(Image Mommy Dearest from Numero Magazine.)
Aramis by Aramis (1964. Perfumer Bernard Chant) is one reason among many that I love Estée Lauder. It is the only men’s stark leather chypre perfume available outside the niche market. It’s been in production for nearly 50 years, so it must have some degree of a following. Why are there no imitators trying to cash in? Well, I suppose the triplets have cornered the market: Grès Cabochard, 1959. Aramis, 1964. Azurée, 1969. All are variations on a theme by Bernard Chant. Small differences occur as notes recede or come forward, and despite the large common ground between them, each perfume stands on its own. Aramis and Azurée have surely been reformulated over time, but are of surprising quality given the state of many other classic chypres. On that note, let us have a moment of silence to remember the departed Cabochard, poor dear.
I’ve seen a number of lists of notes, but to my nose Aramis is a bergamot, patchouli and moss blast. It has a hint of the herbal tone that Chant’s Aromatics Elixir and Aramis 900 would make famous in the next decade. I go back and forth between Aramis and Azurée. They are notably similar side by side, and the one could easily be taken for the other in isolation. Aramis is a bit sharper, has a cooler herbal tone (clove, bay, pepper) and an earthier drydown. The similarities, though, outweigh the differences.
The majority of the good leather/chypres come from the niche world (Etat Libre d’Orange Rien, Parfumerie Générale Cuir d’Iris) or from smaller-release houses (Robert Piguet Bandit, Knize Ten.) This EL cheapie, though, compares favorably with the best of them. Interesting to note, it’s also outlived (or resisted lethal reformulation) a few other classic femme brutes: Madame Jolie, Miss Balmain and Tabac Blond.