New Perfume Review Twilly d’Hermes Eau Ginger- Where Are we Going?

I hope someone writes a book about perfumer Christine Nagel someday. I would really like to hear how she approached her time as in-house perfumer for Hermes. What I would be particularly interested in is how she came to creating the Twilly d’Hermes collection. In the beginning it seemed like a fragrance designed to be a young girl’s first bottle. The first flanker Twilly d’Hermes Eau Poivree felt like taking the line towards a slightly older demographic. The latest flanker Twilly d’Hermes Eau Ginger has me wondering who this is for.

Christine Nagel

All three Twilly d’Hermes releases are three ingredient compositions. The original had that slightly bubblegum aspect of tuberose. Eau Poivree upped the intensity by choosing three entirely different ingredients while giving them more presence. Eau Ginger is more in keeping with the original fresh-faced young girl aesthetic because it is a clean and fresh trio of ingredients. Except the one on the bottle is a little more forward in keeping with the style of the first flanker.

The floral at the heart of Eau Ginger is peony. She has a very fresh version of this “rose light” note. It dances uncomplicatedly as the ginger begins to appear. In the early moments, the ginger adds that fresh zingy kinetic aspect it is most often used for. It sharpens the floral while adding some energy. But then the ginger continues to increase in presence. Almost as if it is crystallizing on the peony. There comes a point where it was nothing but ginger. Cedar comes along to break the peony back out as it modulates the ginger. Now there seems to be room for all three. At this point it is a very fresh floral fragrance.

Twilly d’Hermes Eau Ginger has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

Eau Ginger is a perfume for fans of ginger. There is a not insignificant space of time where it was all I could smell. I happen to like ginger, but this felt like it was holding that note a little longer than I preferred. When all three ingredients do find their balance, this is a flanker more similar to the original. I thought I understood where Mme Nagel was headed with this collection. Eau Ginger makes me wonder if I do.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Hermes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Hermes H24- Steamy Masculine

I have resisted the comparisons between current Hermes in-house perfumer, Christine Nagel and her predecessor, Jean-Claude Ellena. Mainly because I believe Mme Nagel has formed her own aesthetic at Hermes which doesn’t resemble what came before. Which is what I was hoping for. Although there was probably going to be an inescapable comparison when she would try and design a new mainstream cologne. 2006’s Terre d’Hermes by M. Ellena is an acknowledged game-changing cologne. It introduced most of the world to the synthetic woody ingredient Iso E Super. The time has come for Mme Nagel to face up to this as she releases Hermes H24.

The name comes from the men’s ready-to-wear collection at Hermes. Mme Nagel spent time with the menswear creative director Veronique Nichanian as she was thinking about H24. What she came away with was an idea of making a textural fragrance equivalent to the fashion of Mme Nichanian. There was also one other part of their collaboration which will come to be the signature of H24.

H24 is a simple construction around herbs and woods with a rich floral sandwiched between. Mme Nagel sends it all in a different direction with a unique ingredient in perfumery.

Christine Nagel

H24 opens in classic masculine fragrance territory with a very sharp clary sage. For almost fifty years this has become one of the keynotes of mainstream men’s fragrance. It persists because it also has a freshness to it which allows it to surf the wave of any popular trend. In H24 Mme Nagel brings it into stark focus as the herbal nature is enhanced. She pairs it in the early going with narcissus. When I saw narcissus in the ingredient list, I was expecting a powerful rooty version. Mme Nagel has somehow softened the nature of the narcissus. Where I expected a deeply colored floral, she has diluted the effect in a way that allows the clary sage to also find some space within it. This is where H24 begins to part ways with the other mainstream men’s choices. It is followed by the use of rosewood as the woody piece of the triad. This is one of the least used woody ingredients and I have never understood why. Here it provides a woody balance to the sage and narcissus that other woods are incapable of. Rosewood has a nuanced scent profile with a hint of what the name portends. It folds itself into the sage and narcissus in a compelling nucleus.

