Under the Radar: Hermes Elixir des Merveilles- Holidays with Jean-Claude

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I have a whole set of perfumes I wear during the Holiday season of Thanksgiving through the New Year. This is the time of year which seems a natural fit for the gourmands in my collection to make their appearance. As I begin to sort them to the front of my shelves, I am reminded of those that helped define the genre in the early days. This year I looked at the tilted round bottle of Hermes Elixir des Merveilles and thought this might be a Holiday gourmand that flies Under the Radar.

Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena spent over ten years as in-house perfumer at Hermes. His earliest creations of the first Hermessences, the first two “Un Jardins” and Terre D’Hermes would set the aesthetic which would be refined throughout his tenure. Tucked in this same time period is Elixir des Merveilles. It never felt like part of that minimalist aesthetic. As a guess it always felt to me as if it was M. Ellena’s response to the bombast of the alpha gourmand; Thierry Mugler Angel. While Elixir des Merveilles doesn’t get quite as transparent as the other perfumes M. Ellena made for Hermes it is more than a few notches less effusive than Angel.

Jean-Claude Ellena

The original Eau des Merveilles was an homage to ambergris. M. Ellena imagined Elixir des Merveilles to take that ambergris and float it on a chocolate ocean. Before we get there, a fabulous spiced orange accord begins things. Then the chocolate rises accompanied by warm balsamic notes, cedar, and ambergris. This is the amazing gourmand heart which engages me time after time. To give it that final Holiday twist M. Ellena creates a sugar cookie accord fresh from the oven.

Elixir des Merveilles has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

As I was thinking about writing this, I realized that while Elixir des Merveilles does not rise to the transparency of the current trend of gourmands it feels like a forerunner. I always facetiously imagine it is what the Holidays at Jean-Claude’s house must smell like. I’m sure I’m wrong but it is what the Holidays in Poodlesville smells like on the days I wear it.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

One thought on “Under the Radar: Hermes Elixir des Merveilles- Holidays with Jean-Claude

  1. After looking at the HERMES catalog chronologically it seems to me M Ellena wanted to make Eau de Merveilles his own. In much the same way he did Bel Ami Vetiver, Equipage Geranium and Rose Amazone. My mom's vintage Eau d'Orange Vert smells different than my more modern (post-Ellena) version the flacon is even different.

    I love Elixir the most of the Merveilles line (my second is Nagel's "Bleu" iteration) BECAUSE of its density and delicious dwoemer. He did, after all do the original Rumba for BALENCIAGA. Though many "pigeonhole" his style he is amazingly talented and extremely versatile. His Eau Parfumee au The Vert for BVLGARI showed his translucence while the Extreme version showed he can rock with the best of them…without smelling quite like anyone else. I find many of my fave "designer" releases come from luxury goods companies like BVLGARI, Hermes and Cartier (in order by number of bottles I own). 

    Even though I never really thought of this as a gourmand scent per se (just yummilicious) it really kinda is. Don't listen to me though: I don't think Ambre Narguile smells all that much like apple pie…unless it was baked in a hookah den! Once again, it would seem, Ellena was years ahead of his time…

    smell swell & be well,

    JR xox

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