Terre d’Hermès, Sensuality Of A Perfume

A perfume concocted in 2006 has, 13 years later, been enthroned to the pantheon of icons. Terre d’Hermès breathed a new vision of masculinity. 

Neither sweet nor peppery. Terre d’Hermès  carries woody, spicy notes – this is where it sources all its strength. When Jean-Claude Ellena was given the mission to elaborate a new scent, the nose attracted by Hermès wanted to join together the authenticity and emotion brought up by such a maison. He would source his inspiration from Jean Giono’s literature to find the harmony of man in the 21st century. 

Known for his stories that join the world of Provence with Italian flavors, Jean Giono inspired in Jean-Claude Ellena a story.. “A story with characters, a mise en scène of olfactive emotions”. His mantra? Terre d’Hermès must be a perfume that is “direct,  honest and readable” – a sillage most befitting of the Hermès man. “At once simple and complex, tender and determined, a dreamer with his feet on the ground” notes Jean-Claude Ellena. And the result stays true to the nose’s signature stamp. 

Terre d’Hermè is an earthy fragrance that plays at its top notes an accord between grapefruit, bergamot and pink peppercorn. At its heart, black pepper balances itself out on an emanating geranium before flying out together in a titillating vetiver. Cedar and benzoin come to complete the composition. “Today, I create with less than 200 materials, when perfumes normally contain 1000 our 1500” clarifies Jean-Claude Ellena. And it is true that his olfactive style is very fitting to the Hermès vision of luxury. 

Terre d’Hermés carries that discrete elegance that has now become quasi-synonymous with the maison at 24 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. A density and a mineral depth that makes it one of the most sold perfumes in the world. It must be said that the man that wears Terre can only spread sensuality and brightness with every step. A kind of incarnation of the masculine ideal, conceived around the natural elements celebrating the breathtaking beauty of Nature. To capture this juice, surprising for its power, Philippe Mousquet was given the role to create the bottle. 

A bottle where Philippe Mousquet, the designer of Hermès at the time, managed to put into perspective an unexpected structure. The idea? The bottom of the bottle moulded into the letter “H” leaving a visible mark – just as the perfume leaves its trace in the soul. A heritage that Christine Nagel, who succeeded Jean-Claude Elena in 2016, seeks to preserve. Just as Hermès continues its impeccable style beyond fashions and seasons – this is chic with a capital H.

The Perfume Angel By Mugler – The Irresistible Icon

Thierry Mugler wanted a “perfume that would have a common resonance to all, something close to tenderness and childhood”. The icon Angel was thus born, and not without its fair share of peripeteia. 

It is a story of a perfume that is just as appreciated as it is known. Gourmand and sexual. A smell imagined by Thierry Mugler, couturier and avant gardiste, sourcing inspiration in a futurism with a wild and desirable grammar. In the 1990s, at the height of his art, the designer took to create a perfume like no other, a perfume that would resonate with all as such a familiar scent that it would become ungraspable. 

The idea is there. However, few talents in the perfume industry had the audacity to create such a genius scent. It is the impulsion of Olivier Cresp that would accomplish the project; “I spent two hours talking with Thierry Mugler”. He recalls how Mugler “spoke to me about the goûters that he would have at his grandmothers, the madeleines dipped in chocolate and then of amusement parks and candy-floss”.

More than 600 trials were necessary for Olivier Cresp to create the fragrance. At the top notes: kiwi, blackcurrant, mandarine – bright and sparkling. At the heart – passionfruit. And the bottom notes: patchouli, caramel, cocoa, heliotrope, honey and vanilla – the suave side of the icon. Yes, Thierry Mugler’s Angel is truly an icon of perfumery. Sold just as much as Chanel’s N°5 or Dior’s J’adore, Angel is different in that it stays as a type of sweet treat. Tender and sensual. 

To capture this voluntarily carnal scent, Thierry Mugler wanted a bottle at the level of his fashion. A futuristic bottle that takes one of the lucky charms of the designer – the star. This time, blue and flat. Here, once again – not a single glassmaker could make such a bottle. Only the glassmakers Brosse accepted the challenge. It took two years of research to come up with the bottle – an original and hypnotising object. Worthy of the Angel scent. Irresistible and voluptuous – the Angel perfume by Mugler enjoyed a truly desirable aura. Incarnated by Jerry Hall, Eva Mendes or more recently by Georgia May Jagger. 

Poison Girl by Dior


The history of the Poison collection begins in 1985, year when the house at 30 avenue Montaigne released a perfume with a slightly provocative allure. First of all there’s the name: Poison, already a foreboding omen. Then there’s the flask: a concoction captured in an apple-shaped bottle, the very archetype of the forbidden fruit. It wouldn’t take long for Poison to set tongues wagging. This scent is indeed the ultimate tool of seduction – just a few drops would be able to bring an entire crowd to its feet with the carnal facet that’s intimately multiplied within its wake.

