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March 20, 2006

Hermes Terre d'Hermes : Fragrance Review


Terre d’Hermès proves that the best non-niche releases over the past year are taking places in the masculine perfumery. Dior Homme, an iris wrapped into warm, sweet leather, Lanvin Arpege Pour Homme, a velvety violet-iris fougere are among some of the recent examples. Likewise, the new fragrance by Jean-Claude Ellena, Terre d’Hermès, has a number of qualities that make it exceptional—chiseled refinement of its elegant structure, unconventional, transparent take on the woody notes and remarkable quality of its ingredients. The composition conjures the intensity of sunlight reflected against the white stones of Roman ruins.

Jean-Claude Ellena’s theme of multifaceted transparency explored in his other creations, from Cartier Déclaration to Hermès Un Jardin sur le Nil, will be immediately recognizable in Terre d’Hermès. Nevertheless, it seems as if the theme has received further polish, luminosity and elegance. ...

Its leitmotif of dry radiance is introduced by the citrus notes which sparkle like crystals embedded in white marble. The clarity is extended by the slightly herbaceous green notes and the crisp silk of woods and vetiver.

Unconventionally, instead of arranging the composition into a classical masculine triptych of citrus, woods and musk, Ellena eschews the latter altogether. Instead, the mineral dust binds the entire arrangement, suspending the light and preserving the sensation of being dazzled by the sun.

"Art does not reproduce the visible, it makes visible," wrote one of my favourite expressionist painters, Paul Klee. Terre d’Hermès does not smell of anything readily identifiable in nature, yet it allows a glimpse into a dream conjured by the perfumer’s imagination. The denomination of the fragrance as masculine should not prevent women from trying it, especially if they are partial to Ellena’s fragrances. The nutty vetiver note that I loved so much about Vétiver Tonka, comprises the base of Terre d’Hermès. However, while Vétiver Tonka is a short story, Terre d’Hermès is a full-length novel.

Terre d’Hermès notes include grapefruit, orange, flint, pepper, pink pepper, geranium, patchouli, cedar, vetiver, benzoin. Certain Hermès fragrances including Terre d’Hermès are available directly from Hermès website. Also, the website might be helpful to find a boutique near you.

Painting: Paul Klee. Crystal Gradation. 1921. Watercolor. Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland. from



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