Hermes Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate : Perfume Review

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As in fashion, fragrance outfits that engage in-house perfumers find themselves in a bind. On the one hand, one expects new designers to exercise their vision, but on the other, the fragrance industry is far more conservative than couture and they have to maintain the house’s creed. Christine Nagel’s first fragrance for Hermès, Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate, is a promising sign of things to come, because not only does she retain the radiance lit by Jean-Claude Ellena, she adds curves and sultry touches of her own, even in a fairly straightforward cologne.

rhubarb

Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate is my rhubarb-rose sherbet in perfume form, albeit with a moderate dose of sugar. Since the French word écarlate, comes from the Persian word saqerlat–do you hear the echoes of “scarlet”, vivid red?–this association is fitting. Nagel softens the green, acidic edge of rhubarb with berries, but she retains enough of its savory, green nuances to make sophisticated perfume and not confiture.

The choice of rhubarb is clever, since it is one of Ellena’s favored notes, found in many of his fragrances, from Yves Saint Laurent In Love Again to Hermès Eau de Pamplemousse Rose.  The first impression is of the crunchy rhubarb stem, and it’s so bracing that every time I spray on the perfume, I get a pleasant shiver. Rhubarb is paired with raspberry, a duo that dazzles in cuisine, as it evidently does in perfume. Raspberry itself is made up of components that smell of musky violet and rose, and there are touches to accent the floral elements and fill out the composition.

Colognes generally pack the most drama into the top notes and then fizzle out within minutes. Not Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate. It lingers well and has enough richness and depth revealing some sweet but tempered layers. There is plenty of soft musk, and the perfume is flirtatious, airy, and luminous. Some were quick to fault Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate for being simple and commercial, but I don’t see anything amiss with uncomplicated, likable blends, especially one as well-crafted and charming as this cologne. It still retains the refined aura that makes Hermes perfumes distinctive.

More rhubarbs, from the sweetest to the less so (Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate would fit right next to Bombay Bling): Yves Saint Laurent Baby Doll, Burberry Brit RedNeela Vermeire Bombay Bling, Hermès Eau de Pamplemousse Rose, Aedes de Venustas Eau de Parfum, Olfactive Studio Flashback. Do you have any other suggestions?

Hermes Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate is available at Hermes boutiques and counters. Like all other colognes in this series, Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate is suitable for both women and men.

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69 Comments

  • Therése: Oh, this fragrance sounds like something I will enjoy. I’m a sucker for everything rose, and I have been wearing Aedes de Venustas Eau de Parfum this spring, very much enjoying that happy fizzy rhubarb note. May 16, 2016 at 7:30am Reply

    • Victoria: I liked AdP perfume and its rhubarb note, especially the combination of rhubarb and incense. So clever! May 16, 2016 at 10:31am Reply

      • Phyllis Iervello: Which Aedes de Venustas EDP has the rhubarb note? May 16, 2016 at 11:28pm Reply

        • Victoria: Their first one, called simply Aedes de Venustas Eau de Parfum. May 17, 2016 at 1:14pm Reply

  • Nick: Its fresh tart-sweet combination is a relief from the calorific gourmand. Interesting and lively. Do get the shower gel, Victoria. That jovial sensation of rhubarb explosion is hard to beat! May 16, 2016 at 7:46am Reply

    • Victoria: That sounds so good! I tried the shower gel in some other Hermes colognes and they have invariably been excellent. May 16, 2016 at 10:31am Reply

  • Maria: I am so glad you reviewed one of my new favorites! I fell in love with it at first spritz and I have been using it first thing in the morning, as an uplifting start to my day. It always makes me smile! I love colognes, and of the Hermes collection, I am a Gentiane blanche fan, but this one is growing on me by the day! May 16, 2016 at 9:05am Reply

    • Victoria: I love Gentiane Blanche and Eau de Narcisse Bleu very much, but this is a close rival. I agree with you on happy and uplifting. It’s one of those perfumes that make you smile. May 16, 2016 at 10:32am Reply

  • Connie: Sounds quite delicious and I will have to try it! 🙂 May 16, 2016 at 9:13am Reply

  • Danaki: Sounds intriguing – can’t wait to try it next time I’m in the shops. You say it fits right next to bombay bling, but on which side? I just want to gauge the sweetness level.

