Hermès’s latest olfactory offering isn’t what you’d expect from a men’s fragrance. Instead, H24 forgoes the trappings of masculine stereotypes rendered by luxury brands—think either dark and brooding, or a bit too clean—and takes your nose on an unexpected journey as the scent settles on your skin. “I had to open up other, less predictable paths, to move away from the conventional woodiness of men’s scents,” says Hermès in-house perfumer Christine Nagel, who channeled mens artistic director Véronique Nichanian’s graceful balance of fluidity, proportion and material. “When I attend one of Véronique’s runway shows, I’m always struck by how I’m able to feel the texture, the very weave of the fabric, with my eyes.”
That same thinking applies to H24, the first men’s fragrance released by the French house since the enduringly popular Terre d’Hérmes debuted 15 years ago. But instead of cedar and grapefruit, a decidedly old-school mixture, H24 opts for an offbeat approach that isn’t afraid to dabble in artifice. As a starting point, Nagel chose clary sage—a dominant botanical noted for crisp inflections of hay and cut grass—alongside a highly distinctive amber base. “This variety is far more enveloping and more sensual than garden sage with its medicinal, camphor-infused accents,” says Nagel. “I was thinking of urban nature, the accelerated image of this fragile little shoot pushing through concrete to claim its space. I find the expression of this movement, this life force, enormously moving.”
Similar to a flower sprouting in the concrete, the clary sage is combined with tinges of narcissus absolute—a floral that exudes warm, delicately spiced fruity notes entwined with splashes of foliage. “I softened it without stripping it of its lively, electric character, by having it co-distilled with another material,” says Nagel, who won’t admit which one, but notes her newfound interest in experimenting with biotechnologies that enable the production of new molecules. “I like to go towards natural, very classic raw materials, and work them using technologies that give them other renderings, other textures.”
The third piece of H24’s puzzle lies in rosewood essence, which Nagel selected for its simple freshness. Her team sourced the botanical from Peruvian producers who harvest and replace the species in an eco-friendly way. The finale is delivered by what she bills as a molecule of the future: sclarene, a manmade compound that develops a sensually tinny tang reminiscent of hot irons on the damp woolen cloths in textile workshops.
Even the bottle feels like an artistic feat. Designed by Philippe Mouquet, the refillable container’s lithe, aerodynamic lines are meant to express “the spirit and vitality of a contemporary man”—perhaps one whose firm grip also subtly altered the glass’s texture. It comes packaged in a box made from 100 percent recycled and recyclable paper whose mineral grey color and lime green details nod to the ingredients inside.