Shop Your Fragrance Wardrobe Shop Your Fragrance Wardrobe: Hermes 24 Faubourg

Shop Your Fragrance Wardrobe: Hermes 24 Faubourg

02/17/16 08:56:42 (16 comments)

by: Elena Vosnaki

This is the third article in the new series on Fragrantica, "Shop Your Fragrance Wardrobe", in which our writers will explore fragrances they've owned for some time but seldom wear. Will an old favorite be "rediscovered" and fallen in love with all over again? Will the writers find their preferences have changed with time and experience? Join us for the journey and share your experiences of revisiting old favorites. 

Much like my colleague Jodi Battershell who revisited her Jardins de Bagatelle by Guerlain for the "Shop Your Fragrance Wardrobe" challenge, as well as Bella for Samsara, I have been neglecting certain parts of my vast collection. Do I hear a collective chirping of crickets? "Who cares what you have been neglecting, lady?" Oh, but you should pay a bit of attention because apart from skeletons in our closets, we all share many worthwhile scents that are just aching to come out and play without scaring the horses; it's a mystery why we don't use them up! But investigating why we don't might explain some things and coach us to make better use of them. In times of more frugal living, this is wisdom. 

From the 2012 campaign shot on Aegina island in Greece, at the feet of the oldest olive tree

 

24, Faubourg by Hermès is my own neglected fragrance. The reason? Even though I like it a lot and recognize that it is a realistically gorgeous fragrance (meaning, its artistic merit surpasses any personal fondness) I always viewed it as aspirational-bourgeois-on-steroids. 

Don't get me wrong.

Hermès stands as perhaps the most luxurious and chic of the great French brands and I love everything and anything I have by them, be it perfume or accessory; it's quality and good taste. The fact that they have withstood aggressive take-overs and kept it a family house speaks volumes about how they see luxury. There's the added fact that they have significantly downplayed the "luxe" exterior in their fragrances going for sparser, subtracting, less affluence exhibitionist forays into perfume (in great degree thanks to in-house perfumer Jean Claude Ellena, whose sparseness of style has defined a new epoch for both the house and for perfumery in general). 

But 24, Faubourg comes from a prior era, I hear you cry. 

Yes, it does. And it smells like it! 

Named after the famed "faux bourg" rue of Faubourg Saint-Honoré in the 8eme arrondisement in Paris, where the headquarters of the Dumas-family luxury house are situated, 24, Faubourg was immersed in luxury from the very beginning; to the manor born.

Like many perfume lovers I'm not averse to luxury per se. Luxury and luxuria pose an interesting thought; luxuria is the Latin name for...lust. One of the 7 deadly sins. Luxury lovers do lust over the objects of their desire, do they not?  Desire is sparked by lack. Lack creates eros, the urge to fill the lack, the platonic ideal of uniting two parts that once made a whole. It's a metaphorical concept. Explains why brands keep us on our toes searching for the part that's missing!

In rebelliousness against social class and perhaps due to anti-snobbism on my part (or is it just plain snobbism in reverse, I sometimes wonder?) I have refrained from conscious overt exhibition of the insignia of wealth and embracing the lowly and the humble on purpose. Look at that drugstore item, isn't it fabulous? And that Zara fragrance at a fraction of the cost of a designer one, yet made by Puig just the same? Who needs logos and frou frou, it's the quality in things that matters. The axiom of Coco Chanel has always guided me. It'd be quite inelegant to hang a 50 carat diamond from one's neck, as surely as it'd be gauche to hang a check from it. So why indulge in the luxuria of capitalism? Wanting more, exhibiting more? 

I have been perfectly happy going for my esoteric woody incenses for everyday wear. People usually don't even ascribe the aromas emanating from my humble person as "perfume", even when they like them. It's not like Coco Mademoiselle, "hey, you're wearing perfume". I suppose it's like I just left Vespers or something or have been spending a lot of time at the library, which is not unusual come to think of it. I'm also big on white florals and on spicy orientals, though these have a harder time passing under the radar of "perfume awareness". Not that it really bothers me if they do make people notice. After all, many a time a potent scent has sparked an interesting conversation. People united by scent are people united at breath, it's a powerful connection. 

