Perfume Diary: NovAmber

In the end of the last cold season I complained that all my favorite amber perfumes were not getting enough love from me because it was too warm and that I took my ambers mostly in the solid (as in a necklace) or vaporized (as in ambient scenting) forms.

Rusty and NY Gifts

This Fall was not better than the last winter was in terms of temperatures but my cravings for amber perfumes came back with a vengeance: we were still getting high 70s but I wanted to wear some heavy ambers. So I decided to dedicate a whole month of November to wearing all the ambers in my collection. Usually I wear only perfumes that I own (bottles and decants) but for this experiment I allowed myself to do actual wearing (vs. testing) of some of the previously tested samples. I skipped just a couple of days when I either participated in Now Smell This’ community projects or had a special occasion to which I wanted to wear something different.

November 1: with all the Halloween excitement and work-related problems I completely forgot I planned to start this project.

November 2: I remembered about the project and decided to do two perfumes the same day. Eau de Mandarine Ambrée by Hermès I chose because I didn’t expect it to last for too long. Right… It took me some efforts to scrub away that cheerful citrus with just a dash of amber. I did it not because I disliked Mandarine Ambrée but because I wanted to wear something “dressier” for the birthday party I was going to. I loved how Ubar by Amouage smelled on me that evening: it was smooth but deep and rich.

November 3: Calamity J by Juliette Has A Gun was good but I wished the projection stayed stronger for a little longer. I re-applied perfume twice during the day in the office but it would subside some time before my next touch-up.

November 4: I still can’t believe there was time when I disliked Bvlgari Black! As I sprayed it on, I thought how soft and pleasant the perfume smelled. Most of my current readers have previously read (and commented on) my story From Zero to Forty (ml) in less than 15… years: Bvlgari Black so this link is for those few who are new to the blog or missed it: I enjoyed writing it and would love to share it with more people.

Bvlgari Black

November 5: Citruses and vetiver make Ambra Nobile by Nobile 1942 interesting but I’m not sure I want to wear it on its own, not as a part of an experiment. For Steve (The Scented Hound), who shared the sample with me, it was a lucky blind buy so if you’re curious about this perfume read his much more enthusiastic review.

November 6: I remembered Ormonde Jayne Tolu to be more of an amber perfume then it proved to be this time. Maybe it felt less amber-y because in the previous days I wore more pronounced amber scents. It took me some time to fall for Tolu, there are at least four or five perfumes in the line that I liked more from the first try. But over time Tolu grew on me and I enjoy wearing it now.

November 8: Ambre Nuit by Dior is a beautiful blend of rose and amber. They make each other smoother so that none of the two plays a main role in the composition but instead they graciously allow each other to step forward for a while before switching places. I think Ambre Nuit will become a full bottle in my collection one day. Even if you’ve tried this perfume or read Birgit’s (Olfactoria’s Travels) review before, click on the link and smile (I love how B. chooses pictures for her posts!)

November 9: Eau de Tommi Sooni II is one of those perfumes that keeps evoking “Wow, it’s so beautiful!” response from me multiple time during the day as I wear it. It’s not a strongly-pronounced amber scent but rather a seamless oriental blend with amber undertones. I’m still in love with this perfume. Daphne Odora plant, on the other hand, didn’t survive (if you do not know what I refer to, read my Chasing Daphne post). Recently I got another plant. And a gardener.

Eau de Tommi Sooni II

November 10: Blue Amber by Montale is dry amber, very unisex. I like it but it’s not love. It’s an unmistakably amber perfume but on a lighter, less resinous side.

November 11: Tom Ford Amber Absolute is deep, viscous amber. It has presence throughout all the stages of its development on my skin. I should have bought a bottle while it was still available.

November 12: By Kilian Amber Oud is one of a few perfumes from the brand that work for me. Agarwood (real or synthetic – whatever is used in the perfume) and amber interweave nicely creating strong but not overbearing fusion. It develops very pleasantly on my skin and I enjoyed catching wafts of it throughout the day. I can see a bottle of Amber Oud in my collection one day.

