He says/She Says: Hermessence Collection Rose Ikebana

Hermes Rose Ikebana perfumeHermes Rose Ikebana perfumeHermes Rose Ikebana perfume

Once again, Marlen is joining me. Today we are bickering about Rose Ikebana, one of the scents in the Hermessence collection, a quartet of unisex fragrances created by Hermès house nose Jean Claude Ellena and released in 2004. Each perfume is meant to evoke a particular fabric: Rose Ikebana is silk, Poivre Samarcande is velvet, Vetiver Tonka is wool, and Ambre Narguile is cashmere. Hermès has said there will be more to come in the series, and it is rumored that the next perfume will be based on leather. Rose Ikebana has notes of rose tea, infusion of petals, peony, magnolia, pink peppercorn, zest of grapefruit, rhubarb and vanilla honey.

He says: Rose Ikebana was created to reflect the touch of silk on the skin, but in my opinion, is nothing more than another bland and uninspired floral. Yes, it is pretty. Yes, it is soft. Yes, it is silky. But is it new? Is it groundbreaking? Does it scream "Buy me?" I don't know folks...there are so many rose scents on the market these days, that it is surprising to see yet one more, perhaps less interesting than the rest and yet more expensive.

On my skin this scent offered faint hints of Caswell-Massey Damask Rose's soft petals with a hint of Kenzo Le Monde est Beau's grapefruit. I never sensed the rhubarb or vanilla, and got very little of the peppercorn. The echoes of peony are pretty and add a softness, but ultimately this scent could have been so much more.

Rose scents are difficult because they either reflect the flower itself as a soliflore or combine with other notes to create something truly edgy or unique (think L'Artisan Voleur de Roses or Acqua di Parma) and yet so many often come out smelling the same in the drydown.

Hermès' other scents in the quartet are slightly better, and Vetiver Tonka is perhaps the standout winner, but Rose Ikebana is the weakest in my opinion and ultimately disappointing.

She Says: Rose Ikebana starts with grapefruit, very sparkling and crisp, and not altogether unlike 06130 Yuzu Rouge. The opening also recalls another Jean Claude Ellena perfume, Yves Saint Laurent In Love Again, although the notes and the dry down are very different. Apologies to its fans, but I have never really cared for In Love Again, which is too sweet and heavy for my taste.

In Rose Ikebana, the rhubarb, which is tart enough to verge on sour, helps to cut the sweetness. Despite the name, the rose itself is muted, and shares equal prominence with the peony. First the tea, and later the pink pepper, provide some interest to what would otherwise be a conventionally pretty fragrance. The vanilla honey is subdued, so while this is lightly sweet, it stays bright and summery through the dry down.

I would agree with Marlen that it is not an edgy or groundbreaking fragrance, and that Vetiver Tonka is probably the winner in the line so far. Rose Ikebana, being a light citrus floral, also has the least staying power of the four. But I don’t find it boring in the least, and it screamed "buy me" fairly loudly in my direction.

A 100 ml bottle of Hermès Rose Ikebana Eau de Toilette with a leather cap is about $170. An optional leather holder costs extra. Happily for us peasants, you can also buy a discovery set with four .5 ounce bottles for $130, and split the set with like-minded friends. The set is sold with one of each perfume, or four bottles of the same fragrance: no mix and match.

For buying information, see the listing for Hermès under Perfume Houses.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Robin and Marlen,

    It's a pleasure to read the “He says, She says” reviews. I agree that Rose Ikebana was my least favorite of the series, but maybe because it is the only one that I don't have a large sample of for thorough testing. Also, I tested Rose Ikebana in the winter, and this is clearly a summer fragrance. Vetiver Tonka is high on my list, and is surpassed only by the Ambre Narguile. The travel set is a nice option since it contains 4 – 15 ml atomizers of each fragrance for $120 US. I find decants more useful since I rarely wear a fragrance more than once or twice in a given month.



