Hermessences

dunceOn Friday we explored the complicated feelings some of us have for the oh-so-fickle House o’ Guerlain, which has started to resemble Hazel’s House o’ Pancakes in the terminal, cloying sweetness of some of its recent releases.

Today hopefully Patty will be waaaay too busy to drop by and discover that I continue to achieve a lack of Hermessence arousal that only a nuclear-strength dose of perfume Viagra might be able to overcome.   As everyone knows, Jean-Claude Ellena is Patty’s homeslice, and I envy their cozy little perfume affair.

So let’s start by stipulating that I’m an idiot.  If you’d like proof, my two favorite Hermanessences (as Musette so lovingly branded them once, and now I can’t make it go away) are Paprika Brasil and Poivre Thingy, which I am fairly certain are at the bottom of most Hermessence lovers’ lists.

As for the rest, I mostly loathe them, which is actually kind of funny when you consider that one of the general complaints about the line is their lightness and simplicity; what’s there to hate?  On my hate list: everyone’s beloved Ambre Narguile, of course, and Brin de Reglisse, which is like eating a lavender sachet and washing it down with ouzo.  Vetiver Tonka is unspeakable.  I am amused to see I completely deleted from my memory bank the newish Vanille Galante which some of you will remember my reviewing briefly as “I strangle you with my aquatic tendrils,” a wet, salty floral with a hint of banana Wonka Runts candy.   Rose Ikebana I can take or leave, so you might as well take it and enjoy it for yourself.

Today we have:

Osmanthe Yunnan, an oldie but goodie.  I bought yet another sample to try to decipher why I don’t own it, since I like it enough to keep using up my samples.  The answer:  it’s lovely for ten minutes until the Yunnan tea departs completely, at which point I find the Osmanthe floral a little sweet.   OY thereafter reminds me of Parfums de Nicolai’s wonderful Fig-Tea, only Fig-Tea works a lot better on my skin and has surprising lasting power (I think even Louise can wear it).

Eau de Gentiane Blanche – in which JCE raises his game by releasing a fragrance with so little aroma that it makes your average Issey Miyake feel like Bandit.   White musk, gentian, incense, iris.  Faint powdery smell that I have to capture by almost resting my nose on my skin and hoovering.  Musk anosmia?  I have no idea.

Eau de Pamplemousse Rose – orange, rhubofix (a Firmenich aromachemical with a “a zesty freshness and unique green rhubarb effect”), lemon, grapefruit and vetiver.   Okay, I can’t hold JCE responsible for the unfortunate effect grapefruit scents sometimes have on me.  I have read and forgotten the chemical associations involved in making grapefruit smell like a combination of urine and/or sulphur on skin, and certainly I am out of luck with this one.  The collective effect is sour rose, old vasewater, and That Boxwood/Eggy Smell.

For a completely different take on these, here’s a link to Patty’s review.

As JCE is already clearly trying to kill me (you think I’m paranoid, but witness Hermes Mousson and the rebirth of the melon trend in perfumery) I suppose I’ll concede aesthetic defeat and console myself with the other 90-kajillion fragrances I own.

So.  In an effort to reduce people flaming me: are there any houses that seem not to work very well for you?  (Go ahead, rag Guerlain.  I deserve it.  Or tell me you finally tried my BFF Worth Courtesan and it’s the worst.perfume.ever and go suck on some of that, March!)

Also, Andy Tauer sent me samples, I’ll pick two of the first ten commenters who ask for it to receive samples of Rose Chypree.  US only please, sorry, USPS has just raised postage and tightened restrictions, so lines are long and right now I don’t have the time or patience to submit to the paperwork required for mailing small, scary packages overseas.  For stateside addresses I can just fling it in the corner mailbox and scuttle away rapidly.

Finally, I wouldn’t want y’all to miss this fascinating response from IFRA on Grain de Musc (two parts, here and here).  Nice work, Denyse!

122 Comments
mals86 May 19, 2009

Man, when I was a mother of toddlers, I was too broke for brandy.