November 13: Recently featured in Niche Perfumery System: Minor Brands post Royal Apothic Dogwood Blossom was pleasantly spicy and warm. It’s not too complex but it doesn’t bore me as I wear it.

Dogwood Blossom

November 14: Yves Rocher Voile d’Ambre starts with prominent citrus, then settles into pleasant slightly sweet amber. Voile d’Ambre managed to surprise me for the second time: even though I published about this perfume pleasantly surprising me before, I had no recollection of it. It’s very polite amber. I should wear it more.

Voile d'Ambre & Vanilla Noire by Yves Rocher

As the weather was cooling off I moved to some heavier ambers in my collection.

November 15: Dior Mitzah. This is proper amber! It’s deep but not harsh. It’s strong but not overwhelming. I love wearing it and I’m glad that with this perfume I didn’t wait too long and bought a bottle because – guess what – it got discontinued! There were some going back and forth – discontinuation was confirmed, then denied, then re-confirmed… It’s still listed on Dior’s website as “momentarily unavailable” – whatever it means. If you haven’t had a chance to test Mitzah yet, read a passionate and detailed Kafka’s review to see what you missed.

Dior Mitzah

November 16: Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan. Do I even dare to start describing this iconic perfume? I know that it’s not universally loved (but which perfume is?) but as hardcore amber perfumes go it’s perfect.

November 17: L’Artisan Parfumeur L’eau d’Ambre Extreme is one of a few perfumes from the line that I like but it is less interesting than many other ambers I wore and less tenacious at the same time.

November 18: Annick Goutal Ambre Fétiche starts on my skin very rubbery. I don’t think I would have liked it had I tried it when it was released first: it’s an acquired taste. But now I really like Ambre Fétiche perfume and especially in the drydown phase when it becomes warm and smooth skin scent.

November 19: I cannot say I dislike Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Ambre Precieux but it leaves almost no impression on me. I don’t know if spraying this perfume would make a difference but with all the other ambers I have I will not probably seek to confirm that assumption. But if you haven’t tried this perfume yet you should read what Steve (The Scented Hound), from whom I got a sample, says about it.

November 20: When I tried Tom Ford Sahara Noir for the first time my immediate reaction was: why did they have to “kill” Amber Absolute if they release Sahara Noir?!! Now, after wearing it for the day, I know why: $150/50 ml Sahara Noir with half of the staying power of $215/50 ml Amber Absolute is a much more lucrative business. I like the perfume but I protest the switcheroo so I probably won’t buy it.

November 21: Suleko Djelem was a little too spicy/sharp in the beginning but then it developed very nicely and unexpectedly I liked it. Still there is something too disturbing in the opening so I don’t think we’ll get along.

November 22: After reading Kafka’s raving review I decided to give Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Ambre Precieux another try. I still do not feel as ardent about it as she does but I agree that it’s an interesting amber perfume. I’ll try to get a decant of it eventually and see if it grows on me as I wear it.

November 23: Every time I apply Jo Malone Dark Amber & Ginger Lily for the first 5 minutes I think that the perfume is off (I know it’s not the case, I just tried it from a fresh tester at the store) but then enjoy the drydown. It’s not a pronounced amber perfume (despite the name) but it has a special significance for me so I plan to go through the decant (and maybe write a longer post about it).

November 24: I wanted to love Amouage Library Collection Opus VI. Not only because it is my favorite brand but because I read one of the most amazing reviews for Opus VI (it doesn’t matter if you’ve tried this perfume or not: if you haven’t read this review you should). The remains of this perfume smell great on my hair and I love this part. I like it through the other stages on my skin but I’m not sure if I’ll go for a decant once my sample is gone. I might: it smells great on my hair…

November 25: If Armani Privé Ambre Soie would have smelled from the beginning the way it smells 4 hours into the development, I would be happy to wear it. But it doesn’t. I find the opening almost unpleasant so I’m not sure I should live through it to enjoy the perfume.

