Elixir des Merveilles fragrance notes

    • caramel, oak, incense, orange peel, vanilla sugar, amber, sandalwood, tonka bean, patchouli, siam resin, balsam, cedarwood

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Latest Reviews of Elixir des Merveilles

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Elixir des Marveilles is a stunning swirl of spiced orange, resins, balsams and incense, infused with a creamy caramel sweetness and a haunting animalic amber undertone.

As the scent's complex top notes subside and the fragrance warms on the skin, it becomes ever more intoxicating, becoming more sultry, even salty and savory. The dry down is a comforting, warm dry woods.

This is sublime in cooler weather.
8th March 2022
I notice that professional perfume critics, have some tendency to beat up on and even ridicule, a little, Elixir des Merveilles, a perfume I love so much that, should I somehow lose my collection, it should be one of the first perfumes I would replace. Luca Turin suggests that it is prim bourgeois chypre in disguise, and our own Claire V compares it to Kim Kardashian's physical disproportions (must we body shame? Even if our comments aim at the shameless?). I think it is one of the most appealing perfumes in the modern canon, a classic that stands alongside its ancestor, Eau des Merveilles, and perhaps it is so easy to like that its obvious desire to please is too much for some people's tastes. But this review is not a speculation, as to why some people might dislike it. I hope I can explain why I do, and also why other people do, and why someone who has not smelled it should have it on their test list, at least, before fall comes, as it shines in autism like few other perfumes.

I also notice, with more that a bit of irony, that many people seem put off by Elixir des Merveilles' lush character, as these are often the same people who complain about JC Ellena's minimalist tendencies. Ellena has not always been the watercolorist perfumer who limits himself to a total palette of something like 30 ingredients, with which to create his entire ouvre. His early efforts, Eau de Campagne and Van Cleef and Arpels' First, are, if anything, maximalist creations stuffed with accords within accords within accords, the nes plus ultras of their respective genres, as the former is the greenest of all the greens, a Mediterranean garden complete with tomato plants, and the latter the grandest of amber-civetesque jasmine florals, a grand ballroom chandelier of endless crystals lit with tiers candles.

Ellena did not, exactly, return to this style of perfumery with Elixir, as its construction is much more legible, in part, likely, as it is made of neatly trimmed captive molecules with few if any sloppy natural edges. Yet, it has an incandescent warmth, as lit from within, as well as a cheerful and brusque afternoon freshness. It has a sweet orange zest accord, full of the sunshine that citrus somehow captures are no other tree fruits can, the scent of which feels like sunbeams streaking through a window, a wonderful opening that would make a great perfume in itself, as it lasts for hours without wearing its welcome out.

Being a chypre, Elixir also has purring mid-toned resins, the necessary cantilevers that separate a chypre's citrus ceiling from its dense and slow-evaporating base ingredients. I do not smell much if at all earthy labdanum, but I do pick up benzoin. However, most of the resin seems to come from the scent of orange zest, which somehow makes itself felt within the orange accord. Somehow Ellena got a little bit of the bitterness of the inside of the orange's peel into this accord. It is such wizardry, that I am willing to squash my usual martinet tendencies, regarding perfume categories. This is a modern chypre, made after IFRA took away our oakmoss, and it uses the base ingredient that most perfumers turned to in the mid/late 00s as they tried to rescue the genre. And besides, it somehow has the quality of mineral saline, something I smell in oakmoss, and also refers to the original Eau des Merveilles, one of the best olfactory meditations on salt ever created.

So, Ellena uses patchouli, and it is such an excellent patchouli accord that it covers all the bases of this versatile material, from its icy aromatic menthol to its spicy red hot cinnamon to its opulent yet dehydrated cocoa dust. It is rich, complex, and delectable, and combined with the equally complicated orange ingredients, the perfume comes together to reference some of the heights of confectionary art–dark chocolate with orange zest, and those thin strawlike orange candy sticks coated in chocolate that used to be served at high-end restaurants in my childhood. The combination is classic, a marvelous referent, to the Christmas tradition of chocolate oranges and expensive imported chocolate bars sprinkled with Sel de Mer or Maldon salt. Ellena, then Hermes' gnomic minimalist mandarin, found the humor within a notoriously humorless genre of perfume, and created a gourmand as distinctive as any I have ever smelled.

Its orange is too bitter, and its patchouli too authentically dirty, that its edible qualities seem improbable, but they are undeniable. I understand why this perfume could make anyone smile,or even laugh, as oranges and chocolate are the stuff of which pure gustatory and olfactory happiness is made of. But I love wearing it, it acts as one of my most reliable antidepressants, and also a soothing and cozy bedtime companion, as well. It somehow never gets old, for me, and every occasion I wear it, I wonder why I don't wear it more often (and I do wear it often enough). It is the most exuberant of Hermes' perfume lineup–even more so than the wonderful ambers Ellena also made for the house–and one of the few that, despite the house's mission statement for only daytime perfumes, wears wonderfully for evening and even going out clubbing, inspiring the occasional nibble on the neck from my boyfriend.

