It is a difficult endeavor to try and emulate a mentor. Even the greatest perfumers can get too caught up in trying to tread the fine line between homage and imitation. If you can get it right a little bit of both can add up to something memorable. Tilt too far to either side of the line and you compare unfavorably to what you are trying to use for inspiration. Even the most precise technicians can fail to find the right balance. It is how I feel about the new Hermes Hermessence Muguet Porcelaine.
As in-house perfumer for Hermes Jean-Claude Ellena begins to wind down his career I imagine there are some things he wants to check off his to-do list. As an artist inspired by Edmond Roudnitska; especially the muguet gold standard Diorissimo it was only a matter of time until M. Ellena tried his own version.
As soon as I heard about this I know I expected sheer because that is what M. Ellena does. Except this time the transparency has the effect of keeping me at arm’s length. On the days I wore Muguet Porcelaine I was reminded of the first verse of the Emerson, Lake, & Palmer song Karn Evil 9:
Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends
We’re so glad you could attend
Come Inside! Come Inside!
There behind the glass is a real blade of grass
Be careful as you pass
Move Along! Move Along!
If you substitute muguet for blade of grass this is how I felt about Muguet Porcelaine; similar to a museum exhibit well-executed but sterile.
Muguet Porcelaine opens on another variation of the green watery effect which M. Ellena has been employing quite liberally in his latest creations. I generally like it but in this case it was distracting as if it formed the first pane of glass. The muguet pushes its way through the green mist but what comes out the other side is so cleaned up it almost feels artificial. This again was the other pane of glass which sealed off the main note.
Hermes Muguet Porcelaine has 6-8 hours longevity and moderate silage.
Diorissimo is striking for its simultaneous effect of floral and animalic. Muguet Porcelaine is missing the animalic. I am sure Muguet Porcelaine is the perfume M. Ellena wanted to make. It just is so standoffish it is going to be easy to ignore. If you ever wanted a very clean muguet perfume Muguet Porcelaine should be just what you’re looking for.
Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.