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.