Created with a youthful, independent spirit in mind, Twilly d’Hermès has enchanted fragrance enthusiasts since its debut in 2017, with a second iteration, Twilly d’Hermès Eau Poivrée, following soon afterwards. Now the legacy continues with the new Twilly d’Hermès Eau Ginger, which boasts three materials: bold peony, deep cedar, and unexpected addition of candied ginger. Here, in-house perfumer for Hermès Christine Nagel reveals the creative process for her latest scent, where she finds inspiration, and the importance of fragrances.
When did you know you wanted to become a perfumer?
“After studying chemistry, I started working in a research lab for a company called Firmenich. And from my research lab window, I saw the first perfumer in my life. We got to see him presenting his creations to other people, and I began to realize he was exchanging a lot of emotions and was able to intrigue others.
“But as it happens, I wasn’t from Grasse, I wasn’t the daughter of a perfumer, and I was a woman. So there were lots of things holding me back, lots of impediments. But I felt it so strongly that I would work hard—really hard—for my way in so I could get into this business! There were obstacles, but I wanted to get there. I had such a desire that I managed.”
You joined Hermès in 2014 as perfume creator and in 2016 became the lead perfumer. How did it feel to join such an iconic and well respected Maison in a lead role?
“I was never given time previously, I worked with really clear timelines in the past. However, at Hermès, we’re given time for the creative process. They respect the creative people in a wonderful way! Axel Dumas said to me one day, ‘Christine, continue being bold and daring. With no daringness, there’s no such thing as creation.’ I think that’s pretty wonderful, but he also added ‘I would rather for you to make a mistake by being bold, rather than just making a mistake or just following along with the other guys.’ No one had ever said anything to me like that in the past, that’s the best possible gift. Of course, I don’t want to make any mistakes, but it’s quite wonderful to have that kind of support creatively.”
Where do you draw inspiration when creating a Hermès fragrance?
“I don’t have any recipe. If I had a recipe, I would use it every single day. But I would say there’s a blend of many different things. First of all, there’s my own personality, my sense of curiosity. And when something strikes me or impacts me, it immediately turns into a fragrance in my mind; it starts with my heart.
“For example, when I was creating Twilly, I talked with Pierre-Alexis about something that struck me, which is that young women today—even the very modern ones—love Hermès clothes and values. And when they’re fortunate enough to be given a scarf that their mother or grandmother wore, they would twist it and style it in their own way. They’d turn it into a bandana, a bag, they’ll use it as a top. They take ownership of our clothes and turn them into something else. I found that very creative and it gave me pause, I thought maybe this is a way for me to approach fragrance, an entry point for someone who loves Hermès clothes.”
Twilly d’Hermès Eau Ginger is the third fragrance to join the Twilly d’Hermès tribe. What was the inspiration behind using ginger and how does this fragrance differ from the other two in the collection?
“I think ginger is really a light motif, a guiding thread in the Twilly family, and it’s almost candied. The first two, they are treated strictly, and they had to breakdown those doors. Twilly d’Hermès Eau Ginger has more freedom, she’s more carefree, often more joyful, and things come easier to her. She can be irreverent.
“For Twilly d’Hermès Eau Ginger, we also used peonies, which is called a mute flower. It’s called mute because even though it is still fragrant, you can’t capture its fragrance in an essence. If you look at a peony, it’s often got a fairly big bud and when it opens up, it becomes just a huge, magnificent flower, and yet it’s very light. It has very light petals, almost like lace. So, the freshness of a peony was interesting to work with. To bring it together with the almost candied type of ginger. You need a backbone as well, which why I selected cedar. In my mind, this represented the joyfulness of living, the zest for life.”
Fragrances are such an important part of a well-rounded beauty routine. Why do you think they’re still so integral to balanced lifestyle?
“Every human being isn’t going to have the same relationship to perfume. Some people will approach perfume in a very intimate way, just for themselves—it’s something very personal for them. Other people like a perfume with a trail that’s a little bit wider, a scent that’s for themselves, but also for people who come close to them. And there are other people who like a perfume that is really a lot more out there, a lot broader, that goes way beyond the sphere—these are people who are trying to make a statement.
“Now, there’s another factor today, the question we’re wondering about—the sense of smell precisely in today’s context. We’ve begun to realize the importance of the sense of smell. We’ve understood it as a sense we have to protect and possibly customers will become even more demanding of perfumes in the future. I hope they’ll set the bar even higher. So, I think there was a pre-COVID and post-COVID, and it’s going to have a real impact on smell, and fragrances.”
Discover more about Twilly d’Hermès Eau Ginger here.