Now comes the ingredient which will change how H24 is thought of. While Mmes Nagel and Nichanian were visiting the tailoring shop they smelled the steamy chemical being used on the fabrics. Mme Nagel wanted to incorporate that into H24. She would settle on the synthetic molecule sclarene as her surrogate. If you’ve ever spent time at a dry cleaner or tailoring shop, there is that scent of metallic chemical humidity which hovers in the air. Sclarene is the scent of that. When Mme Nagel inserts it into H24 it doesn’t make me think so much of a tailor as it does of a futuristic aesthetic. It adds a steamy metallic piece to the original trio. It is as surprising and enjoyable as it was when I tried Terre D’Hermes for the first time. It just feels unique.

H24 has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I think there will be a lot of debate about the way the sclarene feels to different noses. I can see some people focusing in on the synthetic nature of it. As a chemist who has worked with it, I thought I would do the same. Except Mme Nagel has integrated it with the other ingredients that it truly isn’t that synthetic feeling. As I have worn H24 I am not sure if I feel the textural more than I feel the balance of ingredients making a compelling cologne.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Hermes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Hermes L’Ombre des Merveilles- A Different Mineral

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.

Christine Nagel

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.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Twilly D’Hermes Eau Poivree- Leveling Up

When Twilly D’Hermes was introduced two years ago I think many missed its reason for existing. In the press release and subsequent interviews in-house perfumer Christine Nagel wanted this to be a perfume which would appeal to a young girl. Perhaps as a first perfume on her dresser. I tried to see it from that perspective and believed that Mme Nagel made smart choices in the tuberose, ginger, and sandalwood to appeal to that demographic. From my point of view I thought she succeeded. It wasn’t widely loved by the perfume community, but it wasn’t meant for them. I enjoyed the sense of fun which seemed to be interwoven throughout. Now Mme Nagel is here to take the child up a level with a slightly more mature composition called Twilly D’Hermes Eau Poivree.

Christine Nagel

Even though the name might lead you to believe this is a flanker; it is not. None of the keynotes from Twilly D’Hermes are present here. If there is any connection it is in the simplified three-ingredient aesthetic as that is repeated in Twilly D’Hermes Eau Poivree. This new fragrance is an entirely different style of perfume.

The press release tells me this new iteration is “the peppery spirit of the Hermes girls”. Based on the accompanying photos those “girls” look to be in their early 20’s. Mme Nagel hasn’t explicitly stated this is the demographic for Twilly D’Hermes Eau Poivree but I am thinking it is. Much of how I think of it comes from believing that.

This time the three keynotes are baie rose, rose, and patchouli. I spend a lot of time writing about how versatile an ingredient baie rose is. Mme Nagel spends most of this fragrance proving that. In the early going it is the fresh green herbal-ness which holds the attention. As a transparently powdery rose rises the slight fruitiness of baie rose transforms it into a subtle fruity floral through the middle stages. In the base the patchouli seems like it is a fractionated version with the herbal qualities of the ingredient enhanced. It allows for the baie rose to come full circle back to herbal in the end.

Twilly D’Hermes has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I believe Twilly D’Hermes Eau Poivree is going to have more fans outside the target demographic than the original did. I also think this is the kind of perfume which will be a best seller in that targeted generation of women. Twilly D’Hermes Eau Poivree is a level up for a woman who wants to leave children’s things behind.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Hermes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Hermes Un Jardin sur la Lagune- Garden of Terrestrial Delights

I have only been to Venice once. It was a visit which has lingered in my memory. One aspect was the secret of Venice. What lies behind the walls is beautiful. When we visited Mrs. C and I were fortunate to be invited to two private residences. As you walk through the city you are encased with walls which have doors. If you walk through those doors what we found were spectacular gardens leading to the door of the house. Because it was spring, we spent time with our hosts sipping our pre-dinner drinks. The scent of those gardens is a mixture of flowers, the water of the canals, and the stone of the walls. It is a distinct scent of place. Turns out perfumer Christine Nagel also must share my experience because she has made a perfume evoking exactly that; Hermes Un Jardin sur la Lagune.

The “Un Jardin” series might be the second most famous series in perfumery. That is because in a 2005 New Yorker article author Chandler Burr introduced the world to perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena and all that goes into making a perfume. If you have never read it here is the link. This would also become part of Mr. Burr’s book “The Perfect Scent” a few years later. While at Hermes M. Ellena created five “Un Jardin” perfumes with Le Jardin de Monsieur Li being one of the last perfumes he did before retiring. More than anything at Hermes this collection represented to me the overall aesthetic M. Ellena created at Hermes.

