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October 13, 2006

Paprika Brasil by Hermes Hermessence Collection : Perfume Review

Mondrian1_1

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Star rating: 5 stars--outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars--very good, 3 stars--adequate, 2 stars--disappointing, 1 star--poor.

Inspired by the introduction of oriental and American spices to Europe, Paprika Brasil lost me before it even managed to set its sail. The watery and cold effect of the top note was rather anticlimactic, if one expected the vibrancy of spices and the richness of paprika. Instead of searing heat, at most Paprika Brasil conjures a damp morning mist of an autumnal day, a character it retains as the composition develops.

The dominant presence in the composition is that of iris. Its dove grey outlines are noticeable under the transparence of the vegetal top note. However, the iris is pale and sheer, a ghostly shadow of its rooty sumptuousness that one can glimpse in Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist. ...

The woody base recalls the peppery accord the Hermès in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena explored in his other fragrances, from Cartier Déclaration to Poivre Samarcande. However, in Paprika Brasil it is made even more transparent and weightless.

In comparison to the other fragrances from Hermessence collection, I find Paprika Brasil to have the least presence and impact. Theoretically, the weightlessness and the airy quality of spices and woods is interesting, but as a whole, the composition appears watery and limpid, a sketch that never seems to attain the form one wishes it to possess. Being an admirer of Jean-Claude Ellena’s work and Hermessence Collection, I feel particularly disappointed with this latest creation. Perhaps, it is due to my high expectations. Perhaps, it is because I already have encountered two fragrances this year that explore the same theme of cool rocks and damp earth via iris and green notes with much more interesting results-- Eau d’Italie Sienne L’Hiver and L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzongkha. Paprika Brasil appears to me like a modern art piece, without a key to understanding its concept.

Paprika Brasil includes pimento, clove, paprika, iris, green leaves, reseda, ember wood and woody notes. Hermèssence range created by Ellena includes Rose Ikebana, Vétiver Tonka, Poivre Samarcande, Ambre Narguilé, and Osmanthe Yunnan. Available at select Hermès boutiques.

Painting: Piet Mondrian, Composition with Grey and Brown.

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