November 26: I got a small decant of Balmain Ambre Gris three years ago (thank you, Tara). I tried it then, wasn’t too impressed and put it aside. Today I suddenly decided I wanted to wear it – even though I still had more candidates for this month’s challenge than days left. It opens a little too sharp and edgy. I was ready to dismiss it finally, but it started developing – and I couldn’t stop sniffing my wrist.

November 27: Ubar got another wear this month since it’s one of my “special occasion” perfumes and Thanksgiving dinner is just one of those special occasions. I love-love-love this perfume!

Amouage Ubar

November 29: I remember loving Parfum d’Empire Ambre Russe as I was testing it a couple of years ago. I almost bought a bottle and was sad I hadn’t while they still had those 50 ml old bottles. But in the last year something has changed and I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I used to. It’s really annoying when you’re trying to recapture the feeling you once experienced but it keeps slipping away. Before completely giving up on Ambre Russe though I think I should get another decant: just in case my most recent sample wasn’t good.

November 30: Armani Privé Ambre Orient is a great perfume to conclude a month-long exploration into amber perfumes. It’s rich but not cloying, opulent but not overbearing. I’d love to have a bottle of it in my collection but I’ll go through my decant first and only after that will think if I really can tell a difference between Ambre Orient and, let’s say, Dior’s Mitzah. I think I can when tested in parallel but I’m not that sure I could do it in isolation.

Sleeping Rusty

So, after a month and 26 (twenty-six) different perfumes, am I “ambered out”? Nope. I enjoyed wearing many of my favorites, found a couple new ones and I’m looking forward to at least a couple more amber-appropriate months.

What are your top three amber perfumes as of today?

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Images: my own

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48 thoughts on “Perfume Diary: NovAmber

  1. Wow wow wow! A whole month of amber? You did that girl, what a commitment and what a fun at the same time. I think I might give a try to some of your ambers when I can get samples.

    My favorite ambers are Ramon Monegal Ambra di Luna, Prada Amber Pour Homme Intense (exchangeable with Prada L’Eau Ambree) and Carner Barcelona Rima XI. I also like L’Air du Desert Marocain from Andy Tauer

    • Interesting! I didn’t think of L’Air du desert marocain… Well, it’s not like I ran out of amber perfumes for the experiment or weather to wear others in upcoming days.

    • I need to test MdO’s Ambre: I remember liking it on paper in MiNNY but I was too overwhelmed with everything to test a perfume from the brand that mostly doesn’t work for me.

  2. Hi Undina, what a lovely article, thank you! And what a stunning amber coloured Rusty, gorgeous. After reading your article I looked for a sample of Ambre Precieux, did not smell it yet, this is an amber I need to work on. My favourites are L’ambre des Merveilles (does that count as an amber?), Tolu (idem) and Voile d’Ambre, but I am cheating here as these are the only ambers I have and have smelled since falling in love with perfume last summer. But now I have more on my to smell list, as it is becoming quite cold here in the Netherlands, and I feel warmed by amber.

    • L’ambre des Merveilles is considered an amber perfume, true. I’m sad that it doesn’t work for me, I tried many times. All perfumes on your list are light ones. You should definitely try one of the “heavy-heaters” – for educational purposes, if nothing else (though you might find some to love).

      • Heavy-heaters, that sounds good (especially now temps are falling here as well), I am going to try one, Ambre Sultan and Bulgari Black are the most feasible in terms of availability, unfortunately no Eau de Tommi Sooni in the Lowlands. I did not fall for Ambre Precieux yet, sniffed it all day yesterday, but will give it a few more tries.
        Ashame that Ambre Merveilles doesn’t work for you, I really love the salty note in it, but then I also love Eau des Merveilles. I would be curious what you think of Myrrhe Ardente, I seem to remember reading somewhere that is should be layered with something else, if you have any suggestions that would be marvellous. Cuddles for your gorgeous Rusty.

        • Kevin (NST) suggested layering Myrrhe Ardente with Serge Lutens Miel de Bois or L’Artisan Parfumeur Vanilia. I’m not big on layering so for now I’ll go with the perfume “neat.”