  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi John, It will be interesting to see if the votes line up on gender lines today! Maybe Rose Ikebana is too girly? I was thinking Poivre was my least favorite, but just got a sample of that so going to give it a real try on skin soon. On a test strip, it did nothing for me at all.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I love this whole dueling critic format. So Siskel & Ebert (or whoever Ebert's with these days, can't recall). I wasn't impressed with Rose Ikebana, myself. I forgot it almost as soon as I'd tried it. I'm still wearing Vetiver Tonka, though.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hey T, Vetiver Tonka is wonderful. Love Rose Ikebana too though…where are all the RI supporters today, LOL?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hey R!

    Love this format! It is a lot of fun to read 2 different opinions on the same scent(s), especially from male & female perspective.

    I've only sampled 2 of the Hermessences, Rose Ikebana and Ambre Narguille. The Rose is pleasant and pretty, but it wouldn't make me run to my nearest Hermes store to buy a bottle, but then again I am not a rose lover, either.

    Now the Ambre Narguile on the other hand…swoon…

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi V! Ok, looks like Marlen is going to win the argument today, LOL!

    I would love to know which is their biggest seller from this line. I would guess Ambre Narguile, at least based on the raves on MUA. I need to try it again, but based on my brief try I would say it is too foody/rich for me.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Great reviews! Although I didn't buy it, I also found this pretty and liked the citrus notes when I tried it on my wrist last fall. It did remind me of an ikebana arrangement with roses, peonies and fruit and clean, sparkly dry down. Someone in our family definitely will get this for my mom for Christmas because she is very much into rose perfumes (JM Red Roses and Paris) and is an amateur ikebana floral arranger. She has also worn other JCE scents.

    I agree with Marlen that it is crazy difficult to say something new with a rose scent. Although Ta'if seems original to me, with its notes of saffrons and dates. Incidentally, who started this whole pink peppercorn bandwagon in perfumery? I like it and am not complaining : ) Was it Linda Pilkington?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I do think Rose Ikebana is a very pretty, sparkly scent, but I have to side with Marlen here. It is the weakest of the series in terms of originality and staying power. But technically, I'm not allowed to vote, since I would never wear roses, so you're not allowed to hold this one against me.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Yum, Ta'if! I have no idea who started the pink peppercorn bandwagon. Linda does seem fond of it though! I'll take the pink peppercorn bandwagon over the new green apple bandwagon any day.

  10. Anonymous says:

    LOL — I don't think we have any requirements to vote here! Anyone can recognize lack of originality, even if they don't like the notes. And hope you won't hold it against me if I hate Poivre, which I hope to try soon ;-)

  11. Anonymous says:

    I'm with Robin: Rose Ikebana is much more than a simple, sweet floral.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Wow, Marlen didn't detect any rhubarb? The rhubarb was VERY prominent and sour on me, and was actually the dealbreaker. I thought this fragrance was lovely otherwise, although I agree that it's probably the least innovative of the 4 Hermessences. I'm a rose-lover, though, so I'll rate almost any rose fragrance highly (except for rose/lemon blends, like Stella and Un Zeste de Rose, which smell horrendous on me).

  13. Anonymous says:

    I'm not sure who I'm siding with–you both have good points! (How's that for diplomatic?) I do like RI–it's a very pretty scent. But it has no lasting power. And I far prefer many other rose scents: L'Ombre Dans L'Eau, Un Zest de Rose, and (as Marlen mentioned) Voleur de Roses.

    It *is* really nice when layered with Poive Samarcande (someone on MUA suggested this combo–wish I could remember who!).

    The only Hermessence that I'd go Big Bottle on is Ambre Narguile.

    Thanks for the fun dueling reviews!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Yay, a vote for my side, LOL — you & I are going to be the only ones I think ;-)

  15. Anonymous says:

    Agree, the rhubarb is very strong. I loved it!