I mentioned at the beginning of this review that Elixir des Merveilles should be on any neophyte's test list for autumn. It has a beautiful balance of warm daytime freshness and cool evening richness, with a crisp textural quality that mimics the season's air, leaves, and fruit. Its happy orange bottle even resembles a pumpkin, so even its decorative qualities suit the season. I have been wearing this perfume since one of my favourite SAs obtained for me a sample a few months before its official launch, as she knows I have a weakness for patchouli Orientals, and an obsession with chypres. I feel like it is still a mystery, year after year, and it lifts my mood with the same consistency as our first cool evenings, the first day my scarves and sweaters are unpacked. It makes me senile, but I laugh with it, not at it. It is serious perfumery but not somber or dull-making.

Elixir des Merveilles performs excellently, no doubt due to whatever crispy musk materials Ellena uses to give it its glassy lamplike qualities, along with low-volatility patchouli in the base. Expect much more projection and longevity than most of Hermes' modern perfumes, and consider it for evening if you are going somewhere that you would like to smell attractive from a distance. I believe it is marketed to women, but we all wear citrus and patchouli, so unless you just hate sweater Oriental style compositions, you'll likely enjoy this. It adds variety to my usual autumnal Ambercentric lineup, and I wear it through the colder months and even sometimes in the warmer, as its citrus is sufficiently fresh. It is an extraordinary value on the Grey market, and I believe it is generally–at least by amateur perfume enthusiasts–justifiably considered a classic. I believe it deserves five stars, for its inventive timeless clever cross-genreation, and two spice-lacquered thumbs up. Really, go try it. eBay sellers always have adorable minis that come with cute little leather strings, should you wish to hang your little orange orb around a turtleneck sweater, or some seasonal decoration. And please try its mother perfume, Eau des Merveilles, if you haven't–another scent about which I will gush unashamedly, another evening soon.

26th August 2021

One of Ellena's more stunning creations from his time at Hermès, Elixir des Merveilles remains the only Eau des Merveilles flanker to be truly worthy of the original.

Elixir is an intensified take on the original masterpiece, and if it owes a great deal to it, Elixir's brilliance shines forth in the way that it rebalances the original formula.

The orange in the original was translucent and ethereal. Here, it's candied, almost gourmand, but Ellena is quick to undercut the sweetness by amping up the marine ambergris base, creating a peculiar sweet-and-salty effect that is unique to Elixir.
14th November 2020
Elixir des Merveilles, like it's bottle, is indeed golden and it doesn't want to be what you want to call it.

Despite the listed notes it's not a full gourmand, not an incense caravan, nor pure dry woods affair or a tropical amber flanker either. Neither animal, vegetable, or mineral and yet all three at once. Impressionistic, everything about it is "the suggestion of".

It instantly jolts one back to the original Eau des Merveilles, it's a clear member of their family, but it's different, more syrupy and a bit richer, just like the bottle's color.

There's the orange, more candied or boozy than fresh along with whiffs of "maybe" earthy dark chocolate (the moss, the various woods, a hint of cumin and resins) while the Merveilles' lines vague nautical theme, Aphrodite-like blossoms through a wave of sea-salt caramel, emphasis on the sea. It's not so much a true caramel, there is no burnt sugar, but the sum of varied components; additional resinous or vaguely balsamic amber or ambergris, clean musks and white flowers, and tonka mingling with lingering woods (cedar shavings) patchouli and a modern slightly barbershop "fresh" marine soap (sunscreen-esque) creating an impression of warm "skin".

A bit unusual, but also familiar and delicious.
8th April 2020
15th December 2018
A certain... natural feminine musk, shall we say.

At least that's what I thought on my first wearing. Ah, what a young nose. It didn't put me off too much, as I'm into that kinda stuff. But that was about two years ago, so it must have left an impression. Maybe I wasn't willing to walk around smelling like I'd just enjoyed a marathon lovemaking session. Love that smell, but not as a lingering, all-day presence.

Transitioning from retail work to an office environment has been fun times for my fragrance wardrobe. It's given me the confidence to break out my more challenging scents, as in retail the wrong note could entirely put off a customer and ruin your whole day. In an office, no one cares unless it's loud and in your face.

So with high hopes, and some leftover apprehension, I wore Hermes Elixir des Merveilles. It's a scent of surprising contradictions. Breezy, sticky. Sweet, salty. Soapy, dirty. Feels more like an aura than an afterglow. Comforting in a way I didn't expect, based on previous wearings.

Recently I've noticed that amber takes on this dusty playdough vibe when I smell it. I get that here, combined with a sticky, caramel orange. Sounds like it would be heavy, but it's light enough. Works for me. I dig it.
8th July 2018
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