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.
What is there to say about the career of Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena at the house of Hèrmes as it draws to an end? His work speaks for itself and through the perfumes that constitute Ellena’s body of work at Hèrmes one can detect a distinct DNA that has been carefully crafted and woven through the olfactory outputs by the man, who is arguably one of the greatest perfumers of all time. Jean-Claude Ellena has created a signature that is now undeniably ‘Hermès’. It is a complexly pieced together as a Kelly bag but as ethereal and light as a silk scarf. To put is simply, Ellena really has taken the spirit of the house of Hèrmes and bottled it.
Ellena’s work is so often referred to as fragrant watercolours and his lightness of touch has proven that perfumes need not be loud, confrontational and weird to be beautiful, they can portray light and shade in utter simplicity. This style in itself is divisive because the fragrances can so often seem imperceptibly simple or transparent, but they are, in fact, incredibly complex. It’s a testament to Ellena’s talent that he can say so much with such reserved abstraction. His work is cerebral and intelligent in a way that modern perfumery isn’t nowadays, and he has always been a refreshing voice amongst the cacophony. The man is nothing short of a genius and one of the handful of true master perfumers who have earned the title through a life’s work.
For his final piece at Hèrmes, Jean-Claude Ellena has attempted to capture the elusive lily of the valley, a flower that smells so intense, yet yields no fragrant oil usable within perfumery. The work is a construction of the flower, of course and as Ellena puts it, he wanted to “snatch the fragrance of these flowers from the dawn sky, together with that of the foliage that envelops them”, thus crafting an homage not only to white blooms but also to its accompanying greenery. The result? Well, Hermès describe it perfectly as “a shower of delicate bell-shaped flowers evoking the opalescent white of porcelain – radiant, playful, diaphanous”. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Happy new year to you, Dear Reader. I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas involving lots of fragrant gifts and that your new year was a ball. 2016 will be The Candy Perfume Boy’s fifth year and it feels like the blog has come a long way since our very first post (a review of the ill-fated but remarkably beautiful Shalimar Parfum Initial, no less) back in July of 2011. Last year was a stressful year for me personally, due to work, the loss of a friend and an exciting, yet complicated house move, and it would be fair to say that my posts have not been as regular as they should have. I hope to change this for 2016 with more regular reviews and instalments in series such as The Scent a Celebrity Series and The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to. Here goes!
One thing I’d like to do is look back a bit more. The perfume industry is so active, with thousands of launches each and every year, and it’s very easy to get caught up in all that’s new and exciting. So when there is time and the mood strikes, I’d like to focus on fragrances that aren’t brand new, but are wonderful none the less. Kicking us off on that theme are two recent discoveries for me from the legendary niche house L’Artisan Parfumeur. These two scents, Tea for Two and Bois Farine, show how meticulous and measured the brand was during its more focused days. L’Artisan seem to have been seeking an identity for themselves over the last few years and have created some exquisite scents along the way (Séville à l’aube, Traversée du Bosphore, Déliria, Al Oudh, Nuit de Tuberéuse etc.), but the greatness of the some of the oldies in the collection cannot be ignored. Tea for Two and Bois Farine are two standouts.
In this new series, I put together a quarterly overview of five of my favourite fragrant subjects that have been piquing my interest over the last three months. These items can be individual perfumes, brands or houses, genres or even themes that have been taking my fancy. They can even include other books, bottles and other blogs that have been keeping me entertained. There are no rules. Well, there are three rules with this series; 1) the subjects must be linked to fragrance somehow (a rule that I’m allowed to bend); and 2) the hitlist is to be published towards the end of each quarter; and 3) the list must include my favourite things, as if I were a fragrant sort-of Oprah.
So, now we’re heading towards the end of March what’s topping my hitlist for quarter one of 2015?
Le Jardin de Monsieur Li – The Final Instalment in Hermès’ ‘Un Jardin’ Series
Hermès have to be admired for their consistency. Since installing the inimitable Jean-Claude Ellena as their in-house perfumer (he is soon set to retire and step down from his post), the house has regularly turned out fascinating, beautiful and nature-inspired fragrances in a cohesive style. Ellena’s perfumes for Hermès are not grand dames or challenging experiments, they are landscape paintings in pastel-coloured chalks or water colours. Their transparency and weightlessness are what sets them apart from the crowd, and whilst they follow a distinct style, they never fall into the trap of being too similar. There is variety in this extensive oeuvre as well as beauty.
One of Hermès more popular collection of fragrances is the ‘Les Jardin’ series. The five fragrances from this series are designed as fragrant tales of lengthy strolls through glorious gardens in various locations around the globe. Whether they be set on a roof top in Paris or along the Nile in Egypt, these are transportive scents that fit somewhere between abstraction and reality. Their delicate and translucent style gives the impression that air from each location has simply been bottled, and as one sprays this scented oxygen, the garden comes to life right in front of their eyes (or should I say, ‘nose’).
For 2015, Hermès has launched ‘Le Jardin de Monsieur Li’. Following a visit it to China, Jean-Claude Ellena pieced together this imaginary idea of a Chinese garden, that is designed as a retreat – a contemplative place for the visitor to take solace in and seek tranquility, and peace. “We all have something in us of Mr Li” says Hermès, and we all need a safe haven to run off to when the stresses of life take hold – Le Jardin Monsieur Li is that very place, and in it one can seek both happiness and a true sense of calm.
Perfume can be used to evoke a variety of emotions; joy, lust, sadness and love but perhaps the strongest emotion perfume can instil is a sense of comfort. At times when the weather or life is cruel a warm, enveloping perfume can shroud the wearer in layers of liquid armour that fights off the world’s negative elements.
When thinking of comforting perfumes one’s mind drifts easily in to the world of the gourmand, whose inhabitants are olfactory dinners, puddings and treats for those that wish to take comfort in food without the calories. They are comfort on a plate or in a bottle.
Perhaps the most comforting gourmand notes of all is chocolate and it is very much an accord that can go either way with a tendency to be cloying and sickly if used incorrectly. If you are a chocoholic like I am then this guide to the fragrant delights of the genre should serve as a delicious tour of pure delight.
I can’t believe it but it’s the end of 2012 already, which means that it’s time for us perfume bloggers to put together our lists of the very best and very worst perfumes of the year, honestly, where did the time go?! This year I’m affectionately entitling my awards ‘The Candies’ as a short, punchy alternative to The Candy Perfume Boy Awards. Neat huh?
Across all genres there have been many interesting, exciting and unique perfumes unleashed on to the market along with the usual amount of celebrity dreck, dud flankers and down-right-bizarre niche offerings. All-in-all it’s been a busy year with over 1,300 launches. Impressive but exhausting!
Below you will find my awards for Best Masculine, Best Feminine and Best Unisex Fragrances for both niche and mainstream houses. In addition to this I’ve also included awards for Best Flanker, Best Celebrity Fragrance and Best Ad Campaign. But we’re not just celebrating the very best of perfumery in 2012 here, no sir, we’re also highlighting the very worst with the Sour Candy Award, reserved solely for the naffest perfume of the year.
So I hope you’re wearing your very best frock (or tux for the boys, or frock if you prefer, it’s up to you really) and sipping on some fine Champagne as The Candies 2012 are underway…