First Impressions, Perfume

Is That Ambergris I Smell?: First Impressions of 24 Faubourg by Hermès

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:

[via Fragrantica]
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.


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