Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hermes Hermessence Cuir d'Ange: new fragrance

In Jean le Bleu, Jean Giono, perfumer Jean Claude Ellena's favorite author, describes the father of the narrator as "a cobbler who makes soles in angel leather". Angel leather, cuir d'ange…how's that for poetic? It's my privilege to break the good news to you then. The newest in the Hermessences, (those are boutique exclusive fragrances by Hermès) is recalling the passage which served for the inspiration for another perfume by Hermes back in 2007, Kelly Calèche.

Indeed "cuir d'ange" was the VERY expression Ellena used when promoting Kelly Calèche. And Giono had a prominent position anyway in the presentation of Cuir d'Ange to our world of journalism as pretty young men and women actors read passages from his opus in le jardin de Paraïs at Giono's house at Manosque…

But to revert to Kelly Calèche. This sleeper classic seemed to me at the time (and continues to do so) as the perfect gateway into "proper fragrance" for young ladies who were hesitant to borrοw their mothers "big" florientals and fruity chypres (like the brand's own 24 Faubourg) and their grand-mothers' prim aldehydics (like the original Calèche).

The idea of a floral leather perfume in non sweet tonalities was brought out in a chic and reserved way in 2007, maybe too reserved for its own sales, but it was such a good idea that the newly changed guard at Balenciaga copied the concept for their very own Florabotanica fragrance recently, this time fronted by trashy-chic Kristen Stewart to ensure 20-something commercial appeal. But no matter. It seems like Hermès is revisiting the idea and introducing a "material-focused" version ~as Ellena puts it when describing the process of creating the line~ (and if the previous installments are enough indication a trompe l'oeil on said materials!) Treating the idea anew is also a good transitioning for the succeeding perfumer at the helm, Christine Nagel, Ellena's protégée, who will be asked to continue and advance an impressive body of olfactory opus in a little while.

So, after the unusual Epice Marine, an angelic leather, a take without regard of intended sex this time, (as the Hermessences are created unisex) but which brings forth images of softness, vegetal and airy qualities and the familiar touch of this master perfumer. And never before has the soft leather "fold" in which the Hermessences bottles are put into seemed more appropriate: a buttery cream as smooth and inviting to the touch as feathers off the back of an angel…
Bring it forth; Hermessence Cuir d'Ange gets officially launched in September 2014!


  1. Now that is some news. I will be curious to see how they will accent.

  2. annemarie00:19

    I'm tempted to wonder what JCE will say about angel leather that will be different from Kelly Caleche, and why it will cost about three times as much, as it undoubtedly will. Still, I'll give it a go. The grapefruit in KC smells very weird on me, even though I'm normally fine with grapefruit.

    Cuir de Lancome is my gold standard soft leather so far, though I have not yet tried Jolie Madame or Dior's new Cuir Cannage. Bottega Veneta reads too sweet to me. A pity.

  3. Mary-Karen04:27

    I love Cuir de Lancome (even if my daughter says it smells like "an old lady perfume" - I wonder about genetics, sometimes) and just picked up some Epice Marine. The Hermes exclusive can be had as a 4 pack of travel size (15 ml) bottles, that you can mix and match. I bought 3 Vetiver Tonka and one Epice Marine, and almost wish I had gone 2 and 2. I have friends in Europe and I may get them to pick p this new one, as well as the latest Serge Lutens, before they come to visit in September!

  4. Anonymous06:37

    Sounds exciting, I do love a floral leather!

    Like Jennifer (above) Kelly Caleche's grapefruit didn't work with me, similar to Jour d'Hermes, so I'm hoping this one won't have those slightly sour notes. I really wanted to like Kelley Caleche though as it sounded perfect

    Cuir de Russie remains my favourite leather, but I wear Cuir Fetiche a lot - it's easier to wear I think though the idea of leather is subtle in Cuir Fetiche.

