Robert Herrmann of CaFleureBon (Michelyn’s collage for his last birthday … Robert loved his roses and Chagall), courtesy of CaFleureBon
It is a great honor to write about Robert Herrmann, on this 2rd anniversary of his passing, October 1st 2019. He will forever have his fingerprint on all my perfume thoughts and opinions, and on my life in general. He was my Cupid, my Hamsa, protecting me and pushing me to my destiny, and I am forever grateful. Robert guided me toward my second “fragrant awakening”, if you will (read about my first one here!). He taught me to believe in love, as I had already seen in his deep devotion to his dearest Ron, but also because he put me face to face with the love of my life.
Robert Herrmann, pictured in his car, courtesy of CaFleureBon and Ron Hall©
I never met Robert in person, but I felt as if I had many times, and that we had been great buddies for decades. He had that effect on everyone, with his magnetic, warm demeanor, infectious laugh, million-dollar smile and wickedly funny sense of humor. We talked about many things: big things like love, life, our health, and our big dreams for our futures, and the mundane details of our lives (OMG Robert I CANNOT find York Peppermint Patties here in the UAE HELP!) But a lot of our conversations centered around perfume – he was a die-hard Perfumista to his core. He loved perfume, from the most cost-effective (“This Nanette Lepore is TO DIE FOR!”), to the most elite (“Want Dorin Dorina! And not just because it’s shaped like a you-know-what!”). He appreciated and wanted to experience every perfume note from the headiest, most indolic white flower to the heaviest, dirtiest oud. He loved writing about perfume too. He was a Senior Editor for CaFleureBon from 2016-2019 and wrote many beautifully descriptive perfume reviews. His writing was so excellent, that his article Scented Spirits: Lili Bermuda Mary Celestia Perfume” – by Robert Herrmann, Sr. Editor was a 2019 Finalist for The Perfumed Plume Awards.
Cynthia’s palm tree that shaded her home’s terrace in Abu Dhabi, photographed by Cynthia
It was Saturday, September 6, 2014. I woke up early, with an antsy feeling of excitement, and I didn’t know why. Robert always had his ear on the beat of what was new/hot in the perfume world, and since I had just moved to Abu Dhabi, UAE a month earlier, we were both excited to have me go seek out Middle Eastern perfumes. I had never heard of the shop or the perfume before, but I was jazzed to go – I felt like Robert was pushing me there- he was saying GO. NOW! So I quickly got dressed, braided my hair (it was messy/dirty!) and hopped in my rental car. I googled ‘Arabian Oud’ shops in the city, and there was one in a mall called ‘Marina Mall’ not too far away. I was inbound, using the GPS in my car to get me to this shopping center.
Cynthia’s own Kalemat Perfume bottle, purchased at that same Arabian Oud shop, photographed by Cynthia
I walk in Marina Mall – It’s gorgeous- with lots of interesting shops, beautiful plants and a fountain, and I am met with the exotic, intriguing smell of real incense burning. This is so fun! I wish Robert was coming too! The adrenaline was pumping inside, making my heart beat fast, and I was thinking it was only because I was going to experience a new perfume adventure. I quickly walk up the escalators to the 3rd Floor, and ah yes! I see the sign – there it is – Arabian Oud. I approach the shop and walk in…and time literally. stands. still.
digital photo by Robert Herrmann 2018 “Love is Love”
I am struck motionless. I cannot breathe. I cannot think. I feel like lightning has struck me. I am dizzy. I break out into a hot sweat – all in one instant. There, in front of me, is HIM.
He was one of the most beautiful human beings I had ever seen in my life. But more than that – I was insanely, intensely DRAWN to him. I wanted to know everything about him. And at the same time, I felt like I already knew everything about him; like I REMEMBERED him. I didn’t know anything about him, but I just knew I HAD TO KNOW him. I was already IN LOVE with him! I knew at that moment that this man, whoever he was, was going to be my future. I finally recover from my momentary freeze and (*try* to nonchalantly) walk to the back of the shop– and so does he. I stayed there for 4 hours that day, talking and laughing with him. We had many coffees, dates, and cookies, and I must have smelled everything in the shop. I floated home, overcome and giddily befuddled, knowing that my life had just changed forever, in an instant, for the better.
Cynthia and her husband Mohamed in Washington, DC. – They were married in 2017; photographed by Mohamed
That was 7 years ago. Now, we are happily married, and living in Washington, DC. We talk about Robert often, and wish he could see what a good matchmaker he is and know what a profound gift he gave us. But I think he sees and knows! I still feel his scented spirit! Before that moment in that Arabian Oud shop, didn’t believe in love at first sight – in fact I was jaded and weary. But guys, I am here to tell you, it is real. And it can happen to you too if you release control to the forces of the universe…and in my case I had some help from a scented spirit named Robert. Life works in such strange ways – I am eternally thankful to Robert, and humbled and still awe-struck that it happened to me, to be touched by the awesome forces of the universe that are beyond our understanding. All because of perfume and Robert Herrmann. Thank you, Robert.
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart – Proverbs 27:9
Cynthia Hunter, Contributor
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