10/14/12

Terre d'Hermès Eau de Toilette (Hermès)




Perhaps the greatest problem with minimalist perfumery is that aroma chemicals are not easily integrated into bare compositions, and tend to "stick out." Iso E Super, a light, clean, somewhat-woody, somewhat-peppery, and always dryly-sweet synthetic, is probably every lazy perfumer's first answer to masculine constructs, as it lends an easy warmth, woodiness, and depth to the cheapest formulas. While it smells very good, there's wisdom in using it as an inner cog, rather than a showpiece. It's hard to say which older masculines contain it, as most are complex and loaded with notes, but Jean-Claude Ellena's famous Terre d'Hermès is about Iso E, front and center.

I have a theory as to why this fragrance is so popular with young men. Twenty years ago, masculine scents rotated around the Cool Water/Fahrenheit axis, with fresh, woody, dihyromyrcenol-fueled designs dominating the scene. Dihydromyrcenol is an interesting aroma chemical because it smells "almost" like a lot of things: citrus, violet leaf, acidic pomaceous fruits like apples, and even wood, yet it maintains an elusive circumference around all, yielding no definitive character on its own. This is why it was used to such great effect in Green Irish Tweed and Cool Water. The twenty-first century equivalent of dihydromyrcenol is undoubtedly Iso E Super, as synthetically air-conditioned greens have given way to clean woods. Terre d'Hermès capitalizes on the fresh-woods scent profile better than anything else in recent memory, and therefore titillates its target audience, which has grown tired of the Calone molecule.

How does Terre d'Hermès stack up with me? Just okay. Its translucent orange-grapefruit opening is synthetic, but delicately rendered, and deftly avoids the sharp-chemical screechiness of lesser citrus accords. It slowly gives way to an ashen heart and base of patchouli, benzoin, and you guesed it - Iso E Super. The triad smells very dry and cool, a little sweet, and a touch earthy, thanks to the patchouli. It's inoffensive, a little above average in execution, but nothing to write home about. Further compounding my ennui is the fact that Ellena is given to self-parody; nearly a decade after crafting the infamous Declaration for Cartier, and four years after Malle's orange-fueled Bigarade Concentree, the same nose gives us the ultimate olfactory compromise of those superior structures, using cheaper materials. The average consumer isn't complaining, though. This stuff still sells, although I kind of wish it didn't.











4 comments:

  1. Thanks for your review! It's great to see an alternative to the mostly positive reviews of this scent out there. Having said that, I actually purchased this! However, the impossibly huge bottle sadly remains in my drawer hardly used. I find it a bit too "meh" and never really feel the need to reach out to it. It just doesn't have enough character for me. Although I must say, I'd much prefer smelling this in the streets than Cool Water and all its variants.

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    1. Hi Jenson, thanks for reading! Truly enjoyed reading your blog. I can only say how I feel here, and will rarely varnish over anything, so with TdH the proverbial "neutral" rating was as far as I could go. It's a good fragrance and certainly fashionable these days among the middle class and the wealthy (Henry Winkler is on the video-record stating that he loves this scent - if the Fonz loves it, there's something happening), but to me it's just kind of dull. Quality of ingredients is also lacking a bit. I almost don't mind the quality factor if the construct is novel, but that's not really the case with this scent.

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  2. Terre d'Hermès is the Cool Water of the moment.... Maybe the next years we'll find it at cheap prices in the drugstores.. The fragrance has the "designer's scent for everybody" potential... It's a quality and a curse..

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    1. Hi Omar, true, this scent is big right now, although I wouldn't exactly call it a "current Cool Water" or what have you - GIT/Cool Water were novel behemoth firsts in the industry that spawned a gazillion imitators; TdH comes down a long line of similar to near-identical predecessors, some of which were worked on by the same nose, and I think perhaps TdH's success is attributable to its being the classiest and most universally-accessible in the current crop of citrus-woody masculines.

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