Hermessence By Hermès

The Hermessence collection prides itself in it’s artisan traits, just like virtually anything from Hermès. 


Photo by Romeo Ballancourt

Jean-Claude Ellena- An olfactory genius mind you, uses his liberty within the house to create scents of deep and intimate sentimentality that results in a perfect, three-dimensional forum for story telling. For Ellena, perfume is his own self-proclaimed medium of story telling and whilst some may suggest memories can only be captured through the visual mode, Ellena has trapped scent and air in liquid form- and recreated memories of spice markets, gardens and landscapes of places X, Y & Z. 

The synopsis of the line is conveyed perfectly by Hermès:

“They are a collection of olfactory poems, with sobriety and intensity, which freely explore new facets of emotion.” 

Taken literally, this resonates, or better put, exudes something richly allegorical, for the niche sector of the fragrance market (which is a secret for those who may not be as keenly inclined into fragrances) focuses more on the artistry of fragrance, whereas, the ‘other’ sector is brazen and has lost it’s romantic eloquence or ‘oratory’ function, like a painting with layers or something with patina; it’s history and storytelling.

“Fragrances are all tangible at it’s simplest, but is it really aesthetic? Is it all fine art?”

What Ellena is conveying to us is that we often lose sight of beauty. Marvelously described as poetry, as poetry itself is something we don’t take for a bunch of words in a sentence, but an art form because it delivers something beyond the scope of merely individual words, but something that relies on retrospect, explicit feelings and sometimes melancholia. What results so beautifully is a translation of the ‘(Herm)essence’ of an emotion into something tangible, and in the case of fragrances, something wearable.

Not only do you get a whiff of something exciting, daring and beautiful, but also the more sacred gift (from a french Santa: Ellena) of beautiful mental imagery akin to sprightly nostalgic memories forming from the ultimate culmination of geography, emotion, weather and colour. 

Even if you don’t like a particular scent in the line (and a few do not sit well with me), you can still appreciate the sensuous brilliance of it’s composition; the accord of individual scents that amalgamate into something instantly recognizable or concurrently, something only recognizable to the extent that it remains on the tip of your tongue. 

Considering this, the geographical nature of the fragrances works in tandem with each other. Each scent belongs somewhere. For example, the unashamed (almost cloy…in a good way) cumin and algae opening notes in Epicé Marine means this fragrance belongs next to rock pools, shorelines and salty water; or in the same sense, it is as if Ellena himself found the most idealistic shoreline in existence and trapped that very air of vegetal sea into a bottle of Epicé Marine. Hence, if all fragrances belong somewhere, they must also resonate something different (they do).

Overall, what I find most beautiful is the fundamental artistic nature of the line. Not only from Ellena (which is already painstakingly obvious), but also from Hermès. It is reassuring to see the brand that is all about craftsmanship, sponsoring another form of craftsmanship other than leatherworking or screen printing. Like those scenes where virtuoso painters are given freedom and special privilege, the exact same has occurred in this line; and it is indubitably magnificent.

Individual reviews to come for each unique Hermessence.

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