Perfume Review: Hermes Kelly Caleche
On Thursday, Kelly Caleche, the latest release from Hermes, will be unveiled for an exclusive preview at the new Hermès boutique on Wall Street. Created by Jean-Claude Ellena, the scent pays homage to the famous Kelly bag and Calèche, one of the first fragrances released by the house. You know how excited I was when I first heard about the upcoming launch of Kelly Caleche. Floral-leather is my kind of thing, Hermes is the house I adore and Ellena is the perfumer I highly respect. Kelly Caleche is not what I hoped, but neither it is what I feared. It is what in the rational corner of my excitable mind I expected it to be, an elegant, tolerably youthful, understated scent with tasteful hints rather than barbarically generous doses of leather.
The beginning playfully slapped me on the nose with an unexpected note of grapefruit. Before I could collect my wits and protest (I am not friendly with grapefruit), the citrusy explosion dissipated into a floral accord of commendable complexity. Kelly Caleche is full of nuances, all of them very subtle. The flowers are done in transparent soft hues and they mesh into a delicate harmony, in which it seems almost impossible to distinguish separate notes ...until suddenly a cold, rooty iris peaks through the pastel mist only to disappear just as quickly ...then a softly-powdery, vaguely gourmand, green and yellow mimosa comes forth and almost immediately goes away ...a sweet, sparkly rose pops up once in a while and hides again ...and thus on and on ...flowers playing games, teasing me. The one note that spends most of its time in hiding is leather. During the first two-thirds of the scent's development, there is not even a hint of the note, and nothing in the gentle and whimsical floral blend seems to herald its arrival. Eventually leather tip-toes in and inconspicuously positions its well-mannered self behind the gauzy flowers. In accordance with the general feel of toned down elegance of the composition, the leather note speaks in a quiet, soft voice, and one has to strain to hear it. The note makes me think not of an expensive leather bag but rather of a trace of smell that the handle of such a bag would leave on one's skin. Kelly Caleche's is a tantalizingly subtle leather that I cannot help but wish was a little stronger.
The Kelly Caleche ad with the young modern amazon decisively striding along carrying a whip would make us believe there will be audaciousness and gutsiness in the fragrance, but I found the reality of the scent to be less daring. This is a refined, restrained, ladylike perfume, certainly youthful, simply because of its surprising, smiling playfulness, but not so young and overly girly as to render it unappealing to anyone over the age of 20-25. Kelly Caleche is the kind of fragrance that seems to be as easily wearable and universally appealing as possible without being too bland. If I were allowed to rename the scent, I would call it Miss Hermes, as it fullfils all the requirements - classic structure, elegance, tiny bit of flirtiness- for being placed as the house's offering to its somewhat younger clientele.
After premiering at the Wall St. store, Kelly Calèche will become available in Hermès’ boutique network in August, and in September it will be launched for global selective distribution.