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Aromatics Elixir – Gotta try it! (October 28, 2011 New Fragrance Listing)


Photo - Wikipedia - The Love Potion by Evelyn de Morgan, 1903

Way back in the dark ages, I worked for a national retailer as a manager/buyer. The Buying offices were open-style, a maze of cubicles which took up several floors in a downtown tower, and on the other side of my office divider was the Cosmetics Buyer. She was tall, willowy, a real A-type beauty, and the first day I settled in my office, my nose immediately detected a tantalizing waft which drifted over the partition throughout the day. It was coming from the Cosmetics Buyer, and that girl smelled damned GOOD!

She was wearing an unusual herbal spicy scent, with a bewitching sillage which charmed like the Pied Piper. There was a lot of male traffic around her little cubicle, more monkey bidness than business bidness was transacting, I’m guessing.  At the end of the day, I couldn’t stand not knowing, and asked her what she was wearing. “Aromatics Elixir by Clinique – isn’t it great?” she said. “Wanna try it? Here – I’ll spray and you just walk through it!” Which I did, and I was hooked.

This, my friends, is a PERFUME.

Aromatics Elixir, the chypre of all chypres, a modern classic, a five-star. If you’re on the road to perfume obsession, or already a perfume fanatic  -and you probably are if you’re reading this  -  you’ve got to try this perfume. Every perfumista should experience this fragrance, but I’m warning you – a little dab’ll do ya!  No more than one spritz, and give it at least an hour to develop, if spraying on your skin instead of the walk-through, before you share it with other mortals in cars, subways, or offices. It’s powerful stuff.

Bernard Chant, the nose behind the landmark green chypre, Cabochard, created Aromatics Elixir for Estée Lauder in 1971 and it was launched under her Clinique line. I’ve wondered for years what a line like Clinique, with its image of “clean, sterile, controlled” -  the Clinique SA’s still wear white lab coats -  is doing with this power-house, over-the-top intensely green and animalic chypre, and why does it still sell? It’s an odd marketing combo. Aromatics Elixir is rarely advertised, the simple bottle and packaging aren’t the attraction, but something has made it work for the past 40 years. It must be the juice.

Aromatics Elixir (AE) is a classic chypre, and depending upon your source, is a leather chypre, a floral chypre, or a woody floral chypre. You can see why it‘s difficult to nail down from the note list:

Top: aldehydes, coriander, chamomile, clary sage, lemon verbena, bergamot, Brazilian rosewood and geranium
Middle: carnation, tuberose, orange blossom, orris root, jasmine, ylang-ylang and rose
Base: sandalwood, patchouli, musk, oak moss, vetiver and incense.

But whether it’s a leather or a woody chypre really doesn’t matter. What is fascinating is the way Bernard Chant constructs his signature accord, the amped-up patchouli/moss/floral accord, surrounds it with masses of green herbal and woody notes, and ends up with an absolutely unique perfume.

The opening is shocking – medicinal, dry, bitter and sharp. It gets up the nose, tweaks your sinuses, which is a deal-breaker for some, because this sharp opening accord stays strong for quite a while. But hang in there, because the middle floral accord formed by the spicy carnation, creamy tuberose and sweet orange blossom replaces the bitter opening accord with powdery warmth, further amplified by rich geranium and the indolic white florals. As it dries down, the patchouli, woods, musk and incense make it warmer and richer, darker and luxurious, balanced at the same time by the oakmoss, which  maintains the scent’s  tremendous radiance.  AE has such an identifiable sillage – fresh and sultry at the same time – a bewitching waft of grown-up sophistication.

Aromatics Elixir, is dramatic, intense, powerful, and smells like nothing else. I love it when the weather turns cold (3C/37F here yesterday, people). It makes me come alive, ready to face the elements – it gives me strength rather than comfort, almost as if it has healing powers.  Well, maybe it does – after all, it is an elixir.

Aromatics Elixir is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.