Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Clinique- Aromatics Elixir (Current Version)

Aromatics Elixir was the perfume of other people's mothers. My mom used to walk in a cloud of white flowers, wafting tuberose, orange blossom, and jasmine with a tropic flair that stood out among the billowing green chypres of the 1970s. Aromatics Elixir by Clinique was one of the most recognizable and persistent fragrances I remember from those years, a scent that lingered in hall closets and teachers' lounges. My mom couldn't stand it (she dislikes chypres in general), and I was sufficiently intimidated by Aromatics Elixirs that it took me decades to stick my nose in it again, and by that time it was not what it used to be.

I've recently got back to this classic Clinique, after a friend had asked me if it was still a good perfume. Surprisingly or not, I've fallen in love. It's true that Aromatics Elixir has lost most of its bite. If you remember it as a patchouli, oakmoss, and even more patchouli monster, you'll find that the beast has been neutered. The patchouli has been power-washed and smoothed, and as oakmoss as a raw material has been reconstructed, the modern use of it is tamer and lighter. It can be disappointing (it often is), but in the case of the current Aromatics Elixir version, the reformulation allows other notes to shine without being smothered.

Take rose, for example. It's the heart and soul of AE, and is now more clearly defined by a crunchy, thorny, and green spiral of leaves and herbs. It's the first time I fully get the Aromatics part, and it's a bracing and rather wonderful. Vetiver is more dominant, making the scent dryer and probably even  less gender-specific than it's ever been (I've always thought that in a blind testing Aromatics Elixir would be pegged as unisex). Herbal, peppery, and very much alive, the only nod to my childhood I smell is in the abundance of red geranium. I'm being reminded of the way crushing juicy geranium stems between my fingers used to feel and smell, and how I used to rub them all over my hands. There are far less secrets hidden in Aromatics Elixir as it is today. It's more open, and easier to approach. Kind of like meeting an intimidating teacher or neighbor from your past and discovering you can have an adult conversation of equals.

One thing that hasn't changed at all is the perfume's longevity. Aromatics Elixir is still incredibly potent, and it lingers on clothes and bedding. It's a proper perfume, even with all the sunshine that was let in. It's as sophisticated and layered as one hopes to find in a good perfume, and amazingly, you can get it at Ulta.

Aromatics Elixir by Clinique ($54, 1.5 eau de parfum) is available anywhere Clinique products are sold.


  1. Hi Gaia. A few years ago now I picked up the Perfumer's Reserve of AE and it was potent. I have an extensive, largely vintage collection of fragrances, many of them Beastly but I'm not intimidated by any of them except for my AE. I hear that Cate Blanchett is a fan too.

  2. I love reading your posts - you have a very lyrical writing style that I quite enjoy. AE has been my signature scent for nigh 40 years - I love it! I wasn't aware of its history, and I thank you for featuring this 'mainstream' fragrance in your blog!

  3. I'm not sure I tried the vintage but the bottle I own from mid 2009 feels extremely dry and chypre. Geranium and galbanum are very prominent, but the rose and flowers are lost on me. One of the very few remaining classics in very good shape.

  4. My Mom wore green chypres, thank goodness! That's what has given me and my siblings a solid foundation for fragrance evaluation. We know what classy smells like!
    Most people currently commenting on fragrances didn't have that early education.

  5. I'm definitely going to have to give this one a try again. I know I should have loved the original, but it was the very pronounced signature scents of two people I really didn't much care for - to the point where in thinking of them their visual image is always quite secondary to the olfactory memory. There was no way I could even sniff this without feeling their presence around me. I am so rarely happy with reformulations, but I'm actually hoping this version has been reformulated enough to wipe out that association - sounds like it has such a lovely list of notes.

  6. I had a bottle of this when I was in my 20s (1980s/1990s). I stopped wearing it because people around me would always react--not always negatively, but I didn't like the attention. So I guess you could say I was intimidated by it. I did love it, though. It's one of my all-time favorites but I just never found it very wearable. You've inspired me to take a look/sniff of it next time I'm in Ulta. I'm curious about it now.

  7. I loved the original version...it was intense and I didn't have to use a lot to feel like I was being enrobed in its protective scent. I hate it now. So I have a bit left in a bottle I bought on eBay, and then, well, I guess I will have to let it go...
    I still have original Paris, and all the original versions of my signature scent, Mitsouko, even one bar of soap that I only use when I am feeling like I need to be pampered and loved by all the unknown energies around. Oh life!

  8. I used to wear this in the late 80s/early 90s. I invariably got compliments when I wore it, from everyone around me, which surprised me because I didn't love it. It was an odd sensation to get universal accolades for a fragrance that never felt like "me." I haven't tried it in many years, but you've made me curious. I wonder if I'm grown up enough to love it now? ;)


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