Hermès' New Fragrance Takes You Away
BY ANNE-MARIE GUARNIERI
FROM LEFT: Hermès’ famed Paris store; Orion suitcase ($8,250); The Voyage d’Hermès bottle; house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena
Hermès headquarters, tucked behind its flagship store at 24 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, consists of a warren of stairways and landings that lead to chicly appointed offices and densely packed workshops. It is a bustling place where artisans are hard at work putting finishing touches on the leather goods that have helped make Hermès a global leader in the luxury market.
A tour of the sellier (saddle shop) acts as a primer on the house’s 170-plus-year history as represented through two of its most enduring motifs: horses and travel. The theme of travel is threaded throughout the brand’s advertising, apparel and accessories; it’s also a clear line in its fragrances, and this month the house launches Voyage d’Hermès ($120 for 100ml), a woody, cool unisex blend created by house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena.
Unlike Ellena’s Les Jardins collection—2003’s Un Jardin en Méditerranée, 2005’s Un Jardin sur le Nil, and 2008’s Un Jardin Après la Mousson—and 2006’s Eau de Ginza, Voyage is not about a specific place. “The idea was not to talk about the destination and not to talk about the raw materials, because if I talk about one plant, herb or whatever, directly you link to a country,” he explains. “The perfume is here to take you by the hand and say, ‘We go.’”
Even the bottle, designed by Philippe Mouquet, is built for jet setting: It has no cap, but rather an outer aluminum “hood” that rotates around the bottle, functioning as a lid and also as a base of support, giving it the appearance of a stirrup or the wheel on a suitcase, depending on one’s perspective. “It’s an object with wings, that does not talk about traveling, but lives through traveling,” says Mouquet. “It’s the perfect travel companion and life companion because it’s lasting—it’s refillable, so it’s good for the environment. It’s a timeless object, not a disposable one.”
For Ellena, Voyage ultimately represents forward momentum—not just mechanically, but also for the brand. “The horse is of course important for Hermès. The horse is movement, and the movement is important not only for the perfume, but for everyone. It’s to show that Hermès is always moving ahead. The way we think of fragrances, there is no trace of nostalgia. It’s always forward.” Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-868-0118
PHOTOGRAPHS BY QUENTIN BERTOUX (ELLENA); COURTESY OF HERMÈS (LUGGAGE, COLOGNE, STORE)