Sugar and Spice for Boys
Aramis 900 and Clinique’s Aromatics Elixir are very similar. In classic Estée Lauder fashion, there are effectively masculine and feminine versions of one fragrance, as is also the case with JHL/Cinnabar, Devin/Alliage, Aramis/Azuree. The funny thing is, by conventional perfume standards they’re mixed up with A900 and Aromatics Elixir. While both are floral/herbal chypres, AE is much stronger and potentially off-putting, yet is the version sold to women. A900, the one for the boys, is sweeter, more floral and less stark. Overall, A900 is lighter on patchouli, and has more rose than AE. It has a generally softer tone.
In Aramis 900, up top the bergomot is restrained in its bitterness by a soft lemon. Rosewood makes the rose seem sweet and liqueuer-like. The strong chamomile note, that reads as strictly bitter in AE’s opening notes, is replaced by an herbal quality in A900 that gives a bit of soapiness not found in AE. A900’s basenotes, which definitely include a healthy dose of patchouli (as in AE) are modulated by vetiver. Both scents end on a rose/patchouli accord, but the rose dominates in A900.
I used to think, why wear, A900? Cut to the chase and wear AE. And while I do wear AE more often, I’ve grown very fond of A900. It’s very pretty and has a bit more smile to it than AE.
I don’t usually think of EL as the company to turn gender norms upside-down, but in designating AE as the huge, take-it-or-leave-it bruiser, and A900 as the paler and quieter of the pair, Bernard Chant is giving us a functional instruction on gender in the Gemaine Cellier tradition: knock it out for the women and dilute it for the men. There’s a lesson here for us, boys.