Hermes Amazone : Fragrance Review and on Sophisticated Fruity Florals

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Amazonehermes

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

A dyed in the wool fragrance connoisseur is often apt to look down upon fruity floral fragrances, much like an aficionado of Albert Camus might spurn the work of Danielle Steele. After all, this fragrance family is one of the most popular among the large commercial launches, and its motifs can feel overplayed and tiresome. Yet, just like one should not judge a book by its cover, appraising fragrances by their notes is misleading. A strong fruity accord woven into a floral composition can result in Jelly Belly Fruit Salad or Frédéric Malle Le Parfum de Thérèse, depending on what the creator intends. A fragrance I like to bring up as an example of an utterly sophisticated and elegant fruity floral is Hermès Amazone.

Green, petally, mossy, with a lush dose of black currant, the original formula by Amazone was signed by Jean-Claude Ellena in 1973. Blackcurrant bud is ordinarily intensely green, with a fruity nuance, but in Amazone it is used in such a way as to enhance the ripe berry impression of the top note. When contrasted with the watery green floral heart and the mossy-woody drydown, it makes for a vivid composition. The youthful, vivacious spirit of Amazone is charming; she is like a debutante at a ball, poised, polished, yet full of energy and ready to leap into a dance. Although similar in style to Givenchy III and Givenchy Le De, the original Amazone strikes me as more luminous and modern.

In 1989, Amazone was taken in a new direction by Maurice Maurin, a perfumer who might be known to niche fragrance lovers as the creator of the lovely and sadly discontinued L’Artisan Vanilia. Maurin amplified Amazone’s fruity note with a richer citrus accord and added more milky, lactonic notes to the heart of the fragrance. The adjustments made it richer, sweeter, yet when balanced with a warm ambery-woody drydown they are quite successful. Even if the fragrance has lost its breezy, green quality, it has gained a pleasant depth and complexity.

In recent years, the fragrance has been further altered, becoming greener, airier, lighter, albeit still retaining a warm amber note in its drydown. It is nevertheless very elegant and classical, suiting the aesthetic of Hermès. To be sure, those who remember Amazone in her opalescent mossy splendor will mourn the loss of those notes, but I personally like it in all iterations. It is a fruity floral that gives a new meaning to this term.

The original 1973 version of Hermès Amazone (pictured below) was marketed with the following notes: bergamot, black currant, geranium, hyacinth, lily of the valley, iris, rose, jasmine, cedar, oakmoss, vetiver, amber. The later reformulation is listed as having bergamot, lemon, grapefruit, orange, tangerine, black currant buds, jonquil, narcissus, jasmine, Bulgarian rose, ylang-ylang, peach, strawberry, raspberry, iris, cedarwood, sandalwood, vetiver, labdanum, musk. The most recent list I have includes narcissus, daffodil, rose, jasmine, iris, tuberose, cassis, peach, mandarin, grapefruit, raspberry, cedarwood, sandalwood and vetiver. The fragrance used to be available in the extrait de parfum, but now it is sold only as the Eau de Toilette (the first photo).

Amazonevintagebottle

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29 Comments

  • Mark C: Excellent review, V! As a man, I don’t really explore any fruity florals but there are some that I like on women. My mother wore Amazone and I have really fond memories of it. November 18, 2010 at 8:57am Reply

  • Victoria: Mark, it is a beautiful fragrance and like all Hermes fragrances, very sophisticated. November 18, 2010 at 1:16pm Reply

  • cora: V, so nice to see your posts after a long time! Your review of Amazone is an example of why I always return here: it is erudite, well-written and clever. Have never smelled it before, so now I guess I will only be able to try the new EDT version. November 18, 2010 at 2:11pm Reply

  • Sveta: I bought a mini of Amazone on Ebay last month. It smells green and bitter to me, not sure I like it. Do you think that it might have turned? My mini looks like the second bottle November 18, 2010 at 2:58pm Reply

  • sweetlife: This is exactly the sort of post that gets me in trouble late at night on ebay, dear V. (We were remembering, on Perfume Posse the other day, how many unsniffed purchases of Jacomo’s Silences can be laid at your door.) Have been curious about this one for awhile, and I especially appreciate the comparisons of all three iterations, and the picture of the bottle. November 18, 2010 at 3:02pm Reply

  • minette: i love the original amazone, which i wore quite often back then, and made sure to snag some vintage bottles. can’t say i know the updated versions at all. another all-but-forgotten treasure in this same vein is patou’s forever patou. and, all you have to do is go back to patou’s que sais je? to see that perfumes using fruity notes used to be extraordinarily sophisticated. i think they only began to loose their way post-amazone and post-forever. November 18, 2010 at 3:46pm Reply

  • minette: good grief. lose their way, not loose! although the new fruity florals can be a little loose! November 18, 2010 at 3:47pm Reply

  • Victoria: cora, thank you so much, and it is very nice to see you back. Hope that all is well! November 18, 2010 at 3:59pm Reply

  • Victoria: Sveta, hmm, sounds like it has turned. It should not be bitter or sour or anything like that. November 18, 2010 at 4:00pm Reply

  • Victoria: A, ah, you are too kind! 🙂 I love how modern it feels and how utterly elegant. Yet, it is not a formal kind of elegance a la some fragrances from that era. It is very spirited. Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday type of fragrance. November 18, 2010 at 4:01pm Reply

  • Victoria: Minette, I like many modern fruity florals too, although they often tend to be niche launches–Parfum de Nicolai Fig Tea, L’Artisan Ananas Fizz, The Different Company Osmanthus, Ormonde Jayne Osmanthus and Frangipani. However, that kind of reflects my fragrance preferences in general, as there are not that many big commercial launches I like these days, regardless of their family classification. November 18, 2010 at 4:05pm Reply

  • Victoria: Minette, I like many modern fruity florals too, although they often tend to be niche launches–Parfum de Nicolai Fig Tea, L’Artisan Ananas Fizz, The Different Company Osmanthus, Ormonde Jayne Osmanthus and Frangipani. However, that kind of reflects my fragrance preferences in general, as there are not that many big commercial launches I like these days, regardless of their family classification. November 18, 2010 at 4:05pm Reply

  • Victoria: Minette, lol! That ready made me laugh. How right you are! 🙂 November 18, 2010 at 4:05pm Reply

  • hilaryjane: I wore the EDP in the late Eighties. Fascinating to know there have been three formualations – I think I must have worn the second.

