Iris In Disguise – Review: Hermès Paprika Brasil

Editor’s Note: I want to welcome Michael today. He is an Australian, living in Sydney and I met him in person last January when he and the inimitable Portia of Australian PerfumeJunkies visited Vienna. Michael has a great nose and an equally great passion for perfume. He also is a charmer, because he knew that to win me over a review by Hermès is definitely the way to go. 😉 So enjoy with me Michael’s take on Paprika Brasil and let’s hope for many more of his charming reviews in the future.

By Michael

Hi there!

My name is Michael and I’m a fragaholic…

It all started a few years ago when I sniffed Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles.
Instantly it transported me back to a place in my childhood. It was all orthodox masses and sacramental wine.

Many hundreds of fragrances later and here I am indulging myself with fragrant musings.
I hope you don’t mind.

I’m delighted to be writing on occasion for Madame Olfactoria and what better place to start than with one of her favourite houses, Hermès.

I was never a Hermès fragrance fan.
Well, not until recently.

A few years ago I tried Terre d’Hermès and sure, it was nice.
I then tried Voyage d’Hermès and liked that one a little more.

Based on these, and a few others I can’t recall, I thought “meh, Hermès just isn’t for me”. Moreover Jean-Claude Ellena’s minimalist style just wasn’t to my taste.

Fast forward to February this year and a bored jet-lagged wait at Bangkok airport had me searching for some retail therapy.
I settled on a set of four 15ml Hermès travel bottles – a fantastic size for those of us with far too many fragrances.
Little did I know I would discover my Hermès gateway: Paprika Brasil.

“A tinctorial wood to colour fabrics red, ‘brasil wood’ gave its name to the country. With its power of suggestion, “bois de braise” sparked my imagination and I chose paprika to illustrate it. By mixing and matching, I recreated its scent, which is more secretive and discreet than its taste.”
Jean-Claude Ellena

Paprika Brasil is part of the Hermèssence line and contains notes of Pimento, Paprika, Cloves, Iris, Green Leaves, Mignonette, Precious Woods and Brazilian Redwood and was created by Jean-Claude Ellena in 2004.

hermes paprika-brasil

Paprika Brasil contains iris and lots of it. To my nose it is the dominant note which is fantastic because I love iris.
Here it feels like the iris bedded on soft woods and highlighted with a healthy dose of red peppers.
It’s such a clever and unique idea.

The red peppers are fresh. Like a freshly cut chilli but with only a hint of heat. There’s little in the way of dried or stuffy powdered chilli.
I find the red pepper notes to be a little abstract. They are identifiable but not so literal and strong that spicy foods or food like smells ever come to mind.

The iris is neither heavy and buttery nor too light and powdery. It’s just floats along in a soft middle ground being brought a back to earth with the smooth combination of soft woody notes.

As the fragrance dries down some green notes appear and blend seamlessly into the woody iris. Sometimes, I’m sure I smell hints of leather through the sleeve of my shirt.

Applied liberally I get soft to moderate projection and enough longevity to last the working day.

While I enjoy wearing Paprika Brasil, I’d also love to smell it on a partner. After the first few hours it has a lovely soft skin like quality that I would love bury my nose into after a long day at the office.

Personally I have very few easy to wear fragrances. Inevitably easy to wear equals boring and I have far too many fragrances to try. Paprika Brasil however is one of the few fragrances that I can easily reach for every day and still enjoy.


I hope everyone tries Paprika Brasil especially lovers of iris notes. Paprika Brasil is definitely one to add to an iris lover’s wardrobe if you don’t find it too spicy.

Do you have other Hermès or iris loves? Please tell me about them below. I‘d love to add them to my list of fragrances to try.