Christine Nagel

With the changing of the nose as Mme Nagel took over I wondered if she would even try to make her mark. Un Jardin sur la Lagune is the answer. If the Ellena Un Jardins were all about expansive transparency; Un Jardin sur la Lagune is working in a more compact perfume frame.

The press release tells me that Mme Nagel was inspired by a garden planted by an English Lord hidden behind walls. I am not sure who or when this took place, but I can tell you the secret gardens still exist. What Mme Nagel does is capture the closeness of the walls enclosing a blooming garden surrounded by canals.

Un Jardin sur la Lagune opens with the florals. When I first sniffed, I thought I detected a lot of florals. It wasn’t until I saw the note list that I learned it was only a couple. The floral keynote is magnolia as if that is the centerpiece of the garden. It is seemingly surrounded by wisps of jasmine, orange blossom, and osmanthus. All of that came from Mme Nagel’s inclusion of pittosporum. Some verbena provides a spicy green foliage effect. That is the “jardin”. Mme Nagel then surrounds it with a stone and sea accord capturing the rest of the milieu. If you tried Eau des Merveilles Bleue you have an idea of what this accord smells like. In that earlier perfume it is a focal point. In this perfume it is a framing device; a way to capture the floral quality in a gentle aquatic mineral embrace. This is where Un Jardin sur la Lagune completely captures a hidden garden in Venice.

Un Jardin sur la Lagune has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is such a perfume of exact geography I am enchanted by the way I feel like I’m back in Venice. Mme Nagel has taken me back behind the walls into a garden of terrestrial delights.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Hermes.

Mark Behnke

Dead Letter Office: Spazio Krizia Donna- Left Behind

As we entered the new millennium the trend of niche perfumery was taking hold. Throughout the mid-1990’s there was this segment of perfume producers re-writing the rules. Pushing back against the commercial with a vision that perfume could be something more. I write over and over about those founding brands of the style of fragrance which changed the way things were done. What gets lost is there were some brands who were also looking to find their audience while never surviving. These were the putative failures. Except they really weren’t. There were equally great ideas at the brands which got left behind. This month I look at one of those with Spazio Krizia Donna.

Mariuccia Mandelli

Mariuccia Mandelli and her husband Aldo Pinto founded Krizia as a ready-to-wear Italian brand in 1954. Sig. ra Mandelli was a trendsetter as one of the mothers of the short shorts known as “hotpants” her most well-known innovation. As the 1990’s began Sig. ra had begun the diversification that every successful fashion brand had undergone. They had started making perfume in 1980 with their debut release K de Krizia by perfumer Maurice Roucel. They would follow that with four other perfumes. All five of those perfumes were nicely done. In 1991 is seems like Sig. ra Mandelli had decided she wanted the perfumes which carried the Krizia name to have something to say. By collaborating with perfumer Dominique Ropion she wanted to lead the way with her fragrance collection as she had with her fashion. With the release of Krazy Krizia she succeeded. For the next fifteen years she would keep making interesting niche-style perfumes. My favorite is Spazio Krizia Donna.

Christine Nagel

Spazio Krizia Donna was released in 1998 it was the “donna” version of the “uomo” version released five years earlier. Beyond the name there is no comparison Spazio Krizia Uomo is a crazy herbal vetiver in a moss-covered ocean cave. Spazio Krizia Donna was composed by Christine Nagel which confirms Sig. ra Mandelli’s eye for talent. It is best described as a floral gourmand a term which had not ben coined in 1998.

Spazio Krizia Donna opens with a spicy rose floating on a cup of slightly bitter brewed coffee. There have been quite a few floral coffee releases the last year or so. This is more floral than coffee, but the roasted contrast is a nice companion. Mme Nagel uses an ingredient which is not used very much these days, cascarilla bark. The essential oil from the distillation of this wood is a kind of allspice effect. If you smell it by itself you will think you are smelling a blended perfume of pepper, nutmeg, and green herbal-ness. In the case of this perfume it elicits a response from the spicy core of the rose. Paradise seed is also present providing a nutty cardamom piece. This is such an interesting accord as Mme Nagel uses alternative sources for specific spice effects. It gives it a lighter feel than it probably would have if the regular ingredients were used. The base accord covers the florals in a sticky coating of honey which is warmed by amber and musk.

