If there is one thing Hermès nose/perfumer Jean Claude Ellena does with exceptional flair, it's a good eau de cologne. His clever studies in the Cologne Hermès series are proof positive of his proficiency. In a 2009 interview with L'Express.fr, when asked to give three adjectives to describe a good cologne, Ellena commented:
"...cool...simple.... and especially generous. We do not count with cologne, we can put a good shot in the palm of your hand to rub on. I love the gesture of splash that accompanies it - like no other perfume".
Eau de Mandarine Ambrée is a lip-smacking scent that excites from the outset. Zesty mandarin instantly meets the nose, and one can easily recognise the aroma of both the fragrant oil-carrying peel, and the fluffy white pith. I suspect a bittersweet measure of grapefruit has been introduced here also. Whilst it does feel instantaneously citrusy, the saliva-inducing sharpness is somehow diminished by a sweeter, pulpier facet pressing up from below... a syrupy, sun-yellow note of passionfruit brings with it a sense of tropical warmth. Here is where Eau de Mandarine Ambrée makes a departure away from traditional citrus scents, and introduces a balmier, more temperate feel. A honey-like seam of amber snakes its way up from the base and gives the cologne an almost caramel-like quality. There is a slight vanilla texture there that feels silken and luxurious, like an ice-cream dessert or sorbet composed of fruits from the tropics.
It is testament to Ellena's efforts that the whole composition feels both diaphanous and 'cool'. I wonder if the formula includes a cooling agent, like the cheeky crinkle of mint found in Eau d'Orange Verte - a little something hidden that keeps it brisk and energising. Whatever the case, Eau de Mandarine Ambrée plays a spectacular game of chase across boundaries that are both sweet and acidic, tropical and arctic.
One to be applied with mad abandon, just as Ellena intended.
Eau de Mandarine Ambrée is available in larger department stores and at Hermès boutiques in both 100ml and 200ml sizes.
Tomorrow's post: Bel Ami