My love for Bernard Chant’s olfactory style always keeps me on my toes for Aromatics Elixir flankers and the announcement of Aromatics in White being released in November kept me running to the perfume stores to meet it. To my surprise, I found it in Athens, not in Geneva. For some strange reason it will be available here as late as March. And although Clinique’s UK site features it the US site doesn’t even know it exists. So I smelt it briefly during my holidays, thought it wasn’t bad and went home, to my Athens apartment. There I was, looking at my now neglected collection, opening bottle caps and smelling spray nozzles lovingly. This is how I reopened my forgotten, hardly used bottle of Etro New Tradition, one of the less known offerings of this house. My impression of this was that of a rather dry, stern masculine scent that reminded me of lavender scented paper tissues, very popular when I was a child. This time however what I felt was very different. In the back of my mind I could still see why I had judged it the way I did, but I know I felt I really loved it! It had an oh-so-familiar smell that brought to mind my expectations of Aromatics in White. I had read that it was a modern version of Elixir with nuances of incense. Aromatics in White does not quite fit that description, but New Tradition does.
New Tradition opens with a dry-as-a bone lavender note that is so herbal one would think it will go on forever. And it does keep shouting for the first minutes of the opening but then it bows gracefully to greet an even dryer patchouli. Right there magic happens. Rose and carnation and geranium come together in the background and create an earthier version of Aromatic’s Elixir’s herbal heart. The flowers are toned down in comparison and there is a hint of clove in there too. The lavender blue image of the opening slowly mixes with the golden brown hue of dried tobacco leaves. I do not mean that I actually smell tobacco in this perfume, but the colour that flashes in front of me is that of tobacco. The aura of the composition has the volatility of burning incense but also the tactility of dry patchouli leaves.
Aromatics in White, on the other hand opens with a loukhoum rose. Fleshy pink instead of lavender blue. It is not exactly what I was expecting from an Elixir flanker. I can also pick out a white wine note in the opening, maybe it’s there, maybe it’s just the moist violet leaf note that makes me think of wine. The opening is big, sweet and coated with icing sugar. From then on it starts developing like an accordion. It delivers big wafts of sweet roses and then inhales and shows patchouli and violet only to explode again in pink roses and sweetness. The Aromatics Elixir lineage is there but it feels more like a floral flanker of Perfumer’s Reserve than a child of the original Aromatics Elixir. It just lacks the depth and facets.
Both fragrances made me consider the possibility that like Coty Chypre, Aromatics Elixir could very well be considered the beginning of a genre. It remains hard to classify, the closest I can get to pinning a label on it would be “herbal chypre” but if this is truly a chypre, was isn’t tree moss essential in creating the signature accord of Bernard Chant, immediately recognisable in Aromatics in White and lavender laden New Tradition? The play of rose and patchouli is a big part of this core accord but this is not enough to summon the ghost of aromatics Elixir. New Tradition manages to recreate a big part of this mysterious accord adding the most unexpected ingredient, lavender. It works however because this brings into play all these herbal facets that Aromatics in White and Perfumer’s Reserve lack. Aromatics in White is a nice scent, especially if you hold on for the deep drydown. It uses loukhoum rose to hold perfume aisle visitors captive before they walk out the door and what it lacks in mystery by comparison to the original Elixir, it gains in bad-ass projection and longevity. It is not an office scent even though it isn’t overtly sexy either. It is supposed to be a “modern” interpretation of the original but overall I would not characterise it as modern. It is quite old-fashioned and this is the best quality about it and what connects it with the original Elixir.
Smelling New Tradition and Aromatics in White together is like watching a family drama. Aromatics and Elixir got a divorce and split the property. Aromatics took all that was herbal, mysterious and brooding. He also got a new dog which he calls Lavender and moved to the rural suburb of New Tradition. Elixir on the other hand got all that was bad-ass and in-your-face and also kept the house. She painted it all white however and now grows pink roses in the garden. She also got her maiden name back: Aromatics in White.
For New Tradition, notes from Parfumo: Bergamot, Lavender, Lemon, Clove, Iris, Rose, Patchouli, Vetiver
Notes from my nose: Lavender, Dry patchouli leaves, Rose, Incense
For Aromatics in White, notes from Parfumo: Violet leaf, Sichuan pepper, Cistus, Rose, Orange blossom, Patchouli, Musk, Benzoin, Ambergris
Notes from my nose: Rose loukhoum, Sweet white wine, Patchouli, A scarf scented with Aromatics Elixir
I love all the Bernard Chant variations as well and I remember really liking New Tradition. It kind of slimmed down or enforced the Aromatics idea but made it sharper and more tailored.
The Aromatics White sounds kind of weird. Do you think it will become popular?
And what do you think of Aramis 900, or whatever it is called, as that one always struck me as REALLY similar to Clinique, cleverly disguised as a ‘men’s’ scent.
I think AiW is going to be a hit because the opening is cute, pink, sweet. I think Clinique’s major perfume market is not the US however. Launching this first in Europe shows the company’s convictions. And rose seems to be their current obsession, with beyond Rose being launched in London and Arab markets.
I have written about Aramis 900 over at Nero Profumo. I love it but I think it is even more floral than Aromatics Elixir, The galbanum/ rose/ carnation accord takes over from patchouli and creates a unique metallic rose. I think it is the perfect scent for all those women who find Aromatics Elixir too butch or too balsy.
I really don’t care for a strong herbal lavender note, so I know that New Tradition isn’t something I would care for – and though I love rose perfumes, I’m not sure Aromatics in White would appeal to me either. What I did find fascinating is your discourse on how, like Coty Chypre, Clinique Aromatics Elixir might be considered the start of a new genre. It certainly is a fascinating fragrance that, I would agree with you, is far more than a chypre. It’s a fusion of genres … reminds me of the inventiveness of fusion cuisine in many ways. Great post!
I agree with you that it feels like a fusion of different genres but at the same time it has a quite contradictory quality:it is immediately recognisable itself but also inside other perfumes that use it as an inspiration.
I bought the aromatics in white today as a gift for a friend. Now reading the comments Im just worried that I may of wasted my money. Should I exchange it?
I cannot really tell you because I don’t know what your friend likes. It is not a bad perfume but it does lack the carnality of the original. When I buy perfume as a gift I always ask for a sample for the person I buy it for, so they will know what it smells like before opening the box. Or I ask the SA to spray the inside of the gift bag with the tester.
Hi Christos thanks for the reply my friend likes Anais Anais but I could find it so the SA suggested the aromatics white her birthday is still more than a week away so maybe I will try and change it or just give it to her and if she is not happy before opening it I can exchange it.
I think if she likes Anaïs Anaïs, Aromatics in White could be spot on
Thanks very much I think I will just give it to her and see what she thinks. thanks again.
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