Ambre Tigré (hereinafter just “Ambre Tigre”) is one of seven fragrances in a new prestige collection from Givenchy called the Atelier de Givenchy. Each of the fragrances is inspired by the couture house’s past, and by its most famous muse, Audrey Hepburn. According to LVMH, Givenchy’s corporate overlord, each bottle comes with a design sketch, intended to convey the feel of the fabrics used by the house and its couture traditions, and each perfume is meant to highlight one particular note.
It should be obvious which element is the focus of Ambre Tigre. The Givenchy press release quoted by Harrods describes the eau de parfum as follows:
Suggestive of lush nature and animal impulses, Ambre Tigré is a feline fantasy, a call for passion.
Amber evokes the bewitching, magnetic sensuality of Givenchy Couture skin and fur prints, while the fullness of vanilla and the animality of labdanum ciste soften the amber’s fervour, completely melting into it, as a leopard’s spots blend into its coat.
Ambre Tigré awakens our most sensual instincts, preparing us for enchantment of all kinds.
According to Fragrantica and that press release, Ambre Tigre has only 3 notes: amber, vanilla, and labdanum, inspired by fur, leather and animal prints. I don’t think it’s true, and I believe that there are far more ingredients to Ambre Tigre, even if they are subtle and far from being the main players. I’m not alone in that suspicion. The Polish blog, Nez Deluxe, writes (in translated form, thanks to Google) the following:
Disclosure of only three notes makes the person focuses only on them and treat perfume as a single-note composition. […] Ambre Tigre has a 100% more ingredients and more notes from those declared officially. Apart from certain herbs more than enough space for cedar, musk, patchouli, sandalwood perhaps …
I agree with much of that, particularly the cedar, patchouli, and clean musk because Ambre Tigré opens on my skin with more than mere labdanum, or even the ambergris that Givenchy intends when it uses the generic term “amber.” Ambre Tigre begins with clean, fresh amber sweetness infused with a definite whiff of something floral. I can’t place the flower fully because it is stripped down, sanitized, and faceless. My guess is that it is a rose geranium, for there is something rosy about it but, also, very subtle green, slightly bitter nuances. (I suspect that note may be the same as the “herbs” referenced by the Polish blog review listed up above.)
Other elements soon follow. There is a strong blast of fruited patchouli whose rubied, slightly jammy sweetness amplifies the impression of a rose geranium and adds to Ambre Tigre’s initial floralcy. Then, moments later, the previously generic “amber” accord blooms and separates out into the toffee’d muskiness of labdanum arm-in-arm with the salty caramel aroma of ambergris. I don’t think the latter is wholly real or natural, as it is a thin note without ambergris’ true heft and marshy richness, but it’s not bad. Subtle suggestions of cedar lurk in the background. Clean musk and a wisp of vanilla are the finishing touches that tie the whole thing together.
In the opening stage, Ambre Tigre briefly reminds me of a more fruitchouli version of Dior‘s gorgeous Ambre Nuit from its prestige Privée Collection. The Givenchy scent is cleaner and far more rose-dominated that the Dior was on my skin, and not as heavily ambered in feel from the start. It’s also not as rich, full-bodied, and expensive smelling as the Ambre Nuit, and feels more like a commercial, mainstream designer fragrance. Certainly, its cleanness is wholly in keeping with such scents, as is its use of the mainstream staple of purple fruit-chouli.
Givenchy’s sanitized approach to labdanum and ambergris — two elements with dirty, musky, leathered and/or animalic tendencies in their true form — isn’t particularly surprising. After all, Givenchy is trying to compete with Dior, Chanel, and other couture houses who have all put out prestige, quasi-niche lines that take a refined approach. Yet, Givenchy went so much out of its way to trumpet the “animalic” nature of Ambre Tigre. “Feline”? Ha. Not even remotely.
