Prior to trying 24 Faubourg, my working knowledge of Hermès consisted of the scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Emily Blunt gets hit by a car and launches many a Hermes box and scarf into the air (I enjoy imagining that some dyed-in-the-silk Hermes aficionado gasped in pure horror at the moment), and what little I’d read about their latest fragrance, Twilly d’Hemès, which I’m obsessed with simply because it’s adorable:
I figured 24 Faubourg was as good an introduction to Hermès as any if for no other reason than it was name-checked in a powdery perfumes article on Perfume Shrine, and heaven knows I love me a powdery perfume. Sure, I had no particular preconceptions other than that it would smell maybe powdery and probably faaancy, and it’s certainly possible that the sample I got had by lying around for forever (it was about a quarter full when it arrives, so maybe it evaporated?), but as first impressions go, I was frankly taken aback by just how old it smelled, but I swear I mean that in a good way.
My first whiff of 24 Faubourg hit me like it were the New York taxi to my Emily Blunt, and had I too had my arms full of boxed Hermès scarves, I would have surely tossed them into the air. It announced itself with an animalic roar, a pungent yet familiar note I often notice notice in older perfumes denigrated to “old lady perfume” status. Sure, lingering beneath this animalic cloud I could discern delicate, gorgeous florals, slightly powdery and oh so luxe, but I was so startled that I rushed to consult 24 Faubourg’s makeup on Fragrantica. Apparently there’s ambergris in its base, so I guess that’s what I was smelling? Whatever it was, it was aggressive, for sure, but not displeasing.
Like I said, I think of this “old lady” smell–ambergris, perhaps, or maybe civet or certain musks–is emblematic of an older, more sophisticated attitude in perfume that’s a far cry from the easily digestible, candied fruity florals that are so in vogue with today’s youth. It heralds all the things I aspire to in my life: a sophisticated palate capable of appreciating the smell of sperm whale secretions, being old, a high-class lifestyle capable of affording perfumes made with sperm whale secretions, being very old, a generalized pretension, clutchable pearls, and being so impossibly old you wouldn’t dare criticize my collection of furs. My point is when I say it smelled old, I mean it in a Dame Maggie Smith kind of way. I mean old as a compliment.