Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Hermes Terre D'Hermes

Terre D'Hermes is a perfume I own. A whole bottle. Which is a relative rarity for me. My wife gave it to me for Christmas in 2007, so it is a fragrance I am well-acquainted with, as you might imagine.

The unfortunate thing for me concerning Terre D'Hermes is that I developed a negative association with it shortly after receiving it. I've mentioned this in one of my much earlier posts last year. I associate the smell with fear. The fear of failure. By this I mean that I wore it when going through a tough time during a big career change, with a lot at stake. It might seem silly to those of you to whom this hasn't happened before, but believe me, this really can happen. I should say one thing though - I like Terre D'Hermes. It is a very good mainstream perfume, possibly one of the best offerings for men in recent years, up there with Dior Homme and Guerlain L'Instant, in my opinion anyway.

So, what about the perfume itself? Well, the notes include grapefruit, orange, flint, pepper, pink pepper, geranium, patchouli, cedar, vetiver and benzoin. One thing is not in doubt - Terre D'Hermes at one level or another is all about citrus, orange in particular. The genius though is that this is also so much more than citrus. There is a wonderful earthiness that at times really does smell flinty. I wanted to use the term minerally, but thinking about it, flinty sums it up better. As many of you probably are aware, Terre was created by Jean-Claude Ellena, and if you are familiar with his work, you will recognise his signature very clearly across this fragrance. What I find interesting about Ellena, and in particular his work for Hermes, is that despite his creations being sheer, transparent and light (or so the general label goes), they actually have extremely good lasting power, and in the case of Terre, significant sillage too. This is by no means a skin scent. On more than one occasion someone has complimented me when wearing this and it lasts a long time. Case in point - I sprayed it on at about 8 this morning and I can still smell it clearly at 9.30 tonight, as I'm typing this. I think this is partly where Ellena's genius lies, in that he has an almost freaky ability to create perfumes that create an illusion of lightness and sheerness, yet they still pack a punch, albeit a subtle one. Or maybe it's just my skin chemistry, which has never swallowed up his fragrances. 

Terre D'Hermes has been reviewed so many times by so many people that I am not going to go into a detailed review of the actual progression myself. Despite Terre's clarity and sparkliness, it is actually a very complex perfume, in my opinion, and it is temperamental. It performs variably on my skin in the sense that sometimes it turns a bit sour on me, when the orange notes intensify and become ever so slightly cloying. On other occasions the orange, flint, woods and vetiver combine wonderfully to work just right, and then I feel truly happy that I own a bottle of it.

As for gender, should I need to mention it (well I just have), I think Terre D'Hermes can definitely be worn by either sex. It is marketed as a masculine, but I don't see why a woman can't wear it with confidence.

One final thought. Despite my up-and-down relationship with Terre D'Hermes, I still find it even now to be totally distinctive. Yes, anyone who has any experience of Ellena and Hermes in particular will recognise little tell tale traits and similarities to others in the stable, but Terre is still very recognisably Terre. I can identify it from a mile away. Now, depending on your point of view, this could either be a good or a bad thing. For me its a good thing, because in an increasingly bland and banal masculine perfume world, Terre is one of the shining beacons of individuality and proof that men's perfumes can be unique and interesting.


  1. I always enjoy smelling Terre in a department store, but I've never bought a bottle for myself, because it doesn't seem to last very long on my skin, which is why I was intrigued by your statement about its longevity. Does it really keep going for a whole day on your skin??

  2. Persolaise, absolutely. I am not exaggerating. As I said, I don't know if this is a skin chemistry thing for me, as most of Ellena's perfumes last surprisingly well on me.

  3. This is my absolutely favorite "masculine" perfume ever (before it was Rocabar). If there hasn't been somebody else I enjoy this perfume on even more, I would have been wearing it myself.



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