Guerlain Ambre Eternel

Ambre Eternel. Source: Google Plus and NST.

Ambre Eternel. Source: Google Plus and NST.

Guerlain takes a rare foray into the oriental genre with one of its newest fragrances, Ambre Eternel. It’s an eau de parfum that was released earlier this year, joining Santal Royal as part of a new collection called Les Absolus d’Orient. Like Santal Royal (with which it shares some notes in common), Ambre Eternel is geared primarily towards the Middle Eastern market, and seems to have somewhat limited distribution. (It’s not listed on most of Guerlain’s websites except the Middle Eastern and French ones, but it is available in parts of Europe and at some high-end American department stores.)

Ambre Eternel. Source: Neiman Marcus.

Ambre Eternel. Source: Neiman Marcus.

On its Middle Eastern website, Guerlain describes Ambre Eternel and its notes as follows:

Guerlain House Perfumer Thierry Wasser drew inspiration from the treasures of the East to create Ambre Eternel, a powerful sillage that makes the ideal scent for men and women alike. The main ingredient in this amber accord is Ambergris, which gives Ambre Eternel its sensual, voluptuous character. The amber accord then unfolds, roused by the spicy facets of cardamom and coriander, before delicately melting into a blend of orange blossom absolute, leather and woody notes.

Top notes: Ambergris, spicy notes (coriandre, cinnamon, cardamom);
Heart notes: Orange Blossom, Ylang Ylang, fruity notes [peach, according to Fragrantica];
Base notes: woody notes, leather note, amber notes.

I think there are two ways of looking at Ambre Eternel, depending on one’s sensitivity to aromachemicals or even whether one can detect them to begin with. Someone who is either indifferent or anosmic to synthetics would probably find Ambre Eternel to be the leathery and more overtly ambered relative of Santal Royal, albeit with a very different opening that strongly resembles Dior‘s Cuir Cannage with its plush, floral iris-y, grey suede instead.



In this version, Ambre Eternel opens with soft, caramel-scented ambered goldenness streaking under a pearly grey sky filled with plush, fluffy clouds of floral iris. It smells like the clean suede of a very expensive handbag, and is imbued with a Guerlainade tonka-ish sweetness, then dusted with a veil of violet-like makeup powder. Quiet, muted whispers of indeterminate spices echo in the background, along with something nebulous that hints at orange blossom fruitiness. For the most part, though, 95% of the opening bouquet consists of plush, clean, Cuir Cannage-style, iris floral suede dusted with Guerlainade and streaked with a soft, warm, caramel-infused amber.

"Night sea" by ViolaBlackRaven via

“Night sea” by ViolaBlackRaven via

Slowly, over the next two hours, the amber-licked irisy suede gives way to a purely leather fragrance, one that is dark and significantly drier. Smoky, tarry leather seeps up from the base, followed by smoky darkness, smoky woods, and dry amber. They wipe out the floralcy, all vestiges of caramel sweetness, the Guerlainade, and the dots of fruitiness. This is the transition phase into Ambre Eternel’s main essence, a heart stage centered on black leather that is coated with amber, streaked with woodiness, then wrapped up with ribbons of incense smokiness. In the drydown, all the notes fuse into one, and Ambre Eternel becomes a blur of leathery, woody, smoky amber. Occasionally, whiffs of the amber’s caramel-scented sweetness pop up in the background, but this is generally a dry or drier interpretation of the note, and a more masculine bouquet. In the final hours, all that’s left is a wisp of dry, woody leatheriness .

Photo: "Controlled Burns" by Kevin Cooley via (Direct website link embedded within.)

Photo: “Controlled Burns” by Kevin Cooley. Source: (Direct website link embedded within.)

That is the way that Ambre Eternel might appear to someone who isn’t attuned to aromachemicals or sensitive to them, but, unfortunately, I’m in a different boat, so I’d describe my experience quite differently. To me, Ambre Eternel brimmed with either Amber XtremeAmbermaxISO E Super, or all the above, as well as raspy smoke, charred (guaiacol-driven) woods set on fire, and an immensely desiccated, tarry faux “leather.” For me, the loveliness of the Guerlainade-dusted iris suede in the opening was marred by ISO E which smelt, to me and on my skin, like chemical cleaners, acetone, and hospital antiseptic. The main accords gradually took on a harsh chemical smokiness, abrasive scratchiness, and blackened dryness to the point that my throat seized up an hour into Ambre Eternel’s development. After 90 minutes, I had shooting pains going through my right eye whenever I smelt my arm up close for too long. By the third hour, it hurt to swallow, my throat felt as though it were closing up, and I felt a little unwell.

