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August 28 2014

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Critic’s Choice: Luca Turin’s Perfume Pick

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hermes

To spritz or not to spritz, that is the question. Style.com/Arabia critic and perfume industry legend Luca Turin reviews the latest fragrance launches and answers this age-old question.

Name: Jour d’Hermès Absolu
Notes: Apricot blossom, jasmine, rose
Nomenclature: Transparent fruity

“The rise of ‘tea’ fragrances after Bulgari’s pathbreaking Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert [Jean-Claude Elléna, 1993] rested on the realization that tea permitted entirely novel perfumery effects. Tea has the mysterious superpower to turn, among others, bug repellent [Earl Grey] and bacon [Lapsang Souchong] into delicate, dignified flavors. Applied to perfumery, it allows you to repeat—almost at will, skill permitting—the miracle of CK One: a stonkingly powerful fragrance which comes across as light. Tea’s quality of dry transparency does it, and one of the first fragrances to fully exploit this—Eau Parfumée was still a little shy—was the much-maligned Tommy Girl, which was based on an analysis by the great Roman Kaiser of the fragrant air in the Mariage Frères tea store in Paris. Elléna has not slacked off since his initial discovery, and Jour d’Hermès Absolu is perhaps his best statement to date of this particular style. It starts off with a blast of grapefruit on an abstract apricot background, reminiscent of Guerlain’s Pamplelune but less blinding. When the citrus fades, Jour d’Hermès Absolu settles into a backlit, stained-glass version of what classic woody fragrances like Miss Balmain or Azurée [Lauder] did in oils. As usual with Elléna’s work, one marvels at the way he leads you by the nose through all the reveals, and it is fun to play it all in slower motion on paper. Unfortunately, whether for stylistic, regulatory, or budgetary reasons, the drydown is a bit bare and disappointing. Good stuff nonetheless.”

$149; sephora.com

For another review from Turin’s bimonthly column, click here.

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