Reviews of Aromatics Elixir by Clinique

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    ClaireV's avatar

    Ireland Ireland

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    It’s incredible that a company known for its no-frills skincare put out such a complicated and witchy brew, but I am so grateful that they did. Created by Barnard Chant in 1975, it blazed a trail of dark patchouli, bitter herbs, rose, resins, and moss through the perfume world, setting itself in direct opposition to the clean, sporty fragrances that followed soon after but also breaking ties with the slightly mannered feel of green floral chypres of the fifties and sixties. It’s almost impossible to describe accurately, but then again, I really don’t have to, do I? Everyone knows this smell. Aromatics Elixir feels like something a pagan goddess would wear as she commands the elements from her forest. It lives in the small, private space between my clavicle and my sweater, because I am careful to apply this potent juice as I would a precious extract – sprayed lightly onto my fingertips and then pressed gently onto my flesh. Out of all the perfumes I own and wear, this is the one that says ‘Mother’ to me most strongly. It makes me feel both tender and fierce.

    09 September, 2014

    JackTwist's avatar

    United States United States

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    Despite its unfortunate name, this is a complex and quality creation.

    Barbara Herman deemed it a "green chypre, the scent of dried pressed roses, with coriander and carnation over a warm animalic base."

    This is totally accurate. I am reminded of Lalique's PERLES and CORIANDRE. The potpourri effect of the roses is dead center, surrounded by the dried spices. It is also quite green with a woody, mossy base, one of the best rose chypres I've come across.

    Turin gave it 5 stars, called it a woody floral, but praised its "bold, herbaceous-patchouli-floral" effect, which reminded him of Cabochard and Cinnabar (I don't get this reference at all). He also highlighted its "bright, fresh, herbaceous and medicinal" qualities and deemed it a "masterpiece."

    To find both Herman and Turin agreeing wholeheartedly on a scent is a rarity and this one does deserve it. The name does not do justice to the scent, but it is still one of the best dry rose chypres available.

    First Edit adds the following notes:

    Top notes: Bergamot, Coriander, Rosewood, Palmarosa
    Heart notes: Rose de Mai, Jasmine, Carnation, Ylang, Tuberose, Orris
    Base notes: Patchouli, Vetiver, Civet, Sandalwood, Oakmoss, Cistus, Musk

    03 August, 2014 (Last Edited: 04 August, 2014)

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    Genre: Leather

    Truth in advertising: Aromatics Elixir starts out green and floral with a bracing dose of aromatics adding their rasping accent to the principal accord. It grows steadily more floral as it develops, but the green and aromatic notes persist as counterpoint behind the flowers.

    The whole composition remains crisp and dry, with a clean yet earthy “outdoors” quality that reminds me of freshly cut hay. A sharp, almost peppery wood and leather accord in the foundation adds depth without threatening the balance with excessive sweetness. Nice stuff, and no wonder that its managed to survive for decades.

    09 June, 2014

    2nosedtwin's avatar

    Netherlands Netherlands

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    Clinique - Aromatics Elixer
    This is more like an anti-Elixer that tries to diminish the human vitality, and smells as dry and musty as half-hardened cement out of a cement-mixer, or an old gravel-road on a very hot day with no whiff of wind. This perfume misses refinement, juice and good quality natural materials. It smells strangely old and 'swollen' - like it has been cut open, striped from its vital organs and stuffed full with wadding before being sutured; there is no airiness, and nothing that makes it a bit cheerful. Good stuff to accentuate a bad day at the office or to wear on a funeral - it acts dull, with no living movement in sight. This perfume 'tastes' like a Californian pinot noir-wine instead of one out of Bourgogne - with its unrivaled velvety finesse and roundeur. Let Aromatics Elixer stay where it belongs...

    28 May, 2014

    MakeupManda's avatar



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    complex and mysterious

    Most amazing and complex unique fragrance, I remember my mom and my gram wearing it, so when I started working for Clinique I new it had to be mine, I first misted it directly on my skin, and it was all wrong, I discovered that if I used the body products it was even more amazing then I remembered, soft and powdery yet rich spicy and floral all at the same time.

