Hermes Hermessence Santal Massoia : New Fragrance

SantalThe latest fragrance from Hermès and its Hermessence collection is Santal Massoïa. The 10th addition to Hermessence will be launched in November in Hermès boutiques. It is created by the in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, who is responsible for all other Hermessence fragrances. As the Financial Times magazine notes, “here Ellena is transported to the Indonesian forests, to pungent odours emanating from exotic trees. Massoïa, a rare species whose bark smells of coconut, turns Santal Massoïa into something esoteric, mysterious, unknown.”

Adding on 10/28: The Wall Street Journal quotes Ellena in an article A French Perfumer’s Seductive Sense about his inspiration for the newest fragrance, “Fifteen years ago, I came across this marvelous massoia wood, not well known in perfumery and used in Indonesian cuisine. The odor is startling, unforgettable, mysterious, a sensual riot of exotic spices, fruit and milky coconut. It’s what I call a horizontal scent,” he says. “It’s round, supple, almost carnal, lascivious—in a word, feminine.”

Other recent sandalwood rich fragrances include Tom Ford Santal Blush, Le Labo Santal 33 and Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau.


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  • Emma: Why Jean-Claude Ellena isn’t producing something more groundbreaking for a change like such a fragrance made with 100% natural and/or organic ingredients? October 7, 2011 at 8:53am Reply

  • Suzanna: I’m all for a good sandalwood fragrance, but they don’t always smell enough like sandalwood. Some smell like sandalwood cake, which I fear for the above. A slice is okay every now and again (MPG) as long as there isn’t too much musk in the mix. October 7, 2011 at 9:41am Reply

  • Nikki: I feel the same…I love Ellena’s First he created for Van Cleef and Arpels and of course, Eau du The Vert for Bulgari but these Hermes flankers are just too strange for me….Indonesian Forest? Why would I want to smell like that? Pungent odours, well, that reminds me of decaying material. I also don’t want to smell like the Amazon around Manaus or something else like that. What’s next: Eau du Composte? If I want Sandalwood, I take Samsara anytime. One can conjure images of far away countries, even continents but for the image to have allure and charisma, there has to be a historical context like Orientalism or the Japan craze. Indonesia doesn’t make me dream unless it is a nightmare. October 7, 2011 at 11:45am Reply

  • Zazie: Why would natural/organic be groundbreaking?

    I think that a perfume is groundbreaking if it smells so, whether all natural or all synthetic. Whether it features a strange ingredient (massoia) or a familiar one. My nose says it is what you do with them that counts. October 7, 2011 at 3:46pm Reply

  • Emma: Zazie, we know today conventional perfumery is highly toxic – phtalates, synthetic musks etc. Natural perfumery can achieve great perfumes like Honore des Pres Vamp a NY so I was thinking Ellena keeps launching the same old minimalist stuff that bores everyone now, why now change direction and produce something truly challenging and innovative using 100% natural and/or organic ingredients? October 7, 2011 at 5:03pm Reply

  • Brooke: Emma,
    Truthfully, I think Ellena’s minimalist style is anything but boring. I am excited with every launch. Most of the time, he hits a home run and brings something new to the collection. Over time he has peeled away the unnecessary layers and has a unique point of view. I hope he remains true to himself as many people appreciate his works. October 7, 2011 at 7:26pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, to me, the materials themselves do not make a perfume. Perfume is more than the sum total of its parts.
    Plus, it is currently impossible to do a groundbreaking perfume with organic materials (especially a 100% organic perfume.) There are simply not enough of them produced. October 7, 2011 at 3:53pm Reply

  • Victoria: For this reason, I am very curious how Ellena might interpret sandalwood. It is such a tricky note! October 7, 2011 at 3:54pm Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, a compost note was already used in Un Jardin Sur le Toit! 🙂 October 7, 2011 at 3:55pm Reply

  • Vanessa: And some sandalwood scents smell like packing cases. But in principle I am well up for something “estoteric, mysterious, unknown”, and I do like coconut, as long as the net result isn’t too pungent. I am not good with pungent, however mysterious. October 7, 2011 at 4:18pm Reply

  • Victoria: >>I am not good with pungent, however mysterious.

    LOL! Yes, I am with you. The mysterious part is a big plus though. 🙂 October 7, 2011 at 4:27pm Reply

  • Emma: Brooke, I’m glad Ellena still captivates your heart but you need to read the poor reviews on Ellena’s Hermes Jardin sur le Toit. This was considered by most a predictable rehash of previous scents. October 7, 2011 at 8:38pm Reply

  • Victoria: I did not care for Un Jardin Sur Le Toit either, but overall, I have to say that I admire Ellena for having his own view and his distinctive aesthetic. And it is definitely not fair to say that his style bores everyone, because Ellena has plenty of admirers. Every new launch from his elicits lots of interest. The fact that this post is starting to get these kinds of comments only proves that we still have high expectations and we still anticipate the new perfumes from him.

    On the other hand, I can see how those who love his more opulent style of the past (First and such) crave for some of that richness again. I am very curious how he handles a rich note such as sandalwood. The result can be so unusual. October 7, 2011 at 8:54pm Reply

  • Eric Brandon: I’m so looking forward to this, even though I’m still scrimping and saving for a bottle of Iris Ukiyoe. Besides, it would be interesting to see Ellena’s interpretation of a typically oriental note. :3 October 12, 2011 at 3:59am Reply

  • Victoria: I agree, I am curious to see his take on it as well. October 14, 2011 at 10:30am Reply

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