Eric May 18, 2009

Paprika Brasil is my favorite of the line. I was thinking of setting up a split of a travel set but I didn't think I'd get any interest! D= Osmanthe Yunnan is one of my least favorite, right next to Vanille Galante. But I bought a bottle of Brin de Reglisse and I hoard my (free from Hermes, thank God for the close proximity!) Vetiver Tonka sample. I got more sillage from Eau de Gentiane Blanche than any of the Hermes fragrances by Ellena, save maybe the nefarious Ambre Narguile which I bashed not 3 months ago on Makeup Alley. But Eau de Pamplemousse Rose fell apart. If it had a texture, it'd be viscous like an egg yoke and sticky. And it'd be fluorescent green.

sybil May 18, 2009

For me, it's more a question of "what houses do you actually like, oh picky one?" Not Parfumerie General, home of the Ratcage Patchouli, the Aomassai uh, not gonna say it ----crack accord, and a few other horrors, including the grape soda/rotten leather one--Cuir Venenum. I wish I could say I loved most of them, but whatever their hottie developer is doing is ruined by my skin. And Creed--every Creed I've ever tried is crap on me. There's a horrid ammonia note in their base that my skin just blares. Lorenzo Villoresi--any of the 6-7 I've tried last no more than 2 hours--that's too short for anything but EDT and cologne. I'm more or less indifferent to all the Hermes and the Hermessences, Anything that expensive, I wanna scream wow and smell it for 10 hours. And I'm gonna give Serge some love--yeah, he's weird, and sometimes just wrong. But so worth it when it works.... (who's crabby today? this is why I don't have a blog.)

Patty May 18, 2009

*weeping*

Mariekel May 18, 2009

Wah! I missed my chance at the Tauer! Ah well, i shall just wait patiently with the rest of the plebians...(violins playing) I am not a huge fan of the Hermessences, with the exception of the maligned Poivre. I like Osmanthus Yunnan, and even recommend it to others, but i wear it rarely. It just seems a bit, well, cold. As to houses that work for/on me, I am still searching for one whose every fragrance fills me with the need to immediately run up my credit to ridiculous lengths. I love Andy Tauer, but only his Orris and Marocain work on me so far. Lorenzo Villoresi has three that i love (Yerbamate, Sandalo and Garofano) but the rest are horrible. I admire Caron tremendously but find most of their perfumes (with the exception of Tabac Blond and Alpona) too femme-y. Guerlain? Only Chamade. Chanel? Only 22. I love the daring and intellectualism of Parfumerie Generale but adore just one: Querelle. Am smitten with Montale's aouds but loathe the rest of the line. And so on....

Disteza May 18, 2009

I'm pretty friendly with the Hermessences: AN l-l-loves me, Vetiver Tonka is suave and well-behaved, Brin de Reglisse is pretty if fleeting, ditto for Rose Ikebana. As for houses I cannot wear: Estee Lauder, Dior, Chanel (with the notable exception of Sycomore), most Guerlain (there are some exceptions here, but the older ones don't wear well on me, and most of the newer ones make my teeth ache), Creed, Mona di Oiro, Tauer perfumes (they're wonderful smelling, just not on me--the incense in the base goes 'off'), and most of the Ormonde Jayne line (Champaca is gorgeous though).

BBJ May 18, 2009

I'm thinking houses. I haven't tried enough things yet to feel totally at ease with sweeping statements, but lemme see: Chanel, so far, has been totally hit(No. 22, Bois des Iles) or totally miss (Coromandel, and anything released after 1990). Hermes is very hard for me. So far I only like Jardin Med. Lots of their stuff, to me, simply smells like DEET--there's a strong bug spray note that makes much of what they do unwearable. And the dip into Hermessences that was the Narguile went in another direction--oh God, it's sweeeeeet, and it's going to kill me. L'Artisan, so far, has been a disappointment. I love the Piment Brulant, which everyone else seems to think of as sort of a high-concept joke. Nothing else by them seems very special or interesting to me. They wear nicely on my skin, they just don't interest me at all.

violetnoir May 18, 2009

Hey, babe! Well, I used to love AN when it first debuted, but then found it rather suffocating. But, I do love OY and Vanille Galante. I can't help but love the salty/marshmallow thing that VG has going on. I still have not received my samples of the two new ones. Wonder where they are, but hopefully they will get here today. I just don't get the Ormonde Jayne line. Something in her base does not work for me. On the other hand, I have toyed with ordering a decant of her "super secret" scent, lol! It really does sound beautiful. Hugs!

BBJ May 18, 2009

Oh dear, the Ambre Narguile. I tried that. My immediate impression was that it smelled like applesauce with brandy, and gave me a strong impression of a mother of toddlers, losing it at home alone. While I may someday be that woman, I didn't much care for the smell. I don't get the amber, or the narguile, just very boozy applesauce.

mals86 May 18, 2009

I'm with you ladies on the ELs. Not a single one of them could I wear, except Pure White Linen Light Breeze or Beautiful Sheer, but why would I? I went back to check my notes on White Linen when I tested it again recently, and they say, "White linen? Only if left wet in the washer for three days to mildew." Gah.

