Perfume Review: Hermes Paprika Brasil
“I search for subtility, presence, and transparence”, said Jean-Claude Ellena in the interview with Straight. There is a fine line between understated and bland; on the “right side” of the divide are the scents that are tantalizingly elusive, alluringly subtle, fascinatingly minimalist. Many of Ellena’s creations dwell in that rarified land of what Forbes has called “perfumer’s perfumes”. There you would find the delicate and bright Angelique Sous La Pluie, the subtle and surprisingly substantial L’Eau d’Hiver, the uncluttered and strangely concrete Terre d’Hermes. On the wrong side are fragrances, which are subtle and transparent but lack presence, which have the unfussy minimalist quality but no sparkle, no twist, no life…They possess an incomplete, abandoned feel of a draft. And that is, sadly, how Paprika Brasil smells on my skin, too subtle, flat and oddly unfinished.
Paprika Brasil is the latest addition to the Hermessence collection of “olfactory poems”; it has notes of pimento, clove, paprika, iris, green leaves, reseda and ember wood (brazilwood, which was “such a large part of the exports and economy of the land that the country which sprang up in that part of the world took its name from them [brazilwood trees] and is now called Brazil. Wikipedia). The spicy notes bear a promise of a scent that is red-hot, fiery, supremely piquant, but Paprika Brasil is much more tame then what the presence of pimento, paprika and clove might suggest. It starts green and dry, making me think of twigs and indeed green leaves. A delicate spicy accord is woven into that greenness, it grows stronger as the scent develops but is always kept in check by the leaves and the wood and the cool earthiness of iris (which is very apparent on my skin). The spice that I smell here is mostly pimento and it is a beautiful note, crimson, dry and appealingly sharp; it saddens me that this attractive piquancy was not allowed to be more prominent. No, I don’t want a scent where other notes are overwhelmed by the spices, but neither do I like the idea of a scent where the spices are beaten into submission by the rather pale and unexciting rest of the ingredients. Dusty-green, too dry, too delicate, dull and fleeting, Paprika Brasil was a bitter disappointment for this fan of the other five scents in the Hermessence series.
Paprika Brasil should be already available at Hermes boutiques, $180.00 for 100ml.