Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
There is a very distinctive scent to blooming lavender that becomes obvious only when the sun is at its peak—dry, heady, reminiscent of caramel and toasted almonds. Once you smell it, it is impossible to forget. Its vivid sharpness becomes as indelibly imprinted in one’s memory as the expanse of hazy purple of lavender fields and the cobalt blue skies encompassing it all. When I first smelled Brin de Réglisse, a fragrance created for Hermès by Jean-Claude Ellena, I found myself astonished at the precision with which Ellena recreated the experience for me. Of course, it is the lavender of Ellena’s imagination as much as of my own, but I nevertheless enjoy the fragrance for its interesting juxtaposition of spicy lavender and the burnt sugar darkness of immortelle.
Brin de Réglisse, which means a twig of licorice in French, is executed in the transparent aesthetic that would be recognizable to those familiar with Ellena’s work. Lightness and gossamer quality in this aromatic composition—as opposed to the baroque richness of a fragrance like Guerlain Jicky—is a deliberate choice that Ellena chooses to pursue in order to render lavender nuanced and layered. To me, Brin de Réglisse seems like an inverted pyramid. The very first whiff exposes the expanse of its lavender note, from the green freshness to the almond sweetness, with the praline and maple syrup richness of immortelle reinforcing the aromatic accord. As the fragrance dries down, it becomes more transparent and radiant, hinting at the violet tinged woods and vanilla that form its base. The late drydown is very similar to with its soft woods and .
While Brin de Réglisse will not satisfy those who love rich and opulent fragrances, as it stays true to Ellena’s aesthetic throughout its development. It is light, vibrant and sparkling, a transparent chiffon veil, rather than a warm stole. While I am usually partial to richer compositions, the lovely harmony and exhilarating aromatic-caramelized sensation of Brin de Réglisse capture my heart every time I smell it. It is a kind of fragrance that I love wearing first thing in the morning for its uplifting, bright quality, and with a refreshment later in the afternoon, it also transitions nicely into the evening. For days, when I prefer a low-key, intimate aura, Brin de Réglisse becomes indispensable.
Although I tend to complain time to time about Hermessence, I enjoy this collection very much. It is a pleasure to smell fragrances created with high-quality materials and to find interesting composition where the creative intent is quite obvious (as opposed to market-tested, profit-driven nonsense one often finds in other brands). It is a pleasure to feel the fingerprint of the creator and to see a distinctive aesthetic. Even if sometimes I do not find it fitting my own ideas of beauty, I admire the concepts. In case of Brin de Réglisse, however, I am more than happy to enjoy them on my skin as well.
Hermès Brin de Réglisse includes notes of lavender, orange blossom, licorice, jasmine, hay. It is a part of Hermès Hermessence line and is available from the Hermès boutiques. It is available in 100 ml Eau de Toilette as well as a part of the discovery set–a set of four 15 ml sprays.
Sample: my own acquisition