Super Scent is back, again! As you may or may not know, the idea of this series is for Basenotes, Persolaise and I to pick a perfume house and list our top five (or a few more if the house has an extensive catalogue). We are not allowed to discuss or show each other our lists before we publish and we must pick fragrances currently available and in their most recent formulations. We encourage you to share your top fives too and it’s always fascinating to see both the similarities and differences in our lists. So please do join in!
So far we’ve super scented Estée Lauder, Dior, Etat Libre d’Orange, Chanel and today, we’re taking a good old look (or should that be ‘sniff’) at the house of Hermès. No other brand says luxury quite like the big H and they have arguably created some of the most beautiful fragrances on the market, with a current collection that boasts a veritable cornucopia of styles. In recent years, the house has worked with legendary perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, an irreverent and cerebral craftsman, who has built an entirely unique style, one of watercolours and transparency, that has now become undeniably ‘Hermès’. As Jean-Claude steps down and hands the Hermès baton over to Christine Nagel, let’s take a look at some of my personal favourites from this most iconic of French houses.
The Hermessence collection is one of the most refined series of scents around. It’s the line where Jean-Claude Ellena really gets to play with his watercolours and transport perfumery’s familiar styles into new, transparent guises. For me, the standout in this collection is the brand new Muguet Porcelaine (which also happens to be M. Ellena’s final creation for the house), perhaps because it has a little bit more body-ody-ody than the other Hermessences, but mostly because it’s a heartbreakingly beautiful take on lily of the valley. Muguet Porcelaine is all indolic white flowers and green vegetation. Hot damn, it’s good!
I hesitated to include Terre d’Hermès in this list because I respect it more than love it. I own a bottle and on occasion I pick it out, spritz it on and enjoy it immensely. It’s just that those occasions are few and far between. But Terre is a masterpiece through and through and there is no denying that. As an essay in sun-scorched earth, solar citrus and precious minerals, Terre d’Hermès epitomises Jean-Claude Ellena’s effervescent style in a masculine fragrance that blows all of the competition out of the water. Every guy should have a bottle of this in his wardrobe, so yes, it had to go on the list.
Hermès’ Jardin series is an olfactory exploration of some of the world’s most beautiful gardens, traversing the globe from the rooftop gardens at the brand’s headquarters to the banks of the Nile. The best garden in the series however, is one that was created entirely within the imagination of the perfumer: Le Jardin de Monsieur Li. This garden is a well-tended plot of land filled with plastic jasmine flowers and grapefruits ready to burst. As with many of Ellena’s creations, one gets the impression that the perfumer has taken a snapshot of the air with his nose and recreated each of its complex facets in perfume, which is quite a feat when one considers that this garden is a figment of his imagination!
If I were to describe Jour d’Hermès in one word I would choose ‘radiant’. In fact, Jour d’Hermès is easily the most radiant perfume I know. This is a golden, shimmering floral, one that is entirely abstract evoking the idea of jasmine, tuberose and gardenia blooms all plated in gold. Sharp citrus, in the form of a jammy yet crisply green rhubarb note adds fizz and an enveloping fruitiness. The whole thing is utterly glorious and by gosh, does it radiate for miles. Jour d’Hermès is hands down, one of the very best modern florals on the market.
I find it interesting that the only fragrance not signed by Jean-Claude Ellena on this list happens to be my favourite. That is no comment on his style as a perfumer (I’m a fan boy, it’s true), instead the reason that it has taken the top spot is two fold; 1) it’s the first Hermès fragrance I feel for; and 2) it’s easily the most unusual fragrance the brand has on offer. Eau de Merveilles is something entirely stage: a marine gourmand that is half citrus candy and half briny ambergris. It’s a topsy-turvy fragrance that sparkles with a firework of golden sea spray. I couldn’t imagine a summer without it!
Join the Discussion!
What are your top five Hermès fragrances?
Also, don’t forget to head on over to Persolaise’s blog to check out his list!