Jean-Claude Ellena followed a somewhat more traditional path with Eau De Mandarine Ambrée, one of two 'light' scents released by Hermès this year. But he clearly wanted Eau De Narcisse Bleu to join the ranks of his nouv'eau de colognes (Eau De Gentiane Blanche, Eau Parfumée Au Thé Vert) which attempt to find relatively unusual ways of working within the centuries-old cologne structure. Here, as the name suggests, he's drawn inspiration from the outdoorsy, hay-like characteristics of narcissus and created a scent that appears to be suspended in the part-wild, part-civilised realm of an urban locale that's not too far from the countryside. The citrus aspect of the construction is genteel and decorous, but it's never sweet, which allows the sour, greener facets of the narcissus to link strongly with the pronounced herbal notes (imagine chopping lots of fresh parsley to go into a tabbouleh) and pull the whole into more untamed territory. Shimmering above all this is a watery translucency (have no fear: there is nothing 'marine' at play here) which somehow manages to be both wistful and life-affirming. The recent Jour D'Hermès was supposed to feel like walking past a multi-bloom bouquet, and Ellena has brought the 'uplifting floral' strain of its DNA into Narcisse Bleu as well. But beneath the apparent weightlessness and simplicity, there's an x-factor, an element of surprise... like stepping into a garden you've seen countless times before and suddenly being overwhelmed with the conviction that you're experiencing it for the very first time ever.
[Review based on a sample of eau de cologne provided by Hermès in 2013.]