Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Spring Beauty: Jour d'Hermes

Jour d'Hermes is the perfect fragrance to wear to welcome spring.  It is a luminous bouquet of white flowers and sweet pea, but it is the opening that for me makes it so representative of the spring awakening. Jean-Claude Ellena , who created this perfume for Hermes in 2013, performs a bit of a magic trick on the opening. With the first spray of Jour d'Hermes I get a visceral image of a tender young leaf unfurling on my wrist, opening with a joyful burst of green.  The green is soft and muted but entirely distinct in it's springlike freshness. This scent hovers on my wrist for just a moment then just as magically as it appeared, it is gone. I am not sure everyone gets this green opening. On Fragrantica the green notes are listed as middle notes.

Next I get the opening  notes of grapefruit and lemon.  On my skin the grapefruit is fairly quiet, not at all astringent. Then the blossoms of the flowers start to unfurl.  With time the slight citrus freshness dissipates and the flowers become predominant. . The white flowers, gardenia and sweet pea swirl together into a gauzy veil of pretty scent which surrounds me, wearing very close to the skin. This would make a very beautiful bridal perfume.

What distinguishes this perfume for me is the little magic moment that happens in the opening; the green note, which seems composed of the stems and  leaves of the bouquet, before the flowers make their presence known.  This little burst of fresh green is delightful and so unexpected, like a magician waving a magic wand. I would be curious to know if others experience this smell.

After a couple of hours the florals soften and the woods and musk base notes take over.This is a very pretty and easy to wear perfume, and I think Hermes has made a beautiful scent that reinforces the way I think of the brand: classy and somewhat transparent perfumes.

When I first smell Jour d'Hermes Absolu it is a bit of a let down. I do not get the burst of green present in the original formula; in fact, for the first few minutes I don't smell much of anything other than muted mixed florals. But after about five minutes, as if warmed by the skin to release their potency, the white flowers begin to unfurl and bloom. Sweet pea has been replaced by jasmine. These flowers, while still very well behaved, are a touch more sensual than the freshness of the original formula. I don't get much citrus coming forward; in this version it is all about the flowers. 

The beauty of the Absolu formula comes later. There is an animalic quality that presents after an hour or so. I can still smell the flowers but now they've been scattered and possibly battered across the sheets of the bed.  I get a mix of the innocence of the flowers, deepened by the slightly pungent skin notes.  This is accomplished by adding oakmoss to the woods and musk found in the original version. But let's be clear, this goes nowhere near skank territory; it is still polished and very elegant. I much prefer the Absolu's dry down to the original Jour d'Hermes. Maybe the perfect solution for me is to use the original version in the morning, if only to experience the spring-like opening, then apply the Absolu for the magnificent base notes.

Jour d'Hermes Gardenia was created by Jean-Claude Ellena in 2015 as a flanker to the original, and was meant to be an ultra feminine version. I have sampled this twice. The first time I was in a cool air conditioned department store. The dewy gardenia was the first thing I smelled, and it was absolutely pretty and fresh. The second time I sprayed it I was on the run, out and about in the heat, so possibly "glowing" a little bit. This time the gardenia smelled more like a beachy version, reminiscent of my bottle of Guerlain Terracotta . Maybe it was the mixture of sweat and gardenia? Anyway, not nearly as dewy and light as the first time, but still pretty.

After the initial burst of gardenia it seemed to become more similar to the florals of the original formula, and after three hours I really couldn't tell much difference between the two. It is distinctive because of it's pretty gardenia opening, but it seemed to disappear on my skin more rapidly than the original or Absolu versions. It is a pretty scent, but for the price, I wish it lasted longer.

Let me add that I find a lot to like about the bottles. They are rather plain to look at, but there is a satisfying heft when you hold it in your hands. The heaviness and solidity give a feeling of luxury and permanence, which is I imagine what Hermes intended.

I found something to admire in all three versions of this perfume. There is a Parfum version which I have not been able to get my hands on. Hermes has made a lovely perfume which is subtle enough to get away with in an office environment, but special  enough to wear for a big night out to add that extra veil of elegance.

Top photo from, lower photo from Hermes. Spray samples my own.

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