Eau d’Hermès and Grain de Plaisir: Strange Waters

Summer doesn’t have to be clean

Living in a warm climate and with summer approaching fast I find myself turning to lighter, citrus fragrances. My love for weird smells keeps poking me and pointing me to strange directions though. Grain de Plaisir is part of the “Les Aromatiques” collection, a collection of fresh herbal fragrances that also includes Garrigue, a dead ringer for Green Irish Tweed and Cool Water (yes, there is a third heir to the throne of originality). Grain de Plaisir (Seed of Pleasure) is one of the most daring fragrances in the market. Francophones will recognise this seed (grain) as celery. The idea of using celery in a perfume is quite strange but it has happened before. Never has celery been put in the centre of composition like this though. Grain de Plaisir opens with a thick, strong lemon note, the kind of note most people would associate with Lifesavers candy (or Lemon Pledge). The lemon here is un-etherial, un-apologetic and very culinary. Like grating the zest off of 10 lemons. Oily and bitter. Soon after the first impressions the curious celery note comes into play. It is hard to describe how exactly this smells. It is not the smell of celery seeds, not even the smell of celery. It is the increment of flavour added to a sauce when celery is thrown in to the mix. The end result is not foody but it is herbal. Like a garden of aromatics. The thick citrus and herbal celery are joined by a bitter pine smell. It is not very complex but it is very unusual. Although the composition is bitter and earthy it manages to infuse a strange happy vibe. It is like the happiness one feels when digging in the garden, pruning shrubs, getting their fingernails dirty with nature. Simple, raw fun.

Notes from Fragrantica: lemon, mint, celery, myrrh, lavender, vetiver, musk, sandalwood, resin

Notes from my nosee: lemon Lifesavers, celery, pine

The second fragrance that I have recently discovered is Eau d’Hermès. Created in 1951 by none other than Edmond Roudnitska, it is a piece of olfactory history by anyone’s definition. And reformulations aside it smells like it. Nothing out there smells like this. It opens with a greasy bergamot note that comes hand in hand with earthy cumin. This opening is the most challenging part of the composition. It is not fresh or clean like an Eau should be. It is dirty and sour like no one would expect and with a vinegary vibe. Soon after the weird opening accord hits you with its individuality the heart notes come into play adding warmth. Cinnamon, cardamom and tonka are the unlikely continuation of the rude opening walking in on a bridge of geranium. The cinnamon is hot, peppery and is the most prominent of the spice notes. Up to this point there is nothing in the composition to justify naming this an “Eau”. But soon after the heartnotes establish themselves the entire composition takes an unexpected turn. It starts to soften, becomes rounder and more mellow. A delicate slightly powdery leather starts to develop leaving the strange opening behind. Eau d’Hermès becomes a light, airy composition that manages to incorporate the plush leather note in a delicate way that reminds me Cuir de Lancome. All in all It is remarkable scent that transcends perfume genres and styles. It starts citrusy and spicy to end up luxurious and soft. From aggressive opening to delicate base. It is old fashioned in the same way that Bandit is old fashioned: it showcases that there was a time were perfumers took their audience with them on an adventure, rather than recreated the familiar.

Notes from Frgrantica: cinnamon, lavender, bergamot, clover, cardamom, tonka, vanilla, jasmine, geranium, birch, leather, sandalwood, cedar

Notes from my nose: bergamot, cumin, vinegar, cinnamon, cardamom, tonka, leather, powder

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celery image via http://www.kimberlysnyder.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/200-calories-of-celery1.png caedamom image via https://encrypted-tbn1.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSl858uLmUTk4F6TV05cswTF-9Df-Zn19xB2lQtFqReFd9SKPUK
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About Christos

Scientifically minded but obsessed with the subjective aspect of things. Photos copyright of MemoryOfScent, with special thanks to Pantelis Makkas http://pantelismakkas.blogspot.com/. You are welcome to link to my blog but you are definitely not allowed to copy text or use the photos without my permission. All text and main photos are originals and property of MemoryOfScent All perfumes are from my collection unless stated otherwise.

14 comments

  1. I usually don’t care for this kind of fragrance, but you’ve really got me thinking I must be more open-minded. These sound awesome, Christos … especially Grain de Plaisir. Thanks for the reviews!

  2. cheesegan

    Yatagan smells like celery to me.

  3. I do not think I’ll like any of these two but I just have to say that you wrote perfect reviews for both – I really enjoyed reading this post.

    I strongly dislike celery as in “food”, not sure if I want it in any noticeable form in my perfume.

    • I assure you, I hate celery myself but I acknowledge that in the hands of a wise cook it can add depth and warmth, mush like garlic. This juice is created by a very wise perfumer.

  4. Touché!!!!!!! Grain de Plaisir was my perfume for a few years!!!!! (ok, i’m one of that females intrigued more about the masculine (or bettter said “strong”) characteristics if we talk about perfumes…reason why i mostly wear…strong perfumes but with the correct “usage” not making feel sick whoever stays near me…lately i’m using only Nasomatto….Black Afgano, Duro…or Pardon as you’ve noticed…the only “feminine” exception is Volo AZ 686, Profvmvm Roma…stories, not only perfumes….Contents, not only “smell”…there’s so much to say about this!

    • I totally approve of your love of perfumes with a strong character and of your cross gender tastes. Grain de Plaisir is so strange it is almost rural. This is why I love MP&G, there is always an unexpected twist in an otherwise straightforward idea.

      • Grain de Plaisir was that sort of something that always made me think: ” I just love myself”…it has nothing to do with the egoism…but with the feeling given by that perfume on my skin mixed with the freshness of a white shirt

        • I know what you mean. It is so un-contrived that it allows you to shine inside it.

          • during the years i developed…a sort of high standard for everything means “perfumery”…so it rarely happens that i can really find what is “meant” for me during certain periods in life…Grain de Plaisir was completely matching me…as well as the more contemporary Black Afgano…i don’t need to “wear” a perfume because i don’t like my own smell…but because i want to dress my skin up with my thoughts….

            • Very well put. I love Nasomatto myself. I haven’t bought a bottle yet but I have a Gualtieri perfume, You PARADISO, created for a Dutch dance company, and it is unmistakably Gualtieri. I love his aesthetics too.

              • the aestethic aspect is the perfect contrast for the opulence of his creations…Gualtieri has his own strong personality…and also a remarkable cultural background…the result is saying all this…

      • and yes…i love the unexpected feelings…the unexpected power a good perfume might give you…( a good perfume is the fragrance meant for you…something that never overcomes what you are, but underlines who you are…)
        A perfume is not a brand…is something more. Not everybody understands it unfortunatelly…i have friends floating in Dior only because the name of it guarantee a certain “something”…

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