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quinta-feira, 18 de fevereiro de 2016

Shop Your Fragrance Wardrobe: Hermes 24 Faubourg

by: Elena Vosnaki

This is the third article in the new series on Fragrantica, "Shop Your Fragrance Wardrobe", in which our writers will explore fragrances they've owned for some time but seldom wear. Will an old favorite be "rediscovered" and fallen in love with all over again? Will the writers find their preferences have changed with time and experience? Join us for the journey and share your experiences of revisiting old favorites. 
Much like my colleague Jodi Battershell who revisited her Jardins de Bagatelle byGuerlain for the "Shop Your Fragrance Wardrobe" challenge, as well as Bella forSamsara, I have been neglecting certain parts of my vast collection. Do I hear a collective chirping of crickets? "Who cares what you have been neglecting, lady?" Oh, but you should pay a bit of attention because apart from skeletons in our closets, we all share many worthwhile scents that are just aching to come out and play without scaring the horses; it's a mystery why we don't use them up! But investigating why we don't might explain some things and coach us to make better use of them. In times of more frugal living, this is wisdom. 
From the 2012 campaign shot on Aegina island in Greece, at the feet of the oldest olive tree

24, Faubourg by Hermès is my own neglected fragrance. The reason? Even though I like it a lot and recognize that it is a realistically gorgeous fragrance (meaning, its artistic merit surpasses any personal fondness) I always viewed it as aspirational-bourgeois-on-steroids. 
Don't get me wrong.
Hermès stands as perhaps the most luxurious and chic of the great French brands and I love everything and anything I have by them, be it perfume or accessory; it's quality and good taste. The fact that they have withstood aggressive take-overs and kept it a family house speaks volumes about how they see luxury. There's the added fact that they have significantly downplayed the "luxe" exterior in their fragrances going for sparser, subtracting, less affluence exhibitionist forays into perfume (in great degree thanks to in-house perfumer Jean Claude Ellena, whose sparseness of style has defined a new epoch for both the house and for perfumery in general). 
But 24, Faubourg comes from a prior era, I hear you cry. 
Yes, it does. And it smells like it! 
Named after the famed "faux bourg" rue of Faubourg Saint-Honoré in the 8emearrondisement in Paris, where the headquarters of the Dumas-family luxury house are situated, 24, Faubourg was immersed in luxury from the very beginning; to the manor born.
Like many perfume lovers I'm not averse to luxury per se. Luxury and luxuria pose an interesting thought; luxuria is the Latin name for...lust. One of the 7 deadly sins. Luxury lovers do lust over the objects of their desire, do they not?  Desire is sparked by lack. Lack creates eros, the urge to fill the lack, the platonic ideal of uniting two parts that once made a whole. It's a metaphorical concept. Explains why brands keep us on our toes searching for the part that's missing!
In rebelliousness against social class and perhaps due to anti-snobbism on my part (or is it just plain snobbism in reverse, I sometimes wonder?) I have refrained from conscious overt exhibition of the insignia of wealth and embracing the lowly and the humble on purpose. Look at that drugstore item, isn't it fabulous? And that Zara fragrance at a fraction of the cost of a designer one, yet made by Puig just the same? Who needs logos and frou frou, it's the quality in things that matters. The axiom of Coco Chanel has always guided me. It'd be quite inelegant to hang a 50 carat diamond from one's neck, as surely as it'd be gauche to hang a check from it. So why indulge in the luxuria of capitalism? Wanting more, exhibiting more? 
I have been perfectly happy going for my esoteric woody incenses for everyday wear. People usually don't even ascribe the aromas emanating from my humble person as "perfume", even when they like them. It's not like Coco Mademoiselle, "hey, you're wearing perfume". I suppose it's like I just left Vespers or something or have been spending a lot of time at the library, which is not unusual come to think of it. I'm also big on white florals and on spicy orientals, though these have a harder time passing under the radar of "perfume awareness". Not that it really bothers me if they do make people notice. After all, many a time a potent scent has sparked an interesting conversation. People united by scent are people united at breath, it's a powerful connection. 

24, Faubourg has that tinge of bourgeois aspirational lust and smells like perfume, make no mistake about it. Lust for bigger and better things. Lust for MORE. It inspires a sense of gluttony, much like the soft contours of its creator, Maurice Roucel, suggest an indulgence in the pleasures of the table. What would the pleasure-seeking Medieval writers of Carmina Burana think?
And indeed, much like that other gorgeous floriental I also happen to find incredible,Boucheron pour femme that is, it's all about the MORE. No Mies van der Rohe here. The Ellena period has not begat its spartan fruit yet. 
The scent of 24, Faubourg is floral, undeniably floral, white floral drenched in honeyed tones, to be exact, not just "a floral".  It's the floral to end all florals, and yet it's not only floral. In its elaborate, Byzantine bouquet I can detect resins, balsams, fruit (fuzzy peaches and tangy citruses), a soft powderiness of orris, some wood, something intangible, something aching to overreach...Sounds like everything and the kitchen sink (same thought with the Boucheron) and yet it is not that in effect. Instead, a perfectly judged, lush, satisfying, calorific, dare I say it, yes, I will, RICH effect comes out of that lovely bottle shaped like a carré silk scarf that the Dumas house is famous the world over for. 
Although the orange blossom and the jasmine and the (rather less copious in the mix)gardenia owe as much to analytical chemistry as they owe to nature's laboratory, the experience feels like a silken thread woven by some exotic insect with beautiful wings in an engulfing tropical greenhouse. 
The allusion to the sun is nowhere more evident than in the advertising images which reflect the golden, ambery aura of the scent. I wrote before that "solar notes" stand for warmth and luminosity and although this is not especially salicylates-focused, it does smell snuggly and jovial and reminiscent of the touch of the sun. 
Should silk scarves in vivacious colors that brighten up early spring days not stain from spraying fragrant liquid directly onto them, 24, Faubourg would be the natural thing to adorn their polished sheen with. The smell is graceful, tightly woven, solid in one's grasp, with a sheen that radiates almost optically...well, it feels silken really!
The extrait de parfum concentration is even lusher and cognac-like in its hue than my own eau de parfum bottle. The eau de toilette, despite being further diluted, still feels condensed and solid. A far cry from the mainstream market average and possibly a remnant from the time of its conception, the early 1990s. 
The design of the bottle is not coincidentally shaped like a silk carré, with a beautiful overlay of graphic design resembling the work done for the famous scarves by Hermès. The matte gold cap and spray mechanism is pure class. The limited editions are equally beautiful, each time reprising a motif of the house. 

Bottom line:
Reacquainting myself with it I feel like I have been stupidly missing on a great gem. Why did I overlook this while I was wearing the comparable concept ofBoucheron Femme? Maybe I was too blinded by taking Hermès for a known commodity, a big luxury house, in my perfume journey. Clearly an error on my part. I stand corrected. 

Of course, dear readers, we'd love to hear your side of the story. Do you have any special memories connected to 24 Faubourg? Do you have a similar situation with a fragrance that you recently rediscovered? Or do you find you really never go back once you walked away? We'd love to hear from you in the Comments!

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