H24: THE HERMES MAN CLAIMS MODERNITY WITH A BOTANICAL PRESENCE

The widely-anticipated men’s perfume is the house’s latest after 15 years.

One moment, we’re trying to start the year right with pandemic vaccination. The next, we’re treated to snippets of a young man Inception-walking in an illusory city made up of smoke and mirrors.

“H24: A fragrance beyond the lines,” the ad promised. If one were to guess from the visuals, the offering would be clean, urban (reflective surfaces) with a forested body (small dalliance in the woods), with suggestions of cottony notes (that wind teasing at the hair) and perhaps some aquatic notes from the blue hues?

This was what actually came through:

H24 is the first perfume expressing the contemporary man as seen by Hermès.
A lively, sensual and bright perfume, stemming from the daring blend between nature and technology.

Technology? How would that be presented, I wondered? It turns out, a synthetic new note was the answer.

The combination of an enveloping sage, an electrifying narcissus, an invigorating rosewood and a warm, metallic note of sclarene. A lively, sensual and bright perfume.

Nagel likened sclarene to hot iron on wool clothing – an inspiration after her visit to the fashion workshops and conversations with Hermes Men’s universe Artistic Director Veronique Nichanian. And while the idea bears intrigue, how would it actually play out?

Image: Hermes official website

Now, on all fronts the read does seem distinctly “un-masculine” – the clary sage and narcissus suggesting a cloying perfume front. But Nagel has used both oil and absolute of the latter, and introduced a new method of extracting a more “electric energy with bite” from the bloom, thus bringing an updated profile that’s more fragrant than flowery for today’s man. This is 2021 after all.

15 years after the last men’s fragrance , Terre D’Hermes by Jean Claude Ellena, the H24 man is less about his origins, but an urbanite both rooted in his time yet on the move, sensitive to technology and his environment.

Aiming for vitality through a vegetal presentation, the high-tech fougere is the most aromatic and refreshing of the three pillar fragrances.

Image: Morgan Awyong

For me, the crisp and deep herb comes rushing forward with the narcissus, a wonderful hand-in-hand welcome that leads us into the wood and metal. It’s almost fruity in its plump green sweetness, which reminds me of Sur Le Nil with its mango-ey body, but the metallic inflection swoops in like a breeze and helps the fragrance to stand on its own.

This edge of sclarene is – thankfully – not aggressive, but a cheeky nuance that drifts by, giving H24 a character that reminds me of pandan (a plant often used to make dishes aromatic in Southeast Asia). It gives this new fragrance the tension it needs, with a playful facet.

Image: Morgan Awyong

What I would have enjoyed more of, is the rosewood. The House has found an ethical and sustainable from Peruvian communities, and so the inclusion of this rare element excites. But sadly, the presence here is ghostly – mostly in the background like an introvert. It does come forward a little more after wearing the scent for an hour or two – though still elusive – so this would likely only be caught by the most nimble of noses I suppose.

Continuing the sustainable statement is the bottle, designed by Philipe Mouquet. The glass and aluminium material is easily recyclable, as is the box that comes accented with an electric green – a nod to Nichanian’s use of similar palettes in her Spring-Summer Collection. And like the other two before it, H24 comes with a refillable 125ml version for it’s 100ml and 50ml EDT editions.

Most interestingly, even though I felt the bottle a little underwhelming in its design, I discovered how it actually captured a visual illusion, whereby the diamond-shaped body looked like a rectangular one at certain angles. This discovery – not mentioned anywhere in their material – made me a convert.

Image: Morgan Awyong

It takes a lot to live up to anticipation, and Christine Nagel’s confidence in her own creations shines brightly with H24. There’s innovation here with the short formula unabashedly featuring a synthetic note, but also gumption from headlining a fougere instead of the typical aquatic and woody variations for men.

With great sillage and stay for an EDT, the H24 sits easy in my collection as one of my favourites for its botanical profile and dynamic presence; and with its versatility, it will undoubtedly be so for many out there, regardless of gender.

To view a video presentation of my review, please watch the Youtube video below. (I apologise for the low volume as it was my first attempt.)

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