My favorite perfumers develop themes over their perfume making. It is one of the reasons I enjoy covering new releases looking for those connections. One of those favorite perfumers is Christine Nagel. She has just released her second flanker to the original Hermes Eau des Merveilles called Hermes L’Ombre des Merveilles. She extends some of the mineralic themes she began in 2017’s Eau des Merveilles Bleue.
I could actually say the beginning of Mme Nagel’s mineralic phase began in 2011’s Etat Libre D’Orange Archive 69. That perfume is remembered more for the camphor but underneath there was a mineralic accord built around incense. That returns in L’Ombre des Merveilles in a prominent role. In Eau des Merveilles Bleue she wanted an accord of oceanic stones which she delivered beautifully. It has been one of my favorite versions of an aquatic perfume from the last few years. L’Ombre des Merveilles combines this experience into a different mineralic style of perfume.
The ingredient list is only three items; incense, tonka bean, and black tea. Those are the prevalent ingredients although I think I detect a couple of other things too. Those things call back to those previous two mineralic perfumes by Mme Nagel.
The mineralic accord is built around a very austere silvery frankincense. This is the kind of incense I often think of as light shimmering off a metal surface. I think I also smell judicious amounts of violet leaf and, wait for it, camphor. This time it is the camphor which takes the metallic quality and flattens it out into a stone accord. There is a real precision in Mme Nagel’s perfumery here. I might be wrong about the exact materials but whatever she is using takes the sterile metallic frankincense and turns it into dry stone. The remaining two ingredients provide some depth to the stoniness. The tonka bean used is high in coumarin adding in warmth. The black tea adds in a slightly smoky dried leafiness also imparting warmth to the stone. Once it all comes together it is like being in a cave where a fire has warmed the stones.
L’Ombre des Merveilles has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
The perfume geek in me has enjoyed dissecting the mineralic accord here. I look forward to Mme Nagel eventually letting me know what she did use to transform the incense to stone. I have come to adore this alternately chilly then warm fragrance. I think it is about to match those upcoming spring days which have the same temperature pattern.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Hermes.