Fragrance review: Terre d'Hermes by Hermes

Hermes Terre d'Hermes fragrance advert

Terre d'Hermès is the latest fragrance for men from Hermès. It was created by perfumer Jean Claude Ellena, and it is worth repeating the fragrance description I posted back in December:

The vegetable and mineral juice, made without animal by-products or musk, sparkles with orange (specifically formulated for Hermès by Albert Vieille) and grapefruit that blends with flint for a mineral note, and combines with pepper, bay rose, geranium, patchouli, benzoin and vetiver around the central note of Atlas cedar to enhance its Earthly tones. (via cosmeticnews)

According to Escentual, the fragrance is meant to be the masculine counterpart to Hermès Eau des Merveilles: "This is for the man who has his feet firmly on the ground, but his head is in the stars."

What struck me when I smelled Terre d'Hermès was how accurately the smell of the finished product could be determined by the information given above; a rare thing, since most official perfume descriptions leave me scratching my head and wondering if the writer had actually smelled the fragrance. That is not to say that it wasn't a surprise, because it was, but it was the sort of surprise that comes from ignoring the obvious. It smells very much like a Jean Claude Ellena fragrance (minimalist, comparatively transparent), it smells like all of the notes listed in the description, and while it smells nothing like Eau des Merveilles, they share a similar kind of feeling: an airy outdoorsiness, the smell of warm skin, and a kind of clean finish that happily doesn't evoke laundry soap.

So my description of the scent itself is sort of superfluous: it starts with citrus, sparkling and mildly sweet, and nothing like so sharp or high-pitched as Jardin Sur Le Nil. Then comes a whole rush of notes all at once: pepper (lots), cedar (ditto) and patchouli (thankfully subdued). Over the next hour, everything blends and softens and gets more indistinct. There is warm earth, and warm rocks, and wood, and a brief hint of greenery. After an hour or so, there is the suggestion of smoky-dusty gunpowder.

It is not a deep fragrance, exactly, but nor is it wispy and ethereal; it is somewhere in between, and fairly accurately corresponds to the image of a man with his feet on the ground and his head in the stars. It certainly has a more forceful presence than Eau des Merveilles (and better lasting power). I should not think it is too masculine for a woman to wear, but will be very interested to see what others think on that subject. For that matter, I always thought Eau des Merveilles was unisex, and was surprised to discover that Hermès lists it on their website as a women's fragrance.

It is beautifully done. The primary reason that I am such a huge fan of Jean Claude Ellena is that he always knows when to leave well enough alone. It is very nice to see that the first major fragrance release from Hermès since Ellena became the in-house nose reflects that, and I hope we will see the first major fragrance release for women very soon.

Terre d'Hermes cologne for men, fragrance bottle

Terre d'Hermès will be available in 50 and 100 ml bottles of Eau de Toilette. I forgot to ask about the price when I was at the boutique, if you know, please comment. I'm sure I'll end up buying it regardless. I believe most of the Hermès boutiques in the US are to have it in stock by March 13.

Bonus: if you missed it earlier, check out the Terre d'Hermès website [no longer active, sorry!], which as of this moment is still ticking down the seconds until the fragrance's official release on March 4.

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63 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful review! I can practically smell the scent based on your description. Can't wait to try it. It sounds superb.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Robin, this was a lovely surprise! Looks like you beat me to the boutique. I'm very excited for this fragrance, but I hope it's cheaper than Sur le Nil, at least. The bottle looks like it has an orangish tint to the glass, am I correct? I think the bottle is gorgeous as well.

  3. Anonymous says:

    That is a gorgeous review, NST. I think I might like this for me—or D. As for Sur le Nil—I wish JCE'd gone a bit further somehow, any how. But it doesn't matter, because my daughter 'borrowed' it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    M, I hope you will like it, but since we are EFT I can't be sure.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I wish I had asked the price. Sur Le Nil only came in one size, though, right? At least you can get this in 50 ml.

    I thought the glass was clear, but was paying more attention to the juice than the bottle. It has a strip of metal (or something with a metal finish) along the top that you can sort of see in the picture. From the picture, guessing that they've done something similar to what they did with the Hermessences & put color along the bottom that reflects upward.

  6. Anonymous says:

    L, you might well wish they had gone further with this one too. It is supposed to be the big mainstream commercial fragrance release, unlike Sur Le Nil or the Hermessences. But given that, it is a great fragrance, considerably more interesting than your average mainstream commercial fragrance release. But I wouldn't pay the price of the Hermessences for it. Of course, I'm assuming it won't cost that much, but I actually have no idea.

