Comparison sniff: Hermes Eau des Merveilles, Eau Claire des Merveilles, Ambre des Merveilles and Elixir des Merveilles

Dear Scent Diary,

images-2Like many of the scents I’ve ended up loving, I wasn’t that impressed with Hermes’ Eau des Merveilles when I first tried it. It’s a salty, transparent orange scent with some woods and amber blended in. Okay…and? I promptly forgot I was wearing it until much, much later when I was a bit taken back by how great and unexpectedly sexy I smelled. “Wow, okay,” I thought, “Maybe I’m starting to get it now.” The next day, when I threw on the jacket I had worn the day before, I was literally distracted by my sudden gorgeous personal aroma. I probably shouldn’t have been driving.

The thing about Eau des Merveilles is, you’re never drawn to how it smells, it’s about how you smell. The salty ambergris seems to meld with the salt of your skin to create the ‘you’, while the orange and woods rise up to create the ‘but better’ part of the equation. I find it to be the perfect scent for when you’re going to be amongst people but aren’t sure if they’re perfume nazis or not. Eau des Merveilles will never offend, and yet is very present, making both my perfume enemies and myself very happy. For me, EdM holds down a very important fort in my perfume wardrobe: it’s my well-cut white t-shirt and high-end jeans scent. Casual, but still stylish and a little sexy.

So. Since I am such a fan, I was very curious to know how Ralf Schwieger and Nathalie Feisthauer‘s little understated masterpiece compared with Jean-Claude Ellena’s three more recent flankers. Here’s my take.
nd.9583Eau Claire des Merveilles – Lighter, more floral, less salty and even more polite (as if that was necessary). While Eau des Merveilles manages to be polite in a very original, present way, Eau Claire does it in a more traditional, quiet, shrinking-from-view kind of way. My least favourite. Wait, now I’m being polite. I hate it.

UnknownAmbre des Merveilles – Opens with a layer of vanilla and boozy amber over the salty ambergris. As it dries down, the vanilla adds a sweet layer over the transparent orange and salt of the original. At times late in the drydown, it smells syrupy and woody and outdoorsy all at the same time. Ambre des Merveilles manages to be something very original in its own right: a fresh amber scent. I like.

nd.3168Elixir des Merveilles – This one comes out of the gates with a bang. The ante is upped and every note is doubled down. The transparent orange of the original makes way for a potent swirl of orange zest, chocolate and spices. I was in love straight away. Which I should know by now, is a bad sign. As Elixir dries down, it keeps much of its potency as the saltiness of the ambergris becomes more prominent. It’s denser, richer and sweeter than the original and after a few hours, I realized that that’s actually a bad thing. What makes the original so brilliant in my books is its ease. It’s like a person with natural style. Elixir is the person wearing designer pieces from head to toe but looks like they’re trying too hard. It’s by no means a bad scent – in fact, I do like it. But in the end, the only one I really want to own is the original. Good thing I already do.

Classic Ellena: Jour d’Hermes

Dear Scent Diary,

Went on a bit of a smelling spree today. I’m in Vancouver on business, but lucky for me, the ‘business’ only lasted an hour and I had the rest of the day to wander around all the city’s perfume hot spots. One of the first things I smelled was the new Jour d’Hermes, Jean-Claude Ellena’s proof to himself and the world that he could do a feminine scent – as if any of us had any doubt.

dc56196f2bfd6315c3824a1e1b294e08Jour d’Hermes opens with a burst of juicy florals that hit a citrusy high note right off the top. It’s bright and tart and lovely. There’s no powderiness or typical perfuminess that a floral blend with no one dominant flower can often conjure. To my nose, it becomes obvious within minutes that the same hand that created Un Jardin Sur le Nil had a hand in this as well. The tart refusal to become sweet, the brightness, and the indelible marker style tenaciousness is to my mind, classic Ellena. The sillage is fairly strong and yet the scent is light – another Ellena magic trick.

Did I buy? Well, I’m generally not a ‘buy-on-the-first-sniff’ kinda girl, so no. Will I go back and buy? I’d have to say no. My tastes run unisex and woody and this is firmly in the ‘fresh, crisp, citrusy, floral’ camp. I have no doubt it will be adored by many, but it shall only be admired from afar my me.

Jean-Claude Ellena apparently felt he had to prove he could make a feminine perfume.

Nice office, JCE. Photo from the linked article.

Nice office, JCE.
Photo from the linked article.

Dear Scent Diary,

Here’s another interview with Jean-Claude Ellena (Hermes’ PR department must have him doing the circuit) talking about creating Jour d’Hermes and his creative process. Apparently someone out there has accused him of not being able to compose a feminine scent and he took it to heart (instead of looking at them sideways and wondering who the hell they thought they were). See the article here.

Jean-Claude Ellena interview

Dear Scent Diary,

Click on the link in the post to see the interview.

Click on the link in the post to see the interview.

Most perfumistas probably missed this short but sweet interview with JCE because it ran in New York Magazine’s The Cut and not a perfume blog. I’m not a groupie but I am a fan of his – maybe even more so after reading this.