mercredi 25 août 2010

Eau Claire des Merveilles: Hermès does Aphrodite

Eau Claire des Merveilles is an oddly compelling, quiet little thing that’s been keeping me guessing for the three days I’ve been wearing it. That trace of orange ice cream on a silver spoon (aldehydes, citrus and iris) melting into a condensed milk note… Is this the world’s stealthiest gourmand? But then, that tiny hint of a yeast and cheese that could have been laser-shaven off a gardenia petal… And that palpably saline note… This water is cloudier than clear and oddly, the word that comes to mind is the French laitance, which means “soft roe” but comes from lait, the word for milk. Nothing fishy about the smell (this isn’t Womanity), but “why ask if shads do it? Waiter bring me shad roe”… There’s something faintly “let’s do it” about this Eau Claire des Merveilles. Between the milk, the faint mossy-woodiness – lactones, aldehydes and iris can all have skin and scalp effects -- and the marine reminiscence of ambergris, something distinctly human has seeped into the bottle. Calling a fragrance a “skin scent” is usually an excuse for a poor diffusive power – in other words, a technical flaw. But Eau Claire des Merveilles really does smell like an emanation of skin.

Still, I can’t decide whether this is a non-erotic animalic – a baby head smell -- or au contraire, if it is a discrete allusion to the place babies come from. After all, Aphrodite was born of the sea foam: follow the milky skin of thighs and you’ll find a bit of the sea there too… This may actually be the world’s stealthiest erotic scent: Jean-Claude Ellena’s intensely civilised stylisation of the yin to Sécrétions Magnifiques’ yang. But then again, my mind may just be playing tricks on me because I’m in a… playful mood. Go figure.

Illustration: Bronzino, Allegory of Venus and Cupid

11 commentaires:

  1. Interestingly enough, I've smelled none of the Merveilles family. Obviously my perfume education is sorely lacking! But this sounds like an easy, beautiful scent.

    Thank you as always for your review, and I am looking forward to your book. I hope there will be an English version as it's been too many years since I've read in French.

  2. Interesting. Nearly everything you've written hear, save a few of the notes, is how I feel about the original Eau de Merveilles though that one's less Aphrodite and more post-coital mix to my nose). I did a one sentence review of it for Marina once: "Absolute naughtiness masquerading as complete innocence."
    Everyone had described it to me as salty skin. The first time I smelled I was shocked!

    Will definitely have to give this one a sniff.

  3. Ay yi, yi. Make that "here."

    Well at least you know I was listening!

    And add another ( before the "though" please.

    Where *is* that copyeditor who usually follows me around?

  4. Why does this one smell so cheap on me? It's unfair! The top is great on me, salt-preserved orange peel that almost converts me to orange perfumes. Then the souffle falls into cheap orange-tinted musk. I'd give it another go but my sample spray seems to have wandered off....

  5. Rappleyea, I'm not extremely familiar with it either but this one drew me in.
    And the book *is* in English, it's to be published by HarperCollins.

  6. Alyssa, I definitely have to go back to the original that in mind, but I'm kind of relieved I'm not the only one who gets that sexual vibe...

  7. Eric, that's a shame. I didn't mention the musk as it's almost a given, and the orange does linger into the drydown. But, yup, milky-metallic-salty-mossy-woody, JCE has worked it all into his molecular magic!

  8. Thanks for the review Denyse! Eau des Merveilles is one of two scents I tend to spray on myself when passing through duty free (the other is Eau Premiere), and I always feel it's perfect for travelling: subtle but with enough character to keep me interested.

    I actually prefer the Eau to the Elixir, so an even breathier version sounds worth trying. Will see if it's in Stansted next time I fly :)

  9. Parfymerad, I think it's out in shops already, but I agree it would be good to travel with...

  10. I loved your review, it was totally appealing, you almost make me want to smell the foamy and opalescent Eau Claire! ;)
    The "almost" is because, no matter the notes/fragrance family/year of launch, JCE's creation leave me as cold as a fish.
    I appreciate some, on a very abstract level, but I never get moved enough to finish a sample - not to mention buying a bottle.
    Your choice of accompanying image is brilliant, as always.

  11. Zazie, it's true some of JCE's composition can lack strong emotion, but as that's not always what I appreciate in a fragrance I'm all right with that. If I were a man I'd wear Déclaration and/or Terre d'Hermès. As it is I have travel sizes of three Hermessence: sometimes limpidity is just what's needed to satisfy!