    I find baby doll too sweet for me. May 16, 2016 at 9:21am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s slightly less sweet than Bombay Bling and more transparent (despite musks). But definitely not as sweet as Baby Doll. May 16, 2016 at 10:33am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: This sounds very nice. I need a bottle of this for summer – something tart and refreshing! Thanks for a great review. May 16, 2016 at 9:23am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s what drew me to this perfume–refreshing but interesting. May 16, 2016 at 10:33am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: When you give a fragrance 4 stars I generally always really like it so I’m trying the rhubarb for sure! May 16, 2016 at 9:25am Reply

    • Victoria: If you like tart fruity notes, it’s worth trying. I do recommend testing it on skin, though, since Christine Nagel’s perfumes are made to be worn on skin and not on paper. Denyse of Grain de Musc once called her fragrances “skin loving,” and that’s spot on. May 16, 2016 at 10:35am Reply

  • Grey gardens: I thought it was very fruity and generic and I just couldn’t get past the overdose of white musks. It’s definitely not as the same level of Gentiane Blanche and Narcisse Bleu. May 16, 2016 at 9:28am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, very different perfumes these three. May 16, 2016 at 10:35am Reply

  • Vasilisa: What a lovely review, very curious to try this one!

    Two of my favourite Rhubarb perfumes are the cool and flirty Comme des Gracons Series Sherbet Rhubarb and the more unisex L’Occitane pour Pierre Herme Pamplemousse Rhubarbe.

    PS: Dear Victoria, do you happen to know any contemporary perfume that would be of the same fit as Nina Ricci´s discontinued Les Belles Liberty Fizz? I find the CdG Rhubarb to share the same spirit, but why of why no one seems to be combining tomato leaves with raspberries anymore…? May 16, 2016 at 10:15am Reply

    • Victoria: I loved Liberty Fizz, and like you, I can’t find anything similar. Goutal’s Folavril had a delicious fruity-tomato leaf accord, but the effect is different, greener and less sweet. And it also got discontinued.

      Sherbet Rhubarb is delish! May 16, 2016 at 10:37am Reply

  • Patricia: I second Vasilisa’s mention of Comme des Garçons Series 5 Sherbet: Rhubarb. If it had lasted more than a few minutes on me, I would own a bottle by now. Bergamote by The Different Company has a rhubarb note, and I love that one and wear it frequently.

    Since Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate has reasonable longevity, I am anxious to sample it! May 16, 2016 at 10:39am Reply

    • Victoria: It lasts much better than I anticipated from Hermes colognes, and the rhubarb note also lingers well. So, it’s not just a musk cocktail in the end. May 16, 2016 at 10:40am Reply

  • Magnifiscent: For a very cheap yet enjoyable rhubarb thrill, I also liked last year’s L’Occitane en Provence Pamplemousse Rhubarbe. It’s no wonder it came out as a collaboration with Pierre Hermé speaking of savoury notes May 16, 2016 at 10:42am Reply

    • Victoria: Pierre Herme had a terrific rhubarb basil macaron that seemed a few notes away from being a perfume! May 16, 2016 at 11:08am Reply

  • Sariah: Amouage Honour has a really nice rhubarb topnote, but I found the drydown a bit too blah given the price point. I do like rhubarb, will need to sniff this and the Aedes one sounds intriguing. May 16, 2016 at 12:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: I liked it, but I also didn’t find the price to be warranted in the end. The combination of rhubarb and tuberose is very nice, though. May 17, 2016 at 1:02pm Reply

  • Elena: This seems lovely for spring! I wore Baby doll when I was 19/20, and I really enjoyed the grapefruit and I guess rhubarb top notes. It’s a bit sweet and youthful for me now, though (or my associations with it are anyway!). Pamplelune is my go-to now when I crave grapefruit, and it sounds like this may be just right when I want rhubarb! Strawberry rhubarb is one of my favorite flavor combinations. I just had a delicious rich and creamy yogurt with strawberry rhubarb, so your post’s timing is perfect! May 16, 2016 at 12:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: One of my favorites too. I usually stew rhubarb and then add a handful of berries in the end. This is so good over yogurt or even soft cheese, and of course, ideal over pannacotta. I also tried it as sorbet once, another successful recipe. May 17, 2016 at 1:03pm Reply

  • Kelly: Victoria, I had missed your reviews! I had such a horrible morning (my car got sideswiped with no note, or course) — so it was very much needed to see your review of such a charming and warm scent by JCE! Will seek it out! 🙂 May 16, 2016 at 1:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, no, Kelly! I’m sorry to hear this. Best of luck in getting the damage repaired.

