Monday, 14 October 2013

5 Hermès' in 5 Days - Day I: Eau d'Hermès

In the same vein as my earlier popular posts on Guerlain, and to coincide with the launch of the new Hermès Hermessence Epice Marine (which will be reviewed here soon), each day this working week Sorcery of Scent will be casting light one Hermès fragrance a day. Today I begin with the house's signature scent, and personal favourite of mine, Eau d'Hermès.

Eau d'Hermès, was the first commercial perfume that the house launched in 1951 - a collaboration between master perfumer Edmond Roudnitska and Émile-Maurice Hermès. In a time during his management of the brand, Émile-Maurice summarized the fundamental Hermès philosophy as "Leather, sport, and a tradition of refined elegance".
In the 1920's, Émile had been responsible for first introducing accessories and handbags to the Hermès universe, and when presented with the challenge of creating the perfume that would soon carry the house's name, Roudnitska turned to them as his inspiration. In creating this scent, he recalled
"...the fragrance wafting from the interior of a Hermès bag... a note of delicate leather coated with the fresh scent of citrus fruits and flavoured with spices".
This became the palette from which Roudnitska began authoring a perfumed page in the history of this house. At the time, this exceptional 'eau' was offered exclusively in Hermès boutiques in crystal flacons - a service still available today, more than 60 years later.

Perhaps because of its exclusivity, for many decades Eau d'Hermès seemed to have slipped beneath the radar. I find this astonishing, as I feel it represents some of Roudnitska's best work. Born just a few short years after the exceptional Femme de Rochas, one can recognise Roudnitska's DNA in this Hermès creation... his use of leather and spices run parallel in both and give rise to a heart that is both earthy and animalic. It opens with a brisk shot of bergamot and lavender, followed by a huff of cinnamon and a sweaty, wanton infusion of cardamom and peppery spices which are slightly bitter to the nose. These notes work in unison with the incredible leather accord and smell resolutely sexual. Positioned as an "eau" which traditionally is to be worn with abandon and applied generously, it feels decidedly thicker, richer, and feistier - more of an EDT or EDP, perhaps. Interestingly, for all of its erotic innuendo, Eau d'Hermès' sense of luminosity and transparency are not compromised in the least. Roudnitska masterfully married the overtly carnal characteristics to those that feel bright and diaphanous. Light blooms of jasmine and geranium furnish the fragrance with a shimmering summer warmth... it is this very sense of transparency that I recognise as a tradition still being observed in the creations of Hermès in-house nose, Jean Claude Ellena today.

To my mind, Eau d'Hermès is the Jicky of the Hermès universe.... it is a pivotal scent upon which a house's name and its reputation (as far as perfumery is concerned) has been built. It rivals the best "house scents" of many other esteemed and time-honoured brands, and unreservedly embodies the Hermès spirit.

Eau d'Hermès is available in Hermès boutiques the world over, and online here in Australia at

Tomorrow's post: Eau de Cologne Hermès

1 comment:

Perfumed Maze said...

I was just looking around for reviews on Eau d'Hermes. I love this perfume, for exactly the reasons you describe - the animalic and vigorously fresh aspects. I find it a bit too masculine for my own wear but offered a sample to a friend who thankfully appreciated it! I was struck by the impression it gave of smelling like old bank notes in a fine leather wallet, maybe kept in the back pocket of a man who's just created a wonderful curry and wears a delicious citrus cologne. Genius isn't it?!