STYLE/FLAVOUR oriental fougere.
DATE OF ISSUE 2006
LISTED NOTES peru balsam, vanilla sugar, amber, sandalwood, tonka bean, patchouli, siam resin, caramel, oak, incense, orange peel, cedar.
I often only glance at one or two reviews before buying a new fume, since, as I might have already mentioned, I prefer not to load myself with other peoples' expectations and disappointments. Thus I came to Elixir des Merveilles without any preconceptions, apart from the side-eye I reserve for Hermès as a house in the round; they have never impressed me beyond their ability to induce certain people to pay alarming sums of money for possibly the ugliest bags on the planet. Slow clap for that, I suppose. I mean, Ambre Narguile is solid enough without being distinguished; there are a few others that were... pleasant... inoffensive... but that's part of the problem, is it not? Their fragrances tend to not even bother me and that is almost incontrovertible evidence of mediocrity, no matter where your tastes happen to lie. All this fuss is of course ephemeral to consideration of the perfume in itself and was something that merely confirmed my impression after the fact anyway.
Elixir des Merveilles is a pungent detonation from the moment it escapes the glass and wraps around your head, a spongy wad of dirty, syrupy, slightly decomposed citrus; rubbed kaffir lime, bruised lemon blossom, the last mandarin in the bowl - you get the idea. Accompanying this dubious melange is an almost aged if not decrepit vanilla, battered with a plank of splintery sunbaked resin. This fume is thick in almost every possible sense of the word; something to choke on- something to get both hands around- something that might need help finding its way home, and while it hoes the same row as other monster scents like Lutens' Chergui and the original Poison, it doesn't share their IQ, having more in spiritual common with Clinique's Aromatics Elixir, that drooling sleeper-hold of a thing, that infant migraine in a bottle. It doesn't so much smell like the former pair as possess their frightening tenacity and penetration, so keep that in mind when considering a second spray.
Along with all this fuzzy, dense citrus comes something grey and I can't quite put my finger on its origins since I'm still pretty much smelling what I did half an hour ago. Yes, Elixir is what you might call linear, so much so that it really just oozes slowly forward in a spineless kind of way, banging on the jellied orange like a favourite toy until you want to crawl out of the window or at least hit the mute button. Wherefore art thou, alleged cedar, because I'm gagging for you at this point. After half an hour or so the fruit bowl starts to sag and you're permitted a small peep of something drier, a flat amberous resin struggling through a vanilla turned both lactic and melon-y (yes, ew), a smothering toffee and something resembling bad rum and raisin icecream (I'm picking fake sandal and budget tonka) that have squeezed into a world that's starting to feel like the satin-lined interior of a white stretch limousine. Possibly not the intended destination. The whole thing settles into a decidedly MOR fly-spray amber in the end, the orange rising, undead, in dried peel form like a piece plucked out of a chai blend and wedged forcibly into one nostril.
So to summarize, Elixir des Merveilles is inorganic, asphyxiating and inarticulate. There, I've said it, and I feel much better. And for the price ($100+ 50ml) you can do so much better that I don't even know where to begin. That's not a popular opinion; the darn thing scores 100% on Basenotes, but I'd rather swallow the bottle than spray it on my wrist. Yes that is an exaggeration, but the sentiment remains.
Available online, if you insist.
© céili o'keefe.