Weather Leather (Perfume Thoughts: Bel Ami Vetiver, Hermes)

375x500.22616Is there such a thing as ‘old man’ fragrance, akin to when someone describes a woman’s fragrance as old-ladyish. If so, Hermes’ original Bel Ami probably fits that bill. I love the original’s leather richness, with just the right amount of dirtiness to make it rugged and earthy. But I bet it doesn’t really have a lot of fans beyond the die-hard users and perfumistas. So voila, Jean Claude Ellena was tasked to do a more modern interpretation of this in 2013, and he added a note that would make it instantly wearable for today’s standards: vetiver.

And I have to say that it works. The sparkling effervescent note is just the thing that makes this a lot more accessible. The leather is still there, tan and masculine as it always has been, and the spice is a little bit toned down – the cumin is faint though the civet still lingers. Still, this is perfect for someone like me who lives in Southern California – there’s enough classic fragrance here with just the dash of modern element.

Freshness (Perfume Thoughts: Terre D’Hermes Eau Tres Fraiche, Hermes)

375x500.24060Warmer days are coming, and citrus scents will be back in front. I am now wearing Terre de Hermes Eau Tres Fraiche, the flanker to Terre de Hermes. Signed by Jean Claude Ellena (one of his last for Hermes) this was released about four years ago but I did not pay much attention to it, though I should have because Terre d’HErmes is one of my favorite citrus fragrances of all time. But, to my untrained nose, there isn’t much difference here. I know this is supposed to be a lighter, more ‘watery’ version of the original, but why would you want that? I wear my perfume strong and citrus fragrances are normally weaker anyway. A nose once tweeted that you should never search for a citrus fragrance that lasts hours and hours, because really they do not exist. But I won’t take anything away from Terre d’Hermes Eau Tres Fraiche – this has a nice aromatic orange leaf note that is beautiful, and combined with other citrus notes (grapefruit, mandarin) is the perfect coolant on a hot day. I don’t know if I will want to own a full bottle – regular Terre d’Hermes works just fine, thank you – but if someone gave me a bottle I would be happy.

The Dark Side Of Citrus (Perfume Thoughts: Eau de Citron Noir, Hermes)

375x500.49231I haven’t really followed all of Christine Nagel’s work for Hermes, but Twily has become a minor staple of late, as it is one of the bottles I brought with me when I moved.  Eau de Citron Noir intrigued me because it sounds like a summer scent I would like – a citrus with a little bit of heft. And at first spritz, I liked what I smelled – mostly lime (the black lime) which smelled like a dry citrus. This is no fleeting light citrus, I thought, and perfect because most days I want something heavy. There were hints of mandarin there just to round up the citrus, and I even smell, faint as it is, the promised black tea note.

But it all disappeared and we get this drydown that is all woods and and aquatic. And you know what? It smells like that synthetic dry down that Jo Malone sometimes has, and now I wonder if this is just Nagel repeating herself. It’s not bad – I bet it gets compliments – but it is screechy and fake and I absolutely detest it.

So here I have a conundrum – how do I really feel about this? I love the top notes but hate the drydown. It’s a wedding of extremes. What will finally win out?

Smell In Yellow (Perfume Thoughts: Hermes, Un Jardin de Monsieur Li)

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Does this ever happen to you ? You buy a perfume, and then you forget to use it.  got Hermes’ Un Jardin de Monsieur Li from the Duty Free store in Istanbul in August, and, alas, just realized I never used it. It was a cheap 1 0z bottle, and I had quickly unpacked it and stored it – and quickly forgot about it. Well, I did not really “forget” about it, as I knew I had it, and knew where it was. Today I finally wore it, and savoured in its simple complexity.

A friend told me he quite disliked this scent because it smelled like Hong Kong. Well, he was right – Jean Claude Ellena based it on a Chinese garden, and I am guessing he is smelling that kumquat note that is mistakably “Chinese.” I like it a lot – the note is there but it is not prominent. Nothing is prominent here – it’s Ellena at his gauziest, etherealest. It’s refined, akint o a nice lacquered Chinese cabinet – the intricacy and detail is there, but it’s classy and will fit any aesthetic. It has its own character, and fits with all the other scents in the Les Jardin series. The base is faint woods, the kumquat is still there, and there’s that unmistakable Ellena note – somewhat minerally – that has come to be his staple. It’s on the fainter side, and it is a whisper of  scent – I had to keep on smelling my wrist throughout the day as I thought it was already gone.

Is this Ellena’s last scent ever? It’s definitely his last for Hermes, as he has retired from his post in the company. If so, he is leavign with a modest and dignified bow, and that’s just perfectly in line with his style.