That’s how Poison Girl begins, with the invigorating scent of orange. This hesperedic note confers it a profound dynamism and instantly awakens the senses of all those who dare travel in its wake. Then, the scent constructs itself and takes a particularly feminine turn. An enormous bouquet of flowers composed of May roses, cultivated in the Grasse region of France, as all as Damascus roses. The latter, symbol of an elegance that Monsieur Dior himself long worked with, brings a glamorous touch to the perfume. Finally the endnotes of Poison Girl arrive, more enveloping than the first upon contact with Venezuelan tonka bean that here gives off a velvety aspect. Incarnated by Camille Rowe, this scent is finding success with the nouveau elegant!

Bleu de Chanel


There is one color that is incontestably profitable to the imagination; blue is inscrutable, blue is infinite, blue is profound – fresh like the newly fallen night, as impudent as an expanse of water, variating from a winter sky to cobalt overhead, blue is ever so close to the shadows, the last grade before sheer black. Gabrielle Chanel had a particular soft spot for this intense navy blue, just as much as she did for white, beige, and black. In 2010, Chanel’s laboratories released a cologne for a free man: Bleu de Chanel, a scent that’s like an ode to the freedom to improvise, composed for a masculine soul who writes the screenplay for his own life with each step.

In 2014, Jacques Polge proposed a new interpretation for the fragrance. An intense variation that fits in with its lineage all while treading a new amber and sensual territory – as if blue was now nourished by the light of night. This new olfactory and visual ballad, an Eau de Parfum, isn’t content with simply concentrating the key ingredients of the original formula into a new one. Now more enveloping and rounder, Blue de Chanel Eau de Parfum is there to comfort an extremely free man, a strong and determined man, overflowing with self-confidence, who’s fragility remains a secret… Isn’t this the power behind Gabrielle’s character ?

Bleu de Chanel takes its freshness from the Mediterranean, in the citrus fields of Calabria, in the foliage of aromatic herbs, at the heart of vetiver roots, in fusions of cedar wood and the unctuosity of sandalwood. But this time, these amber, almost velvety woods, take over where aqueous and aromatic freshness left off. The Eau de Parfum is a sharp and sudden emotion. From the initial shivers resonates the echo of woods at the heart while a base of arid cedar oxygenates and offloads the formula. In its wake, sandalwood from New Caledonia begins like distant music, and the freshness fuses. Bleu de Chanel Eau de Parfum claims a virile sensuality. Irresistible, it gives the desire to get closer to the skin, to feel even nearer to this carnal song. Its freshness is insubordinate, sharp, and residual… The olfactory banner of male nonconformism.

Dolce & Gabbana: The One


The One is a special perfume in that it explores multiple facets of the same woman – this extremely sensual woman expresses herself here in the highly perfumed aura of a Florentine scent. With the immediate resonance and sustenance of a certain delicateness like that of lingerie on the skin, this Dolce & Gabbana perfume deploys itself like a saving grace accompanying a magnificent woman. “The light is always on her [the one]. It’s as if she were the only woman in the room,” explains Domenico Dolce.

The One opens with a headnote of bergamot that sparkles upon contact with mandarin orange. This instant luminosity remains light when softened upon contact with peach and lychee syrup. The heart is stronger, truer, perhaps purer: a floral bouquet composed with timeless white flowers like madonna lily, lily of the valley, and jasmine. This bouquet evokes passion, femininity, elegance, and grace. Within its wake is a profound sensuality marked by ripe plums melting in the seductive humidity of refined Mediterranean vetiver water.

Gabrielle’s Exceptionalism Captured in Baccarat Crystal


“Chanel is turning a new page in their story. A new name. A new flask. A new perfume. A new territory of expression and inspiration.” This is how Chanel introduced their brand new perfume weeks earlier. Gabrielle, the new scent from the house on rue Cambon, is a sunny perfume imagined by Olivier Polge. A bouquet radiates through the heart of the perfume – it’s composed of four white flowers to deliver an olfactory vibration and a bright power. Jasmine, ylang-ylang, orange blossom, and Grasse tuberose create the scent of Coco Chanel’s liberty, ardor, and strength.

Today, or rather on November 3, the brand released a brand new and exceptional version of the perfume Gabrielle – this perfume is held in a flask that was specially imagined by Baccarat. Perfumers and master glassblowers teamed up to produce an ultra-luxurious limited edition, transforming the bottle into a precious crystal gem. It’s no longer a flask, but a collector’s object, engraved and blown by Baccarat’s master glassmakers.

