running down your hands: not for me.

    Eau de Gentiane Blanche, however, is beautiful. Lush green leaves, cool and dark. The scent of a summer day in an orchard, when a cloud passes over the sun. I’m waiting for it to go to the discounters. =P

    Thank you for your review. August 25, 2009 at 4:01pm Reply

  • Clara M: Great review, as always, V! I liked Eau de Pamplemousse Rose best because it was so light and pretty, but Eau de Gentiane Blanche smells fantastic on my best friend. On me, it was a tad too green. August 26, 2009 at 8:32am Reply

  • Sveta: I am so behind the times! Still have not tried this trio. 🙁 Maybe I should just buy some samples because I don’t know of any stores that sell it around here. August 26, 2009 at 11:31am Reply

  • Mark: I wore Eau d’Cologne Verte for decades, but I have not tried the new version yet. I worry that I got so used to the original that the change will not make me happy. August 28, 2009 at 10:19am Reply

  • FragranceLover: Eau d’Cologne Verte has always been one of my favorite designer perfumes. August 31, 2009 at 3:41pm Reply

  • PaulSC: I’ve never heard of Eau d’Cologne Vert (and I don’t understand the the contraction of “de” in its name). Is it another name for Eau d’ORANGE Vert, or a different fragrance? September 1, 2009 at 2:10am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Eric, I felt the same way. While Eau de Pamplemousse Rose was not my top favorite, I can see how it can be a wonderful grapefruit selection. Ellena mastered the art of clean, fresh grapefruit, with just a hint of bitterness. September 1, 2009 at 9:10am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Clara, yes, it is a potent green note, no doubt! September 1, 2009 at 9:12am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Sveta, I hope that you can find it. If I remember correctly, you liked Rose Ikebana. So, you will definitely enough Eau de Pamplemousse Rose. September 1, 2009 at 9:13am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Mark, any change to our favorites is difficult to accept! Well, at least, it is still widely available from Ebay and discounters. September 1, 2009 at 9:14am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Fragrancelover, it is a great fragrance, one of the classics in fact. September 1, 2009 at 9:14am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Paul, it is the same fragrance. They probably market it under Eau d’Orange Verte in the US. I will edit, since you are right, it might be confusing. September 1, 2009 at 9:19am Reply

  • Lavanya: I will try these soon! Especially like the sound of Eau de Gentiane Blanche and Eau de Pamplemousse Rose. September 1, 2009 at 1:49pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Lavanya, you should try them! I think that you will like them very much. September 3, 2009 at 3:29pm Reply

  • Lissette: Eau d’Orange Verte is just delicious! Can get it for a decent price at ebay! September 13, 2009 at 11:29pm Reply

  • perfume2007: Great review, ! I like Eau de Pamplemousse Rose best because it is so light and alluring. September 27, 2009 at 6:04pm Reply

  • Acaislim: Great review, as always, V! I liked Eau de Pamplemousse Rose best because it was so light and pretty, but Eau de Gentiane Blanche smells fantastic on my best friend. On me, it was a tad too green. October 5, 2009 at 5:45pm Reply

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