Friday, 7 October 2016

Persolaise Review: Galop D'Hermès from Hermès (Christine Nagel; 2016)


The soundbites
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 review
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]



  1. I cannot wait to sample this scent. I'm going to sound heretical, but I'm glad Nagel took over from Ellena .I know he's regarded as one of the greatest perfumers in history, but many of his creations almost frightened me with their pinpoint coldness - as if they'd be appropriate only on a white spaceship. The exacting use of his materials made Un Jardin Sur Le Nil feel soulless, and I couldn't get on board with it. That said, I think Nagel will add much to the line without upending Hermes' gorgeous traditions. She must, after all, keep the operation commercially solid whilst churning out excellence; no easy feat. Love your blog and YouTube channel!!

    1. Alison, yes, that is probably a controversial view :-) but you argue it well, and I'm pleased you've shared it.

      You're certainly not the only one who sees JCE's work as being somewhat bloodless. Personally, I adore many of his creations - Declaration, Cuir D'Ange - but I've also been thoroughly impressed with what Nagel has done so far at the brand.

      And thanks so much for your kind comments about my work :-)


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