Perfumer Pierre Guillaume is famous for a couple of things and talents. Starting with not perfume related about his appearance as no more no less than probably 100% of a perfume community would admit that he’s heck of a handsome man. But more importantly he belongs to this small group of unique perfume creators that decided to commit not only to development of 1 brand. Not even to working on 2 brands! But to 3 of them! Parfumerie Generale, Phaedon and Huitieme Art are all in his hands and it really does make me go “wow” in admiration how skillfully he juggles between those three, creating various compositions and never running out of ideas.
In this article I’d like to make a focus on the brand that was mentioned above as 3rd. Huitieme Art was established as 2nd olfactory project from Pierre Guillaume in 2010 and as one can read at Parfumerie Generale website section dedicated to this collection it’s a series of fragrances based on new ingredients from bio-technology. During my visit in Florence for Pitti Fragranze I got a chance to meet Pierre in person for the 2nd time (he didn’t remember our meeting from 6 months earlier) and hear more about his new creation for Huitieme Art. A perfume bearing no. 13 in a collection doesn’t have to be unlucky (I love that number!) and Shermine is not even a millimeter close to failure.
The idea behind Shermine was to make a fragrance that would have “iris as fur.” Pierre wanted to escape the conventional approach for iris and create a different perfume using this material. The result is astonishing. In the name “S” comes from “iris” while “ermine” is a French name for stoat (short-tailed weasel) which is also used sometimes to secribe an animal in its pure white winter coat. Huitieme Art Shermine itself opens with a gentle whiff of zesty lemon that almost disappears under a layer of aromatic and spicy molecules of black pepper. This beginning was very brief on my skin, lasted maybe 2 or 3 minutes before it faded away. Well, pepper remained for a little bit longer guiding me towards the heart. I could smell iris around 5 minutes after putting the perfume on.
First deep breath in of the iris accord made me realize that I’m smelling something different from before. Initially I found something slightly carroty in this note of Shermine. Just for this short moment it smelled vegetal and I was afraid it might keep evolving in a boiled carrot direction or even worse, it could start evolving into tomb direction (you know the fragrance I mean here!) That didn’t happen. This iris started evolving. It swirled a couple of times and wrapped itself with this lovely, fluffy layer. I could smell the sensual, gentle yet solid aroma of rosewood that entwined with light-purple aromatic tones of lavender. Lavender in Shermine is a bit more sweet and it’s more like an impression of it rather than a herbaceous flower per se. That was accompanied by deliciously crunchy, warm & spicy aroma of cardamom.
As the time flies I can easily notice how Shermine becomes more and more fluffy. Iris hue that smells slightly buttery and silky on my skin is surrounded by the combination of palisander rosewood, lavender and cardamom that combined together give me that plushy effect that really brings to my mind a feeling of a soft, white fur. Later on the composition becomes more fresh thanks to the slightly higher intensity of lavender and also thanks to vetiver that brings additional layer to new Huitieme Art offering – a layer of warm, dry grass. It smells a little bit like hay, a bit like roots.
There is also some patchouli to it but I’m not going to be bothered by that because in practise I could barely smell it. The effect of furry iris is so beautiful and so prominent that things that could annoy me fall far to the background. Few hours later Shermine feels like it has united with my skin in an absolute way. What I mean by these words is that I can still smell it on my skin without a doubt but it’s becoming a skinscent at this point. Smelling it now causes some serious salivating… Currently the composition smells of rich vanilla. Not a cheap flavor but full-fledged, delicious vanilla as in home-made pudding. It blends with a musky notes to create the feeling as if you were floating in a creamy cloud of which you could tear off a small piece and eat it, not thinking about callories.
Duet of musk and vanilla on my skin has an additional attribute that brings forward an aromatic element that reminds me of tonka beans. Hours pass and Shermine calms down gradually. After 5-6 hours I can smell a woody drydown which is a combination of more vetiver, guaiac wood and patchouli. Not very powerful now but substantivity is there for sure as well as the final definition of dimension for this blend from Pierre Guillaume. Drydown has kind of balsamic effect, a tad like sweet benzoin and gentle woods that veer slightly powdery on me. The feeling is sophisticated and elegant and those base notes smell quite masculine on me.
With this perfume Pierre Guillaume has provided me with a lot of happiness by giving me a chance to discover a new interpretation of iris, an iris like fur and I will gladly wear that fur coat every now and then as Shermine is a great perfume as a whole. It has a nice progression, good lasting power – over 8 hours while longevity is moderate with a tendency to become more personal, for your own enjoyment. As much as I’m not a fan of Huitieme Art bottles design I would consider getting it purely for the wonderful juice. If you like iris just like I do, try Shermine, it’s worth it!