  3. Sorry not being totally clear I think, I have a sample of Ambre Precieux (but I needed to dig it up), I sprayed it on and I need to work on getting to know it, let alone like or loving it…not love at first sniff, to me it smells a little bit like Myrrhe Ardente by Annick Goutal, which I find beautiful but I don’t wear it often.

  4. I admire your dedication to a whole themed month! So far I haven’t tried a lot of ambers – but I haven’t liked anything I’ve tried that even lists amber as a note! So far that’s Eau des Merveilles, L’amber des Merveilles, and Still Life. (I hope I am remembering those names correctly). I have a sample of L’artisans L’eau d’Amber Extreme and I did not like the sniff so I’ve been too afraid to try it on skin! What’s wrong with me?? When I read about amber it sounds so great… Alas.

    I am getting a sampe of L’air du Desert Morocain so we will see how that fares!

    • I haven’t tried Still Life yet but I can tell that I do not like the other two you’ve mentioned – and I am an amber-lover. So maybe you need to try more: I’m sure there is an amber for you out there. As to L’Artisan’s perfume, are you sure your sample is fresh? I noticed that this particular perfume smells worse when a sample gets more concentrated due to an evaporation.

      • Well, the L’Artisan sample came out of the L’Artisan Perfume Box, so I would hope it is fresh! Actually maybe I did try it on skin – I have in my notes ‘baby powder extreme’ – that probably means that I *did* try it. I’ll definitely try it again though. Ooh – the last perfume I’ve tried with amber, Vanille Insensee, which you already know I don’t like! :)

  5. By now (this could change fast of course): MPG Ambre Doré, Montale Aoud Ambre and Md’O Ambre.
    Havn’t thought of Ubar as an amber, think of it as an oriental flower. Anyway I love this sunny, warm and beautiful frag too…

    • I haven’t tried any of your top three! I have to check if you reviewed any of them.

      You’re the second person who classifies Ubar as “sunny” (I don’t remember who was the first one but I read it recently somewhere). I’ve never thought of it this way :)

  6. I can’t believe you went full on amber for the whole month. You are a brave woman. I think I would have hated ambers at the end of the run. I like the way that you are so diplomatic about not liking something! As for Ambre Precieux, that was given to my husband last year as I grew tired of it. Now, Ambra Nobile is actually neglected on my shelf. But every time I do wear it, I always ask myself why I don’t wear it more! Ambre Sultan was one of my first ever niche perfume buys. Unfortunately, it sits on my shelf 3/4 emptied and not used. It’s just a bit too strong for me now but I refuse to part with it. I have to admit that when I first started my perfume journey I was all about the amber perfumes…I have strayed to the realm of florals since then.

    • I do love amber perfumes and most of those I wore belong to favorites. I didn’t do any of those that I really dislike (other than a couple about which I just didn’t remember that fact :) ) – so it wasn’t that hard. And I had a couple of serious floral interruptions :) As to the diplomacy, I really value those perfumes that my friends review out of love to them, not as a “public service.”

      In general, I’m rather a floral fan. Ambers came later.

  7. Novamber – love it! Such dedication to the pursuit of a particular note is hardcore, but your tenacity doesn’t in the least surprise me. ;) There are a number of ambers in your list with which I am not familiar, and a few I love. I guess my top three might be Tolu, Ambre Niut and L’Ombre Fauve. I also like Bvlgari Black a lot and may well develop a taste for that Ambre Fetiche sample you sent me. I gave away my bottle of Voile d’Ambre though, as the coumarin troubled me.

  8. What a lovely, lovely list! I was waiting to see where Mitzah made it on the list and lo and behold, there it was :-) Also happy to see that you tested Djelem. I wore it by accident (thought I grabbed the sample spray of Baba Yaga instead) and actually fell in love with it. There is something really haunting about it, but I would rather have something haunting than something boring!

