Suzanne's Perfume Journal

Exploring the Light Fantastic with Hermes Jour d'Hermes

Hermes Jour d’Hermes eau de parfum can be purchased from the Hermes website, where a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle is currently priced at $113. A smaller 30 ml/1 oz bottle can be purchased at for $72. My review is based on a carded sample I received from a blogging friend (thanks, Undina).

Please note that there is also a parfum/extrait version that I haven’t smelled (which I'm noting, as it might smell slightly different from the edp), as well as a flanker fragrance, Jour d’Hermes Gardenia, sold in a similar-looking bottle.

Image credits: (top of page) Rouen Cathedral by French impressionist painter Claude Monet, one of thirty paintings he made of the cathedral in the 1890s.

Image of Hermes Jour d'Hermes bottle is from the Hermes website.

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Critic asks: 'And what, sir, is the subject matter of that painting?' - 'The subject matter, my dear good fellow, is the light.' (Claude Monet)

August 18, 2015:

At the end of July I went with my family to Stone Harbor, New Jersey, and prior to leaving searched my drawer of perfume samples for something well-suited to the beach and new to me. Spying an unopened sample of Jour d’Hermes eau de parfum, a quick sniff convinced me that this was the perfect match: what I smelled in it was a quality of light, and one of the key attractions of Stone Harbor in late July is its sunlight, as all-absorbing as it is reflective at this time of year. Its high and splashy fullness creates diamonds on the surface of the ocean, renders the sand a whiter shade of champagne-pale, imparts glisten to the rooftop decks of elegant beach homes and bounce to the flowers that spill from their window-boxes. Making me understand what Shirley MacLaine once referred to as “the golden hour” that envelopes Malibu Beach at sunset, the late-July, late-afternoon sunlight of Stone Harbor gilds beach walkers and other hangers-on, who aren’t yet ready to pack up their chairs, in such a way that I can’t imagine anyone not looking good in this light.

Thus Jour d’Hermes went along on my vacation, but while in theory it seemed perfectly suited to Stone Harbor, the beach with its volleying scents of ocean air and suntan lotions proved too distracting a place to wear this perfume. It wasn’t until I returned home and we lucked into some August weather that has been doing a fine imitation of September – which is to say, some unusual days in which the humidity has vanished and the sky has been endlessly blue – that I came around to studying Jour d’Hermes and realizing just how fine its atmosphere is. This perfume requires ethereal weather and a bucolic setting to fully appreciate its delicate nature. It’s as gossamer as a cobweb sparkling in the morning dew, making itself known to those attuned to such things (or those who by accident walk into its filmy embrace), while also proving the equal to the cobweb’s tensile strength in terms of its longevity. Created by Hermes’ in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, who’s known for his sheer, minimalist compositions, Jour d’Hermes truly does make me think of sunlight. Wearing it is like studying Claude Monet’s Rouen Cathedral series of paintings. In the same way that Monet wasn’t painting a cathedral but, rather, the filter of how that cathedral appeared under various conditions of light (through which it loses all solidity and is a shimmering mirage of somersaulting particles in pearlescent shades of white, grey and its various hues), in Jour d’Hermes, Ellena created a floral perfume that is described as “a profusion of flowers” yet strikes me as a study of the very fine light of day through which we see these flowers. Interestingly, Monet created his airy portraits of a Gothic cathedral using surprisingly thick layers of paint, and Ellena has created an equally airy portrait of flowers by seemingly loading his fragrance with citrus. Grapefruit and lemon are more than detectable in Jour d’Hermes: on studying the perfume from an analytical point of view, it seems there’s a Florida orchard full of them in the scent – the grapefruit is especially evident – yet because they are married to a floral accord and white musks, wearing this extravagant amount of citrus is like wearing spaghetti-strap lingerie. Certainly, they can be easily parsed as individual notes of grapefruit and lemon, but one does not smell them and think, “Oh, a citrus perfume!” Wed to the flowers and refreshingly sweeter than one would think, they possess a Meyer-lemon sense of brightness and delight, and so much lift that they function much like aldehydes. Despite how fleeting most citrus notes are, in this composition they prove lasting, and as the floral component in Jour d’Hermes becomes more developed during its wear, the citrus lens through which these florals are smelled has the effect of flattening them until they are a thin pane of glass I can only identify as being “floral” but not as being comprised of, for example, jasmine or tuberose or sweet pea or what-have-you. The overall effect is a perfume that feels fragile and atmospheric, like seeing flowers through a partially opened window and the morning mist.

Jour d'Hermes reminds me more of a work of Impressionist art than it does perfume, and yet, of course, it is a perfume, which I'll further describe as a refined and feminine take on the classic summer cologne. The list of notes in Jour d’Hermes are grapefruit, lemon, water notes, gardenia, sweet pea, white flowers, green notes, musk and woodsy notes, and this pretty accurately conveys how Jour d’Hermes smells, except that gardenia isn’t evident. The floral component resembles a combined magnolia and honeysuckle smell: lightly lemony and sweet, having no truck with anything that could be labeled thick, indolic or earth-stained. This sheer pane of floralness in which the flowers are one-dimensional might not sound pretty yet is, because it lets so much citrusy sunlight into the scent, as well as some aqueous liquidity. The white musk in Jour d’Hermes adds to its diffuse nature and gives it a silk-stocking elasticity in terms of its staying power on the skin.

All in all, Jour d’Hermes is a perfume I find fascinating to think about – so much so that I wrote this review for no other reason – and delightful to wear on a fine summer’s day. However, it’s not a perfume that would get much wear-time from me if I owned a bottle, which is surprising considering how much I like the things this perfume represents to me: light and more light and Monet’s impressionism. I’m very much a child of nature, and Jour d’Hermes only captures a certain slant of nature's light: it's too pristine and separate from elements which otherwise might lend it a real, humid and human feel (a life-force, if you will). It's an exquisite study of the things I love, yet without enough stain of reality to make for a deeper connection.