 

24, Faubourg has that tinge of bourgeois aspirational lust and smells like perfume, make no mistake about it. Lust for bigger and better things. Lust for MORE. It inspires a sense of gluttony, much like the soft contours of its creator, Maurice Roucel, suggest an indulgence in the pleasures of the table. What would the pleasure-seeking Medieval writers of Carmina Burana think?

And indeed, much like that other gorgeous floriental I also happen to find incredible, Boucheron pour femme that is, it's all about the MORE. No Mies van der Rohe here. The Ellena period has not begat its spartan fruit yet. 

The scent of 24, Faubourg is floral, undeniably floral, white floral drenched in honeyed tones, to be exact, not just "a floral".  It's the floral to end all florals, and yet it's not only floral. In its elaborate, Byzantine bouquet I can detect resins, balsams, fruit (fuzzy peaches and tangy citruses), a soft powderiness of orris, some wood, something intangible, something aching to overreach...Sounds like everything and the kitchen sink (same thought with the Boucheron) and yet it is not that in effect. Instead, a perfectly judged, lush, satisfying, calorific, dare I say it, yes, I will, RICH effect comes out of that lovely bottle shaped like a carré silk scarf that the Dumas house is famous the world over for. 

Although the orange blossom and the jasmine and the (rather less copious in the mix) gardenia owe as much to analytical chemistry as they owe to nature's laboratory, the experience feels like a silken thread woven by some exotic insect with beautiful wings in an engulfing tropical greenhouse. 

The allusion to the sun is nowhere more evident than in the advertising images which reflect the golden, ambery aura of the scent. I wrote before that "solar notes" stand for warmth and luminosity and although this is not especially salicylates-focused, it does smell snuggly and jovial and reminiscent of the touch of the sun. 

Should silk scarves in vivacious colors that brighten up early spring days not stain from spraying fragrant liquid directly onto them, 24, Faubourg would be the natural thing to adorn their polished sheen with. The smell is graceful, tightly woven, solid in one's grasp, with a sheen that radiates almost optically...well, it feels silken really!

The extrait de parfum concentration is even lusher and cognac-like in its hue than my own eau de parfum bottle. The eau de toilette, despite being further diluted, still feels condensed and solid. A far cry from the mainstream market average and possibly a remnant from the time of its conception, the early 1990s. 

The design of the bottle is not coincidentally shaped like a silk carré, with a beautiful overlay of graphic design resembling the work done for the famous scarves by Hermès. The matte gold cap and spray mechanism is pure class. The limited editions are equally beautiful, each time reprising a motif of the house. 

 

Bottom line:

Reacquainting myself with it I feel like I have been stupidly missing on a great gem. Why did I overlook this while I was wearing the comparable concept of Boucheron Femme? Maybe I was too blinded by taking Hermès for a known commodity, a big luxury house, in my perfume journey. Clearly an error on my part. I stand corrected. 

 

Of course, dear readers, we'd love to hear your side of the story. Do you have any special memories connected to 24 Faubourg? Do you have a similar situation with a fragrance that you recently rediscovered? Or do you find you really never go back once you walked away? We'd love to hear from you in the Comments!

 

Elena Vosnaki

Elena Vosnaki is a historian and perfume writer from Greece and a Writer for Fragrantica. She is the founder and editor of Perfume Shrine, one of the most respected independent online publications on perfume containing fragrance reviews, industry interviews, essays on raw materials and perfume history, a winner in Fragrantica Blog Awards and a finalist in numerous blog awards contests.

Her writing was recognized at the Fifi Awards for Editorial Excellence in 2009 and 2011. She contributes to publications around the world.

 
 

 



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Jez
Jez

Interestingly enough, I just bought samples of 24 Hermes Faubourg and Hermes Un Jardin Sur Le Nile. I've never smelled either of them in real life, but am certainly looking forward to experiencing these fragrances. I am in my early thirties, and wanted a sophisticated and classy scent, but I am a little worried that this might be a bit mature for me... we shall see...

Mar
21
2016
Yasir Shahbaz
Yasir Shahbaz

I do not have this fragrance, but i find it beautiful

Mar
20
2016
Jernê Knowles
Jernê Knowles

Super agree with Elena when he says that 24 Faubourg Hermès is a perfume for special occasions. Not for all times using this perfume, not, something is calibrated for a single moment that piece 24 Faubourg.

I have a 24 Faubourg EDP here hyper leaning for centuries... I do not have occasions for him or blame Vonaski having left her leaning for ages because to understand the difficulty we have to wear this fragrance so sublime.

