Rhubarbs are strongly tart. They can add freshness to even the most syrupy of cuisine. The resulting mix of intense sourness and sugary sweetness in rhubarb compote is vibrant. This simple match also applies to perfumery, in which the green tart rhubarb pairs well with and tames the sweet notes of berries, rose, and violet.
Perfumer Christine Nagel similarly employs this idea in Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate (Hermès, 2016). She pairs fresh rhubarb and sweet berries to create a lively eau de cologne with a sultry suggestion. The tangy citrus and green acidic notes conjure the crunchy stalks at first. These are, then, contrasted by a blend of fruity rose, violet, and musk. In effect, it is a dynamic between tart rhubarb and musky raspberry.
Such pairing of fresh tart notes with sensual sweetness give the composition its character. Towards the dry down, the lingering tangy promise keeps the sweetness at bay, and the richness of musk lends a soft caress. Refreshing and flirtatious at the same time, Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate demonstrates that fruity-floral perfumes are not necessarily bland, when executed well and with a character.
Its rhubarb compote and raspberry sorbet is luscious. It is also surprisingly long-lasting for an eau de cologne. It lingers close to me, like a second skin. It may be a polished fruity-floral cologne, but make no mistake, the character still pops out and is as bold as its scarlet flacon.
A note on the shower gel: The development follows exactly that of the perfume. Upon lathering, the tart-sweet rhubarb and rose intensify. Its dewy rose and musky berries linger on skin afterwards. I am very happy with the shower gel.
Source: photograph of Philippe Jarrigeon