THIS POST WAS SHORTLISTED IN THE
'INDEPENDENT - SOUNDBITE' CATEGORY
OF THE 2016/17 UK JASMINE AWARDS
If Galop D'Hermès were a painting, it would be Two Dancers In The Studio by Degas.
If it were a piece of music, it would be Opening Titles from Michael Nyman's Carrington soundtrack.
If it were a fabric, it would be two-tone silk, reflecting either red or deep brown, depending on how it catches the light.
The link between symmetry, bottles and perfume is so well established, it can justifiably be taken for granted and pushed to one side. But I was reminded of its enduring validity when faced with a flacon shaped like a stirrup. The wishbone-like structure is reminiscent of that other paragon of symmetry, the isosceles triangle, as well as a pair of scales, in perpetual balance. What's more, a stirrup doesn't convey an idea of general symmetry but, with its dual prongs, the specific symmetry that exists between two different forces.
I wonder if Christine Nagel was aware of what the bottle for the new Galop from Hermès was going to be when she composed the perfume. Or maybe the flacon was inspired by the scent? Either way, what we have here is a soul-soothing exercise in harmony: the most delicate tug-of-war between a rose and a leather, with the two supporting each other as much as trying to outdo each other. You could read all sorts of significance into the choice of the materials (my favourite theory is that represents Jean-Claude Ellena handing over the reins to Nagel: the masculine making way for the feminine) but don't let any of that navel-gazing get in the way of the composition's beauty. The florals are fully-fleshed, blushing and wind-swept (but maybe a touch too synthetic?), whilst the tannery facet is injected with the same inky, petroleum energy that fuelled Cuir D'Ange. And between them we have a bridge of luminous, green citrus, just on the edge of perception, uniting the opposite poles, like a pair of reins bringing a rider in contact with a steed. But which of the two is in control? Galop never quite lets you decide.
[Review based on a sample of extrait provided by Hermès in 2016]