Hermès Eau de Néroli Doré Cologne
Eau de Néroli Doré by Hermès is one of the two new colognes launched by the French luxury house in 2016. Composed by perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, this is a solar but also animalistic take on a classic note - neroli - and the eau de cologne genre it anundantly perfumes usually...
It's become stereotypical to underscore the fact that Ellena is all about creating olfactive haikus and Zen-like textures. He has himself claimed to be on a quest to capture the essence of water. But all these are simplifications.
Here is a perfumer with a wide range as they say of opera singers who can slide up and down the scale of notes with ease. The last several years he has devoted to developing a consistent artistic style in his more personal works. Néroli Doré is not typically latter-manner. It is too fully fleshed - with hints of carnality - to qualify as such. It is also meant to last a decent amount of time on skin, which is not necessarily a constraint the perfumer accepts in his more purist works found in the Hermessence range.
In his fragrances where the limits of convention are pushed, the notion has slipped that perfumes can be just for smelling, for a time, and not for wearing over the course of a few hours.
Eau de Néroli Doré, like the new Muguet Porcelaine is perhaps not coincidentally part-Ellena and part-Roudnitska. Edmond Roudnitska was Ellena's mentor. In his two last compositions for Hermès, the soon-to-be ex-in-house perfumer has been moved to revisit two works by his old teacher, once a Hermès fine nose. Roudnitska's name is perhaps more commonly linked to that of Dior today. There is a movement of nostalgia expressed. Something comes full circle. So, in Eau de Néroli Doré, as the first accents of green, fresh, orangey neroli lift your spirit as prophylactic eaux de cologne do, a counterpoint of salt, skin, sweat and warm ambergris - and generally speaking - very human emanations take over, reminding you of a principle of carnality.
You may have guessed it already. There is in this new perfume an homage paid to Eau d'Hermès, famous for its animal underpinnings. Roudnitska is known to have used cumin with a deft hand to make all sorts of sexual innuendos rise to the surface of his still waters.
Unlike Grenouille, the fictional psychopathic criminal mind invented by Süskind, who could smell like a god but was himself scentless, we, humans endowed with beating human hearts, smell. And so, Eau de Néroli Doré, to be worn by the most human among us, smells of licked, lickable skin and salty-sticky sweat. It smells feral, suggesting the fur of a beast. It reminds me of the scent of a Mongolian curly sheep skin cover lined with mustard-colored silk that I used to enjoy smelling as a kid for its suggestion of an unknown world; it reminds me of the smell of my long-haired cat when it was a kitten - its underbelly smelled like this. Everyone will have their own memory associations with the feral imprint contained in the jus.
As for me, I was able to see in my mind's eye a vision which I described to myself as The Scent of the Golden Fleece as Worn by a Greek Shepherd with Sticky-Sweet Orange Scented Fingers. It summarizes in an idiosyncratic manner for this reviewer the confluence of olfactory cues she gets from the meeting of a garden of the Hesperides and of the Golden Fleece worn by Jason. It is an unexpected meeting of contrasts. Yet, in a way, it amplifies an idea found in some French eaux de cologne, which instead of muting the natural muskiness of the skin, add a note of sophisticated sweatiness thanks to cumin, carvi or cedarwood, which enhances it in a subtle yet tangible manner. Here, this olfactory idea is also conveyed by spice - the gold of saffron - but also, with a marine beast's alchemical production made in collaboration with the sea, sun and the passing of time. Those may well be olfactory symbols of plenitude to look up to.