    Pros: amazing and unique
    Cons: needs to be layered"

    08 August, 2013

    warmlightsunsea's avatar

    United States United States

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    The perfume called me

    When you can't stay away from a scent, there is often a good reason. The first time I smelled this in a store it stayed in my memory, and I knew I had to come back to it. The second time I knew that we had a connection. I showed it off to my friends, I was so excited about it. I ordered it online a few weeks later. I don't usually buy full bottles of perfume (samples or trial sizes are usually enough to satisfy me), but this was probably my first "full bottle" purchase for myself. It has a richness, depth, and personality that I haven't encountered since. Initially it always smells a little synthetic to me, which is the only thing that makes me hesitate about it, but that soon dissipates and I am left with a warmth and mystery that keeps on giving (and this scent has a LOT of staying power).

    Anomie et ivoire wrote in her masterful review (below), "This wondrously notorious elixir is the seductive, independent woman with brains and heart in spades who got burned at the stake by the angry villagers. Witch hunt ... my search is over, though. This one chooses you."

    I couldn't agree more.

    30th May, 2013

    Odal1sque's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    If there were an umami of taste, this would have it. Like umami flavours, marmite, blue cheese, and miso, Aromatics Elixir is an acquired taste. Once acquired, it is absolutely addictive. It is a very refreshing change from all the candy sweetness of so many contemporary fragrances.

    I first encountered AE in the 1990s during my L'Eau d'Issey years. I really did not get this fragrance then. Now with more life experience under my belt, this is one of my favourites. It somehow feels as though it is good for you, just as any elixir should.

    24 February, 2013

    ojaddicte's avatar

    Canada Canada

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    I love green chypres: Nikki de St. Phalle, Jacomo Silences, Coriandre. I think I have met the greenest chypre I have ever encountered today - Aromatics Elixir. I'm enjoying it's density, it's twists and turns and longevity. Another one for my "to buy" list.

    18 November, 2012

    OTSJ's avatar



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    Be careful, very, very, careful, when you uncork the mystery inside the bottle. The rep at the counter where I purchased mine said she can't stand it. But I had gone back so many times to resniff it, I couldn't understand what kept making me want to stick my nose on it. I don't do perfume, but I do body wash, which is what I purchased and so far the results have been fabulous. My husband loves it and it has a soft linger in my bathroom, that I enjoy. Whatever is in there, is like a genie in a bottle; you are either going to be horrified and jump back, or pleasantly thrilled and surprised.

    15 September, 2012

    anomie et ivoire's avatar



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    This wondrously notorious elixir is the seductive, independent woman with brains and heart in spades who got burned at the stake by the angry villagers. Witch hunt ... my search is over, though.

    This one chooses you. So Hello, My Future Signature. I'm a witchy woman, bookish, a lover of 1970s vintage clothing and pop culture. Feminism is still necessary, and when I say 'peace' I actually mean it. Of course Aromatics Elixir also works on responsible, traditional more grown-up women, on men with personality and pizzaz, and countless other types who value character and substance. Still, it's not quite all serious business: there's a bit of a dark humor and hedonism here mixed in with the no-nonsense.

    It takes guts and patience to find the right amount to spray and to sit through what amounts to a sour opening on many. Although AE is definitely accessible and democratic, its "paced" and "challenging" nature is both classical like a slow-moving black and white movie and avant-garde like a conceptual chamber piece that refuses to compliment your ears but grants you the dignity of assuming you might like to think and be involved rather than stay flattered.

    But flatter too Aromatics Elixir does: it suits and settles into a not-animalic-per say animalism. Earthy, just aloof enough but still warm potion. Can be worn everyday in lotion form or in the light walkthrough spray method, but it's so unique and mystical that Aromatics Elixir brings something of the earthly sublime even in repeat wearings. If you love patchouli, incense, your roses dipped in wine, chypres, complex classical perfumes, and if you always respect yourself in the morning... give Aromatics Elixir a try. Three tries even. That's how many it took me. Start with spritzing the air and walking through or you may get burned.

    Rating: 10/10 for the vintage perfume, 9/10 reformulated perfume, 8/10 edt.
    Longevity: Undefeated champion.
    Sillage: if you apply sparingly, somewhat intimate. Otherwise likely to fill half a room in the first hour until drying down to a nice arm's length.
    Gender: So above and beyond that shiz.
    Occasion: Daily. Honoring the "old ladies'" who get so much hate, honoring mother nature and your own nature.

