mercredi 30 novembre 2011

Clinique Aromatics Elixir Perfumer's Reserve: Laurent Le Guernec sheds light on a classic


Aromatics Elixir is the mother of all rose-patchouli accords, and also quite a paradox: a wine-hued sillage monster rising from the pristine counters of Clinique. Bernard Chant’s masterpiece manages to pack every powerful essence the scent-free line eschews. But since perfume was considered a remedy as much as an adornment well into the 19th century, the elixir concept clicks with the brand’s “medical” identity. The first advertising made that claim:

“Aromatics Elixir… Performs the role of perfume but goes beyond”, with “…ingredients carefully chosen for their historically renowned effect on the mind and body. Ylang-ylang and oakmoss are included on the basis of the reputation as emollients. A certain rose is there because herbalists have found it toning and astringent. Orange flower because it’s known to be a relaxant. Sandalwood and chamomile because of their historic use in cleanliness. Civet and jasmine because of their classic role in stimulating appeal.”

[Note that oddly, given that this was published in 1972 at the peak of the patchouli craze, the note isn’t put forward.]

Estée Lauder may well be, along with Thierry Mugler (Clarins), the mainstream company that takes perfume most seriously, with hefty budgets and a view to producing original scents rather than following trends. And the 40th anniversary “Perfumer’s Reserve” tribute to Aromatics Elixir, designed to shed new light on its beauty without stripping it of its depth, drives the point home: this is serious, uncompromising perfumery. In fact, the polar opposite of most contemporary rewrites of classics, which tend to morph into musk-laden iFrags.
Laurent Le Guernec of IFF didn’t tack on something pink and frilly to give the scent mall appeal: instead, he went deeper.



Aromatics Elixir Perfumer’s Reserve feels as though it were much older than 40. With prominent incense, myrrh and vetiver, the base could well be 4000 years old. The aldehydic white floral/iris accord harks back to classic perfumery: it acts on the woods and resins much as a fatty, soapy coat of wax would on a piece of antique furniture, enhancing the grain and texture of the materials and making them shine. The tweak brings out Bernard Chant’s signature style – that bitter, aromatic, leathery chypre accord that runs from Cabochard to Aramis, Azurée and Knowing.

What Aromatics Elixir has lost along the way is its trademark, oxygen-sucking sillage: despite the rich materials, and perhaps because of the concentration and presentation (it’s an extrait without an atomizer), the perfume is surprisingly close to the skin. Since Laurent Le Guernec states in the press release that “women who thought the original too potent will find this modern homage alluring”, putting a muffler on Aromatics Elixir was part of the point. The main point being that real perfume, for real perfume lovers, can still happen in the mainstream.

29 commentaires:

  1. The way you describe it, it sounds to me better than the original. :)

    For my taste I mean.

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  2. Ines, I think that was the idea at Clinique... I'm a huge fan of the original though I can't say I wear it, since in many ways it's just too strongly associated with my own past olfactory memories (hanging around the Clinique counter as a teen) to feel I can appropriate it.

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  3. Do you know if they will sell it at every Clinique counter or are they going to keep it exclusive? I love the pictures of the bottle!

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  4. Eva, I'm not 100% sure, I've seen it at various Clinique counters in Paris. It's a limited edition though.

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  5. This is the first I'd heard of this release. Thank you for the review. It sounds fascinating. The original Elixir is too big for me, so this remix with more incense, myrrh and vetiver sounds perfect to me. Be well!
    --HemlockSillage

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  6. Hemlock Sillage, I think that many counters kind of keep it a bit hidden for some reason... Worth checking out, it's quite beautiful.

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  7. Go Clinique! I wonder if their customer demographic skews older? Certainly they and Lauder have a very loyal base that they seem to treat with more respect than the average kid-chasing company.

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  8. Alyssa, Estée Lauder pretty much invented American perfume, and the company's been true to its DNA ever since. All the more reason to applaud.

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  9. Aromatics Elixir is one of a few perfumes that didn't seem to work on me initially, but it compelled to keep coming back to it. I'm finally starting to enjoy it after two years of occasional sampling.