The problem is not that Ambre Eternel has synthetics, because almost everything does these days. It’s that, to my nose, it contains some of the strongest ones in what feels like the largest quantities. My difficulty is not merely that I’ve disliked the smell of such materials for years now, writing about things like ISO E Super almost since the very start of this blog; it’s the fact that they can trigger a serious and very painful physical reaction in me.

Photo: Mary Foster Creative, Etsy Store. (Link embedded within photo.)

Iris. Photo: Mary Foster Creative, Etsy Store. (Link embedded within photo.)

Putting all of that aside, there were two things that surprised me about Ambre Eternel. First, the nature of the flowers, starting with the lovely, plush, Guerlainade-dusted iris suede in the opening. Guerlain doesn’t list iris as one of the notes, but it was there each and every time I tried the fragrance. In fact, it was the main focus of the opening bouquet, with the caramel-infused amber as a secondary element (perhaps a tertiary one behind the ISO E). In most of my tests, there was also a subtle violet nuance, an orris-style one that sometimes evoked lipstick, sometimes a mere powdery sweetness. But, once again, there was no mention of such a flower on Guerlain’s note list.

Even stranger was the fact that the flowers that actually are listed have little to no presence on my skin. The orange blossom was an elusive, fleeting, nebulous wisp in only one test, and didn’t show up in any of the others. The ylang-ylang didn’t appear even once.

I felt a little crazy and wondered if I’d accidentally received a mislabeled sample of a different fragrance until I remembered Luca Turin‘s Style Arabia review. There, he writes about the “grey” opening filled with iris and violet. He goes so far as to actually put iris as one of the fragrance’s three notes (along with vetiver which I never detected on my skin). Later, I saw that a number of Fragrantica commentators also experienced an iris-heavy opening, and two mentioned Cuir Cannage as well. I can’t explain why Guerlain doesn’t mention iris, orris/violets, or tonka on Ambre Eternel’s note list, but, in my opinion, they’re all in the fragrance.

ISO E Super. Source: Fragrantica

ISO E Super. Source: Fragrantica

The second surprise was the ghostly nature of the fragrance during its later stages. There were times from the 4th or 5th hour onwards when it almost seemed to thin out on my skin, only to return with leathery, smoky gusto a short time later. I’m rarely so fortunate as to be anosmic to ISO E or to any of the woody-amber synthetics (which often include some ISO E molecular compounds as well), but it does happen in very rare instances. To give just one example, 4160 Tuesday’s “The Sexiest Scent on the Planet. Ever. (IMHO).” What you have to understand about ISO E or the very super-charged synthetics is that their large molecules can block the nose’s smell receptors, sometimes resulting in a ghostly fragrance that comes and goes, or that is often more detectable from a distance (or after a break in sniffing) than up close. Sometimes, the result is either hyposmia (a reduced ability or temporary inability to smell a particular note) or total anosmia (no ability to detect a note).

Here, Ambre Eternel never faded out or disappeared completely, but it occasionally turned into a quiet, elusive, almost thin creature that clung close to the skin before suddenly returning with full force and intensity. In one test, both the amber and leather accords engaged in the same sort of ghostly dance that ISO E can do, disappearing for brief intervals back and forth, leaving in their absence a very dry, woody smokiness. In another test, though, the leather, amber, and woods disappeared completely for a few hours. In their place was an iris-y greyness infused with smokiness but, occasionally, there was only a sort of scented nothingness that is difficult to explain. This weirdness lasted roughly from the 5th to the 7th hour, but, just when I thought Ambre Eternel was about to die out, the amber, amber-woody, and smoky woody-leather accords came roaring back. I can only chalk it up to some sort of temporary hyposmia on my part.