  5. Anonymous08:29

    I always enjoy leather perfumes especially when rose is involved in the composition...i don't like much of aldehydes combination though...Kelly Caleche i enjoyed at first but i got bored of it after a while...the latest leather scent i really enjoyed was L' Artisan's skin on skin where Duchaufour did an excellent work using skin musks, rose,saffron and whiskey(boozy) blend along with leather !!!

  6. Maria12:01

    September's gonna be a good one!

  7. Jen,

    the Ellena touch is unmistakeable, I love his approach.

  8. AMC,

    ah, excellent point, hahaha!! Yup, the price hike in an haute version is a concern. Still the Hermessences are a good collection, very chic (no concession to vulgarity for sales' sake).
    I have not loved Cuir de Lancome as madly as others; probably because I find it more amber-orientalized than true leather, though it's beautiful for what it is. But that's just me. :-)

  9. M-K,

    Cuir de Lancome old ladyish? Hmmm. Maybe she considers all orientals (because CdL is more oriental than leather) as matronly? Who knows? (But this opens a discussion or testing ground for you now, doesn't it?)
    I admit I'm really jealous about the choose & mix approach in other countries: here it's either 4 of the same or the original 4 collection (the original 4 frags). :-( Unless something has changed. (George, where are you???)

  10. Roses,

    indeed I agree with your assessment on the leathers.
    Your trouble in relation to grapefruit is certainly not unheard of; many people find it a difficult note, it doesn't work all the time.
    Hope you enjoy Cuir d'Ange!

  11. Sofi,

    ah, now there is another going on my to try list! Thank you for coming on board. Καλό καλοκαίρι εύχομαι!

  12. Maria,

    :-) It may be a bit late though; maybe first half of October as per latest information.

  13. Anonymous17:44

    Floral leather executed by Ellena, I already know it's not going to be for me and that it's going to be something that once again smell like grapefruit.


  14. Emma,

    it wouldn't be you if you didn't feel that way. But that's all right. You know yourself and that's important.
    Ellena already had clarified that gorgeous as they are Lutens leathers aren't his style back when he created Kelly caleche (see the L'Express link I put) so he's clear about it, at the very least. I like that he doesn't play practical jokes with his audience (Then again, neither does Lutens, I believe, regardless of his sometimes vague dreamlike stream of consciousness).

  15. Anonymous15:32


    But then again, leather perfumes by Caron and Chanel in their original formula, by extension other leathers such as Cabochard or even leather chypres, Empreinte and Sikkim, none of those are probably Ellena' style either.
    I don't mind innovation and minimalism at all. I just have a problem with Ellena's own obsession with grapefruit in absolutely every composition.

    Who knows, maybe it's going to be a good perfume. At least a much better fragrance than the awful Jour d'Hermes that smells like a sad vegetable cold broth and which was not a grand feminine. By the way you don't see Jour at Sephora in the US, which is strange, it should be next to Cartier La Panthere in the new perfumes section, but it's not, I heard it didn't sell and it's a commercial flop.


  16. Emma,

    sorry for being late in replying.

    Hahahaha, you're right about the grapefruit being in everything. I think, re-reading his thoughts in his Journal d'un Parfumeur, that he insists on it because it's an elusive note for perfumers; the real essential oil smells of oranges, while the nuance of tangy bitterness is lost and the synth alternatives short lived. I think he's trying to perfect it! ;-)

    Anyway, I thought Jour was v.good if a bit too refined perhaps for my own taste (the soap, the tang, the subdued florals, the musk were all there but I felt like someone else when wearing it). I bet it's too refined for many other people's taste too! :-D Did you like La Panthere? I thought it was very well made and a nice addition to the Cartier line up.
    It wouldn't surprise me if Jour is a commercial flop in the US (and at Sephora at that). It's totally out of synch with the ooomph necessitated to make something a best-seller these days.

  17. BTW, Emma, if you resend me a shipping address to use I have a small surprise for you ;-)


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