Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hermès-Elixir des Merveilles

One of my mother's greatest acts of sorcery is making candied citrus peels. Taking stuff that's normally considered trash and turning it into an amazing, vanilla-laced delicacy, has always amazed me. The process involves several days and makes the kitchen smell heavenly from the beginning, when the peel is cooked in a sugar syrup, to the drying stage, when large trays of them are set to dry after being rolled in sugar with a touch of vanilla. Naturally, some of my fondest memories involve this scent.

Then there are the store-bought chocolate-dipped candied citrus peels, which are a quick and efficient way to my heart. La Maison du Chocolat has some really good ones, but I'm always willing to settle when Whole Foods' choclaterie offers them. The closest perfume version of this treat that I've found so far is Hermès Elixir des Merveilles.

The Merveilles series actually has three different perfumes. The original, Eau des Merveilles, is an eau de toilette, and is quite famous for its salty ambergris accord. It's a beautiful scent, worthy of its own review, but it does not satisfy a sweet tooth on a day one wants to smell edible. The parfum version, Parfum des Merveilles, is a darker, woodier version of the EDT. The subject of this review is the EDP, Elixir des Merveilles, which is technically a flanker. Composed by Jean-Claude Ellena (the other Merveilles were created by Ralf Schwieger and Nathalie Feisthauer), though not very Ellenistic in concept (chocolate? caramel? by the Overlord of transparent minimalism?), Elixir des Merveilles is a grownup gourmand, one that doesn't insult one's idea of tastefulness while still allowing you climbing into bed smelling yummy.

I've found several lists of possible notes that don't always agree with each other. There's no doubt we're dealing with a candied orange, cocoa or chocolate, creamy sandalwood and a patchouli-vetiver mix in the drydown that on the wrong day can smell a bit masculine, but I don't really mind. Then again, I own a bottle of Elena's Terre d'Hermes, the manly interpretation of the orange-wood theme, which I find to be invigorating and energizing.

While the chocolate-orange combination calls to mind winter holidays, celebratory liqueurs and truffle gift boxes, I actually like wearing it in warmer weather. I find that balmy days bring out more depth out of the Elixir, while it can be a bit flat on a cold day. Still, I know most people would rather avoid chocolate perfumes in summer and would enjoy it much better this season.

Elixir des Merveilles and its other relatives are available from Hermes boutiques and some department stores. The retail price for the 1.7 oz bottle is $100, but one look online would show you that it can easily be found under $40. Hermès website also offers a 13.3 oz (not a typo) bottle for $440. My husband called this bottle The Mouthwash, and frankly, it makes me wonder about the real cost of the juice inside and the enormous markup brought by the Hermès name.



  1. I see I'm going to have to meander over to Hermes this weekend...

  2. I just wore this on the day you posted ;-)

    Delightful, and not overly sweet or cloying, the ambergris is delightful in it.

  3. god i love this stuff. one of my all-time favorite scents. and candied orange peels dipped in chocolate. takes me back to my days working at Godiva.


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