This is an exceptional edition for an exceptional perfume. Cut like a diamond with a unique breed of savoir-faire, the flask for Gabrielle is adorned with a square tag and topped off with a hand-sealed stopper. Each piece is custom made. Even better, this majestic bottle will only be produced in 24 copies – 24 being a go-to number in the Chanel universe. This flask thus becomes the vessel for the prodigious nectar, the imaginary bouquet, that is the Gabrielle scent.

Serge Lutens about Ambre Sultan and Perfumes


Serge Lutens, what made you want to create Ambre sultan

The origin of its creation is lost in time, but let’s just say that it was during my first trip to Morocco, around March 1968, that I found a box containing an interesting, alluring wax in Marrakech’s souks. Soon, this scent became the very odor of the trip. Time has passed and still today I have that scented box somewhere that is the base of Ambre sultan… and I would even say, of everything that brands are now calling, neo-poetically, “Oriental perfumery”. For me, Ambre sultan is an Arabic perfume, and I’m proud of that!

How did you first imagine it? 

Ambre sultan belongs to the past, and that doesn’t interest me. It’s been almost 20 years since it was created, not for the finality of the product, but for the ambiance and the identity it conveys. Ambre sultan is to me just as it presents itself in the flask. I didn’t imagine it otherwise. The best is still to smell it and feel it.

What sort of beauty is characteristic of Ambre sultan

Beauty is so different according to each person that it’s difficult to bring it up in such a general way. I’ll talk about this perfume’s sensations rather, for at the time of its release, it truly provoked a shock wave in perfumery the likes of which no one was expecting! You have to remember that at that time, at the beginning of the 90s, perfume in general was a socio-cultural product: a bona fide marketing soup. Ambre sultan and Féminité du Bois proposed a return to the very essence of things, which was new. That being said, today we’ve unfortunately fallen into the opposite extreme where the originality of a creation only comes from the cost and the “nobility” of the primary materials used. We’re actually witnessing these TV competition shows with ridiculous fops and “learned women” where all that’s missing is a button you press to be the first to show off what you know in that domain.

Could Baudelaire’s poem “Perfume” explain Ambre sultan, from a point of view of the sensations sought after and conveyed by this fragrance – travel, memory, sensuality, intimacy, and temptation?

With Baudelaire, like with every writer, it’s the perfume of the work that interests me, not perfume in and of itself. Each Baudelaire poem delivers the following message: I like what you don’t like. I like what others hate… No, Baudelaire’s poems can’t be limited to perfumes, at the risk of falling – like I already said once – into perfumery’s Baudelairama. It’s too easy to use him to talk about a product. On the other hand, the spirit of the message: “I like what you hate” whether delivered by Baudelaire or Genet, is always present within me.

What does perfume mean to you? 

My identity at the time I’m making it; a bit like for the perfume La fille de Berlin where I made a declaration to anger, to its beauty. Every creation originates from a duplication within me.

Could it be said that your perfumes are at the crossroads of the arts you practice?

The expression of perfume is unique, felt in layers, unlike other crafts that I’ve practiced like cinema or photography. Perfume is something issued from intuition. It can’t be demonstrated otherwise. Each creation in that field announces a state within me; in a way, my color for the moment.

What is the best method of expression according to you?

The one that best leads you to what you want to say. This could happen through words, images, perfumes, but the best one in and of itself doesn’t exist. As proof, the writers that I like aren’t considered to be the greatest, but they are singular, and as such for me, incomparable. They invent a way of seeing for they can’t say it otherwise.

When one looks at your photographs, one can admire women that are distinguished, mysterious, lunar, and affirmed all at the same time. They’re fragile and strong, naked and adorned with a million colors. Is this play on ambivalence and female dichotomy your creative refrain?

If it was only a refrain, it would slow me down. These women, as Flaubert said of Madame Bovary, are “me”. They were the only way to placate what I had inside me. This duplication, thankfully, has not in any way allowed for my identification!


By Sebastien Girard.

Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens


His Ambre sultan, “Arab and not Oriental”, to quote its creator, marked the grand opening. Iconoclastic and dreamy, it is outside of the norms. Lutens positions himself through his perfume: “You would smell a perfume, it was a soup. You either smelled the sexy woman or the woman who keeps records. For men, it was Zorro’s arsenal. With Ambre sultan, I wanted to take Adams and Eves out of the marketing.” A new genesis of humanity, incarnated by its own bewitching wake, where antiquity and sensuality come together and enhance one another.

 Classic amber enriches itself with powdered vanilla notes of benzoin from tiny trees of Siam. Rockrose brings a sensual warmth to the table. Coriander, oregano, and myrtle wrap themselves around a note of patchouli and sandalwood. So many ingredients fit together so perfectly, ringing out like a masterful, odoriferous symphony. But sophistication is second nature, a simple immanence, for Serge Lutens. If he sought to do any one thing, it would certainly be express himself. According to him, Ambre sultan unites “thick tarmac, austere, mysterious rockrose that makes the fingers stick together, and welcoming tarmac, the comforting vanilla, also adhesive, that my memory retained.” The perfume reflects a certain dichotomy, a sensible human and personal ambivalence, rightly perceived by this man with an extreme finesse. A striking emotion hits us, issued from the strength of a tale and a personal myth. Travel is romanticized, spontaneity perfected, and emotion testified by this princely fragrance.

