“ Brand: Hermes / Type: Fragrance / Concentration: Eau de Toilette „
Group: Woody Spicy
Hermessence is a line of fragrances from Hermes made with the most precious fragrant raw materials with no costs spared, dreamed and concocted by in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. Intrigued, I managed to hunt down two generous 4ml travel vials of two of these eau de toilettes for £3.99 each on eBay to test.
The 100ml editions are served in sturdy and transparent glass bottles, a unifying concept as many Hermes' creations, new or re-editions of classics now come in the same format. Pure, minimalist yet imposing, they are easily recognizable and simply elegant.
Top notes: grapefruit, rhubarb
Right from the start, a duo of aromas hit my nose at the same time. One is zesty and lightly bitter, the other is a rose, crisp, fresh, 'early morning dew' type of whole rose, including stem which envelops the tart citrus with a delicious but elegant and satiny cloud.
Middle notes: rose tea, rose, magnolia, pink pepper
The sharp, citric accord shifts into a lower gear after about fifteen minutes leaving a natural and transparent rose scent that isn't jammy or perfumey but is fresh and delicate with a hint of sweetness. There's still some tartness going on apart from the solo rose reminding me of the rose - patchouli combination in Gres Cabaret. Rose Ikebana is a lot more feminine and delicate than Cabaret though and has a powdery undertone that softens it even further without adding sweetness to it. As the hours stretch, a ligthly spiced, tender and transparent rose emerges bringing to mind the unsweetened, rose scented ice tea I made last summer with that same type of fresh, natural and aromatic feel to it.
Base notes: spices, musk, honey, vanilla
Intriguingly, the rose never leaves even 6 - 7 hours and should I say this is a disappointment. I would love to have more to report on however what the base resembles is a kind of skeleton rose heart with a dash of transparent and clean musk thrown in. Not a lot to go on about really, it's nice and comfortable but somehow feels like a leftover and not something that could stand firmly on its own. I yearned for more spices and woods to be honest than a warm and gentle whisper of a rose to be served up in the base. Having nothing else to back it up, the rose sits on its own rather drawn out and tired. A clean, natural and dewy rose again, just the way it started.
Rose Ikebana isn't a spicy rose as Rose Absolue or earthy, sharp patchouli-rose of Cabaret nor is it buried in vanilla as in Rose Ispahan or velvety ambery as in Rose Absolute. Rose Ikebana is every bit as rosy as it can get offset by only some fresh citrus and a teeny-weeny pinch of spice. I find it could have been made more interesting and bolder as it's just a bit meek and not enough out there for my liking. Surprisingly for an eau de toilette, Although Rose Ikebana does linger on for the whole day and is made with high-end ingredients; it's somehow too weak to make a statement despite its potential.
Delicate and yet sturdy, the rose never loses its grip perhaps to the detriment of other elements. What's more, I expected a lot woodier and earthier rose given that the fragrance is marketed for both genders. Besides the rose, the rest of the elements are mere background notes that do not shine through enough. From a beautiful and refined but rather obfuscated bunch of aromas ranging from gentle, crisp, citrusy and fresh to lightly spiced, soft and powdery, it seems like there's a lot going on and yet the rose stays a rose. Rose Ikebana isn't linear but the rose being all the time present without any serious contenders it feels a tad too gentle and simply and ultimately boring to wear all day.
In summary, Rose Ikebana is an unpretentious rose in its natural state picked in bud in an early morning and it is exactly this cold and dewy accompaniment that makes Rose Ikebana almost photorealistic. An undeniably complicated effort in perfumery when using natural raw materials which are inevitably altered during transformation, I understand the high price tag however I could never afford a full bottle of this. Plus, I like my roses plusher, spicier and fuller, even in summer. I recommend you try Rose Ikebana in Hermes's travel size editions, a more affordable way to experience this enchanting, natural and beautiful rose. However, a lot more feminine than I thought, I'd taken one star off for the shared marketing and one for the price. I just cannot see a single guy forking out hundreds of pounds for this!
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Hermessence Rose Ikebana is available in Hermes boutiques, concessions and airports and online too. The full-sized bottle costs £150 / 100ml Eau de Toilette. The 15ml travel spray is around £28.50.
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