    04 September, 2012

    goldiewing's avatar



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    One of our very glam Managers wafted past me 30 odd years ago, wearing this fantastic perfume. I scrimped and scraped to save enough money from my pay to buy my first very small bottle of this beautiful perfume.

    It is known as my signature, as over the years, our family and friends always know when I am around!

    Unfortunately, I cant wear this for work anymore, as my current boss get a migraine if I do!

    I absolutely love this perfume, and always stock up at Duty Free, whether I need it or not!

    19 August, 2012

    crono38's avatar

    United States United States

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    I went to a macy's to test this fragrence. The female SA thought it humorous that I (guy) would want to try on this perfume. But nonetheless let me try.

    The perfume starts out herbally, nothing special and drys down into something I though was a herbal musk which was alright if you like this. Try it before you buy.

    Scent-5
    Sillage 5

    09 August, 2012

    Hope_64's avatar



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    From the moment I "caught" this scent on a co-worker, I had to own it for myself. I have used this for over 20 years and still love it. Although I do wear a variety of fragrances and love to try new ones, Aromatics Elixir will always be my favorite!!!

    05 June, 2012

    gimmegreen's avatar

    Netherlands Netherlands

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    Old school but timeless. A creation of fabulous confidence and poise, which is aptly called an elixir: it feels like instant uplift. Patchouli (not a note that inspires much love in me) rounded by florals takes centre-stage, but the magic is in the almost medicinal herbal decoration and the balsamic notes that burnish this creation into a glowing radiance. Also distinctive is a trail of unctuous, of-the-earth, ylang ylang which shows now one side, now another – dreamy. One needs to wait about half an hour for the dirty animalics in the opening to finish wiping their bottoms, but once they settle, you're floating.
    Further great news – this is also available in affordable, small sizes. If only other companies would follow suit yada yada.

    18 May, 2012

    KarmaLee's avatar

    United States United States

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    A few years ago, I followed a well-kept, suited woman around during a conference just to catch a whiff of the air surrounding her.

    Some exotic blend of a smell like a sun-warmed hillside in Greece?

    She shared that she was wearing Aromatics Elixir.

    Before dinner that night, I taxied to the mall and bought some of the body creme. I would put it on before bed when traveling during that hectic year. And then left the little bit left in the container somewhere south of Richmond, Virginia during a rushed hotel check-out.

    And promptly forgot all about the beloved smell.

    Then, I got infected with the scent obsession last year. Again. And it came back on me like a bad case of an antibiotic-resistant super bug. I collect. I plan stops during travel at promising little thrift stores run by odd little men who want to smell me. But that is a whole nother story....

    This story is about my return to Aromatics Elixir. During the past months, I have bought, scrounged, traded to get my hands on some vintage juice. Shalimar and Chanel 5, old gnarly bottles, sit proudy in my dark little shelf alongside weird thrift store finds (Houbigant) to a pristine bottle of Caron Narcisse Noir for less than the price of a hamburger.

    Last week at one of my local tj maxx haunts, I saw a gorgeous, still shrink-wrapped set of Aromatics Elixir (perfume, or parfum?, and body smoother) for discounted price of ten dollars. I grabbed it fast.

    And fell in love.

    This scent smells like sun-warmed herbs, with a few crushed underfoot releasing a bit of a sharp green goodness along with that slighly sweet smell of warm, dry hay. And somebody crushed just a small handful of white wild rose into the mix. And then the sun goes down and a fire is lit and the hay, and herbs, and roses go a bit smoky and rise like incense into the gloaming sky.

    Aromatics Elixir works best on me as the lotion/body smoother. UNTIL, I tried getting a bit of almond oil, spritzing some of the perfume into a small bit of oil in my hand and smoothing it over my hands and arms. After reading the reviews here, I plan on experimenting with some high quality essential oils and maybe a bit of neroli to brighten it a bit for day wear.

    Now I am on a hunt to find other fragrances that do this same full sensory, nearly narrative magic to me. Suggestions? I am female, but wear both male and female fragrances, and even mix them at times (one on each arm on really interesting days).

