Twilly Eau Ginger Eau de Parfum by Hermès Review
I am finding Hermès’ Twilly Eau Ginger quite difficult to describe.
Not because it’s complex: quite the opposite. There’s very little I can say except to affirm what you likely already know. This is a soft and fresh pushover of a scent. It’s sweet, slightly powdery peonies, unconvincing flat “ginger,” and nothing else.
That’s it. You can skip the rest of the review.*
The listed main accords are certainly accurate: somehow, this is simultaneously fresh and slightly warm, a soft floral without edges, sweet but not too sweet, with an indistinct gingery suggestion of spice.
Above all, I can only describe Twilly Eau Ginger as generically perfume-y.
Something about the generic opening blast of peonies, in particular, feels a little embarrassing to wear in public. From beginning to end, this feels very designer, in the most derogatory sense of the word: unoriginal, unsurprising, and all-around fine. I first sampled this in a Sephora and simply thought “Yep! That’s a Sephora scent.”
I say this as someone who shamelessly loves and wears several very designer scents, such as Calvin Klein’s original Euphoria and Chloe’s Nomade. Perhaps something here feels dated. It certainly feels cliché. As soon as I apply this I cringe as loud perfume-y peonies reach up to choke me, smiling so politely it feels as if I can’t even scold them for it. I catch myself hoping people can’t smell me in this mall, and feeling very strange, like I’m playing a character that isn’t like me at all but isn’t someone I want to be, either.
Twilly Eau Ginger opens with a strong blast of perfumer’s alcohol, which settles into a generically pleasant and harmless yet difficult-to-define perfume. In the first few hours, the scent is strong in a way that is defined by this overarching accord of generic sweet, soft florals couched in alcohol with an undercurrent of “fresh” aromachemicals.
The effect is light and refreshing, if in quite a synthetic and cliché manner. Although I don’t get any calone here (thank goodness), Twilly Eau Ginger is light and refreshing the way some calone-heavy 90s blue fragrances are light and refreshing: it relies on a cheap trick done by some fresh molecule or another that we have heard too many times, without any particular twist.
By leaning into this almost-aquatic freshness and generic semi-sweet-and-soft opening, Twilly Eau Ginger somehow manages to escape the fate of many a floral perfume that smells like shampoo or a bar of soap. The peonies are a touch powdery at times, but never resolute in that powderiness. They wobble around the range of inoffensive floral nuances on stilettos that are too high for them, smiling obsequiously at everyone walking by.
And then there’s the ginger.
It’s not a photorealistic or complex ginger of any kind: this is not a fresh root or a cup of ginger tea, a spice cabinet or a piece of gingerbread. Rather, this is a warmth in Twilly Eau ginger with a slightly spicy texture if you look for it, which vaguely makes the shape of what might be ginger.
As a ginger lover, I was eager to see what Twilly Eau Ginger had to offer, it being one of the first ginger fragrances many people think of. It is apparent, however, that this notoriety is based on brand name alone, not on merit. I could forgive a vague and unremarkable approximation of ginger as a background note, the way I forgive compositions with a generic dry, warm spice drydown texture they call cinnamon. Here, however, it’s in the name. I’d expected more than a sloppy general warm spice shape.
There is some sweetness within this cloud of so-called ginger that might be a touch gourmand — perhaps the fabled candied ginger — but with a texture smoother than sugar and more like a cheap, mild honey, without any sharp edges, perhaps baked to take any remaining challenging edge off.
As other reviews have mentioned, there is no cedar here to speak of. This is all perfumey peonies with a hint of gingery warmth. Then again, I think I’m anosmic to Iso E Super and pretty bad at picking up cedar generally, so there’s a chance you would find some here. I’m not definitively claiming there’s Iso E here, but considering how frequently it’s used to approximate cedar (and how completely I am unable to smell it) it’s a likely possibility.
