A bottle of Hermés's H24 in futuristic lighting.
Photo: Christopher Anderson, Magnum Photos. Courtesy Hermès

How Hermès’s New H24 Fragrance Defines Modern Masculinity

The scent features notes of rosewood, sclarene, clary sage, and narcissus.
By Kathryn O’Shea-Evans
March 20, 2021
2 minute read

In the 15 years since the French high fashion house Hermès released its Terre d’Hermès men’s fragrance, the scent has come to represent the brand’s olfactory interpretation of masculinity. Spicy, minerally, and slightly vegetal, it was devised by the company’s former in-house nose Jean-Claude Ellena, who wanted the aroma to signal the presence of a man. In 2018, Hermès’s current head perfumer, Christine Nagel, reimagined the fragrance for a new generation, evolving it with notes of green bergamot, Sichuan pepper, and vetiver. Then she took on an even greater challenge: creating an entirely new smellable identity for men. Collaborating with Véronique Nichanian, Hermès’s menswear creative director, she devised the resulting H24 perfume, marked by a lively yet delicate bouquet, based on Nichanian’s ready-to-wear collections. But how, exactly, does the house’s latest spray define the modern man?

A sense of unconventionality runs through the fragrance, which rejects the typical woodsyness of men’s scents in favor of uncommon aromas. The backbone of H24 is clary sage, a botanical that smells like cut grass and farm hay that Nagel discovered after intensive research. She added scarlene, a synthetic molecule that’s redolent of metallic steam from a hot iron, and narcissus, a crisp, potent note derived from daffodils. Rosewood essence rounds out the mix; long a taboo in perfumes because of the deforestation caused by harvesting the South American tree that produces it, the ingredient was sourced by Hermès from small-scale producers who grow the plant responsibly.

Taking a whiff of H24 simultaneously evokes a centuries-old tobacconist’s shop and a fast-moving contemporary metropolis. Its punch materializes and dissipates quickly, and smells at once urbane, unexpected, and strong. Masculinity today, the scent suggests, is fluid and timeless, a forceful culmination of a richly layered past and an active, forward-thinking present. Consider it a portal to the future.