Hermes Hermessence Paprika Brasil : Perfume Review



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

Inspired by the introduction of oriental and American spices to Europe, Hermès Paprika Brasil lost me before it even managed to set its sail. The watery and cold effect of the top note was rather anticlimactic, if one expected the vibrancy of spices and the richness of paprika. Instead of searing heat, at most Paprika Brasil conjures a damp morning mist of an autumnal day, a character it retains as the composition develops.

The dominant presence in the composition is that of iris. Its dove grey outlines are noticeable under the transparence of the vegetal top note. However, the iris is pale and sheer, a ghostly shadow of its rooty sumptuousness that one can glimpse in Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist. …

The woody base recalls the peppery accord the Hermès in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena explored in his other fragrances, from Cartier Déclaration to Poivre Samarcande. However, in Paprika Brasil it is made even more transparent and weightless.

In comparison to the other fragrances from Hermessence collection, I find Paprika Brasil to have the least presence and impact. Theoretically, the weightlessness and the airy quality of spices and woods is interesting, but as a whole, the composition appears watery and limpid, a sketch that never seems to attain the form one wishes it to possess. Being an admirer of Jean-Claude Ellena’s work and Hermessence Collection, I feel particularly disappointed with this latest creation. Perhaps, it is due to my high expectations. Perhaps, it is because I already have encountered two fragrances this year that explore the same theme of cool rocks and damp earth via iris and green notes with much more interesting results– Eau d’Italie Sienne L’Hiver and L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzongkha. Paprika Brasil appears to me like a modern art piece, without a key to understanding its concept.

Paprika Brasil includes pimento, clove, paprika, iris, green leaves, reseda, ember wood and woody notes. Hermèssence range created by Ellena includes Rose Ikebana, Vétiver Tonka, Poivre Samarcande, Ambre Narguilé, and Osmanthe Yunnan. Available at select Hermès boutiques.

Painting: Piet Mondrian, Composition with Grey and Brown.



  • chayaruchama: How very sad- I, too, was anticipating something more substantial…
    The Sienne L’Hiver,however, sounds more interesting, and I just bought the Dzongkha…although chilly and odd, it lasts, and is fascinating.
    Surprisingly, D layers well [especially with Santal Blanc].

    Thank you for doing the premiere sniff !

    Love the Mondrian, nonetheless !
    Je t’embrasse… October 13, 2006 at 3:29pm Reply

  • Erika: How disappointing; a damp squib of a fragrance, when I had been really hoping for something vibrant and warming, and definitely more corporeal. Ah well, it was a great reason to pick a beautiful painting though, thank you! That made my afternoon… October 13, 2006 at 3:55pm Reply

  • benvenuta: I`m not sure I understand – is the paprika in question Hungarian paprika? I once tried a scent that smelled of paprika. It was AA Rosa Magnifica, and how was that possible I don`t know. Just imagine, roses and Hungarian paprika!
    I do love a good goulash, but I can`t imagine paprika smell in a perfume… October 13, 2006 at 4:17pm Reply

  • Elle: Wow. This is the utter antithesis of what I’d imagined it to be. I’m in mourning for the gloriously rich scent I’d imagined it would be, but I still suppose it’s good since I now have more money to put towards MH Rose en Noir. October 13, 2006 at 5:18pm Reply

  • Robin: *weeps in despair* October 13, 2006 at 5:27pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Chaya, I love Mondrian too! Except to me, it is the kind of art that one needs to explore further to understand.

    Paprika Brasil was rather disappointing. I suppose that I wish for JCE to revert to something more substantial than these sheer and airy accords. October 13, 2006 at 3:35pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Erika, glad to hear this! As a reason to spend an afternoon looking for Mondrian’s paintings, Paprika Brasil has succeeded. October 13, 2006 at 5:00pm Reply

