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.

First Artisan Fragrance Salon in San Francisco

 

Last Sunday, July 8th, I spent the day at the First Artisan Fragrance Salon in San Francisco. You’ve probably read something about it already so just to recap: twenty artisan perfume companies presented their perfumes at the Gallery 4N5. There were also wine and chocolate tasting as well as some talks and presentations.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll try to write more about some of my personal discoveries at this Salon but I want to share with you pictures of those stands that I managed to take before there were too many people. Keep in mind that pictures on walls were a part of the Gallery decor and participants weren’t allowed to change those. Notice how perfectly some of the stands and art came together. I’m not sure if there was any special thinking behind those designations or if they just happen to come together by chance but some of them really played out. Click on pictures to see more details.

Yosh

Yosh at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Both Yosh (above) and Sonoma Scent Studio (below) found an elegant solution to the over-perfuming the small space: pre-sprayed glass containers. I really like the idea because in addition to the benefit mentioned there are multiple others: you do not need to remember which paper strip you sprayed with each perfume (which is even harder if you were given a blotter sprayed by a perfumer); you can revisit scents multiple times without trying to juggle those multiple paper strips and, finally, if you didn’t like the scent you do not need to decide if it’s polite to discard it right there, in front of a perfumer/presenter, or if you have to take it with you.

Sonoma Scent Studio

Sonoma Scent Studio at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Many people were disappointed that Laurie Erickson, the nose behind Sonoma Scent Studio, couldn’t attend the event. On the positive side, there was her newest addition to the line Forest Walk and the stand looked very elegant.

Artemisia Natural Perfume, perfumer Lisa Fong

Artemisia Natural Perfume at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

For a while I was considering one of Artemisia‘s perfumes – Ondine because of the name (it means the same as Undina, just a different spelling) but I’m not too good with all-natural perfumes, usually they don’t work for me. I should have probably bought a sample (though now I cannot remember if this table offered any for sale) but I was so overwhelmed with everything that I wasn’t thinking straight.

Ineke, perfumer Ineke Rühland

Ineke at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Ineke had a very nice spot and they decorated it just perfectly. Do you see the stack of sample sets on the left? They were all sold out quickly. On the off-chance somebody doesn’t know that, this is one of the best discovery sets out there: for $25 including shipping you’re getting the cutest box with seven 2 ml individually wrapped samples and that price is redeemable for a purchase of a full bottle.

Ineke Discovery Set

Probably half of all participants didn’t have any samples for sale and I think it’s a mistake. I understand that for a small company it might be prohibitively expensive to give away samples and I didn’t expect them to do that. But it’s also hard to expect that people who have never smelled this brand’s perfumes (and sometimes haven’t even heard about its existence) before will distinguish any of the perfumes out of literally hundreds, fall in love with it and decide to spend $40-$135 on the spot for a full bottle. Some brands at least offered purse sprays under $20 (Sonoma Scent Studio and Olympic Orchids) which is a much more reasonable option.

En Voyage Perfumes, perfumer Shelley Waddington

En Voyage Perfumes at SF First Fragrance Salon

Shelley Waddington presented her newest The Cosmologie Collection. I liked A Study in Water on a blotter but I didn’t have a chance to test it on skin. I’ll need to revisit it one day.

Olympic Orchids

Olympic Orchids at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Ellen Covey, the perfumer, in addition to the main collection, also introduced her new collection created for the Devilscent Project. I found my favorite out of five – Dev 2.

Olympic Orchids at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Roxana Illuminated Perfume, perfumer Roxana Villa

Roxana Illuminated Perfume at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

The name 40 notes perfume seemed somehow familiar but I couldn’t remember where I read about it or what. I liked brand’s esthetics and thought that Miriam, the perfumer, was really charming. But I caught her later in the day, she was tired and wasn’t sure it was the best time to pose for a picture. I promised her not to use it, so here’s just a picture of the stand:

40 notes perfume

40 Notes at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Those beautiful green and gold paper boxes are sample sets. Since perfumes are oils they are expensive. While I understand $5+ for 1 ml, there was just one perfume in the line to which I was immediately attracted so I just couldn’t justify paying $40 for the sample set. Maybe I should have… Well, I have time to think about it since those can be ordered from the website.

Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Perfumery

Velvet And Sweet Pea's Perfumery at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Leila Castle Botanical Fragrance

Leila Castle Botanical Fragrance at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

smell bent

SmellBent at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Smells & Bells Organics

Smells And Bells Organics at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Rebel & Mercury Pure Botanical Perfumes

Rebel & Mercury Pure Botanical Perfumes at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Sarah Horowitz Parfums

Sarah Horowitz Parfums at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Persephenie

Persephenie at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

One more brand that decided to use glass as a medium for perfumes testing (though it bothered me a little that there was three glasses of one form and one of another). If I ever come across this line I’ll test it more: I was too tired by the time I got to them.

And, finally, there was one brand new brand that launched that day at the Fragrance Salon – Cognoscenti. There are just three perfumes in the line (that is how brands/lines should be launched!) and I liked one of them enough to put on the skin. I will test all three more and see if I have a story to tell.

COGNOSCENTI, perfumer Danniel Sergent

Cognoscenti at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

There were several more stands – Ayala Moriel Parfums, Divine Life Perfume and Parfums DelRae but my pictures of those tables are too blurry to share.

I enjoyed the event: friendly and warm atmosphere, beautifully decorated stands and an unimaginable variety of perfumes, perfumed oils, body products and other scent-related items.

On the negative side – music in some areas was too loud, it was hard talking to people; too many perfumes were sprayed in the area without a proper ventilation and just simply NOT ENOUGH TIME to try even brands about which I knew before – leave alone completely new ones. But I really tried.

I hope this will actually become an annual event because I want to go to the next one already.

Images: my own