Hermes Voyage d'Hermes's smoooooooooove.

The phrase “anti-perfume”, recently employed by the folks at Serge Lutens to describe L'eau Serge Lutens, is enough to hurl my Pen Pal Dan into a full-bore crankathon. The way he figures it, “anti-perfume” is a way to pitch perfume to people who hate perfumes, and he's a person who hates people who hate perfumes. Now, I'm the first person to admit to intolerance for the intolerant (well actually, I'm the second, after Dan). But if people who hold their own noses while wearing fragrance really do exist, there's actually a pretty respectable gaggle of nice smells for them to wear and enjoy (or not, as the case may be). In the “enjoyable puff of nothingness” category, I'd nominate Comme des Garçons Odeur 53 and Odeur 71, two perfumes that conjure distant associations in the way of tangled dreams half-remembered the morning after. Dreams without plot or purpose, only emotion. L’Artisan Parfumeur Cote d'Amour is another fine anti-perfume: flat florals that are oddly dry and slightly salty. Come the full furnace blast of summer, I've got my dibs on a bottle of that. And then there's Frédéric Malle L'eau d'Hiver, which is so “anti” that it wipes my olfactory memory banks clean whenever I smell it. Consequently, it's an utter novelty with each new encounter. L'eau d'Hiver is the perfume version of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Hermès' latest, Voyage d'Hermès, is firmly part of the anti-perfume crowd. With a sigh of citrus, a whisper of musk and a sneeze of spice, I'd call it an “impression” rather than a fragrance. Jean Claude Ellena dialed the volume right down on every element here, but it still hangs together. It's a look at a brisk, fresh, clean-but-not-soapy smell through the wrong end of a telescope. Perfume-haters and lovers alike will enjoy the trip, even if the only voyage this eau de toilette takes you on is inside your own freshly spring cleaned, pleasantly spotless mind. Fumies, what are some of your favorite “enjoyable puff of nothingness” scents?
Voyage d'Hermès is available from starting at $125 for 3.3 oz


  1. Once upon a time I bought Bulgari Omnia to impress a certain someone.

    Soon, however, I realized that I had bought - nothing. I couldn't smell it. At all. That of course led me to wonder why I had bought it in the first place. The explanation is probably that I had tested out a number of other perfumes before I decided on Omnia, and in reality I might actually have "bought" one of those. Which one I don't know, unfortunately.

    Maybe Omnia doesn't quite fit the pleasurable nothingness category as there was really nothing to enjoy, but I do hope that others around me did.

    Strange phenomenon - perfumes that you can't smell. Perhaps Avery Gilbert could provide an explanation.

    Other than that I think Infusion d'Iris is what comes closest. Used sparingly it's barely there but there's a whiff of something pristine and elegantly clean.

  2. I've always adored Ellena's Parfumee au te' Verte, but after the first few minutes it's barely there (on me anyway) no problem -- that's what nice big handbags are for, to carry the bottle around. The Extreme version lasts longer. I just got some PdN Eau Turquoise, really intriguing, just a whisper of stone fruit and herbs there, barely perceptible to me: another summer scent for the handbag.

  3. Well, I don't hate people who hate perfume. It's their right to hate our particular poison. But I do have a snarly reaction to those who would try to sell us perfume for the anti-perfumista. (I'm looking at you, L'eau Serge and your ad-copy goons.)

    Actually, I wouldn't quite put anything by the fab JCE in this category. Subtle, elegant, ethereal, but perhaps not anti-perfume. Anti-coarse? Anti-brash? Anti-sillage? Interesting that I'm wearing Rose Ikebana today, and yes, I'm re-applying pretty frequently, but methinks that it is a perfume. (I think?)

  4. m61, perhaps I'm stretching anti-perfume's elasticated waistband a little too far in order to cram Voyage d'Hermès and his JCE siblings inside. After all, "quiet" doesn't necessarily equal "anti". Okay, I've just talked myself out of including Cote d'Amour out of the anti bunch.

    Ha-ha Olfacta - I love the idea of the big, unwieldy handbags required to lug around Costco-sized bottles of barely there perfume.

    Junelady, both Avery Gilbert and Luca Turin will tell you that there are certain odor molecules that some of us can barely smell, can't smell at all, or are screechingly over-sensitive to.

    Those are lovely "puff of nothingness" perfume suggestions, all.

  5. Last spring, while rushing through Duty Free, I panic-bought a bottle of Eclat d'Arpege by Lanvin. I couldn't find For Her by Narciso Rodriguez and needed something simple and light to wear during my holiday in Uganda. I only cracked that bottle open last week, having decided that wearing perfume in equatorial Africa during the dry season was a silly idea.

    Not sure it qualifies as an anti-perfume, but Ed'A is definitely one of those clean, just-showered, just-laundered fragrances that needs its ante upped a few times a day. I do like it though, particularly as I've since discovered it's great to wear when out dancing. I've never come home from a club smelling so fresh!

  6. Eclat d'Arpege sounds like something that would be really nice for long hot summer days at work :-)

  7. amber j, I know the "panic-buy" experience well. I call it "Terminal 3 syndrome", discussed here:

  8. I know that syndrome from personal experience.

    I was 2 minutes away from missing a plane home from Schipol Airport 3-4 years ago because I couldn't make up my mind what perfume to buy that I didn't really want. When I fould out it was time to go, I also found out that Schipol is a fairly big place and I had to test the limits of my modest fitness level to get to my gate - and then endure the completely fair telling off by a lady from the cabin crew, including "Next time you will be on time, Madame". "Yes ma'm!"

    I didn't buy anything.
    I had already bought two perfumes on the way out and one perfume in Amsterdam.

  9. Junelady - Ed'A is perfect for the office (maybe Katie should tell the Fox 5 producer lady?). Just enough sillage and freshness to counteract the heavy afternoon odours of my stressed male colleagues. Oh, and Schipol airport is crazy huge!

    Katie - I hear your Terminal 3 Syndrome and raise you Terminal 5 and all its super-exclusive, high-end temptations. Shudder... And I've now added Vanille 44 to my Must Sniff List.

  10. How does Voyage d'Hermes EDT compare to EDP? And how does it compare to Penhaligon's Juniper Sling? Love that Gin and Tonic smell. The EDP has similarities to Juniper Sling. Both are really nice IMO although Juniper Sling is more of a puff of nothingness than Voyage EDP.

    My suggestion for a puff of nothingness is Penhaligon's Blenheim Bouquet. It's what got me interested in fragrances and I just love it. It's hardly there and there is a note that reminds me of urine but it sends me. It is very office friendly. Blenheim in the name might subconsciously be affecting me though because the aroma and taste of Blenheim Orange Muskmelon is to die for.