Category: Hermès

digging (into) vintage: Guy Robert’s woody florals.

Perfumer and one-time President of La Société Française des Parfumeurs, Guy Robert was known for his rich, layered woody florals. Early in his career, Robert hit on an effective formula of aldehydes, flowers, musks and woods. With this framework he created perfumes that have come to define the terms ‘orchestral’ and ‘symphonic’ in perfumery. Robert’s style of woody floral-aldehydes has…

Lilies and Valleys

Time hasn’t been kind to lily-of-the-valley perfumes. Stylistically they’ve fallen out of vogue. They are considered quaint and proper, two descriptors nobody with a ‘social presence’ would ever want applied to her. Add to that the conditioned olfactory association with toilet cleanser and it’s no wonder muguet perfumes aren’t trending. Another culprit is the often-overstated limitation on perfume materials, one…

Hermès Collection Hermessence

Jean-Claude Ellena came to Hermès with one of the most impressive CVs in perfumery. With Givaudan training and a thorough grasp of traditional perfumery, he rose to the top of mainstream perfumery at the same time that he became a driving force in the early independent perfume movement. Had he retired before working at Hermès he would still have had…

Hermès Eau de Néroli Doré, 2016

Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. For an established luxury goods producer, the trick to remaining relevant is to promise both the past and the future. The authenticity of heritage and a bright future of previously unimaginable luxury. This two-step is nothing new for Hermès. Their products are exceptional specimens of craft, but their true artistry lies in manipulating perception. The brand’s Eau…

Fruity-floral flankers: Hermès Rose Amazone (2014)

Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. Rose Amazone shows how well Jean-Claude Ellena’s trademarked transparency/minimalism fits into mainstream taste.  Not a dig, just an observation. It makes sense, too. Many ongoing trends in perfumery stem his more mainstream perfumes: Bvlgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert, Cartier Déclaration, Hermès Terre d’Hermès and Kelly Calèche.  He’s one of the most influential  perfumers of his time…

Hermès Bel Ami Vetiver, 2013

Image, Loretta Lux. Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. I’m split on the recent spate of note-flankers from Hermès. Rose Amazone, Bel Ami Vetiver and Equipage Geranium. Pessimistic: Hermès are stocking the cupboards with a few flankers until Christine Nagel can come up to speed. Optimistic: Contemporary versions of the classics build the past into the future, mirroring the hand-off from Ellena to Nagel.…

digging (into) vintage: Madame Rochas and Hermès Calèche

(photo Cecil Beaton for Vogue 1948. Charles James Gowns) At the start of the 1960s Guy Robert released two aldehydic floral chypre perfumes—Madame Rochas in 1960 and Hermès Calèche in 1961. The two perfumes have similarities but a back-to-back comparison reveals the differences that make the two perfumes diverge steadily over time. Though young, Robert quickly came to be one…

Hermès Eaux de Cologne

(Image lifted from Loretta Lux.) Jean-Claude Ellena’s work for Hermès is sorted into lines.  They are as much clusters of flankers as sub-brands. They provide as many doors into the world of Hermès as possible and serve to inculcate the buyer to the taste and values of Hermès’s style of luxury.  Sophisticated?  Cynical?  Both, really. I avoid writing about perfume…

Hermès Cuir d’Ange, 2014

Photo from Philip-Lorca diCorcia. 2014 marks Jean-Claude Ellena’s 10th year as in-house perfumer at Hermès as well as his gradual departure from the house.  Cuir d’Ange is his final perfume for the high-end Hermessence line that he created soon after his arrival to Hermès. While he will continue to remain affiliated with Hermès, he will eventually hand over the reins to Christine…