    And it isn't one of those scents that catch you with the top notes and then turn boring. It opens just fine, but is much nicer after an hour.

  7. Anonymous says:

    R – did they have samples available or did you have to make your own? And what do you think about the KoP boutique? Theres only one guy who's not stuck up and he actually gives me a whole bunch of samples when I ask. But everyone else is very pompous and probably for no reason. I'm sure they can't afford the stuff either.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well, in “Details” magazine the fragrance is listed at $90 for 100ml (soon available at neimanmarcus.com). JCE is the ONLY perfumer whose scents I have bought unsniffed with 100 percent satisfaction…so I should just order now. Order I must…who knows when it will reach Seattle. K

  9. Anonymous says:

    R, it sounds wonderful! Thank you for such a lovely review and a great description.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I love what JCE has done at Hermes, and this sounds like another wonderful scent from him. I better get my preorder in, but I need to find a nicer boutique than the one in Las Vegas to order from. I've ordered hundreds of dollars of stuff from them in about 60 days, and gotten not ONE sample. I feel like a spoiled shopper saying that, but it's just mildy irritating.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Made my own. A young male SA was there, and he was very nice. I've had mixed experiences there. In general, they are much nicer in the NY boutique.

    BTW, was wrong about Sur Le Nil: you can get a 50 ml at imaginationperfumery for $45. Not bad.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I think you will like it, K. Personally, I'm waiting for it to hit the discounters. I'll pay full price for the Hermessences since I've no choice, but for everything else, I'll wait.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Hey, get back to work.

  14. Anonymous says:

    You know, that is strange. In the NY store, they hand out samples if you ask, even if you don't buy something. Maybe you just need to ask?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hi, everybody! I paid 44 euros for my 50 ml. bottle. It is around 52 USD, but I have the feeling that fragrances are just slightly cheaper in Europe. The 100 ml. bottle was 66 euros. Well, I agree about pompous sellers, but, surprisingly, I have encountered many more of those in regular perfume shops than in my Hermés boutique in Madrid. Most of the sellers are really nice, specially a Japanese girl who gives me lots of samples even when I don´t buy anything! But I ALWAYS ask for samples in perfume shops, they are supposed to give them to customers.

    I totally agree about the mineral aspect of Terre d´hermés and yes, perhaps it reminds me also a little of Eau des Merveilles as well as of Bigarade, but that may be for the orange. Curiously, I always think of Merveilles as a very feminine fragrance, but a friend of mine think that it is as masculine as the rest of my scents. Anyway, I think that Terre d´hermés is very suitable for women.

    • Owen says:

      yes, perfume is a lot cheaper in UK than USA
      but I duno about other places, Tenerife tries to rip you off.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Asked, nada. Ordered like four times, zip. Just odd, so I think it's just this one shop. I'm trying another one next time.

  17. Anonymous says:

    As usual Robin, a fabulous review. I am really looking forward to trying this scent. I am hoping that it's in the stores in Leeds this weekend.

  18. Anonymous says:

    This sounds wonderful! I must get myself to the Boston Hermes to sample. I really like Merveilles, but find it somewhat light; perhaps this will work better for me. Of course, what I really want is Doblis *sigh*

    Re: Patty's sample problem–the Boston boutique seems very generous. When I bought Ambre Narguile there, the SA gave a full set of the boxed Hermessence 4 ml “samples” not only to me but to two women with me, who bought nothing. And I had the impression he would have done so even if none of us had bought.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Yes, cheaper in Europe, no doubt! But I will wait for it to hit the discounters. I always ask for samples too :-)

  20. Anonymous says:

    Maybe try NY? They have always included samples when I've asked for them.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Do come back & comment if you get the chance, would love to hear a man's opinion!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Doblis is lovely, but doesn't appeal to me — luckily! Can't afford a numbered bottle, LOL!

  23. Anonymous says:

    I just got email from menstyle and it said that the Hermes Boutique and Saks in NY will have it from March 10. The price?……$90

  24. Anonymous says:

    Prince Barry, that is for the 100 ml. Hoping the 50 ml will be much cheaper. And hoping I'll snag a cheap bottle at scentiments before the year is out ;-)

  25. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the great review, R! I'm so looking forward to this one, and I stopped in at the Boston boutique yesterday, but they won't have it for another couple of weeks.