Frenchie May 18, 2009

I'm not thrilled by a single Hermanessence, in fact Hermes frags leave me cold. I can't smell 24, Fabourgh at all (anosmic??)and Caleche is ok if I want to smell like expensive soap (which I normally don't). Hubby loves Jardins and they smell lovely on him, but that's it. Other houses that I don't particularly like are Caron (never tried vintage), Creed, E.Lauder and Lutens. I'm with Musette on Lutens: I 'get' it. They are interesting, different, daring, etc. But I don't want to wear them. They tend to be heavy on my skin and then dissapear very soon.

Musette May 18, 2009

Hermanessence, Hermanessence O, thee of Birkin Bags I hate your folks but wear Poivre S If I'm of other frags That's it for the po-try. My house loves include Guerlain-by-default (Mitsouko and Jicky make up for the recent weirdness), ditto Piguet (c'mon Bandit AND Fracas? What's not to love?) Babycakes, I so wanted to love Courtesan, I really did...but it's kinda 'off' for me, like someone wearing JeReviens and baby spitup. Sowwwy. I have tried and tried and tried with Serge - and I'm tired. They are nice and I 'get' them - but..well, let's just say if they all vanished off the Barneys counter this very afternoon I couldn't muster up a tear. I would kill everybody in this town were the Patous to return, in all their glory. I'm wearing Vacances today and it's cheering me right the hell up. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it! xoxo>-)

mals86 May 18, 2009

I tend to do well with classic Guerlains, although as I've admitted, Mitsouko hates me and LHB does this Medicine Cabinet of Hell thing on me. PdN is another house that I love, and if I had potsamoney I'd probably own bottles of half their line. The Chanels that I love, I really love (No. 19, No. 5 EP, and Rue Cambon), and the rest can go jump in the lake for all I care. Same deal with Caron: give me Aimez-Moi and Parfum Sacre and you can have the rest. Kenzo's hit-or-miss, too, and I'm with Kim on the Hermes line: I Just Don't Get It. The two OJ scents I've tried (Frangipani and Ta'if) were wonderful, and I just haven't explored the line as fully as I'd like. There's time, though... assuming I don't get hit by a bus.

lissakv May 18, 2009

right with you on the lack of love for JCE on general. I think I kinda like A.N. and the Rose Poivree but just kinda. should we duck and cover now?

mimmimmim May 18, 2009

Parfumerie Generale scents leave me cold. I don't hate them, I don't even dislike them, I just don't have a strong reaction to them at all. The one I could possibly live with that I've tried so far is Coze. I love Caron, and most Ormonde Jaynes. If Patou were still producing their old gems, they'd be way out ahead of everyone else. (I don't know if I'm sad that they cut off all their old scents or happy that at least they didn't gut them to comply with regulation - would an inferior version be better than no version at all?) But without Patou, Caron gets my current vote.

Kim May 18, 2009

I am with you on the Hermanessences - Ambre Narguille is terrible on me and the others either don't impress me or I just really don't like them. In fact, I don't get the house of Hermes at all (ducks!) With only a few exceptions, Chanel is the number one house for me - they all suit my skin and my tastes and I have been a die-hard fan for a very long time. Guerlain would be next, then Commes des Garcons. Caron? Yikes! not for me! PdN - found them boring. But Chanel and Guerlain have enough to keep me busy!

Nava May 18, 2009

I like the Hermessences; Vanille Galante, despite it's punch in the face opening of stargazer lily, is quite wonderful when it calms down. Ambre Narguile is baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet, even though it was not intended to be, and I love it. Brin de Reglisse is wonderful but fleeting, and I would love to own a bottle if I could get the thought of spending $200.00 on a bag of black licorice Nibs out of my head. Osmanthe Yunnan is completely irrelevant to me because Parfum d'Empire's Osmanthus Interdite is so much richer and longer lasting. Montale has got to be the worst on my skin. Everything across the board just goes rancid on me. I have a newfound appreciation for some Guerlains, but Chanel and I, with the exception of Coromandel, will never be best buds.

EileenS May 18, 2009

Paprika Brasil and Poivre Thingy are my most liked Hermessences, so I guess you and I are in the sniffin' club. Problem for me is that I want to like the Hermessence line -- conceptually, it is what I want but WHY doesn't it work on me like I think it should? It will be a mystery.. Other than Guerlain, which dries down to a powdery muck on me sadly, the Bond line has been a no-go. I've sampled pretty extensively and all have the same odd grape Kool-Aid note on my skin that overwhelms everything else. At least I've saved myself a lot of trouble by eliminating one whole line..

