Elixir. Aromatics Elixir.
The old scent by lab-coated cosmetic giant has nothing clinical about it. Except perhaps for its potency which is phenomenal, accounting for it being immediately recognisable and perceived within a 10-mile radius. It is the one singular scent, a very characteristic chypre, I always compliment on its wearers yet find stifling when I wear it myself. Maybe this is why it introduced the infamous "spray and walk into the mist" technique. It had to! But then "walk into the mist" is so evocative a phrase anyway.
Composed in 1971 by master perfumer Bernard Chant, the same man who created the headstrong Cabochard, a personal favourite for all the right reasons, it bears the powerful signature of intense patchouli and moss in the arms of sandalwood and vetiver. With a base like that it brings to mind the german forests of the brothers Grimm and the scandinavian mythology. The sudden entrance into an apocryphal cave where creation must have begun, in the guts of the earth, fans out powdery notes of coumarin and rose and the bitter taste of good soap. Humble chamomille is mocking you as you bend to pick up some to only come face to face to poisoined mushrooms.
With its dramatic, sad and intense tonality, it reminds me of Aase's Death by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, from "Peer Gynt" (Suite No. 1, Op. 46)
Click to listen to it.
(Uploaded by skszyp on youtube)
This is no laughing matter! No fairies or elves lurk in the dark corners, no Shakespearian lightness, no redemption for the frail of heart. It takes bravado and cojones to wear it and to be prepared to burn in its embrace. Into the embrace of the Dragon, where all things meet their opposites. The future and the past; desire and regret; knowledge and oblivion; and love....oh yes...
Excalibur came as a most welcome shocker to my novice eyes back in 1981, when it introduced me to what later became an obsession and almost a thesis. With its ingenious choice of thespian extraordinaire Nicol Williamson, its ravishing villainess in Helen Mirren alongside other wonderful choices following the masterful baguette of John Boorman it filled my mind with the beautiful, magical imagery of the emerald isle where it was shot and with the gruesome realism of medieval battle coupled with the romanticism of Morte d'Arthur.
Click for a quick taste.
(uploaded by kipesquire on youtube)
Recently there has been a Velvet Sheer version of Aromatics Elixir out (a seemingly oily gel that does contain alcohol nevertheless per Clinique, in a beautiful clear splash bottle with a clear glass top). Lighter, younger, much more wearable, playing up on a more subtle approach of more chamomille and a less animalic base, minus the civet and deep moss.
So if you have qualms, maybe now is the time to step into the enchanted forest and reap the aromatheuraputic benefits it has been purported to have on the psyche since its creation all that time ago. The body products are also an excellent choice as their scent really lingers.
However the old version in parfum is still something to hold in awe, even if you do not like it.
Like Merlin says: "A dream to some, a nightmare to others". Couldn't be more aptly said for Aromatics Elixir.