Pierre Guillaume is seemingly ever in motion as he moves from one collection to the next. One of my favorites is the one he started in 2010 called Huitieme Art. The concept is to showcase a new raw material or accord. It has been a consistently evolving enterprise over the last five years. The thirteenth release called Shermine is a great example of what I admire about this collection.
M. Guillaume’s brief for Shermine was “Fourrure D’Iris” which translates to “Iris like Fur”. Before I ever got a sniff that had me interested. Even the name reflects this as it is a portmanteau of the last letter of iris and ermine. He mentions in the press release that this is a “materials-driven” fragrance. Most of the time when you can see the architecture in such a severe way it leads to something a bit sterile. What keeps this from happening in Shermine is that the material, or more properly accord, which is doing the driving is anything but reserved.
Shermine opens on an alternating piquant and bright top accord of lemon and pepper. The note wrinkling nature of the pepper prepares the stage for the “iris fur” accord. M. Guillaume has built this on a foundation of iris mixed with rosewood, cardamom, and lavender. This is a fabulous artifact of the perfumer’s skill. The iris is in a fur coat. That mix of wood, spice, and floral does not leap out and say “fur” to me but in Shermine it sure achieves the desired effect. To further define it M. Guillaume adds some of the animalic musks and a pinch of vanilla. This is an iris with a hairy-chest; thrusting it out for all to see. The base is meant to support but not supplant the heart. As such guaiac, vetiver, and patchouli provide a more restrained foundation than you might expect. From about thirty minutes in until the end this is all about this hirsute iris.
Shermine has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is exactly what makes the Huitieme Art releases so much fun. This is an iris with no hint of powder. The rootiness is much more in the foreground. Basedon a couple of side projects M. Guillaume showed me at Pitti Fragranze It feels like he is starting to re-examine the more animalic materials and accords in his palette. If Shermine is the first in a line of unique animalice I can’t wait for what is to come next.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Huitieme Art at Pitti Fragranze.