  • Ina: Oh, brother! Not what I wanted to hear but I’m still dying to try this. Thanks for the review, dear V.! October 13, 2006 at 5:04pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: B, paprika is Capsicum annuum, a specific variety of sweet red bell pepper that does not have much heat. It is used in a variety of cuisines, and it was introduced to Europe from the New World (one theory being that Turks introduced paprika to Hungary after having encountered it from other traders in the Mediterranean.) Its scent is vegetal, green, a bit floral. I like it in L’Artisan Piment Brulant. It is also present in Paprika Brasil, but it is very sheer. October 13, 2006 at 5:10pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Inochka, I have not been as pleased with it, as I thought I would be. I kept returning to it again and again, but in the end, I decided that Paprika Brasil and I part ways. October 13, 2006 at 5:12pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Elle, it is indeed! I imagined everything but this. A friend of mine who had a chance to try it before I did described it as an atmospheric scent. I can sort of see what she meant by it now. October 13, 2006 at 5:34pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, do not weep! You have Dzongkha to enjoy. October 13, 2006 at 5:34pm Reply

  • TS: This is sad news. October 14, 2006 at 12:00am Reply

  • Laura: How odd that it should turn out to be the opposite of what the name conjures! I will still try it, probably, at some point, Sometimes JCE’s fragrances are too cold for me and this sounds tepid, at the very least. October 14, 2006 at 2:32am Reply

  • k-amber: It is sad. When you informed us about this I was thrilled about JCE’s new creation. I expected something spicy and warm. As being a fan of JCE’s fragrances, I have to visit a Hermes boutique anyway.(It has not hit their stores yet in Japan) Oh, I forgot to tell you, Victoria, you read(speak?)Japanese, right? I was impressed with your knowledge about Japanese food a few weeks ago. You are a Renaissance woman!

    Kaori October 14, 2006 at 4:54am Reply

  • Judith: Oh, dear! This is so disappointing! Like everyone else, I had high hopes for this one; I love all the other Hermessences! I got so excited, I bought a decant on Ebay when I saw one, even though I could just betake myself to the Hermes boutique and sniff (they are usually very generous with samples, too)! I guess that will teach me; at least it’s only a decant. (Still hoping that variations in skin chemistry could make a difference, but considering the similarity in our tastes, I’m not very sanguine):( October 14, 2006 at 10:09am Reply

  • minette: I think my favorite JCE scent is still VC&A’s First. Liked, but didn’t love the Hermessences. Liked but didn’t love his stuff for The Different Company. Didn’t love L’Eau d’Hiver, either. I’m sure I’m missing a few in there. I do love Declaration. His minimalist jag sounds like it’s culminated in this latest Hermessence. Maybe he will start swinging in the other, more opulent, direction now.

    I love Dzongkha, too! Chilly and a touch piquant in the nozzle, but oh, does it warm up wonderfully on skin. It is especially yummy several hours in. And it gets a lot of compliments, which is always nice. October 14, 2006 at 9:07pm Reply

  • moon_fish: Well, iris sounds quite promising, despite of the fact that scent is devoted to paprika (I found some green or red pepper fresh notes yesterday in 1000 et une figue by Nez a Nez).

    Anyway, let JCE work 10 years more without criticizm – and we could get a pure water (maybe slightly scented) instead of perfume! October 16, 2006 at 1:20am Reply

  • violetnoir: After reading the Les Nez review above, frankly V, I’m relieved. 🙂

    Hugs! October 16, 2006 at 12:48pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: TS, yes, indeed! October 16, 2006 at 5:58pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Laura, I would be curious to hear your thoughts. It does have a nice transparency, but it has almost no sillage and it vanishes almost immediately. October 16, 2006 at 6:00pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Kaori, I really was looking forward to it as well.

    I studied Japanese in college and my minor was in Japanese language. I wish I had more opportunities to practice, otherwise I am afraid I might forget. I try to watch Japanese films and resist the temptation to turn the subtitles on. 🙂 October 16, 2006 at 6:02pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, please let me know what you think and whether it might turn out to be more interesting on you. I taken aback by it, to be honest. I really wished for something a bit more elaborate. October 16, 2006 at 6:03pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Minette, yes, First and Declaration are my favourite JCE fragrances as well. I liked L’Eau d’Hiver, but even that one is very sheer. I do wish he would return to the elaborate fragrances of the past a bit, but I suppose that he has a concept that he is trying to perfect. We shall see what the next new release for Hermes will be like. October 16, 2006 at 6:05pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Sergey, I have not been able to wear any of Nez a Nez fragrances. The sweetness is unbearable, to say the least.

    As for your theory, I hope that it is just a phase. October 16, 2006 at 6:06pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, we are not lacking in new discoveries this year, that is for sure. October 16, 2006 at 6:07pm Reply

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