Terre d’Hermes Eau de Parfum: An icon for an icon by an icon.
Hermes, by its very nature, is not a perfumer. Or it should be said that perfumes are not their sole purpose as a luxury goods manufacturer, since they existed for over 100 years before commissioning a single fragrance. Their reputation was originally staked on high quality leather goods, silk scarves, and other pieces specific to their heritage of provisioning horsemen. To this day, they are a large provider of leather to other consumers, including Creed whose iconic atomizers are wrapped in Hermes leather.
Present day Hermes fragrances are largely influenced by Jean-Claude Ellena, the house perfumer for the past eight years under whose direction Hermes has blossomed into several different fragrance lines, each with a different focus. Among the most popular of those is Terre d’Hermes, a pair of fragrances created by Ellena beginning in 2006 that has become perhaps its most ubiquitous and accessible offering. Understandg its popularity requires a bit of background, so with no further ado.
Terre d’Hermes Eau De Parfum (2009): Of the two “Terre” scents, it is the eau de toilette that is the original release and the more popular, though these share more commonalities than differences. The primary difference is concentration, the eau de parfum (EDP) being the more robust of the two. The eau de parfum is the more elementally focused, concentrating on enhancing and focusing the core notes of the scent to leave a much more linear impression than its eau de toilette counterpart.
The EDP begins with a very deep, rich orange note, cut slightly by a hint of grapefruit in opening, which quickly fades leaving the orange to settle on its own. Note my choice of adjectives, since many will associate “citrus” with “sharpness”, signaling the sharp acidity of the fruit notes. This isn’t the case with Terre, the orange has more of a muted, almost Grand Marnier richness to it. It transitions wonderfully into the base notes of benzoin, oak moss and rich hard woods that sustain the fragrance and support the orange through the lifespan. Transformation is subtle, and the EDP is much more elemental by nature as it focuses on minimalism.
And by minimalism I don’t mean ‘simple’. Elemental? Yes. Simple? Not quite. The fragrance is straightforward but not stark, and it contains depth and character. The choice of woods and benzoin add a warmth atypical of other citruses, an almost smoldering and smoky effect in execution. This stands in contrast to the EDT version which dries out somewhat more quickly with a spicier and crisper finish. The EDP remains smooth and balanceed to the core and through to complete dissipation. Leading back to the Grand Marnier reference, Terre in this rendition truly becomes a cognac.
Longevity for the EDP is excellent, easily lasting in excess of 10 hours. Projection is more mild than the EDT counterpart. Sillage is just about perfect.
The scent itself is something I will only define as unapologetically masculine, albeit not a testosterone laden affair. Ellena managed to produce a fragrance that balances that genuine masculinity with a high level of refinement while still maintaining his very elemental style. Terre is not a scent that constantly distracts the wearer by introducing new facets during its evolution, but focuses on the integrity of the elements already present. And it’s a hallmark of Ellena’s style to provide a very focal experience centered around exploring key elements. Terre accomplishes this very well. And that would be the end to a terrific story if we stopped here.
I mentioned in opening that Terre d’Hermes was among the most accessible fragrances in the Hermes line, and one of the few EDPs that the house retails (most of Ellena’s creations are EDT strength). At EDP strength, a 200ml atomizer of Terre retails for approximately $210 USD. Considering the concentration and quality, this makes it a relative bargain compared to similar eau de parfums on the market. Not cheap, mind you, but rationally priced.
Rating: 4.5/5. Highly recommended. Jean-Claude Ellena, often the master of very simplistic and elemental compositions, demonstrates how that execution can work extraordinarily well in Terre d’Hermes EDP. Using a small pallet, he has painted a fragrant canvas with a stunning and beautiful outcome. While he will leave a long legacy of creations, this is likely the one for which he will be best known and loved.