By the pricking of my thumbs, something musky this way comes. Or should that be, "something snowy"? Two trends seem to be gaining momentum in the perfume world - i) a greater emphasis on creamy musk materials; ii) a more prominent use of pearl-coloured aesthetics in packaging - and they both find expression in the latest release from Clinique, Aromatics In White, composed by IFF's Nicolas Beaulieu.
The scent's progenitor - the masterful Aromatics Elixir (Bernard Chant; 1971) - remains one of the most explosive marriages of rose and patchouli ever poured into a bottle, which may be why Beaulieu made the wise decision not to goad it into a direct stand-off. Instead, he's decided to use violet leaf to make the rose's wings lighter, orange to sweeten its smile and the faintest sprinkling of pepper to inject a sly sparkle into its gaze. And then comes that musky base. It's extremely quiet - many will doubtless complain that this composition's volume knob is turned way too low - but it is tenacious and it settles onto the wearer's skin with the ease of tender familiarity. It's almost as though the fiery union of the 1971 creation has travelled through the relatively chaste 90s and emerged with a greater appreciation of stability and comfort.
A sleet-covered, impressionist panorama as seen through a veil of gauze, Aromatics In White is seamlessly blended, smooth and, for my money, a far more full-bodied representation of perfumery's most popular flower than Clinique's recent Beyond Rose. That said, it's not for nothing that I started this review with a reference to witches. Beaulieu's work here sounds innocuous, but it never quite lets you forget its roots. It may be clad in delicate, pearly robes, but somewhere, in its hidden recesses, it conceals a sorceress, ready to bare her soul each time you feel inclined to write her off. It is her presence that makes this subtle piece of work commendable and compelling.
[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Clinique in 2015.]