How Master Perfumer Christine Nagel Creates Scents at Hermès

Nagel discusses exploring a softer sense of masculinity through new, nature-informed fragrance: H24 Herbes Vives.

Fashion
2,734 Hypes 0 Comments

Hermès has only launched two major men’s fragrances in the last 20 years, until now. After launching Terre d’Hermès, a staple fragrance that embodies power and vigor, in 2006, the house unveiled another signature, H24, in 2021. Formulated by Hermès perfumer Christine Nagel, H24 brought forth a reconsidered understanding of masculinity, informed by the contemporary, multifaceted man.

For this new scent embarkment, Nagel wanted to usher in a softness that starkly contrasted the woodier, spicy notes of Terre d’Hermès. Now, continuing upon this path of reinterpreting the modern Hermès man, Nagel has introduced another chapter to the H24 story in the form of a brand new men’s fragrance: Herbes Vives.

The third iteration of H24, H24 Herbes Vives continues Nagel’s mission of introducing brighter, plant-based ingredients to the Hermès scent universe — but it even takes her vision one step further. Implementing ingredients that are sometimes overlooked in the luxury fragrance world, such as unsuspecting parsley or sorel, Nagel emphasizes the beauty that can come from even the most mundane sources.

Hermès Head Perfumer on H24 Herbes Vives Nature-Inspired Fragrance

Hypebeast sat down with Christine Nagel before the release of H24 Herbes Vives to discuss her tactile approach to scent and how this new perspective aligns with the broader designer fragrance world.

Can you walk us through your process for developing H24 Herbes Vives?

The story of H24 and its creation is about taking vegetal elements, often a secondary ingredient, and making them the subject. This differs from what is commonly done for men’s fragrances because men’s notes are usually more woody. We usually imagine vegetal ingredients to be tender and that they cannot be the backbone for a men’s fragrance, but the field of possibilities with these ingredients is immense. During my second interpretation of H24, I wanted to focus on the qualities of these ingredients that can be seen as strong or powerful. I wanted to channel that experience of when you are in a place after the rain and the fragrances change, whether it’s in the city, in a forest, in a garden — once the rain has fallen, there’s a change in smell in the air. I was impressed by the power of the fragrance of aromatic plants such as savory sorel, hemp, and parsley. I knew right then that I felt like expressing that in H24.

For the first two H24 scents, I worked with an ingredient called sclarene which brought a metallic warmth to the fragrances. This time around, I worked with a new molecule called Physcool®. It’s slightly minty, but it brings a physical sensation of coolness when in contact with water. With this H24 scent, try to put it on a dry arm and then try putting it on a damp arm as well — the scent humidifies and you’ll find that it feels cooler. I like that physical sensation, which is slightly different and brings an edge to these simple herbs.

How did you encapsulate the unique style codes of the Hermès men’s fashion universe into this scent?

I have a very big responsibility because I have to put all the values of Hermès in a perfume bottle. I never forget that the perfume bottle is one of the first objects that somebody can actually buy if they like Hermès — it’s the accessible entry product. There is definitely a heightened attention to detail, to the quality of the raw materials, and the fact that I’m creating something timeless is super important to me. I worked a lot with Véronique Nichanian, who for over 25 years has been designing for the Hermès men’s ready-to-wear universe. Veronique loves to work with traditional materials like I do. We have a very cerebral way of working and it’s very tactile.

Hermès Head Perfumer on H24 Herbes Vives Nature-Inspired Fragrance

How did that tactile approach apply to this particular nature-inspired scent?

I have synesthesia, so I can associate a smell to a texture or a fragrance to a color. For H24, when I talk of green notes, these are green in color but also in scent. I love to mix different textures. For example, in this scent, parsley is one of the more evidently-textured ingredients. And then from there, it’s just a question of harmony and what notes complement each other.

Tell me how you balance the wearer’s wants or needs and your creative vision when developing signature scents. How do you know what wearers are looking for?

If I knew what they wanted, I’d be the queen of the world. I don’t really know what people are looking for, but I think harmony in perfume is indeed the formula. Harmony is obvious in Hermès and our products are very coherent. Overall, I don’t make perfume for one individual. I’m more in the order of emotion. When I feel an emotion, it gives me that desire to create. In this case, it was the powerful fragrance of these small aromatic herbs, which are normally so discreet, that inspired me. My work is to say, “Well, if I felt emotion, I can transmit it through my perfume so that somebody else feels it,” and if I can do that, then I’ve succeeded. It doesn’t matter who wears it; it’s important that that person be touched when they wear it.

