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Monday, October 23, 2006

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.

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18 Comments:

Blogger chaya ruchama said...

Oh, my friend-
You and Vika agree on this one, I think.
That does not bode well for me, then- which is both fortunate and unfortunate...
My Ambre Russe finally arrived [2 months !], along with Cuir Ottoman, and I'm quite pleased.
Perfection is awfully hard to top...

6:19 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

I think for me the biggest disappointment is in hearing that the scent in no way seems to match the list of notes or the name. I've been to Brazil several times and it's a wonderful country, but the mood there is hardly subtle or minimalist. Paprika also doesn't strike me as being a note that is known for it's subtlety or that could end up in going flat in a scent. It sounds like he's gone far too cerebral w/ this creation. I look forward to sampling it, but seriously doubt it will be FBW.

7:35 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Chaya,
I hoped so much, after reading V's review, that the scent would miraculously work much beter for me, but no.
So which do you like more, Ambre Russe or Cuir Ottoman?

8:31 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

L,
With the name so colorful - Parika! Brasil!- the scent is surprisingly dull, almost colorless. I'd say it is very pale brown-green in color. Minimalism taken to extreme, this one.

8:33 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Marina -- weeelll, I love the Hermessences less than the rest of youse guys... so not as brokenhearted as I was over, say, Dzongkha.

BTW stupid Blogger is taking an eternity to load this a.m., this was my 3rd attempt at commenting.

10:10 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

March,
Was there a Hermessence you liked?

Blogger is Satan's creation, no doubt about that.

10:18 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

I am still puzzling over PB. I suspect that if it had a different name and back story, I might have approached it differently. As things stand, the first few tests were a disappointment. Going to try to forget the name and try it next to a few iris scents and see how it comes out.

10:27 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

R,
This is definitely one of the saddest cases of Name Doesn't Match The Juice At All.

10:29 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

M -- It's not Ellena's fault he's constructed the line around notes I fail to love in my bumpkin unsophistication ;-) amber, poivre (which is armpitty cumin to me), vetiver (god, I loathe that one)... I really like rose ikebana, and OY is lovely, but they're both fleeting on me.

10:40 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

March,
Sometimes I think that, despite our shared love of SKANK, we might actually be Evil Fragrance Twins :-)
You have tried Paprika Brasil, right? But if not...since I didn't like it...there is a chance you will...:-)

10:43 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

That's funny, I'd already thought of that (and you and I ARE funny, we're either FTs or EFTs... like with skank, or L) it doesn't sound like my thang, though. I am assuming it's something like the L'Artisan Epices ones? I thought they were great, but I didn't want to wear them.

12:05 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

March,
It's sort of, kind of like Dzongkha...but not really..not notes-wise anyway, just in a general pale-understated-woody-dry feel. Only Dzongkha does that pale-understated thing much better. (I know, I know, you don't like it).

12:10 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

What a let-down. I read the title of the review and was all set to read how great it was; usually I find Hermes to be a pretty good house. Promising Paprika Brasil and delivering a Big Snooze? Bummer!

12:10 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Tom,
Isn't its name just so darn appealing? But the juice is Big Snooze indeed. It's not unwearable, mind you, it's very pleasant, it's just so dull!

12:11 PM EDT  
Blogger chaya ruchama said...

Loveliest one-
No way can I compare these two, whom I passionately love...
The similarity is their use of amazingly high quality materials, superior blending, and incredible beauty, subtlety, and personality.

I'm thrilled...

It sounds as if PB has many notes in common w/ CO, but little else.

6:33 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Chaya,
I am so glad you love them! I love them too. And could choose one over the other either.

6:44 PM EDT  
Blogger Trina said...

Unfortunately, PB was the same for me. It's almost all iris with just a hint of leaves and wood. I get no spices at all. And since I really don't care for iris except when it plays as a very minor supporting role, I found this one very disappointing :~(

7:06 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Trina,
I usually love iris, but here it was so unremarkable, dry and "colorless". Meh.

7:09 PM EDT  

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