    Fruity floral is probably my least favourite genre but I loved this one, along with another – Must de Cartier II (again,the EDP, not the totally different EDT)

    Thanks for reviewing this underated gem. November 18, 2010 at 4:57pm Reply

  • Victoria: Hilary Jane, you are so right in calling it underrated. It is perhaps not a fragrance at the level of Chanel no 19 or Guerlain Mitsouko, but it is a perfect choice for someone who likes fragrances without an overly sweet accent. Most feminine fragrances today smell like desserts to me, which is interesting in theory, but is liable to get tiresome. November 18, 2010 at 5:45pm Reply

  • Sveta: I guess you are right. I will stop by Hermes boutique on the weekend and smell the new version. I like the idea of a non-sweet floral.
    Have a lovely weekend, V! November 19, 2010 at 2:41pm Reply

  • Victoria: Sveta, please let me know how you like it! November 22, 2010 at 10:14am Reply

  • Flora: I have always loved fruity florals, hence my dismay when they began churning out all those cheap ones! It seems that the celebrity scent tidal wave was responsible for that, catering to the impressionable young people who want to smell like “their” star, but on a teenager’s budget.

    However, the good ones DO exist, such as the above mentioned Patou For Ever, and I am one of those (apparently) few people who loved Serge Lutens’ Nuit de Cellophane with its fruity osmanthus quality. There are lots of nice niche perfumes that prove the genre is alive and well, too bad most people only get to smell the fruit/plastic/vanilla horrors at the mall. November 29, 2010 at 12:08am Reply

  • Victoria: Donna, I liked Serge Lutens’ Nuit de Cellophane, which I should review. The next time I go to Barneys, I will try to pick up a sample, since I only wore it twice so far before my sample ran out. However, even with two trials I really enjoyed it and found it very elegant.

    Teenagers do not set trends. It is not incidental that the most daring and interesting compositions were created for the 30 and older group. November 29, 2010 at 8:42am Reply

  • Mimi Walker: I can’t wait to try the latest version of Amazone. I loved the first thinking it very elegant. Until I recently sold them, I had 4 bottles of the EDT stored away. November 29, 2010 at 2:15pm Reply

  • Victoria: Mimi, I wore it the other day and got several compliments. The consensus was that it smelled elegant. One woman said, “it makes me think of something Grace Kelly would wear.” November 29, 2010 at 2:22pm Reply

  • Patricia Fieldwalker: I found the original Amazon the most perfect summer perfume. A number of my friends and I mourn the decision to change what a well loved classic…why fix it if it’s not broken? and why confuse the consumer with a baby powder version of the Merveilles? and why tamper with the original Nina by introducing the latest candy floss version…sadly, we are losing some of the most treasured scents to less than equal replacements. July 6, 2013 at 8:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: I know how yOu feel! I recently wrote a whole post about it, and there is no straightforward answer to your question. Regulations, changes in raw material supply, changing tastes all make a difference. July 7, 2013 at 4:03pm Reply

  • Marianne: I quite like the new Amazone but I do mourn the original – probably the first perfume I ever wore and loved for so many years. Please bring back the original, Hermes… although I’ve stayed faithful to the brand despite having a huge ‘perfume wardrobe’, and am in love now with Jour d’Hermes. October 6, 2013 at 10:07am Reply

  • Andre Moreau: Hi Victoria,
    I finally got gas-chromatography results on a Vintage Amazone EdT, plus analysis and discussion.
    Proud to say our beloved Amazone contained real – not synthetic – rose, jasmine, narcissus….

    http://raidersofthelostscent.blogspot.it/2014/04/gcms-amazone-edt-hermes-1974.html

    cheers, Andre April 25, 2014 at 6:40pm Reply

  • nancy: Please bring back original Amazone !!!! October 1, 2014 at 3:50pm Reply

  • Sinead Connollly: Hi, my husband had just discovered a sampler of this in its original shaped bottle , in its original maroon and green box, untouched by decades at the bottom of a box of air fix models he was bequeathed .

    So, deciding to try this I find it little altered by time , if my sense of smell is to be trusted , according to your description .

    I expect this because it was virtually preserved in aspic and liking it so much, I’m going to actually use it and save to buy a full sized bottle . April 1, 2016 at 7:12am Reply

  • Irina: Victoria, I’m so grateful for this review! It moved me to hunt down a vintage bottle and I’ve worn this refreshing, juicy blackcurrant and vetiver almost every week this year. There’s really nothing like it.

    I do think that mine has lost some top notes to aging. Maybe this can explain what happened to the previous commenter: For the first 15 min it’s like an under-ripe berry, but then it becomes full-bodied and glorious, and lasts for hours and hours. *sniffs arm happily* August 21, 2016 at 8:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: The original also smells a little bit like green berry, but fresh and crisp and not at all musty. But the drydown of Amazone is gorgeous. I just tried the newest version, and it’s beautiful, with a stronger green note than what I remembered at the time I wrote this review. August 23, 2016 at 5:31am Reply

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