I did it again: NovAmber 2018

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while might remember that just a couple of years ago I did a whole month of amber perfumes… At least I thought so until I checked: I published a post about it 4 years ago to the day. Time seems to be even more fleeting than perfumes…

Since I have a penchant for cold weather perfumes and almost no cold weather where we live (it’s 14C/56F outside now), if I want to wear my favorites, I cannot just sit and wait for the proper weather. So I decided to do another NovAmber month.

Amber Autumn

I purposefully didn’t check which perfumes I’d chosen last time: while I still don’t have 30 bottles or decants of amber perfumes in my collection, since for such projects I allow myself to wear perfumes from samples (which I normally don’t do), combined number of all amber perfumes that I have access to would be sufficient for a couple of months, so I was curious which perfumes I’d choose for the line-up.

For thirty days I wore only amber perfumes. Not all of them were “amber forward” but they all had amber as a part of the composition.

Half of the perfumes that I chose were the same as I wore four years ago: Montale Blue Amber, L’Artisan L’eau d’Ambre Extreme, Jo Malone Dark Amber & Ginger Lily, Annick Goutal Ambre Fétiche, Bvlgari Black, Dior Ambre Nuit, Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, Armani Prive Ambre Orient, Ormonde Jayne Tolu, Dior Mitzah, By Kilian Amber Oud, Eau de Tommi Sooni II, Royal Apothic Dogwood Blossom, Amouage Ubar and L’Artisan Eau de Mandarine Ambrée.

I won’t repeat my impressions of these since they are not much different from what I described in the previous post. I just wanted to mention that Ubar, which many of the commenters didn’t associate with amber perfumes, is still one of my most favorite amber perfumes. Two other perfumes that I predicted would join my collection – By Kilian Amber Oud and Dior Ambre Nuit – did: the former as a refill bottle (see In the Search for the Perfect… By Kilian Perfume) and the latter as the next decant (I still plan to get a 40 ml real bottle one day, I just can’t do 120+ ml now).

Rusty and By Kilian Amber Oud

The next group consists of perfumes that, most likely, do not need an introduction (but I’ll still link to the stories that I told for some of them before): Chanel Coco EdP and Bois des Iles EdP, Serge Lutens Chergui and Jeux de Peau and Teo Cabanel Alahine. I enjoyed wearing all of them though I confirmed for myself my recent conclusion that I do not love Jeux des Peau enough to warrant a full bottle (I’m still not done with that first decant I bought 7 years ago).

Floris Honey Oud and En Voyage Perfumes Captured in Amber, both new to my collection compared to it four years ago, were perfect additions for this project. In the earlier post I promised to share a picture of Rusty sniffing Captured in Amber once I decide on the concentration and get a bottle. I ended up buying pure parfum but since the bottle is tiny, the best I could do was to capture a photo of Captured in Amber captured in amber-y Rusty’s fur.

Rusty and En Voyage Captured In Amber

This project brought a couple of personal discoveries. First, I finished my sample of Aedes de Venustas Cierge de Lune and realized that I want more. Probably not a bottle-worth more but I really hope Aedes will release it in travel spray format. Another surprise was Van Cleef & Arpels Ambre Imperial: while at a store, I allowed the SA who had just made me a couple of samples to spray my wrist with this perfume. I think I didn’t expect to like it so it was easier to just agree with her and be on my way. I should have been greedy and asked for the third sample! Either I just had amber on my mind, or it was actually as good as it seemed in the moment… Now I’ll have to go back and test it again.

I’ll skip mentioning several perfumes that I either didn’t like or, on the contrary, liked and plan to tell you more about them in future posts.

During November I wore more than 30 amber perfumes. And I’m not done yet. It probably means that I really like amber in my perfumes, right?

 

How about you? Do you like amber in your perfumes? What are your absolute favorites? Were there any recent discoveries?

 

Images: my own

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Captured in Amber of My Memory

Two young girls (about 11 years old) from different parts of the country met during a summer seaside vacation and became friends. One of the girls, let’s call her Emma, wore a pendant made from amber that had a tiny fly inclusion in it. She told her friend (let’s call her Ann), who admired the pendant, about the gem – from where it comes and how it is discovered. And each morning of the trip the two of them would be searching the beach hoping to find amber – without much luck. As Emma was leaving a day earlier, she suggested to Ann, who had lost hope to find anything, to do the last search alone. Even though her parents were hurrying her to leave, Ann went back to the beach and, against all odds, found a beautiful piece of amber. She was so excited that she just clutched it in her hand and ran back to her parents. The first time she actually looked at it was on her trip back home. First she was amazed by how beautiful it was – even more beautiful than the one in Emma’s pendant. Then she was surprised that her amber also had an inclusion in it. And then she discovered a tiny hole in the gem and realized that it was from a pendant’s bail…

Amber Pendant

This is an abstract of the story I read many-many years ago. Since I remembered neither the author nor the name of the story, I tried all the searches I could think of and didn’t find it online. So I did my best reconstructing it from memory. I wanted to share it with you because it was the first association I got when I heard the perfume name Captured in Amber. Not just the story itself but that warm feeling from the generous and completely altruistic gesture of friendship: Emma, whom Ann would probably never see again since they were too little and lived too far away from each other, not only gifted her friend with her own amber but made it in a manner that ensured that Ann couldn’t refuse it.

*

I find it fascinating that Shelley Waddington, the founder of En Voyage Perfumes and the creator of Captured in Amber, included in the composition both ambers known in perfumery: the accord created from labdanum, benzoin, vanilla, etc. and ambergris, which used to be known as amber before this name was adopted to mean “Baltic amber (fossil resin).” You could say that this perfume is a study in amber.

Despite what it says in the list of notes or what I read in others’ reviews, I do not smell chocolate in Captured in Amber. For me it’s rather a honey-like smell. But it is good honey, not the one that gets urinous# as it develops. When I applied Captured in Amber for the first time I was astonished by how precisely it fitted into how I imagined perfume with that name should smell. It is sweet and viscous and rich and warm and I cannot stop smelling my wrist – even when I’m wearing it with the regular application, not just testing. I keep doing that because the scent is such that I just want to soak it up in the less diffused form, directly from my skin. I feel caught, captivated, captured in that amber and I won’t even try to escape…

Amber Ring

It would be perfect to conclude this post with a picture of Rusty sniffing a bottle of Captured in Amber but I still can’t decide which concentration I should buy – eau de parfum or parfum extrait. As soon as I make up my mind I promise to make it up to you.

 

Images: pendant – from Via Valeron online store; ring – my own.

 

# MS Word spell check insistently tried to replace “urinous” with “ruinous”; not just suggesting but actively substituting. It’s not completely wrong: urinous honey note in perfume is ruinous to my enjoyment of the said perfume indeed but still I prefer a software application not to put words into my mouth, so to speak.

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