    I didn't ask for a sample; I think that depends on the salesperson, actually. There is one very nice SA there (also mentioned by Lilybp above), but he was busy when I went in, and the woman who came to answer my question obviously did not want to waste any further time on me.

    I have to admit, though, that my shopping confidence had already been a bit dampened by my immediate faux pas upon entering the store – I mistook the security guard for an SA! LOL! Well, he was a nice, presentable young man, all dressed in black. How was I to know? :-D

  26. Anonymous says:

    LOL! Who can tell?

    Hope they will get it soon. Might be worth calling to see if they have a tester next week since my boutique has one already.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Well, a little late but a while ago my weekend edition of FT called “How To Spend it” has a small inset of Jean Claude and how he likes truffles. Can't print it all here due to copyrights, but in summary, he loves truffles, he has a secret supplier from Drome in Provence, it's the inspiration for his Terre d'Hermes, he uses truffles to make risotto and he serves it with Vouvray instead of red wine.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Ah, thanks so much for posting, that is very interesting and I can completely see the reference to truffles. Wish he'd drop by and a) make me a custom perfume and b) cook me dinner.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Oh let's go for it! Jean Claude, this message is for you! Please stop by here and chat. Making dinner is optional. :D

    Hey, NST should be a first stop if JCE surfs the net and post anywhere. Heck, I'll make dinner! :)

  30. Anonymous says:

    Hey, from the looks of your blog, I'd be thrilled if you made dinner. You wouldn't even want to see what I would serve ;-)

  31. Anonymous says:

    OMG, how can they say a woman cannot wear this. I think it smells better on me than on my husband, actually it starts smelling kind of feminine on him after a while….It just is so earthy and wonderful on me that I think it is better suited to a woman OR a very fair skinned man. Has anyone anythoughts on skin tone in accordance to how a perfume wears?

  32. Anonymous says:

    Who said a woman couldn't wear it?? I wear it, at any rate, and also love it layered w/ other scents.

    I don't subscribe much to the notion that skin tone matters to how a perfume wears, but I know many people do.

  33. Anonymous says:

    This fragrance really evokes a wonderful, warm earthy feeling. It's a very unique sensation that after smelling so many times on my skin I still cannot make up my mind whether I like it or not. It is certainly unmistakable though, and I can smell anyone who wears this fragrance instantly.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I bought this in December 2006 and have loved it ever since. Actually, it would be fairer to say I've loved it more and more ever since I fist bought it.

    It's a fragrance which really unfolds itself to you gradually. It's slightly ovepowering when you first put it on, but if you get the amount you put on right, it is a stupendously well-blended and elegant fragrance, which amost always attracts compliments and interest.

    Whereas most male frags get slightly darker and creamier as they dry down, Terre actually gets lighter and more delicate the longer you wear it and projects a light and elegant aura off the skin.

    It is becoming a classic for good reason in my opinion. Perfect for most occasions, including, methinks seduction, Any man who carries this off is alluding to a sexuality which smoulders beneath the earthy vibrance the notes from top to bottom in this scent project.

    This is not a fragrance for wandering ingenues. It is for the assured man who is not afraid to turn alpha male from time to time.

    I love it to bits. Grrr. ;-)

  35. Anonymous says:

    Now why are you “grrr-ing” it if you love it?

  36. Anonymous says:

    There are nice grrrs too you know… ;-) Playful, you know…

  37. Anonymous says:

    LOL — true!

  38. Anonymous says:

    Oh, this is sooo nice. Reminds me of the time I spent in the Southwest hiking amidst the warm, red rocks and “herby” smelling plant life. Wonderfully evocative. :)

  39. Anonymous says:

    Isn't it perfect? Layers beautifully, too.

  40. Anonymous says:

    About a year ago my “gay boyfriend” came back from Europe with this and I nearly followed him around our office just to smell him. I HAD to get some for my honey- it is that good. We looked at it in Hawaii last fall but he was just getting ready to deploy with the military so we decided to wait. We just bought some at the duty free while on our “re-unification” trip that we took out of the country lasst month.

    All I can say is that when he wears it is weakens my knees. It smells better on him than on my friend and stays with him in a really nice way. It totally suits him and I can't get enough!

  41. Anonymous says:

    Glad he loves it too!

