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Bombay Duck London

Hermès Eau de Pamplemousse Rose

There is a day, in early summer, known simply and jubilantly to me as ‘The Day’, when you can throw open the windows upon waking to find the world is already warm outside, with the leaves everywhere you look unfurling in that reach-for-your-sunglasses shade of spring green that’s perfect for foliage.  (Though pretty terrible for anything else, such as clothes or paint or shoes, as I’ve found to my cost.)

Right now I’d say we’re all on that kind of ‘chlorophyll high’ – and this, from Hermès, is the fragrance to match it.  Every year around now, The Scent Critic shuffles Eau de Pamplemousse Rose to front and centre on her crowded-tube-train of a dressing table, and prepares for lift-off.  Because one whoosh of this bathes your senses in total freshness:  like running your wrists under cold water, or slipping into a crisp, cool linen shirt.

In aromatherapeutic circles, grapefruit (a.k.a. pamplemousse) is acknowledged for its reviving, awakening, focussing power – and it has exactly that effect on the mind and even the body, seems to me.  Bleary-eyed?  Partied too late?  Feeling like the treacle you’re wading through has turned to toffee, at the end of a long and weary week?  Un-stopper this attractive green bottle and spray very, very generously indeed.  (Which you can, without fear of overwhelming yourself or those within sniffing distance:  this is a true cologne, subtle in its charms.)

To be frank, grapefruit can sometimes smell a little ‘cheap’ and sweaty, as a perfume ingredient – but not here, in the practiced hands of Hermès’s in-house perfumer, Jean-Claude Ellena, who has one of the plummiest roles around.  He’s been described, succinctly, as ‘the master of transparency’.  You want sheer and gauzy but sophisticated and intruguing…?  Jean-Claude’s your man.

This is juicy and clean and citrussy, with a tangy edge, and it smells natural, not the least synthetic.  There’s a bit of a pun within this perfume, actually:  ‘Pamplemousse rose’ actually means pink grapefruit.  But here, that Florida fruit has been paired – yes – with rose itself, as the perfect counterpoint to the zest:  softly lush and dewy, akin a tea rose sniffed just after the cool dawn as you pad round the garden in your nightie – rather than something blowsily and narcotically sweet, as some rose elements tend to be.  Maybe it’s because the sweetness has the edge taken off by ‘rhubofix’, from rhubarb, described by Hermes as ‘fresh, woody, spicy, floral rhubarb’, so it’s pretty complex in itself, as ingredients go.  (Deliciously tart and green, rhubarb cropped up in several of Jo Malone’s tea-inspired scents, too, so it’s clearly having a moment.)

This fits nicely into a whole collection of colognes from Hermès, including Eau d’Orange Verte, which is as classic an eau de Cologne as you could ever hope to spritz.  Eau de Pamplemousse Rose is the one I keep returning to, though, because it reaches my inner vetiver-lover (actually, she’s never far beneath the surface).  Subtle traces of that exotic grass (I am as usual blown away to remember that it’s a grass, not a wood) sway through the base of this, endowing it with a bit more staying power and depth.  In truth, the grapefruit and rose fade fairly fast, but I can never get to the vetiver fast enough, in a fragrance, so I’m happy.

It doesn’t loiter for long, overall – just a couple of hours or so, and you’re ready to spritz again.  (Like we did last summer…?)  I love colognes, for that:  they remind me of being a child, joyously whirled around at waist-level by a grown-up, squealing dizzily, ‘Again, again, again!’

A lost summer pleasure, that.  But I’m revelling in the knowledge there are so many others – Glyndebourne, Pimm’s, picnics, and perfumes like Pamplemousse Rose – to look forward to, in the next few sunlit months.











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