REACTIONS: : : VIOLETTE VOLYNKA by HERMES (2022) + YOUNG ROSE (2021) + EYES CLOSED by BYREDO (2022)

After several attempts to get into Hermes, I finally got to smell what I was after: Hermessence Violette Volynka. For the vintage perfumista, ‘violets and leather’ immediately conjures up Balmain’s Jolie Madame, or Christian Dior Fahrenheit: of the two, Volynka is momentarily closer to the latter – a brief flash of violet leaf clarity before a smooth, chamois lipstick patina of powdered, Hermes leather quickly takes over – elegantly sultry; composed; stylish; complete; a dusky, full bodied floral; warmer violet tones coming in later to settle down into the sueded tones of musked, quiet luxury that put me in mind of sloe-eyed slow dreamers like Ombre Mercure by Terry Gunzberg or the now defunct, magnetically perturbing Tom Ford Violet Blonde. I thought this was good – a scent of high aesthetic competence, sensual and subtly sexed, that you will basically take to instantly or not (I did not; there was something too gently nonagenarian and soaped; white-cardiganed, in the later stages I am not yet quite ready for ; I didn’t feel at ease).

Surprisingly, I found myself instead liking both of the recentish Byredo releases, Young Rose, and Eyes Closed.

I don’t know why I say ‘surprisingly’, really, as I also liked Mumbai Noise and the strange, mentholated blackcurrant oddness that was Mixed Emotions: perhaps it’s because in the past I had no time for the (admittedly exciting and photorealistic ) modern hyperflorals like Flowerhead, Infloressence and La Tulipe, nor the burnt amberwoods that sear through so many of this house’s creations like burning torches. Recent releases, though, have been gentler, more benevolent: both Young Rose and Eyes Closed founded on orris; cushions of sweet, powdered iris that give a pleasant lift to the senses with a positive immediacy. Young Rose is a Sichuan pepper soaked rose Damascena, couched in ambrette and musk; a perfume that smells happy and optimistic in one direct hit. So with the world as it is at the moment, sinking further and further into neo-Nazism and bigoted brutality, if people, young or old, want to go round smelling like this then that is absolutely alright with me.

I knew nothing whatsoever about Eyes Closed before trying it – in some ways the best approach, when sampling a new fragrance as you have no preconceptions – you just inhale and let your brain do the rest. Eyes Closed could signify a number of things (giving up/resignation; sleep; obliviousness) but on first inhalation I could tell that this was all about trust; about someone you love telling you to close your eyes before giving you something special, a surprise. The perfume sent me whirling down an instant tunnel of familiarity and safety, contentment; I couldn’t place the memory exactly (some childhood Christmas? a cosy wintery evening spent with D?) But anyway, a calming gingerbread iris spiced up with cinnamon, cardamon and carrot seeds and a curiously medicinal papyrus patchouli drydown unexpectedly, on a melancholic winter’s day among the crowds of Christmas shoppers rather caught my fancy. I would have to wear this properly over a day to decide if this is completely me; but first impressions are vital with any olfactory composition; a perfume should always speak to you with immediacy : and this one did.

15 Comments

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15 responses to “REACTIONS: : : VIOLETTE VOLYNKA by HERMES (2022) + YOUNG ROSE (2021) + EYES CLOSED by BYREDO (2022)

  1. OnWingsofSaffron

    Isn’t it very, very weird. I have a visceral dislike of Byredo. It is 100 percent irrational because I have barely ever smelled the stuff. It is just that I cannot stand it—stand what, I wonder? The brand? The ultra-trendy owner? The fact that the perfumes are sold in bloody each & every hip boutique in Germany? That blondes in nude, beige, and taupe coloured cashmere with their hair twirled up gaggle around the bottles? I don’t know and quite frankly don’t care.
    Long live irrationality: I will never buy a bottle, ever!

    • And I love you for it and feel similarly – I HATE the vast majority of the range. But I do like to keep an open mind, and I quite liked these two – enough even to go back and try them again. The Hermes – no.

  2. Most of the Byredos have a damp-newsprint undertone to me, like something left behind the bin. But these sound less off-putting? I was really excited about VV, but it has a stern industrial broom cupboard feel, which is certainly different from the Ellena waifs. Don’t reach for my sample often.

  3. Eyes Closed sounds really nice. I’m glad to read your thought on Violet Volynka; I had tried it this fall at a Hermès boutique, and remembered liking it, not loving it, and not much more.

  4. No FOMO on Violet Volynka then!

    • I had massive fomo leading up to smelling it and think it is a suave and atmospherically classy number for sure – there is just often something indigestible about leather for me; alluring but still cured animal skins

  5. Hermes kind of leaves me underwhelmed. I’m usually wondering what all the fuss is about. As a middle aged bohemian Jayne Mansfield lookalike, I’m probably not their target clientele.
    I liked Flowerhead, Infloressence,and La Tulipe – but not enough to buy them. I had generous 12 ml samples of Slow Dance, Gypsy Water, & Mojave Ghost but ended up using them to scent my drapes. Meh.
    Weirdness: Bought fake Chinese Byredo Rose of No Man’s Land and Tree House candles at a local attar shop for $10, they’re pretty accurate, black wax and all.

  6. Robin

    Huh. Did someone mention Jolie Madame? Also female spy in trench, chic. Suave and atmospherically classy. Even geriatric was almost appealing, considering I’m no spring chicken. I like a good Hermes leather note (I do get what you mean about leather associations, though). Hate to say it, but I’m liking the sound of this one. I think I even have a white cardigan around somewhere, seriously!

    • I like white cardigans and the gently nonagenarianness of clean old ladies – that soapy scent on papery skin (genuinely – you know I don’t go in for the ‘old lady’ crap, particularly that I am a hag in Vol De Nuit, the ultimate posh Japanese dowager perfume), but there is SOMETHING, that is also in Cuir D’Ange, which I know you like – or perhaps it just something to do with the animalic quality of leather itself, especially when done a bit creamily or muskily or calfy, that makes me slightly cringe. I prefer it hard and dark – Jolie Madame is perfection, and of course, 19. THAT ENDING!

  7. Robin

    Yeah, Neil, I do hear you on that lactonic cringe potential of the softer, lighter, suede-type moderns. I know Ric recoils at my Bottega Veneta, and that’s got that particular accord for sure. Sometimes those leathers veer into the barnyard side of things. Warm udder. A little too rawly mammalian. Give me good old birch tar and isobutyl quinoline any day.

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