Spazio Krizia Donna has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

The collection of Krizia releases from 1991-2006 contain some great examples of the early days of niche perfumery. They continued to be available until three or four years ago. The brand was sold in 2014 and it was soon after the fragrance collection was contracted to just four perfumes; none from the time period I mentioned above. The scions of niche perfumery are well-known. If you want to find the creative brands which couldn’t thrive you have to visit the Dead Letter Office.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I received from a reader.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Terre D’Hermes Eau Intense Vetiver- Vetiver on Top

If you are succeeding a perfume legend would you step right up and invite comparison? I think if you are confident in your abilities the answer is yes. The perfumer who succeeded Jean-Claude Ellena as in-house perfumer at Hermes, Christine Nagel has spent some time showing she is confident enough to invite those comparisons. I have been very impressed with her early releases for Hermes. Even so I admit some trepidation at the thought of her creating a flanker of one of M. Ellena’s best known perfumes, Terre D’Hermes. Turns out she continues to show respect for the Hermes aesthetic refined by M. Ellena while continuing to re-define it. The new Terre D’Hermes Eau Intense Vetiver is a great example of how she does this.

Terre D’Hermes was groundbreaking in 2006 because M. Ellena relied on one synthetic ingredient, Iso E-Super, in overdose. The formula was 55% Iso E Super. Because of the size of the molecule there are people who can’t smell it. For those people if you ask them what they do smell they will say vetiver. That’s because in the non-Iso E-Super 45% Terre D’Hermes is a grapefruit and vetiver prominent fragrance. That is where Mme Nagel begins.

Christine Nagel

I don’t have access to all the synthetic vetiver ingredients but for Terre D’Hermes Eau Intense Vetiver it seems like Mme Nagel has decided to allow what I believe is a vetiveryl acetate analog to take up some of the Iso E Super percentage. The reason I think this is there is a saltiness to the vetiver that I’ve only experienced in synthetic versions I’ve smelled. It is a fantastic effect by itself. Layered onto the core of Terre D’Hermes it forms a summery bright fragrance.

The opening is the classic bitter grapefruit and pepper. For Terre D’Hemes Eau intense Vetiver, Mme Nagel switches out the black pepper of the original for the more versatile Szechuan pepper. I like this top accord much better than the original. I have really come around on this complex ingredient. It carries lots of nuance which allows for Mme Nagel to find just the right version to use. What comes through is more herbal quality pepper which captures a bit of the sulfurous grace notes in the grapefruit. It has an almost minty freshness which sets the stage for the synthetic vetiver. This is a salty vetiver with a hint of smoke. Mme Nagel uses it to pick up on the green zestiness of the grapefruit and the herbal quality of the Szechuan pepper. It comes together in an expansive vetiver dominant accord that is compelling. Then the Iso E Super arrives with its scent of desiccated pencil shavings. This is still here in high concentration, but I will bet it is under 25% this time.

Terre D’Hermes Eau Intense Vetiver has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

Terre D’Hermes Eau Intense Vetiver is a recognizable flanker of the original. It is also a recognizable change from the original as Mme Nagel chooses to amplify some different qualities. The vetiver she uses makes it seem like we are near the coast without tripping over into full on aquatic. By putting vetiver on top, she has created a worthy successor to one of the best masculine perfumes of this century.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Sephora.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Hermes Eau de Citron Noir- Cologne, Very Dry Please

There are things in life I like dry. My martinis are one of them. What that means is I want only a drop or two of vermouth in my chilled gin. That gives a more astringent effect as I sip my drink. There are many perfumes which also benefit from that same dry style. Foremost among them would be cologne. One of the more interesting explorations of cologne comes from the Hermes “Eau” collection. It has always provided the perfumer an opportunity to interpret this classical perfume architecture as a post-modern version. The latest release fits right in; Eau de Citron Noir.

