Hermès launches a new fragrance to satisfy your wanderlust.
Here’s a riddle: What do you wear that is the same but always changing? It’s not your handbag; the one you carry on your way to work is the one you bring back home. Your shoes, your earrings, your watch and everything else you’re wearing remain the same except for one thing: your fragrance. Whatever you spritz on in the morning will cycle through at least a dozen personality changes by the time you slide under the duvet.
Perfume marketers love to talk about notes. (“Oh, it’s got citrus top notes and then it goes into a heart of vanilla and finishes with a base of sandalwood and tonka bean!”) This gives the false impression that the fragrance neatly skips from top note to heart to base note until it finally vanishes — poof! — into thin air. But, as Jean-Claude Ellena, Hermès’ in-house perfumer, says in his book Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent: “Odours are not like words or musical notes, which follow each other in Indian file to form a sentence or a melody and thereby create meaning. The materials of fragrances do not mix like colours to create a new colour. Instead, they coexist and continue to express themselves individually, whilst at the same time forming a new odour, a new meaning. In olfactory terms, 1 1 = 3.”
He’s right, of course. When you inhale a perfume, you smell the whole, but you also smell the parts — or, using Ellena’s mathematics, you smell “3” (the perfume) and “1” (the parts). If you smell the perfume for too long, the equation goes back to “0” — you lose the scent and have to wait patiently for it to reveal itself to you again.
So, if wearing a fragrance is like taking a long, leisurely journey with many interesting detours, think of Ellena as your amiable yet ambitious guide. He wants you to have a good time — but not any kind of predictable good time. His latest composition, appropriately named Voyage d’Hermès, is an eau de toilette inspired by travel. “I was given just the one word [voyage] as my brief,” says Ellena, looking relaxed and debonair in an aquamarine cashmere sweater, a white shirt, wool slacks and forest-green suede shoes — a ray of Provençal sunshine on this frigid day in Paris. “Normally, I go to a certain place to try to catch the ambience. I’ll look for a plant, fruit, root or food that captures the essence of a location for me. For Voyage, I focused on the verb itself: the action of taking a trip. This fragrance is more abstract.”
Find out what inspired Voyage d’Hermès on the next page ...
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