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35 Responses to Iris In Disguise – Review: Hermès Paprika Brasil

  1. Ines says:

    Paprika Brasil is one of the rare Hermes’ that I like too. Another Hermes and iris I love is Hiris. That one seems to be a bit forgotten nowadays…

  2. cookie queen says:

    I have Eau d’Hérmès. I like Tonka Vetiver quite a lot. Am very interested in Cuir d’Ange. xxx

  3. Lyubov says:

    Hallo, Michael,
    great review of a great fragrance!
    I am a desperate devotee…, and I felt I should respond immediately!
    Sometimes I call my Hermessence Paprika Brasil ‘my precious’, because it thins down dangerously every time I reach for it (yep, I have the sleek 15ml bottle), it grew on me even greater than the moment I tried it, and I just love it from the bottom of my heart! I totally agree about its easy going – I can wear it anywhere, anytime, any mood.
    Probably, Hermes fragrances are the most numerous on my perfume shelf – Terre d’Hermes, Un Jardin Sur Le Nil, Eau des Merveilles, Concentree Pamplemousse Rose, Kelly Caleche edt and edp, 4 ‘travelers’ of Hermessence – Paprika Brasil, Ambre Narguile, Vetiver Tonka and Poivre Samarcande + 2 genial test tubes of Iris Ukiyoe and Brin de Reglisse. I almost tried everything from the last 10 years, and some vintage, and I can say that I like almost every single fragrance. Pitty, I cannot afford to have all I am particularly fond of, especially Jour d’Hermes, L’Ambre des Merveilles (Birgit’s favorites), 24 Faubourg, Rouge Eau Delicate and Amazone.
    Did you try Hiris? I think it fits men better than women.
    I cannot wait to try Cuir d’Ange and its suede note.
    So now you that the Hermes passion is a diagnose somehow… 🙂

    • Michael says:

      Lyubov, it’s great to read you love Paprika Brasil too. I think it’s amazing.
      So many others you mention are fantastic too. I have a samples of Poivre Samarcande and Santal Massoïa which are both finding some love. Vintage Bel Ami too – what a great leather!
      I’m also guiltily lusting after Eau de Narcisse Bleu after trying it recently. Too many nice one’s to try and buy 🙂

      • Lyubov says:

        Oh, yes, Narcisse Bleu should be right for the coming spring in Australia! It didn’t have enough longevity on my skin, though I liked it a lot tested in swelter.
        I have always imagined Bel Ami to be the scent of Captain Hook or any pirate ship captain! Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

  4. Alice says:

    I never really took to the Hermèssence series, but remember a few years ago really enjoying Paprika Brasil in the middle of summer. I didn’t register that it was iris dominated, and I love Iris, so will test it again. Perhaps it will be my gateway too!

    • Michael says:

      I hope you love Paprika Brazil Alice. It’s definitely one for the more iris dominated scents I’ve tried. It may just depend upon how strongly you perceive the red pepper notes and how they work on your skin. Fingers crossed!

  5. Tina G says:

    Hey Michael, congrats on a great review!

    I do enjoy a cool earthy iris, and have been wearing Iris Silver Mist quite a lot over the last few weeks. Iris and red peppers sounds like an intriguing combination.

    I feel like I don’t know Hermes fragrances very well, but when I think about it, I have tried a few. in an effort to get to know them better I spent my last skerrick of travel dollars in Seoul duty free on a “fundamental” minature set which includes Un Jardin Sur le Nil, Eau de Merveilles, Voyage d’Hermes and Jour d’Hermes so I could give them a few runs & see what I thought. I’m also extremely curious about Cuir d’Ange.

    xx Tina

  6. Anka says:

    Ah, Michael, I remember you from the pictures B. made of you and Portia during your visit in Vienna – welcome to the blog (I am a fragaholic too)!
    I don’t know why, but Paprika Brasil is the only one from the Hermessence line I haven’t tested yet. And I am a huge iris lover. Reading your enticing review, I definitely have to catch up on it. My favorite easy to wear fragrance is Osmanthe Yunnan.

    • Michael says:

      I hope you love Paprika Brasil Anka. Thank you for remembering me 🙂
      As Osmanthe Yunnan is your favourite I’ve added it to my list of fragrances to try. I hope to love it too.

  7. Sandra says:

    Wonderful review of a favorite Michael! I love Paprika Brasil on the Hubby. Hermessence has some wonderful perfumes. I for one love Osmanthus Yunnana and Iris Ukiyoe. Very much looking forward to Cuir d’Ange.

  8. Tara says:

    i had no idea this had a dominant iris note or I would have tried it before now.

    • Michael says:

      I must admit I was very surprised too Tara. I expected Iris Ukiyoé or Hiris to be the iris bombs of the Hermès range but Paprika Brasil struck me as being the most iris dominant by far. I do need to test Hiris properly though so we’ll see if my impressions change.

