Fruity-floral flankers: Hermès Rose Amazone (2014)

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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

Ellena’s approach to flanking the original Amazone is to place it somewhere between his connoisseur-admired Hermessence line and his more mainstream work. Smart move. A flanker is first and foremost a sales tactic, and Hermès’ strategy is to revive a few classics by sprucing them up and borrowing on their name recognition (Vetiver Bel Ami, Geranium Equipage). Ellena must maintain the sanctity of Hermès taste while shooting for a big sell. It’s a balance he’s had to maintain in all the Hermès perfumes he’s composed and he’s proven how well he can do it.

Amazone was an early fruity-floral that matched a dowdy woody-floral with unsweetened fruit/berry note. It’s a cautious an inch away from “old-lady” perfume, not a fruity-floral slushie of the ’90s-‘00s. It is a dry, woody, green perfume with a potent black-currant note that ties the flowers to the fruit, namely, raspberry.

Rose Amazone takes the tartness and the fruit up a notch with a sweet rose and a grapfruit twist. It’s a beautiful compositional effect. The sweetness is in the flower, not the fruit, and the perfume avoids any syrupy cocktail-y comparisons. This is a fruity-floral for those who who managed to steer clear of the fruity-florals of the gourmand/dessert era. It’s also an alternative for those who liked tart-fruity chypres such as Cristalle, Diorella and Y but are on the bemused side of the chypre-reformulation debate and want to steer clear of the whole mess of it.

Rose Amazone keeps a skosh of the original’s green-floral reediness and it matches the tartness of the grapefruit note beautifully. It doesn’t have any of the mossiness of Amazone’s drydown. In fact, the drydown has a sweet, lucid, nearly metallic muskiness that leaves the base the most contemporary part of the perfume. The opening of the perfume is tribute to the original, but over time, Rose Amazone walks further away from its predecessor. The drydown is deliberately the least distinctive part of the ride. It takes you further into the house of Hermès and closes the door behind you. It is a rosy-sweet, muskier version of the airy-woody drydown of the Hermessence line. It is balanced and straightforward, like the graceful entry that ends a complicated dive.

 

(image source EVERYTHING’S PASTEL)

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