My love for Bernard Chant’s olfactory style always keeps me on my toes for Aromatics Elixir flankers and the announcement of Aromatics in White being released in November kept me running to the perfume stores to meet it. To my surprise, I found it in Athens, not in Geneva. For some strange reason it will be available here as late as March. And although Clinique’s UK site features it the US site doesn’t even know it exists. So I smelt it briefly during my holidays, thought it wasn’t bad and went home, to my Athens apartment. There I was, looking at my now neglected collection, opening bottle caps and smelling spray nozzles lovingly. This is how I reopened my forgotten, hardly used bottle of Etro New Tradition, one of the less known offerings of this house. My impression of this was that of a rather dry, stern masculine scent that reminded me of lavender scented paper tissues, very popular when I was a child. This time however what I felt was very different. In the back of my mind I could still see why I had judged it the way I did, but I know I felt I really loved it! It had an oh-so-familiar smell that brought to mind my expectations of Aromatics in White. I had read that it was a modern version of Elixir with nuances of incense. Aromatics in White does not quite fit that description, but New Tradition does.
New Tradition opens with a dry-as-a bone lavender note that is so herbal one would think it will go on forever. And it does keep shouting for the first minutes of the opening but then it bows gracefully to greet an even dryer patchouli. Right there magic happens. Rose and carnation and geranium come together in the background and create an earthier version of Aromatic’s Elixir’s herbal heart. The flowers are toned down in comparison and there is a hint of clove in there too. The lavender blue image of the opening slowly mixes with the golden brown hue of dried tobacco leaves. I do not mean that I actually smell tobacco in this perfume, but the colour that flashes in front of me is that of tobacco. The aura of the composition has the volatility of burning incense but also the tactility of dry patchouli leaves.
Aromatics in White, on the other hand opens with a loukhoum rose. Fleshy pink instead of lavender blue. It is not exactly what I was expecting from an Elixir flanker. I can also pick out a white wine note in the opening, maybe it’s there, maybe it’s just the moist violet leaf note that makes me think of wine. The opening is big, sweet and coated with icing sugar. From then on it starts developing like an accordion. It delivers big wafts of sweet roses and then inhales and shows patchouli and violet only to explode again in pink roses and sweetness. The Aromatics Elixir lineage is there but it feels more like a floral flanker of Perfumer’s Reserve than a child of the original Aromatics Elixir. It just lacks the depth and facets.
Both fragrances made me consider the possibility that like Coty Chypre, Aromatics Elixir could very well be considered the beginning of a genre. It remains hard to classify, the closest I can get to pinning a label on it would be “herbal chypre” but if this is truly a chypre, was isn’t tree moss essential in creating the signature accord of Bernard Chant, immediately recognisable in Aromatics in White and lavender laden New Tradition? The play of rose and patchouli is a big part of this core accord but this is not enough to summon the ghost of aromatics Elixir. New Tradition manages to recreate a big part of this mysterious accord adding the most unexpected ingredient, lavender. It works however because this brings into play all these herbal facets that Aromatics in White and Perfumer’s Reserve lack. Aromatics in White is a nice scent, especially if you hold on for the deep drydown. It uses loukhoum rose to hold perfume aisle visitors captive before they walk out the door and what it lacks in mystery by comparison to the original Elixir, it gains in bad-ass projection and longevity. It is not an office scent even though it isn’t overtly sexy either. It is supposed to be a “modern” interpretation of the original but overall I would not characterise it as modern. It is quite old-fashioned and this is the best quality about it and what connects it with the original Elixir.
Smelling New Tradition and Aromatics in White together is like watching a family drama. Aromatics and Elixir got a divorce and split the property. Aromatics took all that was herbal, mysterious and brooding. He also got a new dog which he calls Lavender and moved to the rural suburb of New Tradition. Elixir on the other hand got all that was bad-ass and in-your-face and also kept the house. She painted it all white however and now grows pink roses in the garden. She also got her maiden name back: Aromatics in White.
For New Tradition, notes from Parfumo: Bergamot, Lavender, Lemon, Clove, Iris, Rose, Patchouli, Vetiver
Notes from my nose: Lavender, Dry patchouli leaves, Rose, Incense
For Aromatics in White, notes from Parfumo: Violet leaf, Sichuan pepper, Cistus, Rose, Orange blossom, Patchouli, Musk, Benzoin, Ambergris
Notes from my nose: Rose loukhoum, Sweet white wine, Patchouli, A scarf scented with Aromatics Elixir