P.S.: The issue of Carré scarves luxury was a lesson in pure even lust; died and NOT know! Note 10 to the article, beautiful to live up to the death!

Feb
22
2016
LadyPilot
LadyPilot

I'm in the process of getting to enjoy it, not yet ready to buy it. The thing is, I love its aura of classic elegance, feminity, luxury that 24 Farbourg casts but the initial blast of white-floral/aldehydic notes just hits me in the face and knocks me down every time I try to test/use it. Unbareable. It's only after half an hour that the true, timeless chypre/floral beauty comes out onto the surface. I had a similar situation with Shalimar for many years - I couldn't stand the opening notes, but I loved the drydown. Now I'm a happy owner of Shalimar and I'm sure one day I'll be ready to win my battle of 24 Farbourg. I'll surely get a 50ml EDT bottle and use it sparingly but with great joy and pride. My time hasn't come yet though.

Feb
21
2016
nero77
nero77

If ever there was a wedding day scent. I mean if ever... this would be it.

First time I tried this it knocked me off my feet. I immediately bought a bottle for someone very very dear to me. I'm no expert on female perfumes, but this is surely one of the best ever created. A favourite of Princess Diana, and just a dazzling gorgeous perfume! Wearing this I could see a woman feeling like the most adored person in the world...

Feb
21
2016
alchimia72
alchimia72

This fragrance is the last fragrance my father asked me to buy for my mother. This is one of the most elegant fragrance I know. She weared it her last Christmas. She loved it and when she finished it she asked me to buy it again. After one month she died. I save this bottle together with my bottles and sometimes I use it to inhale one of the last scents of my mother. This one with Organza are my mother's scent. This my memory about this fragrance.

Feb
20
2016
shalimaraddict
shalimaraddict

I love 24 Faubourg! I am not a huge Hermes fan, but this scent is wonderful! It's very rich and spicy, very classy. I think it is unisex too!

Feb
20
2016
Fadoluisi
Fadoluisi

Wow! Loved this article. Really love your writing Elena. One fragrance that I neglected is DKNY men. Neglected it because my ex didn´t like the smell. It reminded him of HIS ex. Oh love and fragrance such an interesting mix. Need to return to it.

Feb
19
2016
Eurochic
Eurochic

24, Faubourg was my signature for almost 8 years. People recognized my scent, friends sometimes asked me if they could imitate me and buy it too. Still one of the best, and yet like you, I've neglected it. Maybe it's time to take it out again. I still have my extrait and half a bottle of EDP.

Feb
19
2016
NebraskaLovesScent
NebraskaLovesScent

Lovely writing, Elena, and I'm glad you found 24 Faubourg to your liking again. To my nose, Hermes scents have an amazing way of remaining classic but never smelling dated.

Feb
18
2016
Filomena1941
Filomena1941

I loved this scent so much when it came out, that I bought several back-ups of the EDT and EDP. I also had a bottle of the pure perfume. At that time in my life I had a lot of events to attend and 24 Faubourg was one of the perfumes I wore to them. Now everything I do socially is extremely casual. It seems like I stopped wearing it during the past 10 years. However, last year it called to me and I started wearing it again. I still have a couple of unopened boxes of the EDT and EDP and there is at least a half a bottle of the perfume left--it has not turned bad after all these years and neither have the EDT and EDP opened bottles.

Feb
17
2016
woodlandwalk
woodlandwalk

Interesting, well informed article as always Elena

I get around the 'aspiring to luxury' angle by telling myself it's art - the perfume and the bottle design. It's the marketing of perfume that tends to focus on the luxury or snob appeal angle I feel. It's amusing - the link you point out between luxury and lust, since let's face it most of us here are guilty of voracious acquisitiveness when it comes to perfume!

I think it's also interesting to compare the way the art market works to the marketing of perfume - those posh art auction houses, the whole rarified atmosphere (when in recent decades, Christies or Sothebys have been found guilty of third party illicit trading from the 3rd world!). To me, rearranging smells into a new idea, mood etc is not so much different from rearranging colours, lines and tones into a composition in a painting.

Now that perfume is incorporated more and more into art installations or exhibitions perfume can also be conceptual I suppose.

