One Thousand Scents

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Go Away: Voyage d'Hermes

My usual plan of action when I want to write about a scent is to wear it, think about it, make some notes, and repeat the process until I have enough (theoretically) cohesive ideas to make it worth writing about.

When I put on Voyage d'Hermes a few days ago, though, that all went out the window, because my reaction was so immediate and visceral that I still remember it, and I can't even stand to put the scent on a second time, knowing that I will hate it just as much as I did the first time (and that it will stay on my skin an ungodly long time), so I'm not going on notes and repeated consideration here, I'm just going on memory.

I know that's probably not fair to the scent, so all right, I just sniffed the sprayer of the sample vial to remind myself.

Voyage d'Hermes starts out with a stinging blast of citrus and black pepper, with a strong undercurrent of the standard bright/fresh scent it will rapidly turn into. And it does. Lots of brilliant-white laundry musk, some pale vague undefined wood, maybe a slosh of vetiver. That's about it. There are doubtless a great many things in there, aromatics and synthetics and essential oils, but they don't particularly stand out; they just contribute to the feeling of a big white bedsheet, freshly washed in too much strong laundry detergent and still wet, hanging on the clothesline, flapping in the breeze, slapping you in the face over and over again.

Some people love this (Robin over on Now Smell This did). Maybe you will, too. The bottle's really great, with a cover that pivots around the bottle to hide or expose the sprayer, making it a good travel package. But it's the sort of thing you have smelled over and over again in the last fifteen years, and it hasn't gotten any better despite having been through the hands of the storied Jean-Claude Ellena. I like some of his things (though his pale and vapourous aesthetic is antithetical to my own love of chypres and heady orientals); Ambre Narguile is genius. But Voyage d'Hermes? Horrible.

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