Hermes Rocabar ~ fragrance review

Hermès wool horse rugs

A fragrance for wanderers drawn to wide-open spaces. — Jean-Claude Ellena1

During my Now Smell This years, many men have written me asking for a review of Hermès Rocabar.2 I’m wary! I assume the guys writing me love Rocabar; what if I don’t? In that case would Rocabar fans prefer I keep quiet? Hermès is one of my favorite perfume houses so why was Rocabar unknown to me? Maybe I tried it ages ago and didn’t like it? Was it just a case of Fate — Rocabar and I always just out of each other’s reach? But last week, at the Hermès boutique inside my local Nordstrom, there was an easy-to-sniff tester bottle of Rocabar and I finally wore it. (This review is based on the current Rocabar formula; I assume late-1990s Rocabar was different).

Hermès says the name ‘Rocabar’ is a “contraction of ‘rug’ and the French words ‘à barres’ meaning striped.” Rocabar…

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Hermes Muguet Porcelaine ~ fragrance review

lily of the valley

“There’s so much subtlety in lily-of-the-valley that I’ve often dreamed of sublimating it. I dived right into its fragrance in order to reproduce the beauty and supply voluptuous quality of this flower which is fragile as porcelain.” Jean-Claude Ellena

Muguet Porcelaine is the latest to join the Hermessence range at Hermès, and the choice of subject, lily of the valley, was something of a surprise, to me at least.1 Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena widely cites perfumer Edmond Roudnitka as his mentor, and Roudnitska, of course, made Diorissimo, surely (if you think otherwise, don’t tell me) the reference lily of the valley.2 It struck me as highly unlikely that Ellena would wade into those same waters, so I was expecting a sort of meditation on lily of the valley, not really a soliflore or even something I’d necessarily recognize as lily of the valley.3

But no, surprise surprise, what we have here is exactly what the name suggests…

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Hermes Equipage Geranium ~ fragrance review

ink drawing of horse

I’ve probably said it before, and as I approach my 500th article for Now Smell This, I’ll probably forget and say it again: if I had to limit myself to one perfume house for my fragrance ‘needs,’ Hermès would win. No other brand, including Guerlain, Chanel, L’Artisan Parfumeur, Frédéric Malle…or Serge Lutens!…gets so much of my business. Hermès, under perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, has done a great job with flankers, too: Bel Ami Vétiver and Rose Amazone come to mind (Jean-Claude…where’s my Eau d’Hermès Mimosa? I’ve asked that you create this SEVERAL TIMES!) Ellena is responsible for Equipage Géranium, a new take on 1970’s Equipage (a Guy Robert creation).

Back in the day, I was an Equipage fanatic, and right now I possess a vintage bottle of the perfume…

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Hermes Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate & Eau de Neroli Dore ~ fragrance review

Hermès Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate and Eau de Néroli Doré

Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate and Eau de Néroli Doré are the latest additions to ‘Les Colognes’ at Hermès. It is not my favorite collection — I own a lot of Hermès fragrances, but only one from this series, Eau de Pamplemousse Rose (I do also keep a small bottle of the older Eau d’Orange Verte, which was repackaged into this series in 2009). But still, I’m always glad to see something new from the brand that takes most of my perfume dollars, and I was especially curious since the rhubarb is the first fragrance for Hermès signed by perfumer Christine Nagel, who joined Jean-Claude Ellena as house perfumer in 2013.

Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate is, as I said above, the Christine Nagel scent, and the description, “the crisp and tangy freshness of rhubarb softened with white musks”, is pretty accurate…

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