Tag Archives: Hermes

Golden impressions of Esxence 2018 – day 2

Adventures on my way to Milan might not have been the most pleasant or exciting ones. What happened just happened and I had to deal with it. I was ready to forget about all the obstacles because being at Esxence was some sort of a reward in the end. I was ready for another day at the show. Charged with a typical Italian breakfast (sweet one) I walked my way to the Mall.

One of the best things about my Airbnb in Milan was that I had a private room with my own balcony, so I could enjoy crispy spring morning listening to the birds chirp. Also by total coincidence the owner of the appartement was leaving for the weekend so I had a whole place for myself. First thing in my Friday agenda was to go to a panel talk hosted by Sarah Colton. The topic for it was a discussion about 10 years of Esxence. Panelists – perfumer, journalist, brand owner, fair founder talked how things changed over that time and how each of them was affected by this annual fair.

Afterwards I got a chance to have a private moment at Aedes de Venustas stand. The brand has introduced a new perfume – Musc Encense signed by a perfumer Ralf Schwieger (who also did Iris Nazarena). I was lucky because he was also available at their stand and I talked to him for 5-10 minutes. We discussed the new perfume itself which is a gorgeous blend of slightly animalic musk and incense but all very clear and transparent. I also asked him for some tips how to progress in terms of career in this industry. He was super nice and helpful, I hope his advice will help me.

Meeting with Puredistance is always a pleasure. I missed Mary who was always there but she’s enjoying motherhood right now so that’s completely understandable that she didn’t come to Milan. But other 4 girls were there to meet. The brand didn’t present a new perfume yet although they prepare for a launch closer to the end of the year. Their current news is a slightly changed packaging for 17,5 ml spray. Those vials no longer have a cap but a special pin that prevents accidental spraying. The pin comes with a metal plate with embossed perfume name and fragrance concentration. Plus you also get a metal holder with this travel size as a set.

Next I met with Pissara Umavijani – founder and perfumer of Dusita. She’s always very warm and smiling. For me it was a perfect opportunity to try Erawan. For some unknown reason I didn’t smell it at the preview in Florence. Erawan is leafy green thanks to petitgrain but it also features a very prominent note of wheat. Because of that the perfume is quite challenging but at the same time it’s unusual and creative. Any time I passed by there was a little crowd surrounding Dusita stand.

In the afternoon I took a little break from Esxence in order to visit Hermes boutique. I thought I would go there alone but a friend of mine from Poland wanted to go too, so we went together. The weather was beautiful and magnolias were blooming all around – perfect conditions for a walk. At Hermes we were treated very well and luckily all the things we wanted were available. Therefore I got my set of travel size Hermessence and the sales lady also gave me 2 samples of Eau de Citron Noir to test. We came back by metro to save time – going there and back still took us an hour.

Without a meeting a spend a couple of minutes at Histoires de Parfums stand. I like the brand and have 2 of their fragrances so I really wanted to pay attention to their new releases. A slightly ‘older’ novelties from them is En Aparte collection consisting of 3 fragrances: Irreverent, Outrecuidant and Prolixe. I will explore them more when brands sends me the samples. Hot launch included This is not a Blue Bottle 1.4 and 1.5. Inspired by ying-yang concept one is a natural-smelling synthetic and other is synthetic-smelling natural. Quite intriguing approach I must say.

I remember from the past that many of you said that you don’t like Eau d’Italie for their packaging that reminds you of a shampoo bottle. Well, I do like the bottle and the house so I met with them as well. Fior Fiore translates directly into a flower of flowers and is an ode to jasmine. However this one smells very fresh and green, it lacks indolic elements that I don’t like. It’s feminine and Innocent.
One of the lovely treats at Esxence was prepared by Menditorossa. They were launching two new fragrances however my attention was mostly drawn by Sirio. Not only I find the name captivating (inspired by Sirius, a star) but the fragrance itself was also gorgeous. It smelled like a combination of a fizzy cider made of green apples, a bit of floralties and sensually soft woods sprinkled with vanilla. The perfume tries to answers a question of who we are and where are we going.

