The prevailing advantage of the concept for Eau de Merveilles by Hermes was presenting a fragrance marketed to women that did not emit a single floral note. True, it did include a violet ionone effect which veers into the woody spectrum, but the general impression of the scent was an orange ade-sprinkled, woody-amber, salty skin-scent. The execution was so successful that it begat its own series of flanker fragrances, among which two at least present their individual accomplishments with the excellence expected out of the master stroke of perfumer genius; so good are they, that they could be appreciated without prior knowledge of their ancestor.
Elixir de Merveilles came out in 2006 and possesses that odd twist: the woody structure is given a steeping into sweeter materials, yet the resulting effect isn't really sweet at all. The chypre-reminiscent earthy note of patchouli gives a grounding to the orange ode of the original; in fact it coerces it into recalling more of the rind of the fruit than the juice. The rind is by its very nature resinous, thus colliding with the other resinous materials in the background, providing that much needed liaison. But because orange rind is lightly bitterish and refreshing, akin to the scent of fresh sweat, Elixir de Merveilles becomes perfect for summer when one's body is slick with sweat, mingling with the humidity of the environment the over-ripeness and the loaded pong of the vegetal matter, but retaining its lived-in chic. And for reasons of having exactly that earthy, bookish quality about it, it's perfect for transitioning into fall seamlessly.
L'Ambre de Merveilles (2012) on the other hand presents a transparently warm halo on its wearer, which puts the golden light of a late autumnal day over tender skin, much like Faure's Sicilienne does for the mood of a melancholy Sunday afternoon when the hands of the clock seem stuck in molasses...The patchouli subsists, attenuated, tipsy with balsamic caramel sweetness. The traditional labdanum that provides the backbone of the "amber" chord gives L'Ambre a subtly animalistic touch, the feral eyebrows contrasting with the square-jawed heavy-set face of a rather carnal beauty. It's what one dreams of when the galloping of an imaginary carriage is drawing further away and feeling the eerie sensation of just what it takes "to win friends and influence people." The combined sense of ease and unease. Priceless really.
Related reading on PerfumeShrine:
L'Ambre des Merveilles by Hermes perfume review
Frequent Questions: The various Hermes Merveilles flankers & limited editions
Hermes perfume reviews & news