    What else out there might do to me what this one does? I also love gourmands and niche, but this little Clinique charms me. Others to suggest?

    29 February, 2012

    HyperB's avatar

    Canada Canada

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    I would love to give this an elaborate review, because I feel it deserves some kind of respect for the composition. But in all honesty, the scent was overall repulsive to me as I felt it was choking me. It's not even shocking or "bad smelling", it's just too much, I felt like I was eating a full plate of expensive incense stick. I could not figure out anything, it was plain sensory overload.

    22 December, 2011

    Ms Rochambeau's avatar

    United States United States

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    I've had a half a bottle of pre-reformulated AE for over a year now that a friend had passed on to me. I only accepted it because it used to be my aunt's favorite when it came out (1971) , but I disliked it tremendously. However, it was mentioned in a blog I was reading last week so I felt compelled to spray it on my skin for the first time. OMG! I can't explain it, but I was immediately smitten. I chock it up to having experienced so many vintage perfumes in the last few years that my nose learned to understand AE. Now my half full bottle suddenly looks half empty and I need more! I shudder at the thought of testing the new stuff. Now I'm on a search for some vintage AE and that Aramis 900 just in case I can't find any.

    Impressions of the scent: a mystical shapeshifter that really can't be categorized. Off of the top I'd call it an herbaceous (spelling?), leather chypre. It's very dry and strangely herbal/spicy with a timid floral note that starts to peek through somewhere in the middle. This is one of those times when a scent SHOULD NOT be categorized as masculine or feminine because it's firmly in the middle. It has been compared to Aramis and Aramis 900, but I've also picked up facets of it that hint at Mitsouko and Patou 1000 and it layers well with both. Octavian has also compared it's structure to Kouros.

    For those who love those powerhouse vintage chypres, this is not to be passed on and if you can, get a vintage from Ebay to experience the perfumer Bernard Chant's original intent (he also made Aramis). Sillige is so big you only need one spray, any more will go too far and everyone around you may hate you, including you.

    30th October, 2011

    rtamara41's avatar

    United States United States

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    I am a latecomer to Aromatics Elixir. My first encounter with this fragrance yielded admiration for its complexity coupled with conviction that I would never wear it personally. It seemed to0 much of the dirty earth, more of an environmental atmosphere, herbaceous to the point of medicinal application like a healing poultice rather than something experienced merely for pleasure. Then I began to experience it through a lovely co worker who wears the body lotion like a soft mantle and through her, my experience of AE began to shift. I pulled out an old sample I had tucked away and spent an evening with Aromatics Elixir, and felt immediate infatuation. My husband's response to it delighted me : "It reminds me of an earlier time when all possibilities lay ahead." It must have something to do with the patchouli. Another male friend of mine said simply, "It smells like sex." Complex indeed, and Aromatics Elixir will soon be joining my wardrobe. Once again, never say never.

    21st August, 2011

    blood-orange's avatar

    Australia Australia

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    I can't understand this fragrance. I can almost see why people love it, yet at the same time I can see why people dislike it.

    The opening is bitter, strong and alcoholic. To me it smelt like nail polish remover complete with hints of acetone. Not a particulary pleasant olfactory experience.

    The heart is fierce and powerful. It's like a floral explosion on your skin. I found it confusing and disturbing to say the least.

    I get the medicinal and herbaceous quality that other reviewers have described, in the drydown. It was too green and musty for my liking. In fact it was very difficult for me to identify any particular notes. Aromatics Elixir can be quite messy at times.

    I wanted to experience a rich, warming and unique fragrance, but what I received was unwelcoming and strange. I still for the life of me, can't understand this scent. Definitely not my cup of tea.

    26 June, 2011

    Pollux's avatar

    Argentina Argentina

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    It did shock me the first time I gave it a full wear because of the obvious presence of aldehyded-geranium notes morphing into rose accords, so later I decided to layer it with patchouli eo. (BTW, this drew compliments).

    I kept on trying this at home, AE is one of those scents that in my case call for sensory analysis. I find it very complex and not an easy one to get, at all, besides the fact that several questions come to mind when testing this, for example, the notes I perceive during the time the fragrance evolves and the associations and descriptors I can think of.