Whatever it is, there isn’t much of it here, as it seems most other reviewers can’t smell the cedar, either.
Rather than centering the ginger, the body of Twilly Eau Ginger is one giant inoffensive peony. This is a floral impressively composed without any hard edges, challenging indoles, or overt soapiness. It is a soft, slightly sweet floral that is impressive in its sheer middle-of-the-road safeness: comforting and generically pleasant without much of interest or note. It’s slightly sweet without being too sweet, perfume-y and light and almost soapy without being decisively powdery or bath-product-like, gently floral without any harsh pollen or indoles.
This peony is pleasant but not at all memorable. She is soft and lightly sweet, utterly unobjectionable. She fits the overall cliché and unoriginal feeling of Twilly Eau Ginger well: delicate in a way that is overdone, seemingly determined to be inoffensive and generally “nice,” liked by many and loved by none.
This feels like a girl who is too nice to your face and then laughs with her friends the instant you turn around: you know something else is going on under the surface. It’s all too soft, too guilelessly fresh-floral-sweet. It’s too simple, too good to be true. Twilly Eau Ginger feels like it’s hiding something.
Within 2-4 hours, though, the loud unoriginal-yet-innoffensive screaming peony opening eventually settles down. What follows is a gentler, less screechy, long drydown phase, which is boring but not unpleasant. The generic laundry-fresh molecules interspersed throughout the peonies settle into a tidy background powder. The ginger keeps on keeping on, superficial and unconvincing, adding a shallow but enjoyable warmth in the background.
Perhaps that’s the problem with Twilly Eau Ginger: it’s not in any way unpleasant or remotely challenging, despite the seemingly bizarre clash of listed notes. This is a soft and gentle floral with no indoles, no hard or challenging edges. I can see the silk scarf girl from the copy written for the original Twilly scent: like her scarf, her scent is soft, harmless, and universally likeable: a mottled, innocuous picture of yellow and pink splotches with no discernable shape or pattern.
There’s a particular branded self-consciousness to Twilly Eau Ginger. The nose knows ginger is not a note that’s in the typical Hermès fan’s wheelhouse. It’s a little too savory; it has a little too much potential to be weird. Whereas a ginger offering is commonplace among niche houses, Christine Nagel is pandering to a very particular Sephora crowd of watercolor-light-silky-floral lovers.
As was the case with Le Jardin sur la Lagune, Twilly Eau Ginger appears to be the case of Nagel having an artistic idea and struggling to reconcile it with the intense creative restraints of the Hermès audience and brand. Things like briny marine scents and rich, textured ginger concoctions just aren’t what Hermès does.
In an attempt to find a compromise between the artistic vision of something niche and the expectations of the brand, Nagel accomplishes neither. Instead, she lands in an uncanny valley of perfumery where neither the niche nor the mainstream Hermès crowds are particularly impressed.
Such is the tragedy of Twilly Eau Ginger: trapped in the constraints of being an Hermès perfume — and a Twilly, no less — the ginger has nowhere to go. Overwhelmed by the pressure of pleasing both sides, it falls flat on its one-dimensional and utterly uninteresting face, impressing no one.
The result is a flanker which is simple and banal, yet passably pleasant enough to satisfy some lovers of the original Twilly hungry for a new twist. It’s indisputably less controversial than Le Jardin sur la Lagune — but also much less ambitious, with its simple three-note pyramid.
Anxious about how the ginger might be perceived, the opening of Twilly Eau Ginger screeches with an urgency that seeks the validation of being utterly ordinary: “Look at me! I’m a perfume, just like all the rest!” These first 2 hours are too clouded in generic perfumeyness, a blast of generic soft sweet crowd smell without even the courage and boldness of sharp floral indoles or headache-inducing musk.