    (and thank you my darling dear for the Worth! Hajusuuri gave it to me over the weekend. So sweet of you and thank you again!!!!)

    • You’re welcome, dear Daisy. I hope you’ll like it.

      The bottle of Djelem looks really interesting, so maybe falling for this perfume isn’t such a bad thing? ;)

  9. Wow, what a cool project! And it’s great that you stayed so dedicated to it for the entire month. I have to admit, amber fragrances aren’t really my milieu, but I’ll use your list here as a reference when I finally start exploring it more! And it’s so helpful that you include links to other reviews as well. Thanks for writing this up!

    • Thank you, Caitlin. Since I like amber and didn’t get to wear most of those perfumes for almost a year, it wasn’t that hard for me. And many of them are very different, so I got enough diversity.

  10. I’m very impressed that you’d do a single note for a whole month, and I’m also so with you doing ambers this year (I hardly touched them last year, as well).

    And, also, I’m doing a similar project for December, but not with just one note (I’ll write about it on the blog soon) and I smiled when I saw that you wore Hermes Mandarin Ambrée on Nov 2, because that’s exactly the same scent I wore today (Dec 2) and I also had to scrub it off. Not that is was bad (it isn’t) but that citrusy cheeriness just got to much.

  11. Wow, Undina, I admire your dedication! A whole month, amber after amber? It’s one of the notes that I crave in the cold season. In fact, I was wearing Ambre by L`Occitane today.
    My top three amber? That’s kind of difficult to choose… Maybe Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, Hermes L’Ambre des Merveilles, Dior Mitzah.
    The one I haven’t tried but want to is Mona di Orio Les Nombres d’Or Ambre.
    Funny, amber was the one I absolutely loved when I was younger, then disliked for a while, and then back to be in love with again.
    Which one did Rusty like?

    • Thank you, Magpie. But truly, it wasn’t that hard. For me ambers are the newer thing, I am a floral fan as long as I can remember myself.

      It’s interesting that you asked about Rusty’s preferences: right in the end of my testing, as I decided to find what Armani Prive Ambre Orient reminded me of, in the evening I put it on one wrist, Mitzah on the other and sprayed Ambre Sultan on a piece of paper. Andsuddenly Rusty got very curious… Of course, I realize that it was a blotter that drew his interest the most but he sniffed it for a while and didn’t run away as he does when he doesn’t like the scent. So I concluded that he liked Ambre Sultan :)

  12. Excellent post. I have a scarcity of ambers in my small collection, so it’s great to have this list. Also, treats for Rusty please — it’s been too long since we’ve seen him. Love Lucasai’s description of resting Rusty as “ambered out”.

    • Thank you, Lindaloo.
      I also thought that Rusty was missing out on compliments and related to those treats – so it was high time he made an appearance in a post.

  13. A whole month of amber, I’m not sure I could do that even if I like ambers :-) I think I’ve come to realise that a couple of ambers will do, and for the rest I prefer different variations on orientals. But Ambre Sultan is the without shadow of a diubt no1. I like havinf L’eau d’Ambre extreme in my collection because it is just that, OTT amber, and on the other end of the spectrum the fairly innocent Ambre et Vanille. I would add Cuir Noir Armani Prive, because it’s almost an amber too, and I love it.
    You reminded me of some that I need to revisit, and some I need to try.
    I think it’s cool that you’re not ambered out, even if Rusty is :-) I bet he must have been November’s best smelling cat; amber-hugs and long-hair happy cat= yummi

    • Many of the perfumes were so different that it didn’t even feel like I was wearing similar perfumes. And I did have a huge craving for that note. Now I’m back to my regular mixing genres.
      Either the colder weather got to Rusty or he actually likes amber perfumes but he spent most of evenings on my lap and, as far as I remember, didn’t mind any of the perfumes I wore in November.

  14. I was concerned that wearing ambers so much when the weather wasn’t cold might put you off them so I’m glad this fun tale had a happy ending.