Moving on, Ambre Eternel had good longevity, average to low projection, and initially big sillage. Using several generous smears equal to 2 good sprays from an actual bottle, the fragrance typically opened with 3-4 inches of projection and about 6 inches of sillage. The latter grew to about 8 or 9 inches after 15 minutes, then dropped at the 90-minute mark to about 3-4 inches. Roughly 4.5 hours into its development, the projection hovered an inch above the skin, but the fragrance began to do the ghostly thing that I’ve described above. It also felt quite thin in body. It was, paradoxically, strong in its smoky harshness and wispy in its airiness. Ambre Eternel generally became a skin scent 5.5 hours into its development, and lasted between 10 and 11 hours, depending on test. That surprised me. As a general rule, my skin chemistry amplifies the reach and life of any fragrance that includes a hefty amount of powerful synthetics; most fragrances with Ambermax, Amber Xtreme, or their related kin can last 16-20 hours on me, sometimes more. In this case, I think the large molecules might given me hyposmia after 10 hours, blocking my nose’s ability to detect the scent. I don’t know.

On a slightly related side note, when I reread Luca Turin’s Ambre Eternel review a few days ago, I saw it had been amended due to a similar issue. There was an Editor’s Note at the end stating that Mr. Turin had written the original review when he’d mistakenly thought he’d recovered from a cold, but he ended up being “still hyposmic to the amber note, and as a result, Ambre Eternel smelled drier and woodier. The review has since been amended by Dr. Turin to reflect this.” The (amended?) text states that the drydown had “no chemical bones showing.” I don’t know if that was always there or if it’s a new addition. Personally, if you ask me, I think “chemical bones” (and the hyposmia that they can sometimes trigger) are a big reason why Mr. Turin originally found the scent to be drier, woodier, and not particularly ambered. It wasn’t merely a mistake about whether he’d fully recovered from his cold or not.

Source: Pinterest. Artist unknown, perhaps Diana Khan Designs or an Etsy artist.

Source: Pinterest. Artist unknown, perhaps Diana Khan Designs or an Etsy artist.

Regardless, the review as it currently stands reads, in large part, as follows:

Ambre Eternel does smell like an amber material (cistus resin, aka labdanum), but there is a lot more to it than that. In fact, the dry, gray topnote that rises before you like a tall, ghostly apparition coming up through a stage trapdoor seems mostly made up of iris and violets and a brilliantly conceived background touch of a Badedas-style camphoraceous ester. The iris here is not the bready, translucent material of recent Chanel releases. It is more akin to the solid synthetic accord of Lutens’ original Iris Silver Mist (Maurice Roucel, 1994). As the iris fades, the fragrance shifts to a warm woody-fruity-ambery accord and heads to a very clean drydown with no chemical bones showing. If I were to guess at the artistic intent of this fragrance, I would describe it as an attempt to do a modern Iris Gris (Fath, 1946), replacing the muted peachy glow of the original with the smooth matter-of-fact lighting of a sepia portrait. Very good indeed.

On Fragrantica, the reviews for Ambre Eternel are mixed. (So are the assessments of longevity and sillage.) What’s interesting is how the actual descriptions for the scent go all over the place. On the one hand, you have negative comments like: “it smells like human sweat on recycled cardboard;” “it smells awful and smells like vinegar;” or “it just smells awful on me – like dirty leather.” On the other, you have comments admiring the amber, the leather, the iris, the sweetness of the fruits, the incense, or all the above.

Dior's Cuir Cannage. Source:

Dior’s Cuir Cannage. Source:

The positive reviews generally tend to be too long for me to quote to you in a way that would be coherent, but here are a few abbreviated blurbs to give you a general idea about people’s experiences and to serve as a counter-balance to my own:

  • Very very very similar to Dior’s Cuir Cannage. If Cuir Cannage is an old lady’s leather bag, Ambre Eternal is the leather bag of a younger woman.. Its like the lighter and cleaner version of Cuir Cannage, with less longetivity and weaker sillage.
  • Very plummy-peachy (and somewhat screechy), leathery, spicy, orange blossom nectar on the back drop of this animalic leather amberigis. [¶] It is intense, it is pungent, juicy at first and boy, this is a siren!! […][¶] While it’s darker older sibling, Royal Santal, is somewhat more wearable (for men), this one to me is definitely more feminine and just a bit too sickly sweet in the first few hours. […][¶] The dry down however is super nice and definitely worth waiting for (and rather manly).
  • The opening is rather big. I immediately get the impression of sweet and warm amber radiating forth with fruity, floral and vanillic notes that round the scent off in the beginning. For a short while, I start to get the impression of gourmand notes coming forth, just as a dry aspect of amber starts entering the scene. […][¶] The next phase was rather dramatic. I got the impression of the tension created by the warm amber and the dry hot aspect of amber, like that of incense wafting out of a censer. […] The leather notes create an aura, and ambience around the scent. At this point, the scent is not so big, but settles to a warm-dry amber with a glow coming forth from ylang-ylang and orange blossom. […][¶] [The actual ambergris] comes forth at the end, surprisingly musky and sensual and very animalic. The drydown is leathery, ambery, powdery and smoky. [Emphasis to perfume names in the other comments has been added by me.]

On Basenotes, Ambre Eternel’s entry page has only two reviews at this time, and they are firmly split. Polar opposites, in fact. “Buzzlepuff” found Ambre Eternel to be “one of the finest ambers available,” while “Mr. Bon Vivant” said flatly, “Guerlain has a lot of gall sticking the name ‘Ambre’ on this bottle.” For him, Ambre Eternel was mostly a dry iris fragrance with “a slug of sharp woody-leathery synthetics” and a “bone dry” character. In fact, his experience seems a bit like my own. What interested me, though, is how their descriptions mirror the two interpretations of Ambre Eternel that I wrote in my test notes and at the start of this review. Not exactly, but close enough. For the purposes of thoroughness, here are their differing perspectives, starting with that of “Buzzlepuff”:

Photo: on Flickr (Direct website link embedded within.)

Photo: on Flickr (Direct website link embedded within.)

This is an all amber fragrance that glows and warms you from within. The amber is prominent up front and smells aged and deep with a full leather base that flows seamlessly from opening to the end. My initial impression was, “this is the best amber fragrance I’ve ever smelled.” After a full wearing I do think that it is one of the finest amber fragrances available. There is depth and richness. As it wears on you smell a peach/neroli mid note which becomes prominent too. For me the peach aroma removes the masculine nature or darkness and adds a sense of fashion and a feminine touch that gives an impression of a fur coat, lipstick, make-up powder dryness, cutting through cold winter air.

Compare that to “Mr. Bon Vivant” who doesn’t think this is an amber fragrance at all and who writes, in relevant part:

Seeing as Shalimar spawned practically the whole amber family – like some great olfactory Queen Victoria – Guerlain has a lot of gall sticking the name “Ambre” on this bottle.

Ambre Eternel opens with a dry iris burst taken from the defunct Parfum Initial. Guerlain adds a slug of sharp woody-leathery synthetics. Then they extend the accord with a bone dry white musk. Oh, and (after five days on the smelling strip) you get a smidgen of vanillin. No sumptuous vanilla bean, tonka, resins or other amber materials. There is no ambergris. There is no “ambre.” And the only thing “eternel” about this scent is its longevity.

This smells like a Guerlain perfume with all of the heart (and expense) extracted. I am sure it is aimed at a certain kind of consumer, one who should know better but nevertheless lets brand status dictate purchases. [snip] [Emphasis to perfume name added by me.]

As I said at the very start of this review, how you interpret or feel about Ambre Eternel may well depend on whether you like, dislike, or are indifferent to aromachemicals. If you can’t detect them or don’t care if you do, and if you are also a lover of both amber and leather, then you may really enjoy Ambre Eternel and should definitely try it for yourself. However, if you are attuned to aromachemicals and also dislike them, then I can’t see Ambre Eternel as being your thing. A handful of you may even have a bad physical reaction to it similar to what I experienced. A friend of mine did. So did a family member who was over one day in which I was testing the fragrance, sniffed my arm a few times, and got a headache not long after, followed by migraine, a sore throat, and stiffness to the back of the neck. This is hardly a typical experience for the average person, but it is one that can befall people with chemical sensitivities.

I’ve been as neutral, objective, or tactful as I could manage under the circumstances, and the effort is wearing thin, so I’ll end this review here and now.