I cannot stress enough, this is a safe, very French interpretation of amber. That said, I suspect a lot of people will find it to be a refined, smooth, elegant take on the notes, even if hardcore amber lovers will be disappointed with its extremely chaste, subdued, quiet, and dainty character. To be fair, given the supposed source of their inspiration, Ambre Tigre fits. It is definitely more akin to Audrey Hepburn than, say, Ava Gardner, Angelina Jolie, or someone oozing dark, raw, sex appeal.
Ambre Tigre isn’t a very complicated scent, nor one with endless twists and turns. In a nutshell, it simply becomes drier, woodier, and muskier in nature over the course of its development on my skin. The first change begins roughly 15 minutes into Ambre Tigre’s development, when the cedar rises up from the base. It smells wholly synthetic now, and even has a cypriol-like nuance that makes it briefly resemble a clean oud. At the same time, the ambergris’ caramel facets grow stronger, taking on a certain chewiness.
As a whole, Ambre Tigre is now an equal-parts blend of caramel amber with fruited, jammy patchouli that is lightly flecked by labdanum’s toffee’d aroma, muskiness, dry woodiness, cleanness, and a microscopic dash of saltiness. There is a certain sharpness to the bouquet, either from the synthetic cedar or the white musk, but it is far from overpowering or long-lasting. While Ambre Tigre is a sweet scent with its caramel and toffee’d undertones, it never veers into the gourmand category. The woody elements, as well as the perfume’s thinness, prevent that.
In the hours that follow, the only changes which ensue are one of tiny, fractional degrees. At the start of the 3rd hour, Ambre Tigre is a soft amber with a touched of fruited floralcy and a light dusting of vanilla powderiness. Slowly, the patchouli, the sweet caramel, and its chewy richness begin to fade, while the cedar turns into a simple abstract “woodiness” and grows stronger. Ambre Tigre also becomes wispier in body, and loses what little richness it had. At the same time, the clean musk retreats to the sidelines, permitting the fragrance to feel a hair muskier in nature. A minuscule sliver of vanilla darts around the edges, but it doesn’t do much in the face of Ambre Tigre’s drier, woodier nature.
Ambre Tigre turns into a slightly musky, simple ambergris scent with a touch of dry woodiness, and it remains that way until its very end. All in all, it lasts just over 7.25 hours on my skin, but I continuously thought it was going to die after the end of the 4th hour. One reason why is that Ambre Tigre is an incredibly discreet scent. Even from the start, it is very soft in sillage. Using 2 big smears or the equivalent of 1 spray from an actual bottle, Ambre Tigre initially projects 2-3 inches. However, that number soon drops, and the perfume lies a bare inch above the skin after 90 minutes. At the start of the 3rd hour, Ambre Tigre is a discreet skin scent. Someone standing by you would have to put their nose almost right on your neck to notice the perfume, something which might be a plus except for the fact that you yourself may not be able to detect it.
I haven’t been able to find many detailed reviews for Ambre Tigre, as it is a new scent and not widely available. For Nez Deluxe, the Polish blog quoted up above, Ambre Tigre lost its “dry roots” after 15 minutes and turned sweeter, thanks to the appearance of vanilla. Their brief description reads, in part and in translated form via Google, as follows:
In the second phase, we feel the 10-15-the-minute, amber loses dry roots. I stand up for it even more balsam. Also increases the temperature of the composition. Hard lumps labdanum begin to melt and glisten in the bright note reminiscent of the smell of hot air over the dying campfire. In areas of “unisex” deviate slightly in the direction of “woman”. further part is even less seasoned, slightly sweet indeed. fluffy, soft notes of vanilla here are kind of cocoon. At the moment reminds me Jalaine patchouli and ambergris Regina Harris[.] [Emphasis to names added by me.]
On Fragrantica, there is only one review thus far which reads, in part, as follows:
First impressions; GORGEOUS! A quality amber, it does not scream “I am Givenchy”, rather, it mingles in the same circle as a lot of other high quality ambers by today’s niche houses. I am not feeling too much vanilla, it floats ever so softly in the background, while amber is the star of the show. A straight up, soft and creamy, slightly smoky, sexy amber.