Leslie May 18, 2009

I find JCE's short-formula concept appealing, but implementation seldom works out for me. Of the Hermanessences, I only have OY in the travel size, and I think I'll probably stop there (I agree, OY does get sweet; I gauge my tolerance carefully before applying.) His wider releases for Hermes all contain some note that ends up making me nuts (that is, more so than usual), so no luck there. (Well, I did get through half a bottle of JdM before something reared up and bit me, so that's not bad.) I've had better luck with his TDC work. I've had good luck with Chanel, but the price point/bottle size for the exclusifs stir up commitment issues. I'm so grateful to all the decanters out there who enable my playing around.

Judith May 18, 2009

I do love the Ambre Narguile, but I also like the Poivre thingy--and the gentleman I spoke to in Hermes told me that he wore Poivre every day. So there! He was letting me try the Vanille, which I had tried before but can never remember (probably b/c Hermes won't give me a little vial sample, as they did with many others (either I am looking scrungier or they don't have them). I really wanted to like this, because many others do, but--meh. Miss you! Out of hibernation soon, I hope!

Melissa May 18, 2009

The Hermessences will never be at the top of my must-have list, but I find them interesting enough to buy the 15 ml travel sizes when I can find someone to split a box. Rose Ikebana and Vanille Galante are the two that I wear, although the Rose is readily absorbed by what Carter dubbed as my "scent-sucking skin". Pampelmousse and Gentiane, which I believe are going to be in wider distribution than the Hermessences, smell lovely. For about 30 seconds. Which is probably good, because if they lasted an hour, I might have purchased them and cursed the purchase an hour later. As for other houses? I love Guerlain, pastry notes forgiven, Chanel, Caron, PdN and on and on. The only house that leaves me mostly cold is Creed. Angelique Encens is my only love from them.

Sue May 18, 2009

Hi March, I got to googling Hanae Mori Magical Moon last night after stumbling onto your review of it from way back in 2006. Do you still adore it? Did you ever decide which you liked better - the parfum or EDP? Is it wearable in the summer? For some reason, the idea of coconut, tropical fruits, osmanthus, sandalwood and incense sounds so perfect. Also, if you don't mind, are there any decent pineapple scents (Courtesan has it listed as a note, I think)? Thanks! Sue

tara May 18, 2009

I think I might be number 10 or 11 (hopefully 10). Please enter me in the drawing. Anyway, I can't do Caron at all they all and I mean all smell like powder on me and nothing else. When I read all the beautiful Caron reviews I can't even imagine what the reviewer is talking about all I get is POWDER!!!

Robin May 18, 2009

Just happened to ask an SA in Hermes recently which was the biggest seller, and was surprised to hear it's Rose Ikebana, followed by the Ambre. The line I don't get: Mona di Orio.

Olfacta May 18, 2009

For me, a bad perfume experience is a scent I love that is gone in ten minutes, and there are many. Osmanthus in any form particularly. Some of the oldest Guerlains (yes, LHB and AdO -- duck and cover! -- which have some note in them that makes me almost queasy -- hey, I can't help it ok?) Ambre Narguille smelled like a wonderful bakery but who wants to smell like a bakery? Not me. And anything aquatic -- calone -- I really can't stand, which is why I haven't yet tried VG or Mousson. And the stuff that screams "men's cologne" -- dihydrol myrcenol I believe -- makes me want to run away. Or any aromachemical that brings to mind Juicy Fruit gum. So there isn't a particular line, I guess, that bothers me, just particular compositions.

Elle May 18, 2009

I have to say that w/ a couple of exceptions, the Hermessences leave me cold as well. I *want* to love JCE, but...they're just not working for me. Because I am eternally hopeful about perfumes, I was very optimistic about the new Gentian Blanche. Complete disaster on me. It's yet another instance of my being seduced by the sound of the notes or the description of the scent (I'm an advertiser's dream target), only to find that the translation on my skin is something painfully, radically different. Can't think of another line I'm as consistently disappointed by. Oh, Creed. Never have had much of a love fest w/ Creed. There are two or three scents I enjoy from them, but that's it.

MarkDavid May 18, 2009

While there may be one or two of the Hermessences that I will wear on occasion, these being Osmanthe Yunnan and...umm, Osmanthe Yunnan? Ok, so only one Hermessence I feel the need to apply intermittently throughout the year, I would never in a million years fork over the money for an Ellena creation at this price point. Unless they raise the price of Sur le Nil. But, I'd still just get it discounted somewhere, anyway. Houses that work for me: Hermes, to be honest with you. Everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING before and including Un Jardin Sur le Nil. Chanel loves me, too. And so does Guerlain. And Etat Libre d'Orange, if you can believe it. And ETRO.

