hermessence: 10 posts

Hermes Cuir d’Ange : Perfume Review

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Cuir d’Ange is the most recent addition to the Hermès Hermessence collection, a line of fragrances sold exclusively at the house’s boutiques. The idea is to capture the nuances of famous Hermès leather, which smells of flowers and musk. The perfumer behind it is Jean-Claude Ellena, a master of the most ethereal and delicate compositions, and as you would expect, Cuir d’Ange, Angel’s Leather, stays true to its name. It’s wispy and sheer, as if the leather that inspired it was polished to remove any traces of animal funk and made to smell like someone’s clean skin.

cuir hermes

Cuir d’Ange is pure comfort. Although I like to think of myself as someone unafraid of the raunchiest animalic scents, my favorite leathers in perfume bottles are soft and cuddly. I’m more in the camp of Bottega Veneta than that of Robert Piguet Bandit on most days. So, here you go. For this reason, the first time I smelled Cuir d’Ange, I felt that I discovered my ideal leather–creamy, suave, and mild. On the other hand, if you want the odor of a beaver in heat and don’t wish to settle for anything less, Cuir d’Ange will strike you as wimpy and bland.

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Hermes Epice Marine : Perfume Review

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When it comes to telling compelling stories, Hermès takes the prize. The house’s perfumer, Jean-Claude Ellena, is the author of Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent and The Diary of a Nose, and he is a natural storyteller. Perfumes in the Hermessence collection are like pages from his personal journal, some inspired  by his travels, others by his native Provence. Epice Marine, introduced earlier this fall, was likewise inspired by Ellena’s adventures, but this time it’s also marked by a collaboration with another artisan.

epice marine

The fragrance came together as Ellena met and corresponded with chef Olivier Roellinger. Ellena travels the world in search of interesting scents, while Roellinger’s quest is for spices. Back in Brittany, a fog shrouded region along France’s northern shore, he composes spices into complex bouquets. If your idea of a spice blend is a Madras curry mix, then Roellinger’s delicate, harmonious blends will come as a surprise. When I sprinkle his Poudre Sérinissima over a tomato salad, I also want to dust my skin with this ginger and saffron accented powder. Who else could be a better collaborator and muse for a perfumer?

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Hermes Hermessence Santal Massoia : Perfume Review

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Sm

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

There are linear, vertical woods like cedar, and others that are horizontal, round, supple and velvet-smooth, such as sandalwood and massoia. With this understanding in mind, I composed this enigmatic, inviting yet distant perfume of milky woods, with its unusual, pungent hints of resin and dried fruit, and familiar smells of dulce de leche and flowers.” This description by Jean-Claude Ellena, the creator behind the newest launch from the Hermès’s Hermessence line, Santal Massoïa, captures the idea of this creamy woody composition. It is unusual and surprising in its treatment of sandalwood, the impression of which oscillates between the characteristic milky rose and sweet fig. At the same time, Santal Massoïa also smells hauntingly familiar and intimate: a mélange of warm skin, cold cream and green tea.

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Hermes Hermessence Brin de Reglisse : Perfume Review

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Brindereglisse

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.

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Hermes Hermessence Iris Ukiyoe : Fragrance Review

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Iris ukiyoe

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

Ukiyo-e refers to the Japanese genre of wood block prints that depict nature, landscapes, town life, and pleasure quarters, with the word itself meaning “pictures of the floating world.” An allusion to evanescence, fleeting encounters and ephemeral visions is fitting for the style of perfumery that has become the trademark of Hermès in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. His fragrances are marked by minimalism and refinement, and Hermessence Hris Ukiyoé is no exception. It is a fresh green floral composition that is executed with all of the classical Ellena elements intact—sheer floral notes, watery green accords, subtle accents of woods.

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