How do you create scents that occupy their own lane within the wider designer fragrance world?

Contrary to other houses, I’m totally free to work and see my vision through. When I finish my perfume, I present my perfume and tell the story to Pierre-Alexis Dumas. Then we start looking for a name, the color of the packaging, the bottle design starts — so the starting point is always the scent. And the bottle will always beautifully pair with each unique scent because it is made as a function of the fragrance.

Hermès Head Perfumer on H24 Herbes Vives Nature-Inspired Fragrance

How does this new scent expand upon the Hermès perfume catalog?

I love attracting attention to very common ingredients, but from another vantage point. It’s all about how you look at something, and granting a new perspective. I love simplicity, and I often use that as a baseline for many of my scents because I think simplicity is very Hermès.

This scent sets out to capture the duality of the “man who is at home in urban nature.” What does that mean to you?

When I see young men around me, that’s how they are. They’re urban. But at the same time, even if based in a city, the contemporary man has that attraction to the natural and the outdoors. The aim is to create, aesthetically, something that balances them. That’s the magic of my profession. By proposing this H24 olfactory family and using vegetal notes as a base, I think it counters all these very woody scents that exist on the market quite well.

What do you want people to feel when they wear this scent?

Fragrance is something that touches everyone in very different, intimate ways, so it can take people to all kinds of places. I think that, personally, this fragrance is something very joyful, in this period of time which has been rather morose. I think this natural side and this simplicity is comforting. It’s something clear, elegant, and fresh.

Read Full Article

What to Read Next

Han Kjøbenhavn's FW24 "SILENCE" Runway Show Was Loud and Clear
Fashion

Han Kjøbenhavn's FW24 "SILENCE" Runway Show Was Loud and Clear

Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen recalled his adolescence at local sports clubs and closed Copenhagen Fashion Week with the best reveal of FW24.

First 'Squid Game 2' Teaser Sees Player 456 Face New Challenges
Entertainment

First 'Squid Game 2' Teaser Sees Player 456 Face New Challenges

Netflix’s most-watched series will return later this year.

Vanessa Bryant Shares a Nike Kobe 6 Protro "Dodgers" PE
Footwear

Vanessa Bryant Shares a Nike Kobe 6 Protro "Dodgers" PE

One of many exclusives that she has revealed this week.

Update: Lewis Hamilton Officially Joins Ferrari for 2025 Formula 1 Season
Sports 

Update: Lewis Hamilton Officially Joins Ferrari for 2025 Formula 1 Season

“The time is right for me to take this step and I’m excited to be taking on a new challenge,” Hamilton said in a statement.

Don Toliver Samples Tame Impala on "Bandit"
Music

Don Toliver Samples Tame Impala on "Bandit"

The rapper’s first track since releasing ‘Love Sick’ last year.


Hypebeast Visits: Ouigi Theodore Shows Us His Jack Daniel's Tennessee Apple Classic Remix Capsule
Fashion 

Hypebeast Visits: Ouigi Theodore Shows Us His Jack Daniel's Tennessee Apple Classic Remix Capsule

Presented by Jack Daniel's Tennessee Apple
Theodore takes us inside The Brooklyn Circus store to share stories and tells us how the Season 4 collection came about.

Artists Rashid Johnson and Joel Mesler Created Promo Merch for Upcoming New York Mets Season
Art

Artists Rashid Johnson and Joel Mesler Created Promo Merch for Upcoming New York Mets Season

Eager fans should pencil in May 25 and July 13 on their calendars.

Billy Joel Drops First New New Song in 17 Years, "Turn the Lights Back On"
Music

Billy Joel Drops First New New Song in 17 Years, "Turn the Lights Back On"

Produced by pop’s Freddy Wexler.

Official Images of the adidas AE1 "Best of Adi"
Footwear

Official Images of the adidas AE1 "Best of Adi"

Offering a “Stormtrooper”-esque finish for Anthony Edwards’ first signature shoe.

ScHoolboy Q Announces 'Blue Lips,' First Album in Five Years
Music

ScHoolboy Q Announces 'Blue Lips,' First Album in Five Years

Revealing the tracklist in the trailer.

More ▾
 
We got you covered. Don’t miss out on the latest news by signing up for our newsletters.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.