Siwa was part of a breathtaking Memo Paris discovery set that was included in my Sniffapalooza goodie bag. I oohed, aahed, and promptly forgot about it. For two years. Please, hold your applause.
Siwa is a little tricky to explain. It’s a floral with a lot of vanilla, but it’s not a sweet floral. Instead, it’s a fresh, lush narcissus fragrance and a vanilla fragrance. The two components don’t combine or interact; you experience both at the same time. It’s a very cool effect! Sadly, Siwa’s more dramatic listed notes (whiskey lactone and popcorn accord) are completely undetectable. The only comparison I can think of is Hermessence Vanille Galante, but Vanille Galante is sweeter, more blended. Oh, and Cartier Baiser Volé, but Baiser Volé smells much more artificial.
Siwa is really quite lovely, but there are two major problems. First is lasting power. Siwa has the worst lasting power of any fragrance that I’ve ever tried in my life. It was gone from my skin in literally 20 minutes. At the $210 price point, that’s pretty inexcusable. Which brings us to Problem 2. $210 for 75 ml isn’t unprecedented for niche perfumery, but if I’m spending more than $200, I would probably just go for the Hermessence ($255/100 ml).
So this post was supposed to be about the Diptyque sample sale, but then I totally slept through it. That happens a lot lately. I’m now working full-time at MiN New York, and most nights I get home stupid tired and genuinely excited to fall asleep at 9:30 PM. I just bought a book of smoothie recipes because sometimes I’m too tired to chew, which is exactly as pathetic as it sounds.
Last week I stayed awake long enough to visit the Central Park Zoo. I wanted to see the new snow leopard cubs, which are probably super adorable when they are not hiding behind large rocks. And then the red panda exhibit was closed! I think I have bad zoo karma from all of those times I unleashed tigers on unsuspecting zoo-goers in Sim City: Zoo Tycoon. The Central Park Zoo is just a few blocks away from the Hermes boutique, so I decided to stop in and try the newest Hermessence.
We all know the Epice Marine story by now: it’s a collaboration between perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena and fancypants chef Olivier Roellinger. Epice Marine is very Jean-Claude. This salty, savory fragrance is so polished that you barely notice just how unusual the notes (toasted cumin, hazelnuts, “sea notes”, whiskey) are. I’ve never tasted the star ingredient, toasted cumin, but the spices in Epice Marine have a very Middle Eastern feel to me. The salty effect is familiar from perfumes like Heeley Sel Marin and The Different Company’s Sel du Vetiver, but Epice Marine is by far the most refined variation on this theme.
With my sweet tooth, Epice Marine isn’t something I’d be likely to wear myself. But I’d be perfectly happy to smell this quietly creative perfume on Hermes lovers.