    Trying to decide if Ambre is innovative in any way. I thought maybe just very well done, but not unusual. I probably don't spend enough time with the amber category to know.

  16. Anonymous says:

    LOL — the politician!

    Will try it layered with Poivre, that is a geat idea.

    And I wouldn't go Big Bottle on ANY of them. But that is just because I'm too cheap!!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Although I agree with Marlen that Rose Ikebana is hardly a perfumery breakthrough, but as far as rose scents go, it is another great variation on the citrusy rose theme. Of course, if you have and love Yuzu Rouge and Un Zest de Rose like I do, Rose Ikebana will not strike as a must purchase item. However, I do like the shimmery rose on the backdrop of evanescent citrusy accords. It may not be a grand perfume, but it is certainly a lovely little piece. All depends on whether your tastes and needs make room for something like that. Great reviews, as always from Robin and Marlen! Very much enjoyed this feature.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I love the format, R!

    I tested Rose Ikebana once, did not think much of it, and sent it to another fragrance friend who really loves it. Oh well!

    I would never associate this one with silk, although the more original Ambre Narguile and Vetiver Tonka (my favorite of the quartet) do remind me of cashmere and wool, respectively.

    Or is that the power of a publicist's suggestion? :):)


  19. Anonymous says:

    Hi V, Actually looking around my perfume cabinet, and not sure how many perfumery breakthroughs I own. Will have to give that some more thought. Maybe I don't really evaluate that way. A pretty little piece is good enough for me, and rare enough to find, too.

  20. Anonymous says:

    R, It isn't sumptuous enough to be silk, is it? On the other hand, I can't associate VT with wool, which seems too pedestrian. Ambre Narguile is probably the only one I can picture as its fabric.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I love reading these He Says/She Says. They're great, thank you.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Thanks K!!

  23. Anonymous says:

    I cannot agree more. I personally love many pretty little pieces, which tend to be easy to wear–La Chasse, Chanel Gardenia, many from Rosine's range. They are equivalent to a beautiful well-made outfits, whereas something like Guerlain Shalimar is a full length evening gown (one needs to be in that type of mood to carry it off).

    Perfumery breakthroughs is a very narrowly constructed term. I would change it to innovative. However, I would say that you like many of unusual fragrances, which is why I always think that your tastes are very eclectic. I would rate fragrances ranging from #5 and Guerlain Mitsouko, Fracas, to Dior Dune, Angel, SL TC and Feminite du Bois by Shiseido as innovative (not to say that I would wear them all necessarily). There are many other ones, of course.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I still like this but I prefer AA's Pivoine Magnifique because the grapefruit is less astringent and because I love the Guerlinade base. However, your fun dual/duel review prompts me to find my bottle and shmell it.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Perfect description, V. I am not an evening gown kind of person, or at least not often.

  26. Anonymous says:

    LA, schmell and report back! Completely agree that the grapefruit is less astringent in PM, but I like sharp citrus.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Ta'if! Ta'if! Ta'if!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Exactly ;-)

  29. Anonymous says:

    No, because Guerlain's With Love has pink peppercorn. Well, which came first, I don't know. I love the stuff in cooking.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I am so happy to read your positive comments and to see familiar names. Thanks for the support! I recently tried Vetiver Tonka and truly fell in love with this one.


  31. Anonymous says:

    Am I slow to notice, or did you just add all sorts of new stuff to your blog template, like top borders and different background colors? I love the look, I think it makes it very soft and pleasant on the eyes for organization. Good job. Sorry, I know this has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but I know it can be an utter pain to do, so I just wanted to drop you a note that it's nice looking.

