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Bombay Duck London

Elemis Eau de Parfum

What does a spa smell like?  Clean towels and pressed sheets.  A breath of woody incense, perhaps.  Fresh flowers.  (Although the ubiquitous white phalaenopsis orchid, a veritable spa cliché, is of course without scent.)  Well, the debut fragrance from Elemis – a brand found in luxury spas around the world – does capture a little of all of those.

But ‘a little’ is really the operative phrase.  No way is this a ‘room rocker’.  It wouldn’t ‘rock’ a cramped changing cubicle, actually:  totally airy, transparent, a hushed-whisper-through-a-soundproofed-door of a fragrance.  But for those who like their scents seriously understated, here’s what you’ll find.  The overture:  a pleasant fleeting whoosh of the aforementioned freshly-washed sheets.  (I’m not talking fabric conditioner – heaven forbid – but imagine unpegging the wind-dried laundry from the line, and shaking it out, a quaint custom which has not completely died out, at least not in this home.)  There’s a breezy seaside-y note (and Elemis do talk of a ‘marine accord’, and of sea mosses).  But what dominate, for me, are aromatic elements:  although there’s no mention of thyme in Elemis’s own fragrance breakdown, I get fresh omelette aux fines herbes (without the egg, I’ll give you that).

Maybe the herbiness is down to to elemi, the key note – and a play on Elemis’s name, of course.  A resin with a honey-like consistency, elemi’s known for its lemon and pine sharpness and is native to the Phillipines.  Allegedly notes of vetiver and patchouli feature, too – but I’m like a drug squad sniffer dog constantly on the prowl for those ingredients and can’t discern them anywhere.  (Cue quiet sob.)  No talk of any ‘unisex’ appeal, either – although I’d almost prefer to smell this on a male neck, while I creased his starched shirt in a clinch.  Funnily enough, when it’s been on the body for a few hours, it does – uncannily – smell just like an Elemis spa.

As a fan of the brand from way, way back (I was there when Elemis was first unveiled 20 years ago), I certainly wish this toe-in-the-fragrance-waters a more successful life than the much richer signature fragrance for rival brand ESPA, which breathed its last a couple of years ago.  Created in Grasse by Elemis’s own Director of Product and Treatment Development, Noella Gabriel (a highly-regarded and much-liked beauty industry figure), this certainly doesn’t have the complexity of a celebrity scent, or most designer brands.  But if you like (or long) to live in an uncluttered way, with a simple wardrobe of black and white, a handful of monochrome pebbles on your driftwood mantelpiece, and – yes, a scentless white orchid in your bathroom – you may just love it…

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1 comment to Elemis Eau de Parfum

  • I find the idea of this elusive perfume really appealing. And as long as it doesn’t sound like a spa – aural perfumes not actually having been invited yet – I am sure I will love it.

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