  9. Olfactoria says:

    Thank you for this lovely review, Michael, and once again welcome to the OT family. You are a great fit!
    Of course, in your honour I am wearing Paprika Brasil today and your review really made it come alive on the page as well as on my skin. It was the very last Hermessence I tried, because I misread the name for years as Paprika BASIL and thought it would be too much salad for my tastes. *hangs head in shame*
    Unfortunately your nudge today was all I needed to put it on the top of my to buy list. 😉
    My favorite iris scent is probably La Femme Bleue by Armani Privé although I’m aware that it is not nice to mention that since it is discontinued… 😦

  10. Sabine says:

    Thanks to Hermes’ quite generous sample policy I had a large Paprika Brasil one in my drawer ,collecting dust, until I had this great idea (well, relatively great anyway) to match my perfume to the team I wanted to support during World Cup games. The idea was flawed due to lack of planning, but Paprika Brasil was re discovered, and is indeed super lovely.

  11. Vanessa says:

    Hello, Michael – another Australian Perfume Junkie joins O on her travels! I remember liking this in store and signally failing to get a sample of it, so I will do next time I am near a Hermes branch. I am also partial to Hiris and Vanille Galante and have recently fallen hard and belatedly for Eau des Merveilles, which really didn’t work on my skin five years ago – it’s bizarre. I have Birgit to thank for loving this and Ambre de Merveilles so much I thought I simply must persist with this pair. Also like Ambre, probably more so in winter.

  12. Michael says:

    Oh Vanessa, I suspect more than a few of us have Birgit to thank/blame for discovering various Hermes fragrances. I have to belatedly thank you for the Zelda you generously shared back at the fish and chippy in Jan. I’m still jealously guarding the last few drops!

    • Vanessa says:

      Glad you love the Zelda! It was the standout hit of the year / last year? ‘A year’ recently, let’s just say – I am always confused about launch dates.

  13. Pingback: Monday Question – What Is Your “Back To School” Perfume? | Olfactoria's Travels

  14. greennote2 says:

    Hi Michael, great review and lovely to see you over here with Birgit.

    I too love Paprika Brasil, along with quite a few others in the Hermessence range – Osmanthe Yunnan (easy, go to, wear anywhere scent), Poivre Samarcande (big peppery opening and more sillage than most in the line), Rose Ikebana. I adore the very clean lavender opening of Brin de Réglisse, but then get pretty much nothing afterwards, so disappointing. I’ll have to douse myself in it one day just to see if that helps. Iris Ukioyé from memory seemed a bit weak too and had notes lurking in the heart notes that didn’t do it for me. Amber Narguilé is a bit too sweet for my tastes. I’m still making my mind up about Santal Massoia, it may be a bit light as well. Yet to smell Épices Marine or Vanille Galante. Can’t really remember Vetiver Tonka and I may have smelt it before my vetiver love manifested itself.

    And irises. Love those too. Lately I’ve been trying some samples along iris lines. Le Labo Iris 39 and Mona di Orio Amyitis are doing it for me the most. Serge Lutens’ Bas de Soie is also good. i Profumum di Firenze’s Acqua di Firenze is lovely but light. Also Le Labo Santal 33 has some iris and violet that’s good.

    The Different Company’s Bois d’Iris was okay with a great drydown.

    One that didn’t do it is Acqua di Parma’s Iris Nobile (might have had too much orange blossom for my taste).

    I also like some of the garden series, particularly en Méditerranée.

    So by asking whether I had other Hermès or iris loves, I just had to reply!

    Do you have any other iris loves?

    • Michael says:

      My other iris loves? Well I’m glad you asked 😀
      My absolute favourites are:
      Iris Silver Mist – iris, highlighted with iris on a bed of iris with an iris drydown AMAZING!
      Iriss – boat loads of iris but a more traditional fragrance than ISM. These two are my favourites.
      Infusion d’Iris EdT – I love the powdery iris in this so much more than the EdP and the mix of woods and incense seems more balanced.
      Rousse – this in quite iris-y on my skin. The older versions are quite buttery, the newer more powdery but both are amazing (assuming you don’t find the cinnamon level too much)
      Iris Bleu Gris – dirty, musky, sexy iris. So seriously underrated.

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