Amber. We have such a complex, masochistic relationship. I love amber; I want to love amber more than I do, but the idea of smelling like a head shop is incredibly off-putting to me. Amber can be such a refined, decadent scent. It can just as easily, however, take on the smell of what I refer to as a “privilege
d hippie.” So in an attempt to smell more like a gentleman than a freshman philosophy class at UC Berkeley I’ll be trying a heap of amber-based scents: Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, Tom Ford Amber Absolute, Atelier Cologne Ambre Nue, Hermès Hermèssence Ambre Narguilé, By Kilian Amber Oud, and Bond No 9 New York Amber.
Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan: Right off the bat we have hippie. This was the most depressing for me as I had heard so many good things about Ambre Sult
an. It opens with a rush of amber, myrrh, and green herbs. After that I thought I was going crazy. Making it up. I had to be. No, it’s just thyme or some sort of green herb. Nope, its THAT herb. Definitely a fragrance first for me. On the upside, if this is your speed, the sillage and longevity are intense. So bully for you, but a no go for me.
Tom Ford Amber Absolute: Whoa, momma. This is some pungent juice. Mega sillage and insane longevity on me. The fragrance itself comes across as the most straightforward of the lot and the least complex. It is very appealing. Amber Absolute is almost like a thin veneer of amber painted over a piece of untreated lumber. The boy inside me who grew up in the mountains loves the virility and rawness of it. A possibility, but it seems a little pricey for the end product.
(ED – this is the scent my youngest son seriously likens to putting a beehive on his head).
Atelier Ambre Nue: The fresh of the group. Lots of citrus and bergamot on the opening. They mellow in a vaguely earthy and certainly floral scent. Orchids floating on a pool of watery incense. This is an interesting take on amber, but not exactly what I was looking for. I found this to be more of a skin scent with moderate longevity, in line with the other Atelier Cologne fragrances.
Hermessence Ambre Narguilé: A fruity opening. As it progresses, the fuits sink further into a pool of amber and honey mingling with ginger. A little rum splashed on top. While the fruit becomes less pronounced as the scent evolves, it is always there. Another scent with great projection and super longevity
By Kilian Amber Oud: Loads of benzoin and amber upfront. They bloom and reveal cedar, vanilla, and bay leaf. I was in love, such a beautiful fragrance. Then it hit me. I already own this. Its similarity to Straight to Heaven was incredibly pronounced to me. Lots of cedar but in place of Straight to Heaven’s boozy note there is a sweet amber. I’m in total lust, but I can’t justify the purchase. I wish I had smelled this first though, and this was the one I purchased. . A little fruitier than I was looking for, so the search continues. Though, truth be told, I can see myself buying this when it gets cooler. It is a comforting scent with lots of sweetness that I think would benefit from cooler weather.
New York Amber: BOOM! This scent is the equivalent of a Mack truck full of amber hitting a giant bergamot orange tree. It opens with a screech of saffron and then moves into a wonderful composition of layered bergamot, amber, and wood. Rose sits quietly in the background, simply rounding things out. This is a clean take on amber. A preppy amber. THIS is what I’ve been looking for. New York Amber is a sillage and longevity monster. It doesn’t quit, and it will attack those around you if you apply too liberally. This is what I purchased.
So I found my amber after a few missteps and a few “almosts.” Now I want to know, what note do you love but only sometimes? Tuberose? Oud? Do tell!