When this loudness finally dies down, the eventual drydown of Twilly Eau Ginger is everything it dreams of being — which is to say, not unpleasant. It’s soft-spoken, simple, and slightly sweet, with a tiny hint of warmth, and not much else. There’s just a hint of powderiness in the innocent pink peony which would serve well as a foil to the sharp edges of the ginger had it not been defanged from the very beginning.
This phase is slightly comforting despite being boring, by sheer nature of it being soft and a little sweet and warm. This is a soft, warm, slightly sweet shape, the slightest touch gourmand, with a timbre more like honey than sugar, golden-amber-yellow and uncrystallized.
After the designer-strength blast of the first few hours, the scent continues with intimate sillage seemingly indefinitely, still very faintly there over 24 hours later on me.
I suppose it isn’t surprising that Twilly Eau Ginger is lacking in complexity. After all, it’s exactly what’s on the tin: entirely innocuous peonies with a hint of ginger warmth. Cedar seems like a bizarre addition to the mix, except that I can’t smell it at all to begin with, which, perhaps, is a relief.
Christine Nagel succeeds in bringing marrying the unlikely elements of peony and ginger — albeit in a way over-reliant on middling perfumery clichés, seemingly designed for mass appeal with no concern for creativity, originality, or daring.
When I first sampled this on one arm, I sampled Lush’s Devil’s Nightcap on the other, which is oakmoss on oakmoss on more pure, genuine oakmoss. Together, these swirled into something more interesting, revealing an animalic and dirty side to the clean, proper scarf girl.
I highly doubt Hermès will ever take their poster-child line of clean and inoffensive scents anywhere subversive or interesting, but that’s not what they’re meant to be. There will never be a sordid underbelly to any of the sweet-pretty-fresh scents Hermès concocts for put-together, polished, dignified women and girls.
Yes, girls. This one feels a touch more youthful than the put-together-designer-handbag-toting-professional-on-her-night-out I picture wearing the perfumes in the Jardin line. Its simplicity and reliance on soft, pretty peonies makes Twilly Eau Ginger lean farther towards cute on the cute-to-sophisticated scale than is typical for Hermès. I could see a wealthy high schooler wearing this, but only if she’s confident enough in her tastes to go in for this odd concoction.
This isn’t babyish or inappropriate by any means, but there’s less sophistication and sparkling wit here than in other, more complex Hermès compositions. The simple combination of soft peonies and utterly one-dimensional ginger feels lacking and somehow cheap. Like Eden Juicy Apple by Kayali, this feels inexpensive and youthful in a way that feels unfinished: shouldn’t there be something more here tying it all together and putting this above its less expensive competitors?
Twilly Eau Ginger is ultimately a harmless crowd pleaser. It manages to perform the hat trick of designer floral fragrances: not too sweet, not too soapy, and not utterly headache-inducing due to indoles, aldehydes, or accompanying musk. This is an Easter scarf of mottled springtime colors, with a loud, screechy opening for the first 2 to 4 hours, a moderately enjoyable drydown, and a long tail, with whiffs of the scent faintly noticeable on the skin past 24 hours (although there is only any projection for the first 6 or so).
It’s hard to have anything against this entirely safe scent, but it’s hard to say anything strongly for it, either. I find it hard to imagine anyone rapturously adoring this one. I also can’t quite imagine many people would call it their signature, except if they see it as a gateway to something they haven’t experienced before: if I wore exclusively pretty-and-clean floral scents, I would also be intrigued by this whole ginger thing. If warm spicy scents aren’t new to you, however, you won’t be impressed.
If the imagery of a polished-yet-carefree very young woman, smiling politely and suitable for all audiences, wearing a neat outfit and a brightly colored scarf appeals to you, and you like peonies and the idea of ginger, this might be for you. I hope the screeching loud opening comes off as confidence on you: on me, it smells like insecurity and a scent trying too hard to blend in with the cool girls.
Where to Find Twilly Eau Ginger Eau de Parfum by Hermès
You can find full bottles of Twilly Eau Ginger EdP at StrawberryNet.
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