  32. Anonymous says:

    K, you are way slow. I think I did it over a month ago! And yes, utter pain doesn't begin to describe it. I need to learn more CSS. Love the new look on your blog too! And am so impressed still that you created your own banner. I am not there yet.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Hey Marlen! You won this vote hands down :-)

  34. Anonymous says:

    Here I am, poking old threads again. =o
    I too am under the siren's spell with this one; it's soft and sweet with a little dab of sour and a smattering of dusty rose. I'm not really a rose person, but I would love a little bottle of this. It's not a show-stopper, admittedly, but sometimes you just need something subtle and simple.
    I like three out of the three I've tried; I may end up with the whole damned set. Which, I mean, I'd be fine with, but my wallet would cry for ages. Dx
    Also, the SA suggested layering this with Vetiver Tonka. On my skin, VT ate RI up in bits; maybe it's a ratio thing.
    Or maybe she was trying to sell me two bottles. o..o;

  35. Anonymous says:

    Hey, did you try Kelly Caleche? The top notes have some affinity to Rose Ikebana.

    I'm not surprised the VT ate up the RI…that would be hard to get right — you'd need a really teeeny dab of the VT then several sprays of the RI. The RI does layer nicely with Poivre Samarcande though.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I did try Kelly Caleche (or did you mean layering-wise?) awhile back. All I remember is lots of powder and my friend calling me Nana. Course, I don't much value her opinion of perfumes.

    When it calmed down, they meshed really well. It's just in the top notes that VT goes all Godzilla.

    I'll have to get a vial next time I'm at Hermes. Hopefully, that's soon. =D

  37. Anonymous says:

    LOL — I guess KC is more feminine. I couldn't remember if you had tried it.

  38. gvillecreative says:

    Tried this weekend and was knocked out by the beauty of it. I agree that Rose Ikebana is very similar to the top notes of Kelly Caleche– but Kelly Caleche turns into something else entirely, while on me, Rose Ikebana remains a tart rose fragrance into the drydown. Love them both. Rose Ikebana is hideously more expensive from what I’ve seen, so I’m not sure which I’d be more likely to buy. JCE strikes again! This was my second from the Hermesence series (Vanile Gallante was my first) and has inspired me to try a few more. :)

    • Robin says:

      Yes, they’re expensive, but you can always get the 15 ml just to have a bit of it around! I’m on my 2nd 15 ml bottle of Rose Ikebana though, so eventually it will not have been a cost effective way to buy.

  39. Hey, I think RI is pretty similar to the Jardin en mediterranée in the composition. Lighter and with rose – but the parallels are there. RI is finer and prettier, but does not last at all. The Poivre and the vetiver are outstanding nice. I wonder if I take the sample kit, I would be happier, but my best freind wants to have the RI too and it would be nicer if I share.
    There you go: addiction vs. freindship. I guess addiction wins.

    • Robin says:

      Jean Claude Ellena works with a rather restricted set of notes — agree, those are recognizably related.

      • ami says:

        hehe, I’m wearing this today, and absolutely reminded me of Jardin sur le Nil with rose :)
        but it is not a problem for me, that Jean-Claude works with a limitied number of ingredients, it is like recognising a painter or a composer. I adore it, an ethereal and light rose, but I can still smell it after 12 hours

        • Robin says:

          Not a problem for me either, but there are definitely people who do not like his style and find him repetitive!

  40. Sorry for the typo – friend and friendship.
    By the way – I did not smell the Amber scent, but I love cashmere so I have to like, or?

    • Robin says:

      It’s a great scent! Don’t know that it has anything to do with cashmere really though.

  41. PinoiPerfumista says:

    Finally, I got a sample of this from Hermes store in Dubai. I bought a bottle of Ambre Narguile (AN) and the SA generously gave me ten small vials of the others in the Hermessence collection.

    Personally, I find Rose Ikebana very pleasant but nothing really “new” to offer, the reason I bought instead AN which has character– a criteria I look for when buying a perfume. I also agree this is similar with Kelly Caleche especially on its early stages. Between this and KC, I’ll go for KC. More character, less expensive.

    • Robin says:

      It is true, it is probably the least unusual in the collection.

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