    This new version is the most incredible bargain, too: $75 in the US. It really does show what's possible, doesn't it? ~~nozknoz

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  10. Nozknoz, what's pretty amazing about AE is that I can still smell it on some women in Paris, not bad for a 40-year-old perfume (the other "oldies" being the usual suspects, N°5, Shalimar and L'Heure bleue). So they must be doing something right.

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  11. I am going to seek out this new version. My love for the original was tempered by its "oxygen sucking sillage" so I used to wear the body cream which was wonderful. Love this presentation too and I have seen the solid compact from a distance, also attractive.
    Hugs!
    Nicola

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  12. I bought this unsniffed, and will pick it up this Saturday. I adore AE, and wear it often.
    I will report back after sniffing!

    Barbara

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  13. Nicola, I haven't smelled the compact, they're always so tempting, aren't they? Let me know how you like this new version...

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  14. THANK YOU!! for posting the newspaper ads!!!! I was in school, a bit young for this scent, but wanted to cut/save the ads from the paper - and missed grabbing the news before the folks trashed it. Fast foward 2 years to high school sophmore and was `old enough`, thank you!! :-) Never went for any `teeny bopper` scents or fashion! :-)

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  15. Linda, the ads were supplied by Clinique, and I really couldn't pass up the opportunity of posting them. They are interesting historical documents as well as blasts from the past for those of us who were old enough to be fascinated by them!

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  16. I don't ask for much, just to be transported (in time, preferably), and it sounds like this one might do it. I read your review and obediently headed for the mall.

    Sadly, the Clinique woman at the substandard Macy's in my little town had never heard of this new version. She seemed to think I was trying to trick her.

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  17. Olive, that must have been incredibly annoying, and at the same time there's an element of comedy. But overall, it's a pity so many sales assistants are kept so poorly informed. I'm wondering at the way this limited edition is promoted? I *have* seen it in stores so I know it *is* sold, but maybe Clinique is doing a gradual roll-out?

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  18. On a brighter note, at this very same Mini-Macy's the woman at the Estee Lauder counter was delightfully knowledgeable and enthusiastic. She started with a detailed, pleasantly hyperbolic account of The Origin of Youth Dew, and 20 minutes later was describing her divorce and simultaneous journey through breast cancer. In these small towns, the really dedicated perfume-counter people get lonely.

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  19. Olive, I've also found knowledgeable ladies in Canadian department stores when I visit my parents. I had a long conversation about the way various new perfumes related to older ones with a sales assistant in Ottawa. Only goes to show...

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  20. Unrelated: I signed up on Amazon U.S. to be notified when your book becomes available over here. I don't suppose you have any idea when that will be? Very much looking forward to it.....

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  21. It can already be pre-ordered on Amazon UK but nothing official yet for the US edition.

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  22. Reporting back as promised.
    I have been struggling with the bottle all day. Nearly dropping it while trying to open it. Getting my hands splashed, you get the idea.
    The good news is that I love it, it's quite different from the edp. I can't say that I love it more, but I think I love it quite as well as the original. ( which is in my top 10 of absolute favourites)
    It seems more floral, and less herbal, and very much worth a try!

    Barbara

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  23. Barbara, I agree the bottle is a bit of a challenge, but I'm glad to see that a confirmed AE lover enjoys this new version as much as I do.

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  24. I could not resist buying this last week. The bottle is so gorgeous! The original never bothered me, although i do not wear it much (two of my aunties do, so i feel a little weird wearing it, too...). This new one is indeed a lot softer, but is it just me, or does my nose detect some civet? Just wondering... cheers, Wendy

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  25. Wendy, civet is not prominent to my nose, I was thinking more about a castoreum effect... And I understand how you feel about the original AE: I love all the old Lauders, and own most of them, but somehow they feel like they belong to the women from my past who wore them.

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  26. Just popping in to say that your review sent me to our Macy's website to order this! Unsniffed!! I'm sending it to you if I don't like it. ;-)

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  27. Rappleyea, if ever you're disappointed, I'm sure you can find a loving home for that bottle - I've already got one!

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  28. Ce commentaire a été supprimé par l'auteur.

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