One simply cannot find two perfumes from completely different houses and in totally different price ranges, that would smell almost like they shared the same juice poured into their bottles. A situation like that happened to me recently when I got a sample of Hermes Ambre Narguile in a swap and a sample of Helium [2He] from Nu_Be arrived at my doorstep. Imagine how confused I was when I wore Hermes the other day and Nu_Be the day after and smelled almost the same fragrance!
I’ll start with the Hermes and with a statement that I tested it after I’ve practically given up on the brand’s offerings, not believing I might find one I will enjoy from the start to the end. Ambre Narguile, an exclusive Hermessence collection scent from 2004 makes we want to give Hermes this one last chance. The perfume opens with a lush smell of sweet honey. It’s aroma is quite prominent, at the same time being smooth and shiny. After a couple of minutes I start to smell the sparkling spiciness of cinnamon that evokes a feeling of freshly baked apple pie. After 30 minutes Ambre Narguile unveils the beautiful rum accord. The alcohol is imperceptible to me but I definitely get the sugary aroma of sugar cane used in rum flavoring. So far the composition well incorporates the chords of sweet and spicy. As the time passes this Hermessence becomes sweeter again when molecules of caramel and benzoin start to evaporate from the skin surface. The combination is exquisite. It introduces an ethereal balmy sensation to this perfume. Vanilla has a significant role too! At the 1st hour mark this fragrance becomes a little bit heavier on resinous notes. Tonka bean along with coumarin bring a really warm and cuddly feeling to Ambre Narguile. Labdanum adds some smokiness, a really light one. Sesame on the other hand introduces a slightly oily texture. Musk base is really airy and fluffy like a bunny’s tail. I couldn’t smell much of an orchid. Hermes Ambre Narguile smells great. It’s the 1st Hermes perfume I truly like but in just 5 hours the perfume becomes much more pale, watercolor and it disappears. We all know Jean-Claude Ellena’s subtle style of creating. Some love it, some don’t. I prefer a perfume that I can still smell after 5 hours or more. For such volatile beauty the price is a little bit too much.
Moving on to Nu_Be Helium [2He]. This is more recent perfume release as it was introduced in 2012. The inspiration for this scent was Helium, the 2nd element in Periodic Table of the Elements, the first noble gas. At first it welcomes me with a wonderful cinnamon accord that is warm and spicy at the same time. It has that typical slightly prickly, fizzy quality that you can taste when you have some cinnamon on your tongue. In less that 15 minutes Helium becomes balmy, in smooth and creamy meaning of the word. Benzoin accord is definitely stronger than in Ambre Narguile. At the 45 minutes mark comes the first thing that differentiates these two fragrances. Helium has the tobacco accord that brings the bright and airy smokiness to the blend, at the same time staying close to the sweet side thanks to styrax and probably some honey too! The Nu_Be offering also has a darker side created with the use of guaiac wood. It feels substantial but absolutely not rough or hurting. In addition to that a rose accord polishes its surface, wrapping it all around. Later on the woody phase dissipates allowing tobacco to take control for one more time. Now it develops slightly herbal quality – [2He] contains clary sage and also there’s some leafy patchouli that is nicely blended into the herbal vibe I get. Helium develops slower than a Hermes fragrance, all the facets are revealed in bigger intervals of time. After 6 hours the perfume still goes bold and slowly begins to calm down and its edges are getting blurry. What I smell now is lovely iris accord blended with a woody kind of vetiver. The combination is exquisite, slightly powdery, slightly woody, floral and earthy too. Much like my dearest D600 from Carner Barcelona. It doesn’t disappear faster than after 8-10 hours.
The final word: Both Hermes Ambre Narguile and Nu_Be Helium [2He] are super lovable scents. They share so many aspects that only side by side test reveals nuances that cause these two creations to differ. On my skin Nu_Be Helium is better. It’s much stronger, substantial and enveloping. Not only it is more intensive but also lasts much longer. When Ambre Narguile flies away from my skin after 5 hours, Nu_Be Helium is in like 70% of development and still has at least 3 hours to go before dying. Someone could accuse that the Italian brand (Nu_Be) copied the Hermessence formula from 8 years later. I cannot agree. They feel much alike, not identical.
So, if you like Ambre Narguile and you keep complaining that it’s too close to your skin, it’s too fleeting and airy I highly suggest giving a try to Helium from Nu_Be offer. You might be surprised how familiar and cozy it feels, at the same amplifying the notes that Jean-Claude Ellena did in his famous, almost transparent style. The price will surprise you too. Hermes is $240, Nu_Be is $160. As the last word allow me to say that Helium [2He] was created by perfumer Sylvie Fischer.
[note] I was supplied with a sample of Nu_Be Helium by Perfumeria Ambrozja.