Perfume Review & Musings: Aromatics Elixir Sheer Velvet by Clinique


The new Aromatics Elixir Velvet Sheer came in today. I suspected as much after having visited the Clinique website and seeing that the new version of Aromatics Elixir was already available for sale. So I decided to pay a visit to my local Clinique counter. And yes, there it was, the new bottle, standing all prim and elegant in the midst of a perfume tray, surrounded by its predecessors: Happy, Happy in Bloom, Chemistry, and of course Aromatics Elixir which was created 35 years ago in 1971.


The new jus is in a flacon that is sleek, willowy, and sophisticated. As you may have heard already, the juice offers a different physical texture. It is described as a gel but prior to reading about it, it felt to me like an oil of medium thickness on my fingers. For this reason, the new Aromatics is only sold in a splash bottle. The Clinique website has taken pain to specify that the perfume does in fact contain alcohol and that information that was circulated to the contrary in the press is not accurate.  The tall stopper is made of transparent glass. It is all very elegant-looking and a pleasure to handle...


Aromatics Elixir Velvet Sheer is like the luminous version of the classic Aromatics Elixir. It is a lighter floral chypre. It is as if the top notes had been enhanced and the base notes muted down. The architecture is the same, but now everybody is looking at the winter garden found on the terrace on the roof of the house. The glass pannels take in all the light they can possibly capture. This creates a more ethereal feel.

The new perfume opens on notes of Bulgarian rose essence and chamomille developping into a full heart of lily of the valley, ylang ylang, and jasmine. Base notes are composed of patchouli, vetiver, and amber. Contrasting the new jus side by side with the classic Aromatics Elixir suddenly makes me realize how powerful the patchouli, musk, and civet notes are in the version created in 1971. It is much, much more animalic and earthy than the new version. Its rugosity and darkness that are now made blatant orient my gaze towards the dark earthenware tiles covering the floor of the same said house above.

The Aromatics Sheer shows its beauty and sensuality from the beginning, offering a rich and complex opening. It then fades down and becomes very soft, almost too bland, letting the sweet and modest chamomille, paradoxically, dominate the blend. At this point, I started making a mental note that this perfume was not up to par with the old elixir, but then the scent took on a new life and bloomed with all its flowers as the heart developed into a rich bouquet. There is a soapy undertone that is very much present; it oscillates between reminding you of soap or evoking a clean scent. It wavers a bit on that threshhold but succeeds to my nose in seguing into something more complex. A rich woodsy musk is quite prominent in the drydown reminding me of the accord found in Gianni Versace by Versace. There is also an air of vintage Nina Ricci perfume about Sheer Velvet. Although the base notes have been made to be lighter the Sheer version is actually longer lasting than the classic version. Several hours later I can still smell Sheer Velvet while Aromatics Elixir has faded away leaving just a little bit of sandalwood on the skin despite all its initial forceful impact and very good lasting power. I note that the chamomille is again very much present in the drydown of Sheer Velvet.

You could say that the two Aromatics define two different moods or times of the day. The Sheer version is almost gay, clear, luminous, outgoing, and brisk. The classic version is by contrast more tortured and introspective, more deeply sensual, more mature, and seductive. The first one you imagine wearing to the office or at a garden party in broad daylight, the second one you imagine wearing at a cocktail or dinner party in the evening and night. The Sheer scent is younger-smelling. I love the luminosity and staying power of the Sheer version, its evocation of a serene femininity. It evokes to me a happy woman. It may be in a way the womanly sophisticated version of Happy.

The perfume retails for $35. A gift with purchase will be offered from September 6 for a purchase of $21.50 or more.

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8 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. I just tried this one this am- it's lovely- but I'm surprised at the civet I get in the drydown !
    Very sophisticated and alluring...

    Thanks for the tip, my dear...

  2. Dear Mimi.
    What a beautifullly written review of one of my old time favorites - indeed as I wore Aromatics Elixir when I was in high school and then college and Now --
    I am very curious about this new sheer version- I love the original's hard to imagine a new version but I will explore this sheer Aromatics !
    Thank You --
    Scrnted Regards-
    Madelyn E

    Madelyn E
  3. I really have to go try this.

  4. Hello Chaya,

    There's probably civet still in the new version, but in more discrete quantity, I think. It is indeed lovely.

  5. Thank you very much Madelyn. Aromatics Elixir is a beautiful perfume. I was very eager to try the new version and I am personally not disappointed. I think that the perfumers here have succeeded in not making the two scents compete with each other but be complementary (unlike Sisley).

  6. Jennifer,

    I hope you will like it:)

  7. H, funny you should write this, because I must purchased a small bottle of the original over the weekend. I never really liked it before, thinking it way too heavy and animalic.

    Now, I love it! Just one spritz lasts all day long on me, it is that powerful. I love the way the original smells like a classic fragrance from one of the old French perfumers, did you reference Nina Ricci? That's a good one. At the same time, however, it smells very Om-like, almost meditative.

    I will have to try the Sheer, but I bet I will not like it as much as the original.


  8. Hi Vi,

    Congrats on your new buy, it's a wise choice! I did mention the vintage Nina Riccis (that you sent me, thank you very much) but I was thinking more about the new one because it's lighter and the Riccis strike me as having lighter bodies than the original Aromatics.


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