Cost & Availability: Ambre Eternel is an Eau de Parfum that comes in a 125 ml/4.2 oz bottle for $200 or €150. In the U.S.: You can find it at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. Guerlain: Most of Guerlain’s region-specific websites don’t list Ambre Eternel, including the American and UK ones. The French one does, and it’s the only one which permits you to buy directly online. Outside the U.S.: In Canada, the Toronto Guerlain boutique might have it. I don’t know. In London, I believe the fragrance is exclusive to Harrods, but it’s not listed on its website. In France, you can obviously buy it at Guerlain stores, but I was told it’s also sold at Printemps. Samples: Surrender to Chance has Ambre Eternel starting at $5.95 for a 1/2 ml vial. They ship worldwide.

15 thoughts on “Guerlain Ambre Eternel

  1. Thank you for the review, as always I enjoy your writing!

    I think that Ambre Eternel is gorgeous from beginning to end, I will have to order another sample before getting a bottle! Sorry about your reaction to the ISO E Super, It’s probably a good thing that I have no idea what ISO E Super smells like, I will have to read your writings on ISO E Super and try finding a sample of Molecule 01 to find out.

    • My issue was really with the Ambermax or Amber Xtreme, rather than the ISO E Super itself. But I’m glad you enjoy the fragrance.

  2. I love and own Profumum’s Ambra Auera along with Rania J’s Ambre Loup . So I was excited when I received a sample of Guerlain’s Ambre Eternal from Nieman Marcus . When I tried it though, I found it thin and not resinous . All I could do is shrug my shoulders and think that this is Gerlain’s interpretation of an amber based fragrance. I am new to all of this, so I don’t know what aromachemicals smell like. I can understand about a fragrance floating in and out though. I was sampling Montale’s Santal Wood. It was there, then it wasn’t .There again and it kept repeating this process . I don’t dislike Santal Wood, I just wish it wouldn’t do that. Another company, of which I don’t care for any of their offerings, that did this a lot when I sampled their products was il Profumo. Now I know why this happens and I won’t have to keep reapplying . Sorry if I trail off on my comments. TY

    • Montale’s fragrances typically include a ton of woody-amber synthetics, ISO E, or both, so I’m not surprised one bit that you had the ghosting issue. It’s weird and frustrating, isn’t it? The thing is, a lot of the time, the molecules may be blocking or preventing your nose from detecting the fragrance, but those who are standing near you can detect it easily. Close up, your nose gets blocked out. Eventually, it just gets tired or overloads, not smelling anything at all.

  3. Thought this was less horendous than Santal. As a member of the group sensitive to aromachemicals I could not past them and scent what you describe, I am afraid.

    • I agree, it’s less hideous than Santal Royal. But this one eventually turns into a leather/amber brother to or version of that one, so it’s… well… it’s not for you and me.

  4. My initial impression was: “iris taken from Chanel´s 31 Rue Cambon”… and later” “iris in the manner of Guerlain´s classics like Vol de Nuit or Shalimar.
    Yes, the presence of iris (and the fact that it´s not listed) suprised me too. Pleasantly. So after writing the review, I was just wondering who among bloggers will have a similar impression.

  5. Well. I tried Puredistance M yesterday as a final attempt to see if I might like leather in any of its forms. And other than Mona di Orio’s cuir which I did like (but in the end not enough for a FB), I have come to conclude that leather anything is not for me. So leather/suede touch plus aroma chemicals….ill be skipping this one. I will say that I have sniffed this Guerlain line of ‘for the middle east’ scents and haven’t been impressed. They feel like an occidental caricature of oriental oils. Nope.
    M’s opening was glorious, just to say. And hope your nose is in repair.

  6. I’m so sorry you had to suffer at the hand of Guerlain’s aromachemicals. *hugs*
    When I saw you had new reviews for Guerlain perfumes, I actually made a funny face and hoped they weren’t *too* bad for you -before I even got to read the text.
    Anyway, even if the aromachemicals weren’t a problem, I doubt I would enjoy this one. I thought Cuir cannage was a total bore.

    • It’s only the opening that is like Cuir Cannage. The rest is, as I said, the leather and more ambered brother to Guerlain’s Santal Royal, which is even worse, imo. I don’t think you’d enjoy this one even apart from the Cuir Cannage beginning.

