The essence of Hermès, bottled
Enjoying astonishing creative freedom, Christine Nagel, the current in-house perfumer for Hermès, is the picture of happiness. We spoke to the much-admired perfumer about the ins and outs of her day, you can read our in-depth interview with Christine, here.
‘I am free’, was the overriding feeling we got from her smiling answers – and her five new scents reflect just that. Christine wanted to return to the origins of perfumery with these scents, and so created five Orientals to add to the existing strong line-up of the Hermessence Collection. All retain the quintessential ‘essence’ of Hermès, expressed through Nagel’s bold style. Two pure perfume oils centered around musks are the picture of elegance, whilst the three eaux de toilette are truly unforgettable. Read our thoughts on the new addtions below…
An incarnation of myrrh different to any other. This love letter to an age-old precious ingredient – one that conjures images of perfume trade routes and travels through deserts – is equal parts intriguing and irresistible. Entwined with wild rosehip, the rich and enveloping myrrh only shows its true colours, on your skin, hours later. The rose is fruity and tangy and fresh, soft and sweet. A sharp jam-like scent peels away to reveal a rich resinous cave. Deeply sophisticated, yet calming and comforting, this scent lies somewhere between the experience of resting on rose-scented soft sheets, the downy cotton touching your cheek, and walking through rose-tinged woodlands with the depth of dark woods surrounding you.
It is said that cedars ‘know history better than history itself’. This is certainly an accomplished ode to a majestic tree and a magical ingredient. Powerful jasmine blossoms coil around the hard cedar branches. An engulfing scent, the first spray offers a harsh punch of cedar, sharp and woody, swiftly softened by the creamy white petals of jasmine. The entanglement of these two ingredients feels so natural – almost as if the cedar tree began to blossom jasmine flowers.
The carnal warmth of agar wood (oudh) soothed by the light, balmy scent of fir balsam, results in a blanket of enveloping woody comfort. There’s almost a tinge of fruitiness at first spritz, but with facets of agar peeping through. A rounded smoothness evolves, creating a kind of a velvety cloak. The melding of these two woods happens in such a graceful, effortless way – Agar Ébène is like a song that both ingredients have been waiting, and longing, to dance to.
Like being thrown into a dream… Hands delving into bags of cardamom, the life of the Indian spice market bustles around you – you lose touch, you can’t hear the loud chatter, the car honks, the abrasive sounds. You smell only the sweet cardamom, once bracing and cooling, now softened by soothing musks. Then the relief of musk, giving a warmth that echoes of the comfort and sweetness of hot milk. Altogether an unforgettable adventure in warm spices.
A precious powdery iris, meets a rare musk. Tiny, delicate, sweet wisps of powder waft through this scent, while downy musks purr – rich and sensual. This is kind of hazy – cloudy with its softness – but with a feeling of clean sheets and bright fresh air blowing through. Ultimately, the bouquet of musks peppered with violet-tinged-irises creates almost a pool of liquid gold.
Myrrhe Églantine £180 for 100ml eau de toilette
Cèdre Sambac £180 for 100ml eau de toilette
Agar Ébène £180 for 100ml eau de toilette
Cardamusc £275 for 20ml essence de parfum
Musc Pallida £275 for 20ml essence de parfum
Written by Carson Parkin-Fairley