Eau d'Hermes is a rather rare treat, as it's now been reformulated and stripped of it's organic essential oils, and real civet. (Civet is a small cat now on the endangered list.)
Until this decant I'd never smelled real civet. It's rare. Rare, rare. And Eau d'Hermes is beautiful, and unique because of it. On first application the top notes are Bergamot, Clover and Cardamom. For the first five to ten minutes the Bergamot (a cross between Pear, Lemon, and Grapefruit) is most prominent, with a round organic profile softened by the clover. You can tell the Bergamot is an essential organic oil because of its subtlety, and fullness to the note. Naturals differ from synthetics in that synthetics have a thin, abrasive profile to them. Eau d'Hermes does not.
The top notes form a clear, buoyant and transparency to the heart of Vanilla, Jasmine petals, and Geranium. And these start to show themselves about fifteen minutes after initial application. There's an overall sophistication, class, and softness that belies my nose at this point. It's so well blended I have trouble differentiating between all of the notes. It took me a week to understand this. A week I spent with my nose on my wrist trying to pick them all out, and I'm not even sure I got them all.
After thirty minutes from first application is when Eau d'Hermes really starts to bloom and transform from a clean, clear citrus and soft petally floral into a dirty, skanky animalic whore. It's absolutely remarkable how it does this, and the reason why is the Civet and (now also endangered and extremely extremely expensive) Mysore Sandalwood. At this point just a trace of the citrus is left, lending a lemony tang to the animalic Civet. The product is a fresh, salty, skanky sweat, and clean skin scent that becomes addicting. It's like smelling two bodies fresh out of the shower who worked up a sweat making love, in every conceivable position.
This is an amazing, masterpiece of perfumery.
My only complaint is it's half-life of around two hours. It's ephemeral at best, and to enjoy it, constant reapplication is necessary. But what can you expect with a citrus dominant, organic oil based fragrance? That's about the best one could hope for. And nothing matches Eau d'Hermes in it's respective genre.