Epice Marine by Hermès

Notes: cumin, hazelnut, sesame, cinnamon, cardamom, bergamot, sea notes, whiskey, vetiver, and oakmoss.

The Hermessence line is the Hermès equivalent of Les Exclusifs from Chanel and the Christian Dior Privée line. (Which I believe is now being called La Collection Couturier Parfumer Christian Dior. Really succinct and abbreviated!) It seems that the most exclusive luxury houses feel the need to produce ever more exclusive fragrances. I really enjoy a few of Chanel’s Exclusifs. Epice Marine is my first foray into the Hermessence line. I’m glad I started with this one because it’s really interesting and surprisingly wearable for a fragrance containing a hefty dose of cumin.

Epice Marine was launched in 2013 and was composed by the Hermès in-house perfumer at the time, Jean-Claude Ellena. This is a classic Ellena composition in that it’s rendered in his typical sheer, transparent style. It’s best to go in knowing this, and not setting your expectations for a powerhouse that lasts on the skin for 12+ hours. Ellena composed this one in collaboration with a Breton chef, Olivier Roellinger. You can see or smell the influence, since Epice Marine has a salty sea air tinge to it as well as a very unique gourmand aspect. The cumin is strong right off the bat. In terms of épice or spice, I sense the cinnamon, and a touch of whiskey. This composition is definitely influenced by food, but it’s not foodie in a typical boozy/vanilla/chocolate way.

More than any specific kind of food, Epice Marine gives off the impression of a restaurant. This is a restaurant along the coastline with an outdoor terrace. But it’s not a pristine oceanfront view in the south of France. This is a northern Breton beach. The sea still offers a beautiful view, but the water is cold and forbidding. This is not a seaside for sunbathing. The whiskey note here is slightly smokey. Combined with the cinnamon it adds some warmth, or as much warmth as you’re likely to get from this scent. Epice Marine is otherwise firmly on the cool spice side of things. The cumin here is not sweaty. It’s green, and a little bit fizzy. It adds some liveliness. It’s the buzz of the diners chatting out on the terrace.

As the dry down comes on, Epice Marine takes on a baking bread type of smell. I have only encountered this type of note in Olivia Giacobetti’s En Passant before. It’s subtle but it’s a doughy bread smell. I’m not sure where the bread note is coming from but it helps flesh out the whole restaurant impression. And I appreciate that this composition is almost a savory/salty gourmand rather than sweet, which is very unusual. It’s also not your typical calone marine/aquatic scent either.

It’s worth saying that Hermès offers sets where you can choose four of the Hermessence fragrances in a 15 ml travel spray. (You can choose to do four of the same one if you’re really attached to one in particular.) This is what I may end up doing once I try a few more of the Hermessence line. The price point for a full bottle is an Hermès price point, let’s be honest. But Epice Marine is worth it. For a fragrance that is so unusual, it’s also highly wearable. More than that, I love the restaurant dinner scene it evokes. It’s both inviting and a little bit strange. Simply put, it’s haunting.


The Hermessence line is available exclusively from Hermès boutiques and the Hermès website. I purchased a small decant from Surrender to Chance.

The image is from Hermès and the info on notes is from Fragrantica.

Cristalle Eau Verte by Chanel

Notes: bergamot, Sicilian lemon, neroli, magnolia, musk, iris, and jasmine.

I’m continuing off of my previous post about spring-themed scents, and Cristalle Eau Verte is absolutely one of my favorites for spring. The original Cristalle was composed by Henri Robert and released in 1974 (and I will do a separate write-up of that fragrance because it deserves its own post.) Cristalle Eau Verte was released much more recently in 2009 and was of course composed by Jacques Polge. Eau Verte is definitely updated and modern. It’s an accessible kind of scent profile and it’s effortless to wear.

Cristalle is famous for its sparkling champagne-like citrus top notes. Eau Verte also opens with a sparkling sensation, but you can tell right off the bat that this has definitely been composed for a modern audience. The bergamot has that clean green aspect to it, and the lemon note is very pronounced. It’s a fresh and lively opening. It’s the kind of scent I like spritzing on just after a shower. It’s just that refreshing.

Luckily Cristalle Eau Verte is more complex than a typical body mist that you might apply post-shower. The florals come in and really carry this fragrance in a sophisticated way. I’m a sucker for magnolia, so I love getting to the mid-stage of Eau Verte. Magnolia is often creamy on my skin, and even peachy-fruity. The magnolia here is slightly different in that it’s creamy but, combined with the neroli note, it takes on a shimmering light sensation. It radiates off the skin, almost singing in a way. On a sunny day, I feel like you can almost see the shimmering effect of the magnolia and neroli on the skin. That’s one reason it’s perfect for spring.

The base continues the white floral theme with jasmine bringing a more full-bodied presence. There is also plenty of white musk, which is not my personal favorite base note, but it works for this composition. A tonka or sandalwood note would have been too heavy. I get 5 hours of wear time here, so it’s a pretty typical EdT.

Overall, is Cristalle Eau Verte the most essential or pivotal Chanel fragrance? Of course not. But it’s an excellent flanker. It works as its own fragrance and doesn’t diminish the original Cristalle. It’s sophisticated and more complex than many “fresh” spring/summer scents these days. It makes me smile when I wear it and, sometimes, that’s all you need.


I own a full bottle of Cristalle Eau Verte, which I purchased from Nordstrom.

The info on notes is from Fragrantica.

Photo taken by me.