image of Guy Robert who composed Hermès Doblis in 1955 courtesy of Michael Edwards Fragrances of the World
“We are like painters: some use simple colors, others prefer sophisticated ones. It’s the result that matters.” ~ Guy Robert, Les Sens du Parfum
I suspect that most of us perfumaholics harbor specific cravings for the rarest, most unaffordable and nigh-impossible-to-acquire Perfume Unicorns; it’s only human nature, perverse creatures that we are. One of my beloved unattainable unicorns is Hermès Doblis – of which I was able to procure a minuscule sample (for which I paid a pretty penny). I regret not putting myself into debt at the time for the exquisite 2004, limited-to-a-thousand-bottles-worldwide reissue authored by Maîtres Jean-Claude Ellena and François Robert (son of legendary perfumer Guy Robert). When a trusted lifelong friend at Boston’s Neiman Marcus reached under her cabinet and took out the parfum flacon for me to sniff, my eyes rolled back in my head. She had been given a ‘great deal’ as an Hermès representative. In those days $400.00+ was an exorbitant amount of money for a working mother with two young school-age children, and I couldn’t justify such a frivolous expense. Today the same item goes for well over $2,000.00 – if you can actually locate a bottle. Ah, hindsight is always 20/20.
Guy Robert, Francois Robert, Jean Claude Ellena, 2004 Doblis, Qu’importe le flacon Hermès carre designed by Catherine Baschet and reissued in early 200s from Michelyn’s Collection
In 1955, master perfumer Guy Robert composed the original Hermès Doblis, a point of departure from which his professional career skyrocketed. A fourth-generation perfumer, he was educated in Grasse but moved to New York City after WW II to learn from his Uncle Henri Robert– who had created Chanel No. 19, Cristalle, Chanel Pour Monsieur and Coty’s iconic Muguet des Bois. Guy went on to create many beauties: Calèche, Equipage, Madame Rochas, Amouage Gold and Cristal, Gold Man, Dioressence, and Gucci No.1, among others. His son François has done his father proud – especially beloved for his creations for Les Parfums de Rosine and Lanvin Vetyver. When Maître Jean-Claude Ellena was appointed house perfumer for Hermès in 2004, he and François Robert composed the only reissue of Doblis to date. It was every bit as divine as the original, and oh so scarce.
2000s reissue of Cuivereries Francoise De La Perrier 1963 from Michelyn’s collection detail
“Un parfum doit avant tout sent bon”: a perfume must, above all – smell good. ~ Guy Robert
On this point I heartily concur with the master. I am able to be objective when experiencing fragrances, capable of viewing them as distinct art forms, experimental projects, from any number of angles – but when it comes down to committing them to my own flesh, I want to enjoy them. I don’t view myself as a science experiment: I want to luxuriate in something which smells heavenly and makes me feel like a goddess. Hermes Doblis (whether in vintage eau de cologne or parfum of either vintage) does just that. As leather chypres go, it is in a class with vintage Diorling; impossibly suave, buttery-golden and eloquently elegant. Hermes Doblis would make a marvelous signature for anyone who revels in a charmeuse-textured chypre glowing against the skin that makes you feel unique au monde. It is the softest, most supple leather imaginable rendered with savoir faire.
Hermes 2006 Couture runway courtesy of Hermes©
When cost is no object and you are framing breathtaking jasmine and rose absolutes, why not bookend them with chamomile, thyme and coriander on one end and smoky, mossy depths on the other? I’m extremely fond of herbal notes married to florals in a chypric setting; to my nose, they help create something effortlessly beautiful and naturalistic. This is the case with Hermès Doblis, and one of the myriad reasons why it is so pleasurable and comfortable to wear. As each of the elements interweave, you encounter a classic (yet never boring) base embroidered with dusky labdanum and a lightly smoky vetiver evoking leather, a satiny sandalwood and subtle musks. I’m reasonably certain that there also aldehydes present; they bestow lift and space to this radiant perfume. At no stage in Doblis’ development is there heavy-handedness, overdosage, cudgeling, cloying – and due to the eras in which both original and reissue were composed, development is a blessed plus; linearity was not as popular or prevalent as it is currently. One has the luxury of being led down a path where mystery intersects with graceful sumptuousness in an illuminated display upon the fleshly canvas.
For me, Hermès Doblis will always be that unattainable golden leather of the gods.
Notes: chamomile, coriander, thyme, rose absolute, jasmine absolute, leather, moss, musk (sandalwood, labdanum and vetiver listed on a French tester bottle)
sample of vintage parfum and eau de cologne purchased by me. My nose is my own…
~ Ida Meister, Deputy and Natural Perfumery Editor
Art Direction: Michelyn
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