 This is how, luxurious and intimate at the same time, Ambre sultan is reigning over Paris’ Palais-Royal. The boutique is singular and preserves everything; a beautiful wrought-iron staircase rises from the center of the mysterious room. With its sumptuous 19th-century decor, it is dressed up with marble and marquetry. Fleeting and ephemeral jewels, perfumes of the moment, are soberly, uncapriciously displayed. They are contained in flasks composed of clear and crystalline lines. The magic of Serge Lutens’ senses is at work, this Baudelaire-esque alchemist that transforms sentiments and memories into olfactory sensations, and vice versa.

“Bois d’Argent”, a Perfume by Christian Dior


“It’s hard to imagine how much savoir-faire and precision a perfume requires. The creative process is so sweeping, so demanding, that I feel like I’m just as much a Perfumer as a Couturier.” In 1947, Christian Dior turned the rules of silhouettes upside down with his first couture collection. In that same year, the clothing artist also spritzed his salons with his very first perfume, the eternal “Miss Dior”. A true couturier-cum-perfumer, Monsieur Dior saw perfume as a supplement to a look, a finishing touch for an outfit, a certain je ne sais quoi that makes all the difference. In 2015, as an homage to the brand’s visionary vocation, nose François Demachy imagined a collection of unique scents where the “New Look” is bottled up, where you can embark on a journey to the childhood homes that were so dear to Christian Dior, from Granville to Milly-la-Forêt. You might even bump into his muse, Mitzah Bricard…

Just as constant in the history of Dior Perfumes is the use of floral notes that is the thread that ties this collection together. From “Oriental” to “Cologne”, feminine to masculine, each of these eleven fragrances is composed with the most noble and precious primary materials in perfume-making. These perfumes, hand-fabricated and conditioned, were manufactured like artifacts, scrupulously following all the savoir-faire and expertise of the brand’s workshops. “Rare materials, daring olfactory choices, a creation without limits… This collection is the reflection of a freedom that only true luxury can give you,” François Demachy sums up. Among his scents, “Bois d’Argent” is the most markedly intimate. This perfume leaves enveloping and singular notes floating in its wake. At the heart of these woods, absolute iris of Florence, a perfumer’s fantasy, spreads its powdery, lightly wooded scents with a sensorial spiced amber chord that revolves around incense of Yemen and Somalian myrrh. In the words of its composer, “Bois d’Argent is drawn like a line… Pure, extremely contemporary. It’s a perfume that hides a highly precise composition beneath its tenderness.”

L’Eau d’Issey Pure Eau de Toilette


In the beginning of this Issey fragrance, there was a drop of a rare and precious water. This water, in its purest form, indulgently espoused the promise of a life in the making. A life, or rather a new chapter that opened in 2016 for this drop – the second chapter of an odyssey that began in 1992. L’Eau d’Issey Pure Eau de Parfum is this contemplative olfactory concoction that ignites the senses with a moment frozen in time, plunging the mind into instant serenity. Outside of fashions, outside of time itself. Just like Issey Miyake’s style.

Today, with L’Eau d’Issey Pure Eau de Toilette, the fragrance is putting nature back in motion as something essential to life. Luminous like an aurora, the perfume evokes this moment frozen in time that is the blooming of a flower. Everything turns upside down: it’s spring, and L’Eau d’Issey is opening up to unexpected sensualities. Limpid and crystalline like a pearl, this Pure Eau de Toilette wields the power of the coming day like a bright dawn. For the very first time, the aquatic notes of L’Eau d’Issey are brightened up with notes of citrus. Mandarin orange illuminates the scent – pure, fusional, enrapturing like the first fresh mornings of spring, essence of neroli crowns the heart of this fragrance with a shining halo.

Founded on a bright accord of rose and lily of the valley, L’Eau d’Issey Pure Eau de Toilette is released in an elongated and pure flask that’s quite simply iconic. American designer Todd Bracher crafted this refined flask that reflects the olfactory simplicity contained within. “L’Eau d’Issey is everything that other perfumes aren’t. L’Eau d’Issey evokes for me a real simplicity and purity around this notion of water. For L’Eau d’Issey Pure, we captured the simplest image of water that, for me, is a drop,” explains Todd Bracher. This water is thus a drop, symbol of a scent devoted to making perfection tangible, all captured in a captivating flask. This is L’Eau d’Issey Pure Eau de Toilette