The dry-down is a touch dry, resinous, with a whisper of powder.
Longevity is quite good, upwards of 3 hours on me, it takes a little time to warm up on the skin, peaking at around half an hour into application.
It is not as smoky as Roma Profumum’s Ambra Aurea, but I find it to be very similar. Definitely a unisex fragrance. [Emphasis to name added by me.]
I don’t find many similarities to Ambra Aurea besides the caramel character of the ambergris. The Profumum scent is like a massive, opaque, dense, solid gold tank, with a walloping amount of ambergris that feels like the perfume equivalent of the legendary Amber Room of the Tsars. It has the full salty, marshy, musky, chewy caramel qualities of the note, absolutely zero fruited patchouli, little woodiness, strong undertones of leathery labdanum toffee, and massive body as a whole. In comparison, Ambre Tigre is a thin, light, very chaste affair that sanitizes much of the ambergris, not to mention mutes the labdanum and then adds commercial, mainstream elements. It simply doesn’t smell the same, in my opinion.
Where my experience overlaps with that of the Fragrantica commentator is that we both encountered very little vanilla in Ambre Tigre, and had a soft scent that didn’t last particularly long. In fact, the longevity votes on Fragrantica for Ambre Tigre thus far are: 1 for “Weak” (1-2 hours), and 2 for “Moderate” (3-6 hours).
That’s not great, in my opinion. Ambra Aurea will last well over 15 hours on my perfume-consuming skin, and I’ve known others for whom the numbers are much higher. It’s also a significantly better, more opulent perfume that is a true amber soliflore — I would argue it is the gold standard for ambergris scents — and it isn’t much more expensive than the Givenchy. Ambre Tigre costs $220 for a 100 ml of eau de parfum. Ambra Aurea is $240 for a 100 ml of something that is pure parfum extrait with an astonishing 42% to 44% concentration. Hands down, it’s a better deal.
Ambre Tigre isn’t a bad perfume by any means. Not at all. It has some nice bits, with a refined, elegant feel. I simply think you can do far better for the price, longevity, and scent in question.
For that tiny price differential, I agree, the Profumum is a MUCH better deal (and I have not even smelt Ambre Tigré). Just from your description is it easy to see that the Givenchy could not compete with the quality of Profumum’s Ambra Aurea. Givenchy used to have some really good scents back in the 70’s and 80’s but now I don’t even bother seeking them out as the quality is just not there any more.
I’m like you and have really happy memories of old Givenchy fragrances. I loved L’Interdit, enjoyed Monsieur de Givenchy (despite my issues with citric, green, or cologne scents), and wore some other things that I’ve now forgotten. I was talking just a few days ago, in fact, with my father about the changes to Monsieur de Givenchy which he found to be very upsetting. But the new scents? Bah. I tried Dahlia Noir or one of its flankers last year, and had to actually leave the store to scrub it off. Absolutely ghastly. I’m wincing at the mere memory.
Now, Ambre Tigré is nothing like that horrible, generic scent with its walloping amounts of synthetics, and it does feel nicely elegant. But there simply isn’t enough to the perfume in body, longevity, or richness to compete with really good niche fragrances. Dior’s Privée Line completely blows it out of the water in terms of quality or luxuriousness (oh, Mitzah, why were you ever discontinued??! 🙁 ). And it most definitely cannot compete with Profumum’s Ambra Aurea. Not a chance in hell. Plus, I think Ambre Tigre lasted perhaps twice as long on me as it did on someone else I know who tried it. I think he said it died away after a few hours, if I remember correctly. Not good for $220.
You described my experience with Ambre Tigre perfectly. Safe & soft.
Very safe, but then I don’t think Givenchy actually wanted to be edgy or genuinely animalic, no matter what they may have said in their perfume description. IMO, they wanted to have something to parallel that of the Dior line (another LVMH company), but I don’t think they pulled it off very well.
