At Hermès, freedom is one of the ferments of creation. By choosing Jean-Claude Ellena as their nose in 2004, the house formed an alliance with a free spirit and storyteller. For a perfumer, this blend of essential oils and almost pure alcohol, this simple and honest, citrus-dominated structure that is Cologne, is an exercise in style. For the wearer, the pleasure is immediate, intense, and personal, but it also inspires a spontaneous desire to share that unites generations. With Eau de néroli doré, his fifth creation in the Cologne family, Jean-Claude Ellena has given free expression to the raw materials and to the memory of his Mediterranean youth. Neroli is the essence extracted from orange blossom, and named after the 17th-century Italian Princess of Nerola, who used it to perfume her gloves. “When I started out in the profession of perfumer, I learned to distil raw materials, including orange blossom. When you enter the world of stills, you are also immersed in a scent, impregnated with it, you become it. My entire being was fragranced with orange blossom. To reproduce this sensation, where normally one uses very little neroli in fragrances, I used it abundantly, with abandon, as never before.” Says Jean-Claude Ellena. And to pay tribute to his cherished Mediterranean, to its history, its sunshine and its spices, he enhanced this golden neroli with saffron.
Each Hermès Cologne is the tale of a dialogue, an interplay of material and colour. Now, the family of Colognes is growing and their story is being enriched. For Christine Nagel, the house’s perfumer-designer, creating or wearing a fragrance is “touching the impalpable in an intimate act, leaving traces that cannot lie.” With Eau de rhubarbe écarlate, she creates a unique and bold freshness that is more vegetal than citrus. More textured, more marked, it offers a new sensation that reawakens the memory of inhaling the scent of a stem of rhubarb in the garden before it is picked. “When you work with rhubarb stalks,” explains Christine Nagel, “when you reproduce simple, age-old gestures, the scent bursts forth. I have always liked the duality of rhubarb. It is a two-fold duality, both visual and olfactory. Its green colour metamorphoses into red. From acidic and crisp, its scent becomes smooth and velvety.” As a painter or sculptor concentrates on the detail of an object to intensify it, Christine Nagel, as a perfumer free to play with raw materials, has chosen to amplify certain olfactory traits. For Eau de rhubarbe écarlate, she sought a fleshy and delicate rhubarb, exalted to the point of yielding a scent of refined white musk. Brisk and invigorating, the act of spraying it on oneself diffuses freshness, and no more needs to be said. It is self-evident.