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Hermes Parfums’ Earthly Delight

Terre d'Hermes, due out in March, is meant to be an olfactive embodiment of man. "He is an alchemist, who lives standing with his feet in the earth and his head in the stars," said Veronique Gautier, chief executive officer of Hermes Parfums.

PARIS – Terre d’Hermès, due out in March, is meant to be an olfactive embodiment of man.

“He is an alchemist, who lives standing with his feet in the earth and his head in the stars,” said Veronique Gautier, chief executive officer of Hermès Parfums. “He can transform what is rough into something refined.”

She likened “his” powers – and the men’s scent – to the artisanal process through which Hermès creates its luxury products.

The name Terre d’Hermès (Earth of Hermès, in English) was chosen since it harks back to “the beginning of everything,” said Gautier.

For the scent’s inspiration, Hermès in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena turned to the writings of French author Jean Giono.

“He is a man who loves the richness of nature,” said Ellena, who decided to create a vertical fragrance containing primarily vegetal and mineral notes. No musk notes are included.

“Musk creates a mask on the skin,” he explained, adding that without such a note, a person’s scent is evident. “So each time, the fragrance is unique.”

Terre d’Hermès contains a large amount of woody notes, including Atlas cedar. It’s also a mix of grapefruit, effervescent orange, gunflint, silex, pepper, baies roses, geranium leaves, patchouli, vetiver and balm of benzoin.

“It is a serene perfume,” said Ellena.

Added Gautier, “The juice is extremely elegant and sophisticated.”

For the creation of the glass fragrance bottle, Hermès tapped Philippe Mouquet, who works in-house creating belts, gloves and watches, among other items. His flacon, like the fragrance’s note structure, is vertical, with metal on the shoulders to “reflect the sky,” said Mouquet. The bottle’s base is cut into an “H” form, emblematic of Hermès, and even includes a flash of orange coloring. A twist of the collar reveals the actuator, which is modeled after a Hermès rivet.

A film advertisement for Terre d’Hermès was shot by English cinematographer Laurence Dunmore, whose first feature film, “The Libertine,” was released in 2004. The 40-, 30- and 20-second ads feature French actor Clement Sibony scooping up and then throwing sand that magically turns in the air from brown to the signature Hermès orange.

This story first appeared in the January 6, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Single- and double-page print ads, photographed by Brigitte Lacombe, picture Sibony in a desert landscape with the bottle and an orange cloud.

Both the film and the stills were created with Publicis & Nous.

A sampling campaign for Terre d’Hermès will include 2-ml. mini sprays plus 12.5-ml. and 5-ml. deluxe miniatures.

Terre d’Hermès joins other men’s scents, such as Rocabar, Equipage and Bel Ami in the house’s portfolio. The strongest seller among men in the overall stable, however, is Eau d’Orange Verte, a unisex fragrance.

Character-wise, Terre d’Hermès is most in tune with Eau de Marveilles, which was launched in March 2004. At the time of its introduction, Hermès executives called the whimsical scent – whose bottle is flecked with silver-colored stars and dots – “magical.”

Together, the two fragrances are meant to become a “true pillar” of Hermès Parfums’ business, said Gautier.

Although Hermès executives would not break out sales estimates for the new fragrance, industry sources believe Terre d’Hermès will ring up more than $22 million in retail volume worldwide in its first year. The scent is due to be launched first in March in Hermès stores and exclusively in some department stores, followed by an international rollout that will include the U.S., Europe, Asia, the Mideast and travel retail.

Highlights of a recent unveiling of the scent in the U.S. included an appearance by Matthew Modine. The actor discussed what he termed “lucky” and “unlucky” periods in his career and said ultimately the quality of a project depends on the director.

Modine was clear that Robert Altman is one of his favorites, having worked with him on the 1993 film “Short Cuts” and “Streamers,” the 1983 release.

“I used to wear musk when I was little,” said Modine, “but I found out it was made from [animals].”

He spoke of a pending project with Altman, Arthur Miller’s last play called “Resurrection Blues” slated to open at London’s Old Vic theater in March. The work is based on the notion, “What if the Messiah were to come back today?” said Modine.

He noted he’s still doing films, as well, including “Mary,” which won the Grand Prix at the Venice Film Festival; “Opa,” which was shot in Greece, and “Kettle of Fish,” a movie now in postproduction that also stars Gina Gershon.

The Terre d’Hermès lineup includes a 100-ml. eau de toilette spray for 60 euros, or $72.60; a 50-ml. edt spray for 48 euros, or $58; a 100-ml. aftershave lotion for 43 euros, or $52; a 100-ml. aftershave emulsion without alcohol for 39 euros, or $47.20; a 200-ml. shower gel for 24 euros, or $29; a 150-ml. spray deodorant for 25 euros, or $30.20, and a 75-ml. deodorant stick without alcohol for 22 euros, or $26.60.

Further, Hermès Parfums is preparing to introduce, among other products:

Eau des Merveilles sold with a book by Anna Galvada, called “Ma Bonne Etoile” (“My Lucky Star” in English). A 50-ml. bottle and book will go for 84 euros, or $101.50, and a 100-ml. version and book for 100 euros, or $120.90, in February.

Bottles containing 400 ml. of Hermès fragrances, except for Hermessence, ranging in price from 195 euros, or $235.70, to 295 euros, or $356.60, starting in April.

Calf leather cases to hold 24 Faubourg, Caleche, Eau d’Orange Verte, Concentrée d’Orange Verte, Bel Ami and Equipage scents. They will go for 96 euros, or $116, starting in April.

 
– With contributions from Ellen Groves