      Well, if something pleasant will make you feel better, then by all means go for it! May 17, 2016 at 1:04pm Reply

  • Aurora: It’s a relief if Christine Nagel comes up with interesting compositions. I consider she has much to live up to, taking the reins or rather the nose after JCE. You make it sound delightful, I love the smell of rhubarb, it should be really refreshing, I do hope there isn’t too much musk? JCE’s colognes last quite well on me, although I use 5 sprays instead of my usual 4, he is often reproached re longevity but it’s not the case on my skin. May 16, 2016 at 1:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: There is a fair bit of musk, but it’s not too much for my taste. On the other hand, rhubarb does last well, and it’s not a typical fleeting Hermes cologne. The bottle in ruby red glass is gorgeous. May 17, 2016 at 1:07pm Reply

  • Melissa: I bought this just last week, and I’ve been waiting for a review on your blog!

    I love the elegance of the “watercolour” rhubarb, sweet but not too strong. I find that in terms of longevity and sillage it’s quite timid, even for a gentle cologne, so I’m generous with its application. It does remind me of the chilly early days of spring. May 16, 2016 at 3:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m glad to hear another opinion on this cologne. Your comparison to the early days of spring is so perfect. May 17, 2016 at 1:09pm Reply

  • Alicia: This sounds utterly charming! I don’t know the smell of rhubarb, but last summer I enjoyed a full bottle of EdPRose, so I should like this very much, particularly since you say that its lasting power is better than the fleeting JCE’s norm, although I found the longevity of delightful Narcisse Bleu quite acceptable.
    I had a lovely experience with Andy Tauer, after buying from his website a full bottle of L’Air du Desert Marocain., with a comment on it. A week later he sent me a handwritten note thanking me for the comment, with a sample box of 5 perfumes. So, if you and the perfumists of BdJ like a Tauer, you might want to buy from his website and leave a comment on the perfume. Of the perfumes he sent I liked Phi, une Rose de Kandahar, but there are are other roses I like as much or more. Unfortunately, Une Rose Chyprée turned sour on my skin, although I adore rose chypres. Sotto la luna: Gardenia doesn’t smell much like gardenia, alas!, and SLL: Tuberose smells of tuberose, but I prefer Carnal Flower and Serge Lutens’ Tubereuse Criminelle. So, for the moment I’ll stick to L’Air du Desert Marocain, a longlasting love. May 16, 2016 at 4:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for the mini reviews! I liked L’Air du Desert Marocain the most, but the whole Tauer collection is worth testing. A nice outcome from leaving comments. 🙂 May 17, 2016 at 1:11pm Reply

    • Mia: Lovely to hear! Andy Tauer has remained very personal and enthusiastic in what he does, despite (or because) of his success in niche perfumery. May 17, 2016 at 2:22pm Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: This sounds hideous! Nothing spoils a strawberry pie like rhubarb! The appeal of fruity fragrances eludes me completely. May 16, 2016 at 10:16pm Reply

    • spe: Haha! Although I happen to find strawberry – rhubarb pie delicious, scents with rhubarb and grapefruit might not be my thing.
      You know how some people can’t stand “screechy” lemon or bergamot in a scent? I think I’m that way about grapefruit and rhubarb.
      However, I did only smell this on a strip, and Victoria says to try it on skin, so that’s what I’ll do before passing judgment.
      I’d like to find a cologne this summer and trying to stay away from the Tom Fords and Frances Kurkudjian (sp?) lines. May 17, 2016 at 8:30am Reply

      • Victoria: Do try the sister launch, Hermes Neroli Dore. Another fabulous cologne on an orange blossom theme. May 17, 2016 at 1:15pm Reply

        • Victoria: And while you’re at the Hermes counter, Muguet Porcelaine is also worth trying. May 17, 2016 at 1:15pm Reply

          • spe: Will do that this afternoon – thank you for the suggestions. May 17, 2016 at 2:15pm Reply

            • Victoria: Please let me know what you think. May 18, 2016 at 2:12pm Reply

  • Mia: Fortunately, we got Hermes line in our little town in the beginning of this year. I thus ran to test Rhubarbe as soon as it was launched. I am after liking a refreshing scent/cologne, which is not at all my usual type of a scent family.

    Rhubarbe certainly is refreshing and lovely! It has also very good longevity (plus 6 hours) on me. I’m still after my Shangri La (sic!) cologne (or I will understand to give up trying to like one) but if you are after one, I second Victoria’s recommendation on this.

