It’s a gloomy, rain-soaked day as guests gather for the launch of the latest addition to the Hermès Cologne line, but all of that is immediately neutralized upon stepping into the lunch room. Pots and bowls filled with limes and lemon trees are distributed on either side of a single long table, lending the surroundings a cheery and sunny vibe. “We couldn’t find any actual lemon trees,” explained Hermès Philippines Country Manager Mario Katigbak, “and so I asked them to sew the lemons and limes on to each branch!”
Of course, such lavish attention to detail was completely expected. Curiously, though, the actual fruit that is the true inspiration for the new fragrance is nowhere in sight. Eau de citron noir takes its name from the black lime, a prominent ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine. It is created by boiling a green lime in saltwater before drying it for hours under the sun, producing a flavor that is more pungent than sweet. And so a first whiff of what you anticipate to be a fruity fragrance results in something new entirely: a scent that is instead smoky and complex and rich.
“Following a path through the olfactory universe of hesperidia led me into a vast world, dotted with surprises,” said the perfumer behind this scent, Christine Nagel. “So many unusual varieties of citrus appealed to me, but it was the smoky and distinguished black lime that finally stood out as the key note.” The ingredients of lemon, lemon blossom, and Buddha’s hand citron are steeped in black tea, creating a woody and intense flavor. In its dark blue bottle, citron noir has been described as the “midday-to-midnight Cologne,” and it’s certainly not the average citrus fragrance you might come to expect. Fresh yet enduring, subtle yet deep, the black lime itself is a study in contrasts, a paradoxical fruit… much like that surprising burst of sunshine on an otherwise stormy day.
Greenbelt 3, Makati; hermes.com