I read in a Vanity Fair article about Audrey Hepburn’s life in Rome where her son recalls she would use a drop of bath oil in the water for a light scent rather than perfume. He also mentions how some non-perfume smells remind him of her. I found it and here is the link and it is on the second page at the end of the article.
Audrey is an icon of style and is adored by a lot of people. It seems the company is banking on this. I’d rather they do a clothing line inspired by her. I don’t think anything chaste and dainty would not suit her. She had grace, sophistication, and also a beauty and warmth that shined from within.
Oops, I meant to write ‘would suit her’ and not ‘would not suit her’.
Interesting about Audrey and her perfume preferences. Given that anecdote, it would seem that Givenchy was true to her tastes by opting for something incredibly soft, light, and discreet. That said, I agree with you that it doesn’t well represent Audrey Hepburn as an overall symbol, for she definitely had a warm beauty from within as well as exquisite sophistication and style. She may not have liked perfume or worn it, but there are better olfactory parallels to her than Ambre Tigre, even if she were the sort to embody a dark, sensuous oriental spirit.
For me, the one fragrance that has always strongly conjured up Audrey Hepburn in my mind is the lovely Andy Tauer fragrance, Une Rose Chypré. It fully evoked her beautiful, classical elegance combined with her bubbly warmth and brightness.
BTW, I fully agree with you on wanting Givenchy to do a clothing line inspired by her iconic style. They would do extremely well, if they did. Audrey Hepburn is completely timeless.
Damn it sounds dull.
I think there are some who would find it all very refined, but I have to admit that I found it to be a disappointment. They’ve smoothened the soul of it, but I suspect that is why it will do quite well amongst those who haven’t experienced niche ambers. As a whole, I think Ambre Tigre would be fantastic at exactly half the price. A super scent for $110. At $220, though, it falls short against niche ambers that have significantly more character and, in some cases, a cheaper price tag. (Histoires de Parfums Ambre 114 or Parfums d’Empire’s Ambre Russe may be different in smell, but are ambers with personality at least and cost MUCH less.)
I Histoires De Parfums are fantastically high quality, actually. I have no interest in Givenchy on any level.
HdP generally has excellent quality, yes. Same with Parfums d’Empire, another great brand. And BOTH are soooooooooooooo much cheaper than the Givenchy. Hmph. :\
I agree with Neil. And with that list of amber, vanilla and labdanum, I thought, oh yes, the holy grail has arrived. You must have been a little sad, too.
As I just wrote to Neil, I was more disappointed in the price. It would have been lovely at $110, but its current $220 price puts it in competition with the niche ambers. If you take the $145 Ambre Russe or the roughly similarly priced Ambre 114, they are all much better fragrances but for much less. They may not smell exactly the same and don’t focus solely on ambergris, but they are more complex, nuanced, and interesting perfumes. Then, of course, there is Ambra Aurea and… that’s in another league altogether.
Ambre Tigre is nice, but it’s not nice enough for $220 given its iffy longevity and terribly sanitized quietness. So, yeah, a disappointment.
Givenchy is a house I hear very little about these days – thanks for reviewing it! I thought this might be a bit less expensive than it is. It sounds like it will suit a lot of people, but at this price point I’d rather have the profunum. Or for even less, Amber 114 which I quite love!
I have Ambra Aurea and knew that this one could never live up to it, but the few notes sounded so damn perfect that I ordered a few ml, and it is just as undistinguished as you promised me that it would be. Ah well, I was warned.this is so much less annoying than reading one of the gushy reviews that so many others write, and then finding a totally jack luster scent at the heart of it. Thank you for your reviews, dear Kafkaesque!
Lackluster, not Jack Luster! Whoever he is. But I can’t turn off Autocorrect because I would miss some truly splendid moments, such as hanging out with Jack Luster.