Esxence is also a great way of reconnecting with familiar faces you have not seen for a while. I was happy to meet with Kim again. We met for the first time 3 years ago at Pitti. This time she came all the way from New York to be at Esxence and to go on holidays at Lake Como later. She not only observes a niche scene these days but she has opened a little store where she carries a couple of brands. She’s super energetic and truly outgoing. People like her are needed in the perfume world.

My dinner plans for the evening crystallized by accident when I bumped into Hiram Green! Yes, he was in Milan too, it was his first time at Esxence. He didn’t exhibit but I think he enjoyed discovering the fair as a visitor. Plus he had some meetings outside of the Mall for sure. He was meeting with his new Canadian partners from Etiket. And since I happen to be friends with them too I could join them. Call that a coincidence but with so many perfume people gathered in same city at the same time and it just happens. It’s difficult not to bump into someone you know as you walk down the street.

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Gallant & Debonair, Hermès Agar Ébène

My relationship with Hermes is full of up and downs. I really wanted to like their fragrances and after many attempts I found two that I truly enjoy wearing. Their exclusive line – Hermessence, is a different story. Until now I didn’t find a single one that would speak to me. They were too pale and watered down on my skin, but that’s the style Hermes has been known for years. But things are starting to look brighter for me with an introduction of a new collection from their new in-house perfumer, Christine Nagel. A new era for this house might also mean finding new love there.

Agar Ébène quickly accomodates on my skin, opening with a balsamic fir note. The depth it creates the very moment it hits your nostrills is unimaginable. It goes down to the very roots of a tree. Dark green needles, murky branches and a solid trunk – all this surrounds you with warm sensuality and attention to details. I feel transported to a coniferous forest in winter time but it feels incredibly warm and nostalgic there. Aromatic and green elements blend together, becoming less detailed & more blurry after a while. At the same time the temperature of the fragrance rises even more.

Something spicy is slowly developing in the background of Agar Ébène but it’s difficult to say what it is. It’s like a hint of black pepper but not really. Nutmeg? I’m not sure. There’s a gentle dryness hiding underneath and the perfume unfolds like a piece of origami you’re trying to undo. The longer it stays on the skin the more substance crystallizes around it. Of course it’s a Hermessence style of substantivity, light & sheer – to me Agar Ébène is black but transparent, if that makes any sense. When woody accord of agar wood is revealed it slightly overwhelms the rest, in a good way!


Agar wood in Hermès Agar Ébène is a source of darkness and mysterious vibe crawling around the wearer. The dryness that was just a small hint before, now becomes full-fledged & with a lot of accent put on it. There’s something austere about it. The wood is rough and rugged which suits me well and probably because of this feeling I consider Agar Ébène as slightly more masculine than unisex. According to an interview for Le Figaro no actual oud was used in creation of this Hermessence. Other woody notes and agar wood (uninfected oud wood) were used to mimic it.

This oud-like accord is really complex. A bit of fir is still adding some freshness to the composition but moreover there’s a nicely crafted woody concoction enveloped by warm and resinous veil that feels like a cashmere jumper. It’s definitely elegant and stylish. Jean-Claude Ellena, former in-house perfumer at Hermes once said that oud is not a note befitting the brand. Apparently Christine Nagel who took over from Ellena has a different point of view than her predecessor. As she explained that with Agar Ébène she wanted to make an oud perfume without falling into this trend. It works!

Nagel was inspired by her trips to Egypt, Dubai, Oman and Bahrain and wanted to reinvent oriental fragrance ingredients of Middle East in a Hermes way. For her first venture into Hermessence line she created a collection of 5 scents. To me Agar Ébène is a bewitching potion. It’s carnal and full of refinement at the same time. It offers a smart way to sneak some sex appeal into your perfume wardrobe. I think I’d like to add it to my collection, this could be my belated birthday gift to self. It’s an eau de toilette, has little sillage but good longevity. Available in 200, 100 or 15 ml (in coffret of four).

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