Hermes Hermessences Paprika Brasil: Another Perfect Symphony from Jean Claude Ellena


 At first I read the label on this elegant 5ml sample as “Paprika Basil” and thought, “Do I really want smell like a Chicken Thigh?” I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only was it “Paprika Brasil (put your glasses on woman!), but it was made by Jean Claude Ellena, and is up to his usual high standard. He also makes one of my favourite fragrances : the beautiful ever changing First By Van Cleef and Arpels ( see my earlier review).

I would never, ever have considered Paprika as an ingredient in perfume but he makes it work so beautifully that I can’t believe it’s not done more often. There is Iris at first, but a pleasant, sweet variety, rather than the earthy rooty horror that I sometimes encounter. I also thought I could smell Violets, but I am partly mistaken. It’s actually Mignonette:  a “very sweet-smelling and pleasant Mediterranean flower with violet-like and fruity nuances” (Fragrantica)

The Paprika itself does not make itself known immediately, it emerges as a crisp line of spice surrounding the blooming pretty Violet and Iris. Imagine a sparkling clear pool of Violets with a crisp red edging. There are Cloves too, and Green notes and Woods.  When the violets have left only a sweet trail in their mist, I am left with  spiky, peppery scent of beautiful Rosewood.  It’s bold and clever, but the balance is just right, as always with JC.

Luca Turin however, damns it with faint praise in Perfumes The GuideThe pepper-peppers accord works fine, but it does not sustain interest and ends up smelling like the capsicum off note in cheap Graves wine”.

LT gives it two stars.  I’d give it four. But that’s just me.

7 thoughts on “Hermes Hermessences Paprika Brasil: Another Perfect Symphony from Jean Claude Ellena”

  1. “Do I really want to smell like a chicken thigh?”…goodness…I was rolling on the floor laughing reading that! Same here….never would have considered paprika for perfume…but I do like rosewood as a note (favorite is in Eau De Ciel by Annick Goutal)…

    1. Dear brie,
      That gave me a chuckle, thank you! Yes it does pay to read the label with my glasses on!

      This is a lovely perfume that is more understated than I convey. I hope you get the chance to give it a try. Thanks for your kind words.

  2. Dearest Iscent
    You have piqued The Dandy’s palette with all this talk of Chicken thighs and Jean-Claude. I must try this anon.
    Also so glad to read of someone else’s enjoyment of First, a fragrance that I feel gets far too little by way of appreciation.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    1. Dear Mr Dandy,
      Always a pleasure to have you drop by. I thought Paprika Brasil would be foodie, but used with restraint, it was delightful.

      I’m glad to meet a fellow fan of First. It took me 2 or 3 tries to appreciate it, but when I did, it was mine for life. It’s like wearing several different perfumes that change throughout the day, two dabs is all it takes. Wonderful stuff.
      Your friend

      1. Dearest Iscent
        I would go further and say that VC&A is generally an underrated house, I have a few favourites from their catalogue even, as unlikely as it might sound, Feerie.
        Oh, and for the gentleman, Tsar!
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  3. I can’t wait to read your thoughts on the other Hermessences; JCE is just so very very clever and inventive. My favourite is probably Brin de Reglisse – which features ‘lavender minus a couple of molecules’ because JCE knows the boys in the lab and they can do that kind of thing now.

    1. I tried Brin de Reglisse and didn’t like it. That means nothing though, since I also disliked Cabochard and First on first sniff, but now they live happily on my dressing table, so you never know.

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