Loomi a.k.a Black Lemon a.k.a. Citron Noir

When I saw the “noir” in the name I was wondering what might be going on. I then looked up “citron noir” and was introduced to the Persian cooking ingredient “loomi”. It is formed by drying limes after boiling them in salt water. They look like charred unappetizing black globes. As this material transferred from the Middle East to the Western world loomi became lemon and the color was obvious. So black lemon is “citron noir”.

Christine Nagel

Perfumer Christine Nagel follows up her first cologne for Hermes, Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate, with something different as she embraces the citrus origins of cologne with modern eyes. To recreate loomi as a perfume she blends multiple citrus ingredients before steeping them in black tea. It forms a spectacularly arid accord just like the material itself.

Mme Nagel uses lime as part of her citrus mélange, in a nod to reality, but here the black lemon accord is really made up of pieces of lemon-like ingredients: Lemon, lemon blossom, and Buddha’s Hand citron. It forms a swirly tart accord with almost no respite from that until she boils it in black tea. I don’t know what tea ingredient she uses but the effect is that of a smoky style akin to Lapsang Souchong. The tea accord also dries everything out. It wasn’t particularly juicy prior to this but now it is like a desert instead of a dessert. The slight smokiness is reinforced by the base note of cabrueva wood which provides a very light woody finish.

Eau de Citron Noir has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Eau de Citron Noir is another excellent entry into the Hermes “Eau” collection. Because I’ve been wearing it in these early days on unseasonably cold days there were times it never felt like it opened up as fully as it might a month or so from now. Even on these cooler days the skirl of a thin tendril of smoke through the very dry citrus was still enjoyable. I am looking forward to trying Eau de Citron Noir while sipping the drink I discovered looking it up for this article, iced loomi, later in the summer.

Disclosure: this review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Hermes Hermessence Cardamusc & Musc Pallida- Nagel Makes It Her Own


When someone is tasked with having to follow a highly respected predecessor they know there will be comparisons. One way to approach this is to make significant changes making the enterprise your own. Another option is to understand what made the previous occupant successful and find a way to evolve that. It is the latter which has been occurring at Hermes as Christine Nagel has taken over from Jean-Claude Ellena as in-house perfumer. She has worked her way through most of the collections adding her imprint upon them. One of the few left is also one of the most important, the Hermessence collection. She has now opened the Nagel era of Hermessences with the release of three eau de toilettes and two ‘essence de parfums”.

I reviewed the three EdTs; Agar Ebene, Cedre Sambac, and Myrrhe Eglantine yesterday. Those are the slow evolution which has been happening as Mme Nagel provides her artistic perspective on that style. What has captured my attention more fully in this new set of Hermessences are the two “essence de parfums”; Cardamusc and Musc Pallida. These are significantly different from what has come before. Oil-based formulations which give an entirely different textural feel. They still hew to the minimal ingredient concept with which this collection was founded. What really changes is we leave the ethereal behind for shimmering depths.

Christine Nagel

Cardamusc is what the name portends cardamom combined with not one musk but a few. Mme Nagel uses cardamom in overdose. This has to be the single loudest ingredient in any Hermessence, ever. As is typical when a high-quality ingredient is used in overdose there are unexpected nuances not usually noticed. Cardamom at typical concentration adds a woody-tinged citrus effect. Cardamom in Cardamusc provides a multi-faceted single ingredient accord. The lemony citrus effect is enhanced as is the woody underpinning. What also becomes more evident is a set of nuanced green facets which hide underneath. There is a mint-like aspect, a leafy herbal one, and a slightly grassy vein. This is cardamom like I have never experienced previously and since it is one of my favorite notes I was hypnotized. It gets better as tendrils of a warming musk accord start to intersperse itself throughout. The cardamom is never cool as it can be in other perfumes. It starts warm but the musks provide a heat mirage style effect. I felt like this rose off my skin in waves.

Musc Pallida is also what is given in the name, iris and again not one musk but a suite of them. As with Cardamusc the iris is what comes first but this is not at high concentration. It is an iris effect seen in better perfume versions. I presume Mme Nagel is using an orris butter of some kind because it has that nuanced feel of the better ones I’ve encountered. What it means for Musc Pallida is Mme Nagel uses a set of musks which cover the entire octave of musk. Early on it is a white musk which makes the powdery nature of iris expand on the transparent bubble it provides. A mid-weight musk captures and enhances the violet-like floral quality. A slightly earthy-animalic musk teases out the rhizomal rootiness. Together as it was in Cardamusc it makes up this shimmery style which also waxes and wanes on my skin. It is a lovely combination of ingredients.