    Today, when sniffing it on my arm, I realized that what was getting me was this herbal animalic accord, which could be due to musk, the note which might explain its masculine character: as mentioned so many times, AE is a women's fragrance that can be worn by men. Thus, the floral accords would be suddenly forced to a turn in direction by musk, before proceeding to a gentler dry-down.

    I strongly belief this last effect is the reason why AE is so difficult to appreciate, for it makes the blend smell somehow discordant - it is not the usual development found in most blends, for the initial olfactory proposal radically changes after minutes, somehow similar to a trader that sells you some good, being that due to the manufacturer's prowess it magically morphs when using it.

    I have to make clear that this is what the ones wearing it could perceive; however, what others smell on those wearing AE might be another completely, different story.

    29 April, 2011

    nezdelacoreé's avatar

    South Korea South Korea

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    Tragically, this is my mother's signature fragrance--a decision I'll never understand, leaving all psychoanalytical interpretations out of it. I recall sneaking up to her vanity around the age of 8, uncapping her EDP, and thinking--literally--"What...on earth...is this?" Up to that point, I had never encountered a perfume which I found downright unpleasant, and after smelling AE, my little 8-year-old brain had to invent a new category under the heading "strange things adults do." Even still, I place it in that counterintuitive quadrant of "sophisticated but offensive." Where some people get soft, clean, and earthy, I get spiky, soapy, and medicinal. I would rather rub my face in a box of powdered laundry detergent than wear AE. In my experience, this scent is definitive proof that genetics don't have complete control over all things olfactory.

    26 April, 2011

    Late-Hit's avatar

    United States United States

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    Darrin: Endora, you might as well show yourself.

    Endora: *Poof* Well alright, Derwood, have it your way.

    Darrin: If I have to smell you, I might as well see you.

    Endora: Yeeeess Donald. Exactly.

    05 March, 2011

    subhuman85's avatar

    Canada Canada

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    Almost half a year after purchasing my 25 ml bottle of Aromatics Elixir, I still haven't quite made up my mind about it. I know it's brilliant - striking, dense, complex, wholly unique, masterfully crafted, and possessing almost nuclear persistance on skin. But to call it temperamental would be an understatement. At least half the time when I spray it on, I feel like I'm inhaling the air in a foggy forest on a damp spring day, in the best possible sense - flowers, moss, wood, smoke, and patchouli, masterfully blended and supremely evocative. The other half, I feel like I'm being suffocated by a pile of mildewy rags in a stuffy attic. Did I mention the patchouli? Aromatics Elixir is the Ur-patchouli. This is the patchouli that sends all the other patchoulis scurrying away from the patchouli playground. Montale's Patchouli Leaves, Serge's Borneo, and Givenchy's Gentleman have got absolute zilch on Aromatics Elixir for pure, unencumbered, full-throttle patchouli - the musty, acrid, leather-trunk/hippie-armpit kind that will choke you as soon as look at you. Chamomile, lavender, cedar, leather, incense, jasmine, and rose play equally strident chords in the composition; this is one wallop of a perfume. Intensely out of fashion, beautiful at the right angle, downright lovely and ladylike at 20 paces but acrid and borderline bilious up close. It's fascinating, but I do wish it were a little more approachable. (Bafflingly, it garners more compliments than almost anything else in my collection. See what I mean about the 20 paces?)

    23 February, 2011

    Tortina Mia's avatar

    United States United States

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    I agree this fragrance is a lesson in you either love it or hate it-no shades of gray here. I wore this for a short time in my early 20's. I loved it. It suited me perfectly- I was single and felt free to express my individuality. No one else I knew was wearing Aromatics Elixir. You have to be careful to keep it light, though. I'm glad Clinique has kept it alive.