    Good to hear Ambre Gris grew on you as it developed. I have come to realise that ambers are generally too flat on my skin but if livened up with a big dose of something else they can work. My top three would be Captured in Amber, Ambre Fetiche and Amber Oud.

    Great post. Loved reading so many mini reviews. I must try Ubar some time to see what your dressy perfume is like.

    • Now I’m looking at the bottle of Ambre Gris: I can get it almost free nowadays :) I’ll think about it.
      Captured in Amber is a great name! I should try this one.

  15. Great photos, great descriptions, and goodness, woman, you smelled fantastic in NovAmber!

    Similar to Parfumista, I think of Ubar more as an oriental, even a floriental, than an amber, but I can see how you classified it as such, and I’m glad you wore it on two of the dates because it is darn beautiful (and you know what? it smells different on you than on me, because I remember you wore it when I was there and I had to ask what you had on … and I was embarrassed that I didn’t recognize it since I own it too). :-D

    Eau de Tommi Sooni II — I agree. It is so beautiful!!

    My top three ambers are Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche, Hermes Eau des Merveilles and Regina Harris Amber Vanilla.

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you! :)

      I’m not too good with perfume classifications (well, unless I put on my sorting hat) so when I was preparing to the project I just ran a search in my database for all perfumes with amber and then went through the list choosing which ones I wanted to consider for wearing. Out of all my “special occasion” perfumes Ubar was the closest to amber perfume.
      I’ve never tried anything from Regina Harris. The bottle looks very unusual.

  16. Wowee! I love “NovAmber”! I admire your month-long amberfication. Me, I am too fickle to stay this focused for a week, let alone a month.

    I was really surprised at the number of perfumes with amber (Bvglari Black). If I were to only pick 3 of my favorites, I will have to say: Profumum Ambra Aurea, Tom Ford Amber Absolute (boo hoo, it’s discontinued) and Guerlain Cuir Beluga. If you ask me tomorrow, my answer could be different.

    Rusty is so fluffy and Gorgeous.

      • Are you sure? Absolutely sure? I waited a day before replying to give you a chance to change your mind ;-P

        It wasn’t hard to “stay focused”: there are so many great perfumes! Of course, I would have been completely exhausted if I had used only Amber Sultan, Amber Absolute and the likes. But with less amber-centric perfumes – Bvlgari Black, for example (or Cuir Beluga! Why didn’t I chose it?!) – it wasn’t even taxing.

        • LOL – I’m 100% sure. Just so you know, my 100 mL “sample” of Ambre Precieux arrived today but I haven’t tried it yet so it wouldn’t qualify as my Top 3 yet :-)

  17. I am so happy Vanessa told me to have a look at this post, found several perfumes here which I want to try in the future. I am looking for the perfect amber perfume (for me), but have so far only found L’Ambre des Merveilles. I do not like my perfumes too spicy and I cannot get used to oud or much traditional rose in a blend, so that limits the selection.

    • Hi Ingeborg! I’m glad Vanessa told you … :)

      I don’t know for how long you’ve been sampling niche perfumes but if it’s less than 3 years keep testing perfumes even with those notes that you thought you didn’t like: there’s always a chance that some new proportion or ingredient’s origin will suddenly work for you.

  18. Pingback: Entertaining Statistics: November 2014 | Undina's Looking Glass

  19. Rusty looks in need of a tummy rub in that last picture :) ….in amber bliss!

    my favorite three right now are Jo Malone Lavender and Amber (which smells absolutely amazing on a co-worker!!!), Dark Amber & Gingerlily and Atelier’s Ambre Nue (I am nursing my sample of that one but am considering a full bottle as it is popping up on discount sites)

    The Hermes Mandarin Ambree is gorgeous but it lasts all of three seconds on my skin (and this is unusual as I get hours and hours with Jo Malones and Ateliers….I have had the same results with Rhubarb Eclarate and Neroli Dore….gorgeous but incredibly fleeting……

    • I’m not a huge Hermes fan (most of their perfumes do nothing for me) but I can confirm that they behave worse than most Jo Malone perfumes when it comes to longevity.

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