    Thank you for the review! May 17, 2016 at 2:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: I go back and forth on colognes, but I especially like them during cold months, because they remind me of summer. 🙂 May 18, 2016 at 2:13pm Reply

  • Solanace: This sounds very nice. Can’t wait to smell it and to find out what else she will come up with at Hermès. May 17, 2016 at 8:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can’t wait for their next major launch. May 18, 2016 at 2:13pm Reply

  • Figuier: Hmm, this does sound like a fun perfume but I think I’ll probably pass. I do love rhubarb, just not on my skin 😉 And although my musk tolerance has increased, it’s still always something I have to ‘get past’. Having learned to love the end phases of Ostara will have to do for now…

    It’s great to hear that the first cologne after Ellena is a good one, though. It promises good things for future offerings. May 19, 2016 at 11:30am Reply

    • Victoria: Maybe, it’s not quite what you’d like. Then I recommend testing their new Neroli Dore. May 20, 2016 at 1:42pm Reply

      • Figuier: Victoria, this is a very belated response, but I just tested Neroli Dore in duty free today and I love it! The spices at the start go so well with the neroli, in a totally unexpected but very classical way And the heart-notes & dry-down are delicate but perfectly pitched.

        I sprayed on quite cautiously but it still lasted a good 4 hours. This may well have to go on my ‘to buy’ list. Thanks so much for the recommendation 🙂 September 18, 2016 at 4:10pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’m very glad that you liked it. It’s easily one of my favorite perfumes this summer, and I carried my little bottle everywhere. September 19, 2016 at 11:48am Reply

  • Kewart: I have already enjoyed the rhubarb note in Yves Rocher’s Un Jour Se Leve (a flanker of Comme Une evidence) which pairs the note with Lily of the valley, so I am keen to try this new scent from Christine Nagel. I love so many of her creations – Mauboussin, Theorema, The One etc. May 19, 2016 at 12:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: Mauboussin and Theorema are splendid. My dream is that she might recreate Theorema in some other guise. May 20, 2016 at 1:42pm Reply

  • limegreen: I tested this yesterday and it does remind me of Sur le Nil in that tart crisp way. I would not have thought that I would like rhubarb but goes to show one should always try it. Especially with your rrcommendation! And Neroli Dore was a very nice orange blossom. I just got Diptyque’s Eau des Sens so I feel “nerolied” up. May 22, 2016 at 12:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re definitely set on neroli for now. Does Eau des Sens linger on you? May 23, 2016 at 2:12pm Reply

  • limegreen: Oh, yes, it does! In fact when I tried the sample I thought it was nice enough but it lingered and the scent would waft around me later in the day in the most wonderful way.
    I read somewhere that the perfumer Olivier Pescheux recommended spraying a lot! May 23, 2016 at 8:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also think that it’s like a classical cologne–meant to be sprayed on liberally and enjoyed as an instant refreshment. May 24, 2016 at 11:14am Reply

      • limegreen: Actually, lately with the humidity, EdS smells more like Houbigant Orangers en Fleurs, a little greener perhaps (angelica? juniper?) but more eau de parfum than cologne. Weird. May 24, 2016 at 6:56pm Reply

        • Victoria: Orangers en Fleurs is an interesting orange blossom, but sometimes it turns too sweet on me. May 27, 2016 at 5:27am Reply

  • Austenfan: Tried this for the first time today, and you are right it’s very lovely and likeable. Still, I fell a little harder for Néroli Doré. Don’t know why, but it’s made me fall for it, hook line and sinker. July 23, 2016 at 10:43am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve liked Néroli Doré very much. In fact, I liked it so much that I hesitated to review it first, because I wanted to wait and make sure it’s not just a fleeting infatuation. 🙂 July 23, 2016 at 11:09am Reply

      • Austenfan: Well I obviously don’t know how this will work out for me, but it really moved me. I don’t know why, I just totally adore it. If you do review it I’ll be very interested to read your thoughts on it.
        Incidentally I tried Muguet Porcelaine a month ago or so, and it’s gorgeous. I’m very glad that Ellena’s last Hermessence is so good. July 23, 2016 at 11:55am Reply

        • Victoria: He created a beautiful, coherent line of perfumes, which is not something you can say about many collections. Not only that, the new creations and the classics are pared well. July 24, 2016 at 6:28am Reply

  • Debra Shulman: I ordered a sample of Rhubarbe Ecarlate after reading your review. “Ricci Ricci Eau de Parfum” by Nina Ricci has a rhubarb note, I believe. I wear it occasionally, but have to be in a particular mood to enjoy it. I wonder if I will feel the same about the Hermes. August 3, 2016 at 10:59am Reply

  • Rita: It sounds really nice. I am a sucker for hermes accessories but i have never ondulged in any of their perfumes maybe something to tuink about. Thank you.😬 August 19, 2016 at 4:31pm Reply

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