Hermes has its well known line of fragrances you can easily obtain at department stores and discounters (Caleche, Jardin sur le Nil, 24 Faubourg, etc)…and then there are the Hermessences. This is a collection of 4 fragrances created by Jean Claude Ellena exclusively for Hermes boutiques. And they are exclusively priced, too—$180 for 100 ml. Yikes. But that is what splits are for, after all, and fortunately I found it very easy to obtain affordable samples on The Perfumed Court. The first one I'll try is Osmanthe Yunnan. My first impression of this scent is one of ethereally delicate citrus and tea notes. I applied several dabs from my sample vial, and still must waft my wrist in front of my nose to smell it-the sillage is very, very close. I'm a great fan of scents with small sillage, because I personally am very picky about what smells good to me and don't think it's fair to foist my scent on loads of other people who may have a very different idea of what constitutes a nice smell. There, rant over. Back to Osmanthe Yunnan. The osmanthus only emerges in the drydown, after the citrus fades. It becomes softer, even more ethereal. I much prefer to Ormonde Jayne's Osmanthus scent, and given the reaction I usually have to tea notes, I am doubly impressed by it. Official notes are: Yunnan tea, freesia, apricot, osmanthus, leather and musk.
Today I am sampling Brin de Reglisse, another of the Hermessence collection. I sampled this with no small trepidation, because looking at the notes, I thought it would be a very expensive love at first sniff: lavender, licorice, hay and orange blossom. Hello! Intriguing combinations abound. This scent is one of the most rapidly changing fragrances I've yet encountered, which makes it very interesting to sample. I start off smelling loads of lavender. It's a nice, clean lavender, though not the best rendition I've smelled. Then the licorice jumps in. I hate eating licorice, but love anise/licorice notes in perfume. This one is very dark and combined with the lavender makes me think more of caraway seeds than candy. The fragrance then reverts back to lavender for a few brief moments before fading into a sweetly licorice tinged orange blossom. It's one of the few orange blossom notes I've ever liked and at the very end of the drydown it merges with one of the few hay notes I've ever sniffed to not make me sneeze. I was not sold on Brin de Reglisse initially, but it is so interesting in its evolution and so charming during the drydown that I can't help but be intrigued. And very unexpectedly, it was the two notes that I was least excited about that ultimately sold me on it. I think I'll need to acquire a decant of this one soon.