Three recent perfumes by Hermès : ROSE AMAZONE (20I4), CUIR D’ANGE (20I4) + LE JARDIN DE MONSIEUR LI (20I5)

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When the assistants are behaving themselves and not acting too disdainfully, it’s always a pleasure to head in to the Hermès boutique in Marounouchi, Tokyo and sample the latest scents on offer. We were totally blossomed out yesterday, having spent the afternoon wandering around the big city and seeing the stunning riverside trees at Midorigafuchi where the brisk winds blew the flowers off the branches like a snowstorm (to the delight of the gathering crowd). It was beautiful, and very atmospheric, but I felt that if I saw even one more pink petal, I might puke.

A quick taxi around the imperial moat to the pristine swish boulevards near Tokyo station and Hermès. I was intrigued to smell Jean Claude Ellena’s new variant on a release from I974 – Rose Amazone, one of the final works of the fêted in-house perfumer (who is soon due to hand the scented baton over to Christine Nagel), and a somewhat bizarre choice of release for Hermès. I am often drawn to blackcurrant bud notes, and Rose Amazone is chock full of cassis, along with raspberry and blackberry undertones flushing the roses with the typical Claude Ellena grapefruit over a faintly chypre-ish backdrop (as a nod to the original): in essence a bolstered Rose Ikebana, with reminiscences of Diptyque’s L’Ombre Dans L’Eau, Hermès Rouge Eau Delicate (and even Yves Saint Laurent’s Baby Doll). I am not quite sure what demographic will be drawn to wearing this, but it is certainly quite a pleasant little number, if puzzlingly inessential.

Cuir D’Ange. I must confess that the idea of another Ellena leather slightly turned my stomach. I detested Kelly Calèche for its thin and unconvincing chemical overelaboration, and although I do wear several fragrances with leather accents, this is not really my favourite family of perfume. The concept of a watery constructed cuir therefore really made me feel somewhat queasy, which is why I was amazed to find, when I actually sprayed on some of Cuir D’Ange, that the perfumer had totally confounded my expectations by creating a soft, full, plush and emotively affecting suede-heliotrope-hawthorn perfume that is very classically orientated, romantic, haunting (if a touch one-note), and very reminiscent of my grandmother’s house, in particular the soap that she always used – Camay: a total flashback to my childhood and the window from the bathroom onto her garden while standing in the middle of Tokyo. This is quite an original perfume, actually: supple, musky, floral, smelling both antiquated and nostalgic, yet also, in sturdy architectural form, quite contemporary, and a scent that I can imagine becoming a cult favourite for those who love their leathers and suedes not too bitter,  especially those of the soft, tactile, kid-glove variety.

Le Jardin De Monsieur Li, I’m afraid, is one of those perfumes whose name is far more poetic than its contents, and it would be a shame if this were the last work that Jean Claude Ellena produces for Hermès. This is not a bad scent, by any stretch of the imagination, but it isn’t particularly interesting either. You have smelled this kind of modern cologne many times: I think of these scents as smelling very ‘white’; that blank, chemical sheen that we have seen in such fragrances as White by Armani, Voyage D’Hermès, or Love In White by Creed; that fresh, oyster shimmer of ambivalently vanillic backdrop touched with some ‘jasmine’, mint, and a pleasing top dose of kumquat that you smell and feel your eyes glaze over. It is the kind of fragrance that will do well in the Asian market, probably, and I am sure that if a beautiful young well dressed woman in Shanghai or Singapore were to walk past you on a Spring day sprayed with Li that it could in fact smell quite nice: clean; feminine; drifty. You wouldn’t, however, imagine that she had very much to say on smelling her perfume up close, and possibly find yourself sniffing at your own wrists in secret each time her head were turned, constantly worried that you might run out of conversation.

12 Comments

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12 responses to “Three recent perfumes by Hermès : ROSE AMAZONE (20I4), CUIR D’ANGE (20I4) + LE JARDIN DE MONSIEUR LI (20I5)

  1. cookie queen

    I bought Cuir D’Ange. It’s beautiful.

  2. lilybelle

    The first two sound interesting. The last one, meh. I love Hermes. I so respect the Maison based upon the little I know. I’m always behind the times so I like having future discoveries to look forward to. I wear Caleche and I have my step father’s Equipage. I remember liking Amazone years ago, and I’ve been wondering lately whether I should revisit it. I didn’t know JCE was leaving. So many to get caught up on.

    • I wouldn’t worry about the Rose Amazone, then, which is pleasant but ultimately meh central. The Cuir D’Ange I would definitely recommend at least once. Quite interesting, actually.

      • lilybelle

        Cuir d’Ange does sound interesting. I love that delicate kid leather note, but not any leather bigger than that.

  3. Sun Mi

    I’ve been dying to try Cuir d’Ange, and reading your take on it has convinced me even further that I must!

    • I mean I don’t think I would wear it, because there is something just too nostalgic about it, almost creepily so if I am honest, but at the same time I do think it is gorgeously made and a very warm and soft leather. If you like the idea of that you have to try it. I can imagine that on the right skin it could give off the most gentle and beautiful suedeish sillage.

  4. Leather, oh how I love leather scents. I have been curious about Cuir d’Ange for awhile, happy to hear you found it pleasing. It is one I must try. Par chance, did you ever smell Cuir de Lancôme? The one released around 6 years ago? I was wondering if it had anything in common with that.
    I am saddened about Le Jardin de Monsieur Li being so vapid and lackluster. That was one I was truly intrigued by; thought I could find a light ethereal scent for summer with this one. Alas, if it is lacking in character, well, what is the use of trying it.
    I wonder why he decided to revisit Amazone? I wore it just recently and it is such a superb scent on its own. Plus, there was already a flanker before, did they really need to flank it again?
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on these and also thrilled the Hermès sales associates did not descend like vultures upon you. The only thing worse than them descending upon one is when the give the lovely air of condescension also.
    Wish you could send some of those glorious cherry blossom petals over here, I would be thrilled to have tons of them around.

    • I did try that Lancome Cuir and really liked it actually. That struck me as quite hard and beautiful for it, one of those scents that takes a while to bloom on the skin, whereas this is a bit too emotive: it expresses itself all at once, and much more suede than leather I would say. A floral, powdery suede. Definitely worth a sniff at least.

      • I will definitely have to make a trip into the Hermès boutique and give it a spritz.
        I am so pleased you like Cuir de Lancôme. I love it and not too many others are familiar with it and not many who are love it as I do. I thought it was a very well crafted scent and very much in keeping with the original; not easy to do with restrictions and material cost. But sadly, its life was short so I guess it was too costly to produce, or just not a huge seller.

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