    20th February, 2011

    Darvant's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Wonderful, aromatic and sensual chypre which is a renowned name in the great glorious worldwide perfumery history. The combination between green, aromatic and earthy elements with woods, sensual flowers and resins (mostly waxy) is gorgeous and sumptuous. This fragrance is extremely spicy/carnal, holy and mysterious at once. The smell, as well as illustrated in the advertising, conjures a bit the aroma of burning aromatic candles and is full of atmosphere, spirituality and esotericism. Camomile (slightly resinous in this case) is the key element, it's perceivable and plays a role that the lavender uses to accomplish in many fragrances around, it provides a fluidy/spicy, bit traditional feel but in a more feminine way. It is the natural shelter for white flowers, earthy vetiver and rooty stark patchouli in the way it is performed an impenetrable and mysterious blend which is highly aromatic even due to green notes as may be basil and verbena. Musk and amber perform a bit of animalic/woodsy density and flavour in order to polish slightly the general rawness with a syrupy animal insertion while heavy woods as dry saldalwood and oakmoss interact with resins and musk in order to infuse texture and substance to the rooty, sylvester juice. I detect a bit of smoky incense (and I'm almost sure about). This fragrance is able to impress sensuality also to a very mature demure woman, it's erotic and spiritual at once, it expresses a subterranean sinful sensuality hidden behind the outlook composure. The mystic sensuality abides in the complicated bouquet of arcane flowers and in the deeply floral, exotic, slightly "laundry" and sensual ylang ylang trail. The ascetic temperament is expressed by the elevated union between earthy, rooty, floral, resinous obscure elements and by incensey/waxy resins. You must have a lot of additional character and charisma to wear this misty, exotic scent. Great projection expecially with the EDP.

    11th February, 2011 (Last Edited: 09 January, 2014)

    carrbuck's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    Years ago I was in a store and smelt this wonderful perfume coming off another woman. I was so taken with it that I just had to follow that scent until I got up the courage to ask the lady what it was called. Of course it was Aromatic Elixir. I never came across Aromatics again until my mother started to wear it. It's warm, it's sexy, it's unforgetable. My daughter has been wearing this fragrance for a couple of years herself now, but unfortunately, despite absolutely loving it, I found it gave me headaches every time I used it, so have had to stop.

    21st January, 2011

    jtd's avatar

    United States United States

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    I got a lesson in love and hate in fragrance from Aromatics Elixir. There are plenty of fragrances that on the first try I found uninteresting. Maybe I came to this conclusion as the top notes faded, maybe boredom set in by drydown. But I disliked AE. It was bitter chamomile, bitter oakmoss, bitter herbal along with that earthy/sacharrine imbalance that patchouli can have. I just couldn’t stand it. Until, without any feeling of transition, I thought it was one of the greatest perfumes I had ever smelled. Not just appreciation. I loved it.

    I can’t really dissect this scent. I don’t have the analytical nose for that. But I don’t even want to. One thing I particularly love about Bernard Chant’s work is that I want to get taken for the ride. I don’t want to hear about the notes and all the stuff that’s in it. These are the moments of synergy that are made smaller by investigation. Let AE drive the car.

    29 November, 2010 (Last Edited: 01st October, 2011)

    cpgy2k1's avatar



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    I'm certainly not expert as are soooo many on this lovely site. But I wanted to share something about this fragrance that I think most don't realize or have missed. I actually used to work at a Clinique cosmetics counter during the '70's when this fragrance came on the scene. For those who find the fragrance too heavy/overpowering, I believe you have applied it incorrectly. When Clinique introduced this fragrance, like the rest of its cosmetic line, it was for those who had sensitive skin. So--instead of applying the fragrance to the wrists and other pulse points like other fragrances, this was designed to be sprayed into the air--creating a mist--followed by a "walk" through the mist. The idea: the fragrance gently infuses your clothes versus being concentrated on any point of your skin. That particular technique accurately distributes the fragrance and leaves the wearer smelling "clean" all day. I'd recommend anyone to try this technique first, then judge the scent from there.

    21st October, 2010

    trace1221's avatar



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    I found this back in the 1980's and it was my first real signature fragrance. It was a time when most women I knew wore very heavy perfumes and also layered them. I stopped wearing it when my mum found she liked it, she still wears it today. I keep a small botttle and when I smell it brings back lovely memories.

    16 August, 2010

    zenana's avatar

    United States United States

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    This one has all the right elements to suit me, from the rosy top notes down to the woody oriental base. It does have a strange, medicinal hospital quality that sort of reminds me of the spa. But alas, my partner hates it so much she's begged me to stop wearing it. For sure you need a very very light hand with this one, as it can be overpowering. The dry down reminds me of vintage Rochas Femme. I try to sneak it on occasionally and hope she won't notice.

    10th August, 2010

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