At Hermès, every woman is a mystery
A mystery that we try to elucidate
With a discreet glow. With patient knowledge.
With a singular beam.
With diffuse, protective warmth.
In a word, with light.
Light wakens and reveals the beauty of the world, it sublimates the nature of things and of living beings.
It shows each of us in our best light.
Although insubstantial and intangible, it brings creatures and things to life by caressing them. Light animates, it shimmers to our ears, quivers in our nostrils, brushes over our lips, tickles every pore
of our skin. It enchants us. It is life itself!
And this light which brings to light all the beauty of women and their infinite forms of expression every day, this birth is what Hermès has captured as an essence to create the most essential of perfumes. Jour d’Hermès.
Light is the promise of dawn,
of eternal rebirth. Pierre-Alexis Dumas
Ample, sturdy women full of life and health from paintings by Bonnard or Théodore Chassériau. Delicate, luminous women painted by Botticelli. Elegant, graceful women full of false modesty in Japanese prints. Strong women, despite appearances. Women who cannot be ignored but without ostentation. Settled, welcoming, hospitable women. Joyful, florid women. Women so sure of themselves they can admit they need other people, lovers, friends, children, forebears. Sensual women who need no artifice to be who they are and fuel daydreams and fantasies.
Liberated women, deliberately women. Bringing womanhood to light, and maintaining the mystery of every woman? Well, yes, and in order to surprise us all yet again, Jean-Claude Ellena surprised himself. This man who wilfully avoids classification in order to escape its codes focused on womanliness, the better to set it free. And if it’s for a woman then, in perfumery, it must be floral? So be it, Jean-Claude Ellena replied, but then let it be a thousand flowers! Armfuls, bouquets, sprays, garden flowers, cut flowers, morning flowers, evening flowers, mischievous fragrances, bewitching smells, a whole profusion !
And, in order to get to us from a distance too, balms that relate all the sensuality and
gentleness of a caress. The result is there: from dawn till dusk, a floral that flowers, flows, flourishes…
I wanted to offer armfuls of flowers to smell, people could put in their own choice of flowers, smell what they wanted to smell.
Shoes for the last twenty years, yes. Jewellery for ten years, yes.
But Pierre Hardy had not yet designed a perfume bottle for Hermès.
It was such a novelty for him that he wanted to find the right word: flask, phial, cocoon, urn, bottle?
What is a perfume bottle really ?
It is reassuring proof of the perfume inside, but we don’t see it itself. What is there, before, enclosing, and what is left, afterwards.
A perfume bottle harbours, nurtures, protects and sets free. It dispenses. It reminds.
Giving form to the formless, making the imaginary palpable and visible, lending colour to the fleeting, adding density to the imponderable, playing on the cup half full… a perfume called Jour d’Hermès and full of the scent of flowers can’t help but inspire.
And so, like an age-old seed blooming into fresh flowers, the square base of traditional perfume bottles acts as an anchor. A taut line rises up from each corner of this base; and these four lines grow upwards, rise and flourish, coming together in a fluid movement, an appreciable curve, a sensuous shoulder.
At its heart, collected, contained: a droplet suspended in space.
Grace springing from a solid base, in keeping with its contents. Just as the lightest, most fragile of evanescent flowers can sway in the breeze because, underground, they have established roots. The essential qualities we expect of each day: that it should dawn and feel dense and round, and that it should come again and again. A flowing fullness.
The adventure begins in 1951 with Eau d’Hermès composed by Edmond Roudnitska. The arrival ten years later of Calèche, the first women’s perfume from Hermès, confirmed this commitment to the perfumer’s art. Since then there has been a succession of creations from the great names of perfumery, each making a unique auteur’s contribution to the commitment to perfumery at the house of Hermès, both as a craftsman and an artist. In 2004, Jean-Claude Ellena joined the house to become its exclusive perfumer and create all its fragrances. To this poet, “the essential things in life are invisible to the eyes”*. Never forgetting the vulnerability of the individual moment he’s striving to transcribe, Jean-Claude Ellena tries to find the “countries behind the air” so dear to Jean Giono **. He reveals them, enters into them and makes them accessible to us by using a few strong symbols, without resorting to a cumbersome literalness that would only obscure the premise. Because if a mystery can be likened to a stance or an attitude it becomes as unremarkable as the back of your hand, whereas the simplicity of a sketch can harbour unsuspected, endlessly expanding depths… What captures, then, is not what encloses, dictates and restrains but whatever might grant access to a hidden, vibratile state which asks only to be discovered, slowly appreciated and explored…
Isn’t that the difference between an image and the imaginary ?Taking a step like this is the finest illustration of the skills at the house of Hermès which, instead of restricting itself to following fashions, has put craftsmanship, individuality and a rigorous and highly personal element of fantasy at the heart of its endeavours.In the library of Hermès perfumes, each perfume is a story, each perfume opens a new imaginary world.
Like stories filled with characters and events, the Novel-Perfumes expand time with their lasting presence. They draw their inspiration from the heritage of Hermès and its universe. Calèche, Équipage or more recently Eau des Merveilles, Terre d’Hermès and Voyage d’Hermès tell a story and invite us to share in the imaginary world of the house.
Shorter tales with a more limited number of characters and events, the Novella-Perfumes – the Gardens and Colognes – concentrate time around a single moment. An olfactory stroll in the footsteps of the in-house perfumer, the Garden-Perfumes establish a new sensory geography inspired by annual themes at Hermès. The Colognes are generous, figurative expressions of simple pleasures, and sit perfectly in this register of olfactory snapshots.
Sober and intense as haikus, the Poem-Perfumes reinvent a precious and unusual aspect of nature, sublimated by the inspired rewriting of a composer always eager to break new ground. With raw materials named in direct terms to produce a tenuous sensation and an ineffable impression, Hermessence is a collection of unique perfumes, intended exclusively for Hermès stores.
* Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, © Éditions Gallimard, 1946.
** Le Serpent d’étoiles, Jean Giono, © Éditions Grasset, 1933.
Eau de parfum, refillable natural spray 85 ml (2.9 fl oz)