Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Hermes Elixir des Merveilles

I didn't wake up feeling lucky. Like the weather, my mood has been all over the place. Trying to make up for being a bad blogger, last night I checked today's weather and selected a sample to wear. It was supposed to be rainy and warm in the morning, with high winds, clearing and cooling later in the day. Early spring confounds me when it comes to perfume, I've decided. When April arrives, I seem to know just what to wear, but March sends me all over the map. I can't abide too much variety, which sounds ridiculous for someone sampling something new every day, but I even try to work my samples with the season, to get into a groove. Trouble is, it's impossible to find a groove when it's seventy degrees one day and fifty the next. I guess that's when I start leaning on the tried and true, especially since I'm afraid of treating something new unfairly.

Before retiring last night, I decided to try out Hermes Eilxir des Merveilles. I worried a little that it might be too heavy or gourmand for the warmish morning, but I was worried that if I didn't try it now, I might not get to it again until next fall.

The notes in Elixir des Merveilles are:
Top: Clemenvilla orange, orange pulp, chocolate
Heart: Tonka, tonka bean, vanilla sugar, creamy (creamy? creamy what?)
Base: Sandalwood, oak, balms, cedar, frankincense, ambergris, patchouli

This perfume is most definitely not a strict gourmand scent. If you were worried about all the vanilla and orange and chocolate, don't be. The opening is the most gourmand part of the scent, with a dark, dark chocolate note that almost translates as pepper on my skin. The orange is not sparkling or sweet, but a bit bitter, more like the rind than the fruit inside. The tonka bean lends to the spice as the scent develops, bringing out the dark heart which gets rounded rather than sweetened by the vanilla. It has a slight booziness, which is approprite because it's absolutely intoxicating. In the dry down the scent truly does get drier; the woods take away the booze and the cedar, frankincense and patchouli take over. To me, this part of the development is reminiscent of (but does not smell like) Etro Messe de Minuit, although a sweetness emerges underneath the dry incense that makes it...well, sort of addictive.

Another thing that occurred to me is that the more I sample, the more I realize how difficult it is to categorize perfumes by the season. Living in the deep South in particular, I find it's probably more accurate to categorize based on how a perfume will hold up against humidity. Some fragrances, like Femme, are overripe in humidity, but might play well in less humid areas. And some fragrances, like Miel de Bois or this one, stand up in the humidity because they are so dry. The ending on Elixir des Merveilles also has hints of green--not lush and grassy, but desert green, cedar and mesquite in the spring.

I've learned a couple of things over the last few years. One is to work with a budget. I spent willy nilly (well, for me...I tend toward the conservative side on buying things) my first year, and even on into the first part of the second year. Now I have a strict, strict budget, partly for samples (Want to hear something really sick? I've priced out all the samples I need to buy this year already!) and partly for bottles. I keep a wishlist (I keep meaning to post it), and every so often I get online and think I'm going to buy something, but I end up closing the browser and walking away. The second thing I've learned is to go with my gut--not with compliments, not with with what everyone else loves. I was much more easily swayed into thinking I loved everything in the first year (and it may still seem that way, but that's just because I'm positive by nature and I think to be snarky most of the time is simply to be lazy...I try to snark only when I feel it's truly warranted--looking at you, Clean fragrances--and I'm generally not interested in dictating taste), but I am much pickier about what I buy.

And I bought this one. (FragranceNet had the best price, in case you're wondering. Not a plug. Just the facts.) For me, it's in the category of Dzing! or La Chasse in the way I just knew I had to have it. I'm wondering now how I'll make my sample last until my bottle arrives. Maybe it's a good thing, though, as I might not want to wear anything else ever again...Right! My first full (small) bottle of 2008! My first Hermes!

*image from Hermes