Anyway, waffle aside, I agree with your take on 24 Faubourg - aspirational and dificult to wear for that reason, but it's undeniably lovely too, and I like the unashamed good old'perfuminess' of it, but sadly I also know the associations that sort of scent has in some people's minds. One to wear at home I suppose, until a suitably bourgeois wedding or event comes along - I might dislike a snooty event, but at least I'd get to enjoy the perfume!

Feb
17
2016
Bajar
Bajar

I really enjoyed your article, Elena, and I couldn't agree more about the connection between lust and luxury. I love a lot of Hermes' perfumes although I show a special preference for the green ones.
But Faubourg is something else. I tested it 15 years ago and I fall in love with it instantly. That day that I tested it on my neck I experienced all the feelings you mentioned above, from the most innocent to the most sinful. Finally the next day and full in enthusiasm I purchased a big bottle! For my mother! Why? I think that I would call it "fear". How is it possible to be afraid of a perfume you like? Was I too young for a bold fragrance like this? Yes, but that never stopped me of wearing Montana, Parfum de Peau or Aromatics Elixir in my high school years in any occasion. Was it too expensive for a basic-wage girl? Yes but so were they all the Estee Lauder foundations, the Dior mascaras and the Clarins moisturizers I was eagerly using up (and never stopped to). So, what was it? Just fear of comments, especially those coming from my social- friendly environment! It's ridiculous, I know, but that era, in 2000, I felt that wearing a perfume like that in the age of 25 it was like moving my self around having huge labels hanged on me with all the "negatives" you mentioned above plus vanity and yes, I'll say it, nostalgia. I was terrified at the idea of listening to the phrase "You smell like an old lady with red lips and a fur coat". Tragic thought! So, the best solution was to offer it as a gift to my mother. She loved it, she received a tone of compliments every time she wore it, she asked me to buy her one more bottle and one more, again and again until she was bored of it (and now she wears O de Lancome!). She gave me the last bottle of them half-full and I gladly accepted and I wear it.
After all these years of trying and wearing fragrances massively and learning about them and their impact to someone's mood, I have no fears anymore and no reason to hide my feelings. Yes, Faubourg has a (very) nostalgic vibe and a rich, lush and look-at-my-new-Harry-Winston-ring effect but I love it and for me this is the only thing that matters. (And at this point I realize that a new subject arises: Is it polite to wear a perfume that our friends hate?)
Thank you again for the article.

PS. The campaign shot in Aegina is a piece of art (for all the reasons you can think)!

Feb
17
2016
ntabassum92
ntabassum92

I LOVE this fragrance!! I have a funny memory of when I first tried this fragrance - I was at Sephora getting samples to try, and I had picked out My Burberry, Hypnotic Poison, and 24 Faubourg to try. The sales associate was helping me and she was exclaiming how we had the same fragrance taste until we got to the 24 Faubourg, and then she wrinkled her nose once she smelled it. I chuckled and pretended like I was getting it for my mother...I'm so ashamed! I should have said loud and proud that I wanted it for myself - because it is BEAUTIFUL! At least I wore it loud and proud after that ;)

Feb
17
2016
hills by the sea
hills by the sea

Interesting viewpoint on 24 Faubourg. I had a bottle of the EDT concentration several years ago, and ended up swapping it since it sat for too long in the back of my closet, unworn. About a month ago, I suddenly wanted it back in my life and am now the happy owner of a bottle of the silk scarf edition.

Why did I not wear it much when I originally had it? For me, its simply because I see 24 Faubourg as my formal perfume - the one I would wear to more formal events rather than casual ones. Since these events don't occur very often in my life, my 24 Faubourg does not get used as much. And that is okay. Its like that special pair of stiletto heels or black silk dress that one wears only on certain occasions. But we need them in our closet. 24 Faubourg fills that slot for me. It smells lovely - rich and formal. But I just could not wear it everyday.

I hear that the current version available is not as dense as the older bottles so perhaps the modern version can be used as an everyday perfume? I will have to try it out again and see.

I also wanted to say I am enjoying the articles in this series so please do keep them coming.

Feb
17
2016
Thesheppardswife
Thesheppardswife

24 Faubourg is in my top 5. If I could commit myself to a signature scent, this would be it. I have tried many other Hermes frags in the last year and none of them appeal to me. This may be the only frag from the Hermes stable that I love, but one big love makes up for the other dislikes. 24 Faubourg will never end up neglected or forgotten in my home.

Feb
17
2016

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