It is with these “essence de parfum” Hermessences where Mme Nagel makes this collection her own. Both are like nothing else in it. Also it is early but I can not get enough of Cardamusc. Right now, it is close to all that I want to wear. If you feel about iris the way I do about cardamom I believe Musc Pallida has the same quality to entrance you. If you’ve stayed away from the Hermessences because they seemed too light or ethereal you might want to see if Mme Nagel’s “essence de parfums” provide a more satisfying experience. With the release of both Mme Nagel has completed the process of making the fragrance side of Hermes her own.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples I received with purchase from Hermes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Hermes Hermessence Agar Ebene, Cedre Sambac, & Myrrhe Eglantine- Nagel Steps In

Much to their credit the changeover from Jean-Claude Ellena to Christine Nagel as in-house perfumer at Hermes has been a gradual effort. Mme Nagel has been adding new releases to the existing Hermes fragrance collections. Except for one. Perhaps the most important one, the Hermessence collection.

Begun in 2004 by M. Ellena it is the private collection which all designer brands have. It also consisted of the most diverse display of his minimalist aesthetic. The individual perfumes were frequently described as haiku. One of the reasons I was enthusiastic over Mme Nagel’s appointment as M. Ellena’s successor was she had done a version of Hermessence-like perfumes when she was at Jo Malone; 2010’s Cologne Intense Collection. In the press release for that collection she said, “I chose to take potentially opposing ingredients of very high quality to create unexpected yet harmonious fragrances”. Remove the “potentially opposing” out of that sentence and it is a description of the Hermessence aesthetic.

M. Ellena’s last Hermessence was 2016’s Muguet Porcelaine. I was waiting for Mme Nagel to begin her Hermessence collection. In what I think is another smart move Mme Nagel opens the new era of Hermessence with a set of five releases; three are the same eau de toilette concentrations as the previous releases with two additional released in “essence de parfum” concentration. I am going to review all five over the next two days. I’ll start with the three eau de toilette releases today and continue with the “essence de parfum” releases tomorrow.

Christine Nagel

Agar Ebene has had a lot of fuss made about it as being the first Hermes perfume to feature oud. After wearing it I’m not sure that line has truly been crossed. The press release makes a big deal that this is “agarwood” the uninfected tree which becomes oud. Which is sort of the small print to keep the oud pledge still in place. All of that should tell you the star of Agar Ebene is not the agarwood but the other ingredient, fir balsam. Mme Nagel uses a rich version around which, I believe, she wraps a precisely balanced oud accord. It allows for only a touch of the agarwood to “infect” the balsam. There are moments when it smells like the beginning of a leather accord. It ends up making this, unexpectedly, a comfort scent. If you’re looking for a Hermes oud this isn’t the one.

Cedre Sambac is the one which calls back to that desire to take “potentially opposing” ingredients looking for the harmony. Mme Nagel takes a strong cedar and finds that the indolic jasmine sambac doesn’t clash. Cedar is the most pedestrian of perfume ingredients. By taking a fully indolic jasmine and allowing it to grow up the trunk of that cedar. The skanky effect of the prototypical white flower snaking around the slightly green woodiness of the cedar was compelling each day I wore it. It is my early favorite of these three.

Myrrhe Eglantine is a spring rose and myrrh duet. It is my least favorite of the three eau de toilette versions. Some of that is probably because the rose is a slightly spicier take on the typical debutante rose rampant in spring rose releases. The myrrh is a whisper underneath the rose which rises in intensity the longer it was on my skin. I suspect this will be the best-seller among the new collection because it is the easiest to wear.

The three eau de toilette releases are Hermessences but they are recognizably Nagel Hermessences. Which I am happy to see. For where Mme Nagel is really making her mark on the Hermessence collection come back tomorrow for my reviews of the two “essence de parfum” releases.

Disclosure: this review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke