Hermès : 24 Faubourg

Created by : Maurice Roucel

Date : 1995

Genre : White floral

Concentration : eau de toilette

24 Faubourg was not of its time when it was created by Maurice Roucel.  It speaks directly to mid-century symphonic forals like Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps (1948) and Diorissimo (1956).   When I wear it, I just get this Grace Kelly image that is unshakable.  Although it came out in the 90s, 24 Faubourg has a pre-sexual revolution, “ladies who lunch”  feel to it.

Now, if you like orange-blossom-jasmine accords, you might like this one.  Its opening is beautiful and although it’s not an amber, it has an ambery feel to it… some sweet note that helps fill in its angular composition.  I have the eau de toilette but I noticed at the perfume counter that the eau de parfum with its iris note is much superior and in fact, almost smells like a different perfume.  If you like this genre, do yourself a favour and test the eau de parfum… it will be worth the extra dollars.

Luca Turin blames 24 Faubourg’s shortcomings on its overly-synthetic make-up and I’m inclined to agree.  It just feels like it’s missing flesh.  Again, if you want to try it, go for the edp with its iris note which makes it feel richer.  The eau de toilette smells thin and sometimes sounds shrill.

While testing 24 Faubourg, I put it up against Serge Lutens Fleurs d’oranger and it started out twice as beautiful but at times during the test, I actually preferred Fleurs d’oranger… and I’m not a fan of FdO.  But the ending belongs to 24 Faubourg because of a clean soapy note, which I loved.

I have a feeling that 24 Faubourg might have been tampered with… you know when you see something that you just KNOW must have been spectacular during its time but now is neglected and sad.  Havana comes to mind.  That’s the impression I get with this one.

24 Faubourg comes close… but no Cohiba.

DISCLAIMER : I’m not an orange blossom kind of guy.  And so… I don’t want to be overly critical and I would encourage anyone looking for a white floral to give 24 Faubourg a chance.  It might appeal to you.



Top image : Grace Kelly wedding photo (1956)

Bottom image : Havana staircase

Serge Lutens : Fleurs d’oranger

Created by : Christopher Sheldrake

Date : 1995

Genre : White floral

Concentration : eau de parfum

The last time I saw an opera with Gaston I remarked on how good the soprano was.  He responded without hesitation, “Aaaaah… good sopranos are a dime a dozen.  It’s good tenors which are hard to find!”  And you know… that’s how I feel about good white florals which, for me, are the Holy Grail of perfumery.  There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of white florals but the really good ones are rare.  The great ones can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

I did two informal workshops this past week and despite the beautiful chypres and warm ambers, it was Fleurs d’oranger that drew the most attention.  I’ve had Fd’o in my collection for several months and I never paid much attention to it but after hearing the “oohs” and “aahs”, I figured it was time to sit down and review it.

I still remember the evening I bought it.  I had 5 Serge Lutens scent strips in front of me… Féminité du bois, À la nuit, Chergui, Serge noire and Fleurs d’oranger.  I walked out with Fd’o and, after having tested it, it wasn’t a wise choice.

Fleurs d’oranger starts out very beautifully… a symphonic white floral with notes of jasmine, tuberose and the blossoms of the mock orange hedge that separated my dad’s house from the neighbour.  No doubt about it, it has wow factor!  It pulled me in… and kept me sniffing the scent strip over and over again.  It was the same when I road-tested it… for the first 30 minutes… and then it just got to be annoying.  Fleurs d’oranger had morphed into a shrill, synthetic and fleshless floral… reminiscent of those Pre-Raphaelite beauties which seem to hover between life and death.  Stunning… but I’m not sure I’d want to have one as a next-door neighbour.  They always look like they are about to poison someone, if not themselves.  The drydown was tolerable, but just.

Fleurs d’oranger might have made a better amber, Serge Lutens’ specialty, but as a strict floral, its register is too high and too monophonic.  Think of a sopranos-only choir… beautiful for a song or two but then… can we have a few altos and maybe a tenor or two?

In retrospect, I agree with Gaston… good tenors are rare… as are good white florals.

Image : The Damsel of the Holy Grail (1874) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti


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