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I remember a little buzz when this first came out, but everyone seems to have quickly forgotten Eau Claire. I suppose that's largely because it really doesn't make much sense as an Eau des Merveilles flanker. Honestly, if they had released it as an almond-themed Hermessence, I think it would have a bit of a cult following by now. Oh, and it kind of sucks sprayed on paper, sitting like a sullen lump (though it positively sings on my skin) which probably makes it a hard sell.
So what does it smell like? It's Ellena on a good day, so it's complex but uncluttered. It hits first with a big shot of aldehydic white musky soap that quickly overpowers the nostrils and ends up as a sillage cloud as opposed to something you smell when sniffing your own skin directly (it's one of those Ellena tricks - most famously done in Terre d'Hermes - that some find clever and others find frustrating or simply don't perceive at all). The real star of the show is a delicious toasted almond smell, almost imperceptibly brightened with a pinch of citrus and fennel and made rich and nutty with a subtle sandalwood underneath. There's also a shot of Ellena's favorite cumin note, so there's a sweaty/spicy element as well.
So, I know this doesn't sound like much: Soapy sweaty vaguely-woody almond where you kind of can't smell the soap but it's there. But it smells amazing! I love the toasted almond note - it makes Eau Claire feel like some whole new kind of gourmand. But it's got that push and pull between the "perfumey" soap and the "niche" sweat, too. If you like loukhoum scents, you'll probably enjoy Eau Claire (though it's not that sweet). Or, if you're a Hermessence fan, this feels like it would be right at home in the line. Ellena fans, this is one of the good ones...
12 August, 2012