Louise May 18, 2009

I just retried the Hermessences last week, and beg to differ, hun. I still and always will love the Vetiver Tonka, but I know you do hideous things to tonka (witness that unfortunate Vanille Tonka incident...), and don't care so much for vetiver. I get along very well with Vanille Galante, light as it is, and have moments of Nazgul affection, but substitute the Esteban Sensuelle Russie to good effect. The Rose is pleasant, but fleeting on me (quelle surprise!). I need to retry the Paprika, OY, and Poivre-I got my samps around here somewhere.... As for the new Pamplemousse, it was pleasant, but I get my grapefruit fix for the more lasting Calyx, my old pet. And the Gentiane...well, darling Lee, I'll have to believe you on it's power, because this time I'm with March-I smell nothing ;( Houses that work for me? Well Chanel and I get on well lately, most Guerlains work, Caron remains my friend (take that, Mousie Sex), a number of Micallefs, MDCI, Diivine, and of course, the magnificent Andy Tauers...!

Wordbird May 18, 2009

I have yet to find a house I truly loathe in all its incarnations, though feminine Creeds rarely seem to do it for me. (So I shop in the Boys Department, not such a struggle.) I used to have a big 'meh' for almost all things Balmain, but then I learned to love the oakmoss so now I'm a convert. Oh, oh, I know! Jo Malone. I just don't get her stuff. It all seems really weak and limp. But this post of yours, March, just points out to me what I love about reading perfume blogs. I know there are a few writers whose tastes are very similar to mine, so I go to them for 'will I like this' recommendations. But writers whose tastes differ from mine are equally interesting and illuminating because they pick out elements I wouldn't notice or talk about scents I wouldn't usually even think of wearing.

Bradamante May 18, 2009

Make Eau d'Issey feel like Bandit! Superior! Miss March, u r so funny!

fröken lila May 18, 2009

i am so happy that osmathe yunnan does not turn into something like fig tea on my skin, as fig tea turned into cat pee within 5 minutes on me. and i love osmanthe yunnan!

Zazie May 18, 2009

Oh, not only I hate almost everything Guerlain, but it seems also anything related to its DNA: last saturday I finally sampled the PdN line - underwhelmed is a very polite way to express my feelings about that ..ahem... stuff. On the other hand, during my sniffa-marathon, I discovered the hermessences:I found VT and OY very intersting (I wonder: do I need them? probably not), the OV,GB and PR absolutely refreshing, and Vanille Galante a sweet, acquatic mess. Maybe I just have a serious problem with vanilla - go figure.

Lee May 18, 2009

I'm with Carter on Chanel. Never tugged my choke chain effectively. As for Herman juice, I love some constantly (Poivre Samarkand, Osmanthe Yunnan), love some intermittently (Ambre Narguile, Vet Tonka), and feel meh about others (Paprika Brasil, Vanille Galante). As for Getniane Blanche - it must be musk anosmia March cos that bastard was with me all day - an arid white musk that had me oedemic from too much water consumption.

maitreyi1978 May 18, 2009

Am I one of the first ten? Give it to me! Please:)

Laura M May 18, 2009

Oh, am I too late? I'd love to try the Rose Chypree! (Did I spell it right? It's hard enough in English...) Thanks, Laura M

carter May 18, 2009

No, in my hurry I lied. Adding just this: Chanel frags never seem to work for me. I don't know why and it hurts my feelings quite a bit, but it is what it is. Ah, sweet mystery of life...

carter May 18, 2009

I have nothing to add except me, me, me for the rose chypree. Please, miss!

Jan L. May 18, 2009

I would LOVE to be entered! Thanks. And what about the old Liu fragrance? Any comments?

Katherine May 18, 2009

Please enter me in the draw -- I'm so excited about the new Tauer.

Masha May 18, 2009

I'm with you on the Hermessences. I was so excited to try these at Harrod's, finally, and whoof!poof! they lasted all of 30 seconds on my skin, 10 minutes on the cute little ribbons I sprayed. I kind of liked the Poivre Samarkand the best, also. I do love some of JCE's creations, just not these. They made his Jardin Sur le Nil seem very bold and over the top! Love to be in the drawing, too. Thanks!

Trish/Pikake May 18, 2009

Hey, I'm asking! Would love to try Rose Chypree. Rose is my new thing :-)

Nika May 18, 2009

Did you say Rose Chypree, March? Please, please, please... Thanks!:)

dea May 18, 2009

I would love to win some rose chypree! Please enter my name. Thanks for the opportunity!

Dana May 18, 2009

Would love to try one of Andy Tauer's scents. Thanks!

chris g May 18, 2009

Please, oh please pick me! Thanks! Chris G