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Eau de cologne
May 25, 2009 12:00 by Aarti Nagraj
The adventure begins back in 1951 with Eau d’Hermès composed by Edmond Roudnitska. The arrival ten years later of Calèche, the first woman’s perfume from Hermès, confirmed this commitment to the perfumer’s art. Since then there has been a succession of creations from great names of perfumery. In 2004 Jean-Claude Ellena joined the House to become its exclusive perfumer and create all its fragrances. Shared values, a respect for the in-house heritage and the exquisite poise of his creations fill the ensuing pages of the olfactory adventure embarked on. True to its own style, the way it is expressed or its sources of inspiration, each perfume fits in like the next chapter of a story, following in the wake of four different realms of expression. Elaborating on the literary theme, the Novel Perfumes (the Parfums-Romans) draw on the inheritance of Hermès and its universe. Calèche, équipage and more recently Eau des Merveilles or Terre d’Hermès tell a story and refer back to the imaginary world of the House. An olfactory stroll in the footsteps of the in-house perfumer, the trilogy of Garden Perfumes (the Parfums-Jardins) establishes a new sensory geography inspired by annual themes at Hermès. Conceived by Jean-Claude Ellena as a series of poems, Hermessence is a collection of unique perfumes, intended exclusively for Hermès stores. Sober and intense as Japanese haikus, they reinvent a precious and unusual aspect of nature, sublimated by the inspired rewriting of a composer always eager to break new ground. In 2009, the Hermès Colognes collection continues its exploration of a creative territory first approached thirty years earlier.
THE HERMèS COLOGNES
Fragrance and raw material
With the Colognes collection, Hermès expands a territory of olfactory expression distinguished by simple refinement and authentic responses, and inaugurated back in 1979 with a first eau de Cologne, later named Eau d’orange verte. Generous figurative expressions of immediate pleasure, the Hermès Colognes offer a series of olfactory snapshots steered by the raw material. As perceived by in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, Hermès establishes its own interpretation of the Cologne style, resulting from the give and take between artistic sensibilities and skilled craftsmanship.
Instant pleasure, freshness and cheerfulness, the Colognes belong to a register of universally experienced sensorial emotions.Their generous physicality and the spontaneity of their expression means they succeed in going beyond types, styles, ages or seasons. Their ability to enhance and embellish everyday life means that one simple gesture becomes an intense moment of personal pleasure.
A style in its own right
The olfactory expression of Cologne,one of the oldest in perfumery, has maintained over the years a strong identity anchored in the predominance of citrus fruits. To this day Colognes represent an exercise in style that requires considerable virtuosity of perfumers.
“Simplicity of premise, clarity of construction, evidence of the raw material – Cologne may be expressed in a figurative register, be easily accessible and instantly enjoyed, but it proves more complex than it at first appears,” Jean-Claude Ellena points out. “For, on top of the technical aspect of the lower alcohol content, it belongs to a register that tolerates no imperfections. Celebrating the raw material for its own merits requires genuine skill and craftsmanship.”
A pact is established then between the perfumer and the raw material to transform olfactory realism into universal emotion.
Constructed around Eau d’orange verte and two new creations from Jean-Claude Ellena, perfumer to the House, the Hermès Colognes collection now offers three different fragrances. All three composed on the basis of a raw material and a colour which refer back to his sources of inspiration, they form a new and still evolving collection.
The founding cologne created by Françoise Caron in 1979 and inspired by the smell of undergrowth on a dewy morning,this fragrance stands out for a freshness that is as invigorating as it is unusual, and established itself as emblematic of Hermès. Eau d’orange verte is conceived as an explosion of citrus notes. Orange plays the principal role, expressing its different facets in all their variety: vigorous zest, sensual blossom, green leaves… harmonised with mandarin and lemon, and underscored by a balance between mint leaves and the fruity nuances of blackcurrant buds. It reveals all its complexity in a unique lasting presence tinged with oakmoss and patchouli.
INTENSEaNd INvIGORaTINGfRESHNESS, wOOdy SIGNaTuRE
ORANGE, lEMON, MANdARIN, buCHu, MINT
SpaRkLINGaNd dELICIOuSLy SHaRp fRESHNESS, fLORaLREfINEMENT
Eau de pamplemousse rose
With its classical approach that emphasises the vivacity and sparkling freshness of citrus fruits, this Cologne created by Jean-Claude Ellena stands out thanks to its very modern composition and its refined floral note of roses.The citrus theme, incarnated here by grapefruit with a range of tones that are as spirited as they are mouth-watering, takes on added sparkle when combined with natural rose. In a perfect alchemy of raw materials, the fruit dictates the colour in delicious complicity with a flower used as a veil of light.Rose-pink grapefruit or grapefruit and rose, the subtle nuances in the words shift in the twinkling of an eye and… of a nose, the better to reinvent a form that has endless different resources.
Conceived by Jean-Claude Ellena as a counterpart to interpretations of Cologne style, Eau de gentiane blanche re-explores the theme of freshness with exquisite delicacy, characterised by the clarity of white musks. As complex as it is sophisticated, the unexpected gentian displays its various facets -bitter one minute, mellow the next -in a white, almost dry vapour of elegant musks. These musks are a contemporary expression of fresh tones striving for a degree of sweetness without resorting to trite sugariness, and they provide a refined olfactory counterpoint for the gentian. Nestled in the subtle weave of an unusual variety of this plant, together they compose a new score whose freshness balances between sweetness and edgy character.
MuTEd fRESHNESS aNd dELICaTEbITTERNESS, SwEET MuSky NuaNCES
GENTIAN,WHITE Musk, IRIs,INCENsE
a NEw IdENTITy
At the instigation of Philippe Mouquet, designer for the House of Hermès, initial aesthetic codes have been subtly modified to establish a remarkable and refined common signature. The perfume bottle still has its original outline, inspired by carriage lanterns of days gone by; imperceptibly, its shape has become more defined. Its overall appearance, details of the stopper, the whole picture is sharper.Three shades of green illuminate the bottles.starting with the dark green of Eau d’orange verte, two new tones have appeared: bright green for Eau de pamplemousse rose and grey-green for Eau de gentiane blanche. Right down to the orange boxes tied with a ribbon in the same colour as the fragrance they house, taking in the Cologne seal, the collection bears the stamp of Hermès.
THE HERMèS COLOGNES
The Hermès Colognes are presented in bottles with both a simple stopper for quick“splash”application and a pump for a spray version.The different sizes favour a more generous gesture.