An Olfactory Whisper

Writer Vivienne Tang | March 18, 2015

Known for its luxurious scents, Hermès has, until now, never created a complete range of home fragrances, despite perfumes being one of the French brand’s strengths.

Le Parfum de la Maison, as the collection is called, marks a milestone in the fashion house’s history, consisting of five scents available as three different objets.

The home perfume idea came to long- time Hermès nose, Jean-Claude Ellena, four years ago, but he wanted to assign it to a specific perfume creator and chose his daughter Céline Ellena to keep the brand’s heritage in the family. “I was appointed to conceive and create the Le Parfum de la Maison fragrances exactly four years ago,” she says. “Before that I had a career as a perfumer without my father, and I worked for other brands. This is a new chapter, I’m the first in-house perfumer exclusively and entirely dedicated to this new territory: the home.”

Born in Grasse and having previously produced fragrances for L’Artisan Perfumeur and The Different Company, the young Ellena teamed up with artist Gauillaume Bardet, who has worked with some of the biggest names in design and who created the objets for this home collection.

“I knew absolutely nothing about perfume,” says Bardet, looking back on the opportunity to combine objets with fragrances. “It’s always exciting working in a new field. The house of Hermès gave us this opportunity to meet and gave us another unusual luxury – time. So we took plenty of time to meet and talk, to get to know each other and found we had a lot in common. Céline put this idea into smells and I put it into shapes.”

Known for his sculptural pieces with organic yet simple forms, Bardet wanted to create bowls that felt like paper, and the candles are now set in white matte ceramic bowls and come in five colours and three sizes. Then there’s a stylised white ceramic pebble to scent a limited area around a desk (lasting several months depending on room size and temperature). And the collection includes a box of four small paper origami horses, ideal for travellers to cover the smell of hotels.

Each of the five perfume reveries represents a colour that, like the scents, avoids a clear definition. They become ethereal images of dreamt-up landscapes that appear in different areas of the home, overlapping like parallel worlds.

The taupe-hued Des Pas sur la Neige (Steps in the snow) exudes a coolness, whereas Temps de Pluie (Rainy weather) in celadon abandons the obvious water connection, but gives off hints of musk and moss with clouds of wet pavement and a woody undercurrent. The lagoon- tinged Fenêtre Ouverte (Open window) mixes notes of ozone and honey, while the sulphur-coloured Champ Libre (Free rein) leaves traces of flowers, and À Cheval! (Saddle up!) in pumpkin brings up images of treated Hermès leather.

What if the perfume for a house was a sound we listened to with our noses?
~ Céline Ellena