  42. Anonymous says:

    I realize this is waaay late after the post, but hubby and I tried Terre d'Hermès over the holiday weekend. It smelled so good on him even he couldn't stop smelling his arm! Totally disappeared on me… bummer.

  43. Anonymous says:

    How odd — but you could still smell it on him?

  44. Anonymous says:

    I got a sample of this from Sephora for my husband. I think what I like most about it must be the flint, and also the fact that the citrus doesn't seem sour or overpowering to me.

  45. Anonymous says:

    My husband likes how it smells, but he didn't put any on last night. Instead, I put some on… and it does so much better on my skin than on that little paper stick from the store. Which is great, since it already smelled really nice on the paper stick. On my skin, the flint smell comes out so much more.

    I have a baby and so I woke up to feed her a lot throughout the night and was able to sniff my wrists about every two hours. By the time six hours had passed, it was totally close to my skin but I could still smell it. It seemed like the flint had become even more the predominant scent by then. Finally, this morning, I could still smell it just the tiniest bit if I pressed my nose against my wrists, but it wasn't necessarily the flint that I smelled. I don't know what it was.

    It smells of lying on a nice, big, warm, gray rock on a sunny but mild day.

  46. Anonymous says:

    It's a great scent, I like to wear it too. Layers well also!

  47. Anonymous says:

    What do you layer it with?

  48. Anonymous says:

    It works nicely with many transparent florals, and I really like it with Hermes Kelly Caleche. I wrote an article on layering, if it helps:

    http://www.nstperfume.com/blog/_archives/2007/12/6/3384395.html

  49. Anonymous says:

    Thanks. :)

  50. enidan says:

    My father is wearing this at the moment — either this or Knize. It suits him wonderfully, as he is a tall, broad and very beautiful man with the face of a Wordsworthian youth (though his gait has become a little heavy, but not lumbersome)… When you see him you would expect him to be donning something like Habit Rouge (beurk), so what a brilliant surprise to sniff him and be greeted by all this whimsical freshness!
    I am just discovering Ellena’s take on fragrance and so far it has been a pleasure.

    • Robin says:

      It’s a great scent, as is Knize! But then, I love Habit Rouge too :-)

  51. eminere says:

    Has anyone tried the new Parfum? It’s even more wonderful – rich and warm.

    • Robin says:

      I haven’t…sounds great!

  52. Owen says:

    I gave this a try in Debenhams today.

    it’s not all that fantastic like everyone makes it sound. I think eveyone goes crazy over this is because it’s Hermes :/

    it’s a nice soft airy woody smell. lasts a long time, but not very strong at all. I wouldn’t buy it. it’s just a way better version than “everything else”.

    • Owen says:

      I think they’ve made a pure parfum version of it, or eau de parfum or something. I’d like it better if was stronger.

      I mean I like my perfume to be strong so the whole room can smell it anyway. but this is an expensive mens fragrance, and I wouldn’t pay for just me to smell it, because its undetectable unless you put your nose to your arm (I forgot I had it on until I smelled my arm).

      • Robin says:

        I adore it! But then I don’t really want the whole room to smell what I’m wearing.

  53. Buzzy says:

    I just got this and am really enjoying it. it smells pretty dark and truffly on me and a bit mossy too.

  54. micha says:

    My husband just got a 100ml bottle as a gift and I automatically took it… Reading your review Robin, I can tell you that this is a fragrance I would wear even if it is being marketed as a men’s perfume. But then, there was a time back in the early 90′s when I wasn’t too scared to wear Fahrenheit… So I think I am open to teh idea of wearing men’ perfumes.
    I am 43 years old and find many floral scents ‘too girly’ for me now especially this new “gourmand trend” which I find nauseating (sorry if I am offending anyone. I find myself looking for “more edge” perhaps or a more unique statement… At some point, I raved about Givenchy’s Eau Torride but sadly can’t find it anymore and may have possibly outgrown it. Robin, would you or any of your readers have suggestions for me?

  55. Subhuman says:

    Can I just chime in and say that the ad above is gorgeous? It reminds me of one of the Kenzos – close shot of a face superimposed over a wide-angle shot of the same subject – and recalls the old Fahrenheit commercials with the guy wandering around a desert, sort of lost in his own inner, contemplative world. (Come to think of it, Fahrenheit has a warm rocks/baked earth quality as well. Perhaps Terre is its 21st-century equivalent?)

    • Robin says:

      I never thought about it, but it does look very Kenzo.

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