Yesterday as I was tapping away at my computer putting the finishing touches to my review of Jour d’Hermès i was touched by a serendipitous union of sound and scent. In a stroke of genuine genius for once (not the pretentious ‘Hey we’re apple we’re so clever’ kind that we’re so used to) my iTunes delivered a perfect audio compliment to the scent I was writing about.
The piece that popped up on shuffle to match Jour was one of my all time favourites (not to be morbid but I want it at my funeral, it’s that good); The Great Work Begins by Thomas Newman from the HBO adaptation of Angels in America. It manages to perfectly capture the mood of Jour d’Hermès, specifically the promise of the dawn, of the new day and a new start after the darkness.
Hermès must win the award for the most consistent style of perfumes within one line. Ever since installing the incomparable Jean-Claude Ellena as their in-house schnoz, each perfume launch has been a variation on the theme of Ellena’s pastel shades and watercolours, evoking both clarity and luxury.
It is for this reason that their latest offering, Jour d’Hermès is so interesting, it manages to perfectly replicate Ellena’s signature style of spacious scent, but it does so bigger, brighter and bolder, almost as if he’s thrown down the watercolours in a moment of madness (read: genius) and opted for full technicolor. Jour d’Hermés is Jean-Claude Ellena writ large.
“From dawn until dusk, a luminous and sensual floral that flourishes.”
Jour, meaning dawn, is a perfume that captures the myrhiad of colours and emotions promised by the prospect of a new day. It is a perfume that seems to have arrived with little fan fair yet the odours that are contained within its rather simple and unpretentious bottle are most definitely worthy of attention.
I have to admit that I’m not the hugest fan of leather in fragrance, mainly because I really haven’t a great deal of exposure to the note, which is why I was particularly interested in attending last week’s ‘Evening of Leather’ organised by Lila Das Gupta of Perfume Lovers London/Olfactory Events. I wanted to explore leather, deconstruct and understand it, but most of all I wanted to find a leather that I loved.
Perfume Lovers London is a Meetup Group run by Olfactory Events in conjunction with Basenotes. They have so far held two events, with many more exciting meet ups in the pipeline. An Evening of Leather was hosted by Lila Das Gupta who has a penchant for leather fragrances, was the perfect captain for our voyage of discovery of a note that is steeped in history and comes in many guises.
An Evening of Leather promised to “map out the geography of leather fragrances from the meaty to the haughty” and I’m please to say that it was an event that delivered on all counts. I may have walked into the event being clueless about, and not really loving leather but I left with a new found appreciation for the genre and a head full of leather fragrances that demanded to be explored further.
I enjoyed scenting The Muppets so much that I’ve decided to create an entire series of celebrity-based perfume posts ingeniously entitled the ‘Scent a Celebrity Series’. Celebrities are a funny bunch that on the whole cannot be trusted in the world of perfume, you only need to look at the shelves of your local department store for proof of this, and I’m thinking they could do with a fair bit of scented help from yours truly.
Celebrity culture can at times be incredibly frustrating and for that reason this series isn’t simply a ‘what would they wear’ feature, I only want to focus on those celebrities that I admire, the ones with true talent, charisma and purpose. You will not find the cast of The Only Way is Essex and Jersey Shore here, nor will you find such sucky-celebrities as Paris Hilton or Justin Bieber. No way. Instead you will find MY celebrities, the ones that I love and to kick of the series I have chosen to scent one of my absolute favourites – Björk.
I love Björk. This is a fact that many of my friends and family don’t quite understand. “She’s weird!” they shout, “when she sings she sounds like an angry walrus kicking a dolphin.” But I do not rise to these silly comments because I am in the know, I ‘get’ Björk, I know that she is nothing short of a musical genius. Don’t believe me? Simply take yourself off to a dark room and listen to her Vespertine album and you will be converted. Go on, off you pop, you may return once you have finished.
There is no sight more pleasing than the sight of rolling fields of lavender.
Lavender is beautiful, whether you like the smell or not you cannot fail to be moved by the sight of purple fields of lavender rolling under the summer sky.
Lavender is a smell that I have learned to love. For many years I couldn’t abide its smell, which to me was reminiscent of old ladies, underwear drawers and cleaning products. These connotations give lavender a bad rep that it absolutely doesn’t deserve for it is one of the most complex and pleasing fragrance ingredients available.
What I have found most interesting on my lavender scented journey is despite the fact that it is such a bold and distinct smell, it is also incredibly versatile and there are a melange of superb perfumes that showcase the note in unique and fascinating ways.
Lavender is part of the mint family and there are approximately 39 species within its genus. It grows in abundance across the world, mainly in; The Canary Islands, Madeira, North and East Africa, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Arabia and India. 
The smell of lavender is arguably one of the most distinct smells on the planet. It has many facets, it is herbal, sweet – like burned sugar, fresh, green, minty, menthol and floral. Despite its distinctive aroma, lavender is an incredibly versatile material that can be interpreted in a plethora of interesting and surprising ways.
I am a great admirer of Jean-Claude Ellena, I find his ‘minimalist’ style of perfumery intriguing, and I think he has done some great scents for Hermès’ (there is a ‘but’ coming) but I have to admit that I struggle slightly with the Hermessence Collection. I know that this confession may serve as some form of perfume heresy but I can’t help it. It’s not that I actively dislike the collection at all, I just find the ‘barely there’ approach frustrating and I’ve only come across one or two that I really like. That said, any new Jean-Claude Ellena fragrance is worth a sniff and I can appreciate his style (and talent) without being madly in love with it.
The Hermessence Collection, which Hermès describes as “A collection of olfactory poems, with sobriety and intensity, which freely explore new facets of emotion.”  is a line of fragrant watercolours, of which Santal Massoïa is the latest addition. Like others in the collection, Santal Massoïa is a light, transparent interpretation of one of perfumery’s most glorious ingredients – sandalwood.
There is one thing I love more than perfume and that is food, especially that of the baked/cake variety. It stands to reason then, that one of my favourite perfume types is the gourmand. Food smells in perfume can sometimes be abstract or representative but the best gourmands are those that present food in a completely literal way. Ambre Narguilé is one of these gourmands.