How Do You Take Your Amber?

We had a really strange winter this year*: it has never actually got cold. When I say “cold” I mean, of course, our Californian cold – something like 10C/50F. Instead of it the average high temperature in February, for example, was 16C/60F. I’m not really complaining especially after hearing about record levels of snow and cold weather all over the world. After all, no matter how much I realize that warm weather in absence of rain makes our drought situation even worse, objectively if feels nice.

But there was one serious negative consequence for me: this past winter I couldn’t wear almost any of my favorite amber perfumes. Even though I do not do a conscious season rotation of perfumes, my wearing habits gravitate towards the commonly accepted practice of lighter scents in summer and heavier members of my collection in winter. So the only amber I wear in hot weather is my amber necklace.

Amber Necklace

As winter approached I was eager to start wearing my favorite ambers again. The first disappointment came when I put on Ambre Russe by Parfum d’Empire. This perfume was on my “to buy” list for a couple of years so I decided to finish the sample I had and finally buy a bottle. Actually, I would have bought it not waiting for the last drop to leave the sample vial if it weren’t for an unavailability of more reasonable 50 ml bottles. Now I think that maybe it was a sign: the last time I wore it from the sample I felt almost like washing it off. Now I’m not sure any more if I even want it.

After that I was very careful approaching the rest of the usual suspects: Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens, Ambre Fetishe by Annick Gotal, Amber Absolute by Tom Ford and Mitzah by Dior – each got just one wear, if that. I didn’t dislike them but I didn’t get the same warm feeling I used to get from them before. Even L’eau d’Ambre Extreme by L’Artisan Parfumeur felt too heavy for the weather.

There were just a couple of ambers that worked better and didn’t scare me. Unexpectedly, two of those were Ambre Orient by Armani Prive and Amber Oud from By Kilian. I am surprised because both have agarwood – the note that is difficult for me. But this time amber + agarwood combination seemed exactly what I needed. One more perfume that suddenly came into favor was Calamity J by Juliette Has A Gun. After I deplete the decant I will consider adding a bottle to my collection.

Despite all that I had more amber in my life this winter than ever before: last New Year I’ve got a gift from my vSO – Black Orchid Diffuser Set from my favorite designer Michael Aram. I’ve never had a diffuser before but was glad to get this one since I have some other items from this collection. Official notes are citrus, floral notes, tropical fruits, cedar, sandalwood and musk but for my nose it smells like a light amber perfume. And for a while, until I realized from where that wonderful scent was coming, I tried to figure out which of my perfumes left those traces and, which was even more important, where?!

Michael Aram Black Orchid Diffuser

So this year I take my amber light or very light. And, it seems, with agarwood. But I really hope that next year I’ll be able to enjoy the “heavy hitters” (© Olfactoria, Queen of Amber) again.

 

How do you take your amber nowadays?

* Ines recently started her post with the exact phrase but I swear I had this part already written by the time I read her post.

 

Images: my own

Body Heat: Perfumes under Extreme Temperatures

There are people who love running, playing tennis or swimming. I heard they can experience a withdrawal if they have to skip several training sessions. It’s not my story. I hate exercising as long as I can remember myself. I do engage in different activities but do it out of the necessity only: if I could get Kathleen Turner’s body and don’t worry about my health without exercising I wouldn’t (I wonder which perfume bottle she’s holding in that scene).

Kathleen Turner in Body HeatWell, since a lean gene wasn’t one of those passed to me from my parents I do my part in at least keeping myself healthy.

At least as much as physical activity, if not more, I dislike heat. I don’t like cold either.  My comfortable zone is somewhere around 24°C (75°F).

All that makes it hard to explain why out of all available types of physical activities I chose Bikram yoga – a system of yoga practiced in a room heated to 40°C (105°F). I’ve been practicing Bikram yoga (with some breaks) for 18 months. I still hate every minute of a 90 minutes class. But I plan to keep doing it.

For me yoga is just an exercise. I do not subscribe to the philosophy. If I follow the breathing instructions I do it only if it helps to maintain the posture. I do not try to clear my mind and concentrate on what I’m doing. I’m not pushing myself too hard. I’m just trying to survive. One of the things that help me through the class is thinking about perfumes – about which I read or plan to write or which I want to try.

For a long time I tried not to wear any perfumes to my classes thinking they wouldn’t perform well in high heat or would bother me or my neighbors. And then one day I didn’t think about the class I had scheduled in the evening. I wore a perfume to the office and even re-applied it mid-day. By the time I started the first breathing exercise I forgot about it. And when my body heated up enough suddenly the perfume started blooming on my skin. It was magical. It was much more interesting than what I experienced earlier that day with the same perfume. It was Serge LutensBoxeuses.

Since then I started experimenting with different perfumes. I apply just a little bit of a perfume in the décolleté area and on my wrists an hour before I go to the class and then during JanuShirasana or Pavanamuktasana I inhale wafts of the hot air mixed with moisture and perfume particles. It makes my classes go by faster and gives them some additional purpose.

Perfumes that performed the best under such strange conditions: another Serge Lutens’ creation – Ambre Sultan, Ubar by Amouage and Alahine by Teo Cabanel.

Tom Ford’s Arabian Wood, Chergui by Serge Lutens and Mitzah by Dior were very nice but didn’t survive Garudasana (approx. 15 minutes into the class). All three were applied from a dab vial so maybe a more generous spray application would produce a better effect – I’ll re-try them when I get those into my collection.

No 19 Poudre by Chanel didn’t work at all. Not possessing a remarkable staying power as is, it disappeared from my skin by the time I unfolded my yoga mat. It was a strange experiment but I thought that maybe it had some hidden powers. It didn’t.

I remember reading on one of the blogs that I always read a topic about a “treadmill scents” (or something to that effect) but now I can’t find that post. If an owner recognizes it from the description or if you covered this topic in your blog, please post a link.

What is your torture of choice and what perfumes (if any) make it more enjoyable?

Image: Kathleen Turner in Body Heat by allposters.com

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