The idea of a perfume taking you on a trip has been a cliché for quite some time, so when you encounter a new creation which dares to call itself Voyage, you can't help but raise your eyebrows and wonder if this isn't tempting the gods of disdain just a little too much. But the top notch pedigree of this new release - the nose responsible for it is Jean-Claude Ellena, whose place amongst the greats of perfumery is secure - persuades you to push aside any prejudices and take the first sniff with a clear head.
Voyage d'Hermès opens with an immediate, gently bracing freshness: green citrus notes - most notably a delicious lime - smile their way into the air around you, followed by a hint of Ellena's trademark glassy, white musks. Then comes the most interesting part: there's a burst of mango peel, which leads to a scattering of fenugreek, which is then followed by shavings of unostentatious woods, after which a spicy sweetness starts making its presence felt, only to be countered by what comes across to me as the elegant dryness of saffron. Those who take an interest in M Ellena's work will probably enjoy a wry chuckle at this point, because, as has already been pointed out by several other reviewers (see http://jaimeleparfum.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/review-voyage-dhermes/) the voyage with which we're being presented is essentially a hop from one Ellena fragrance to another, with extended stays in his Jardin scents. The final destination is, unsurprisingly, the land of the aforementioned musks. This is perhaps something of a let down after the excitement of the first few minutes, and you do spend several moments wondering whether you've really arrived or you're stuck in some waiting lounge somewhere. But after a short while, you realise that, wherever they may be, your surroundings are impeccably elegant - if slightly bloodless - so you shrug your shoulders and just sit back and relax.
Voyage is marketed as a unisex scent and whilst its classically sleek, luggage-tag-shaped bottle is suitably non-gender-specific, I wonder if Hermès shouldn't have stuck their leathered necks out on the line and declared it an all-out masculine. The move might have aligned the fragrance a little out of the 'safe' territory it seems to want to inhabit and it would probably have made it a more intriguing addition to the market. Still, it's a solid piece of work and will no doubt prove popular to those who don't wish to attract too much attention to themselves. I just happen to prefer voyages that kick up a little more dust.
[Review based on a sample of eau de toilette obtained in 2010; fragrance tested on skin.]