  7. I would be quite happy never to smell a Guerlain again, so will give this a firm miss. Maybe Sultan Pasha will double his line and you can review those? Here’s hoping
    I do think that sensitization to aromachemicals is a real thing. I described this in a past comment with regard to heptalactone-gamma: one exposure to the pure chemical gave me a visceral distaste for any minute amount of it, even in perfumes that I formerly loved. And I didn’t seriously object to small amounts of iso-e-super until I was exposed to a scent that had a ton of it, after which I disliked even small amounts. I theorize that natural scents like essential oils don’t have the same effect because they are so much more complex on the molecular level and there is no OD of one particular molecule to react to.
    Anyway, I hope that soon you sniff something that you actually enjoy.

  8. Wonderful review, as always. I have a good sized sample of this and have only tried it once. It needs further wearing for me to make up my mind. It does have a big opening and I kept thinking, what is that undercurrent that bugs me? Yep, it’s the leather. It’s worth some more sampling but I know I won’t purchase this one.

  9. I have been a “lurker” for quite some time. Your reviews a few years ago, along with others, assisted me in my ever-increasing fascination with scent. I have been voraciously reading all things Luca, Bois, and more etc. Your research and writing are a savory treat. From STC, I’ve been buying samples, not just for myself and my own forays, but ones you have profiled.
    Ambre Eternel is horrid on me. I think Iso E and I get along fine, and I’m not sure if I have sensitivities or not. I know I cannot smell some musks. I cannot detect Narcisco Rodriguez (pink bottle only), or “Lovely.” Literally, cannot smell them which may be a good thing. I digress.
    Ambre Eternel was burnt rubber tires on asphalt mixed with Bactine, Band-aids, and Oud, not a good oud. I hunted for anything remotely amber, ambergris, floral, woodsy in even an Iso E way. My sample just arrived. And your review was a few reviews back. So when my throat was scratchy, hurting, nose running today, I had this trace of your review, and wondered, “Is that the one she wrote about…?” All day long, the heavy and many spritzes I stategically squirted disappeared, came back, sans amber, very “thin. ” I love ouds (some), woods, ambers, resins, and leathers; someone mentioned vintage Vol De Nuit which I love, along with Irish Mist (a like, not love). I have a huge sample of AE having thought, despite your negative review, that I would enjoy it (sometimes the art/graphics you include lead to that compulsion despite the thorough analysis). Perversely, the shot of billowing clouds got to me. But speaking as someone who was amidst an actual fire in my rural mountain community–Ambre Eternel is too much like the real thing, where one realizes not only are trees going up in smoke, but paint cans stored in people’s garages, plastic toy sets in yards, liters of cleaning fluids under sinks, along with melting cars and tires. I never caught a whiff of anything floral, caramel (the latter only 10 hours later by driving my nose into my wrist and “imagining Werther’s”), vanila, tonka-anything. And what Ambergris? So, that was my experience of Ambre Eternel. I’m going to brave this again two days from now. So much sample left… Thank you for your work, your research and writing.

    • Oh dear, it sounds like your nose is starting to detect the woody-amber aromachemicals. What you’re describing is precisely the same aromas that things like Amber Xtreme, Trisamber, and, in some cases, Cedramber smell like on my skin. (Guaiacol, too, actually.) It’s unrelated to ISO E Super, although some of the faux-amber aromachemicals can have molecules in common with it. But it’s that precise woody smoke and forest fire smell combined with a tarry aroma that, yes, can smell like burnt rubber tires on asphalt as well. (Band-aids or bandages is definitely part of the ISO E molecular overlap, in my opinion, and that has shown up with Amber Xtreme on my skin in other fragrances, like the new Malle Monsieur and Guerlain’s Santal Royal, though not with Guerlain’s Ambre Eternel.) The whole sore throat, scratchy throat, needles up the nose effect… it’s due to the woody-amber aromachemicals.

      I feel badly for you, not only because of what you went through here but also because it may be a sign that you’re going to detect these things in the future. It’s almost as if a light-switch gets turned on in the nose and brain. Things that one was anosmic to before suddenly become a big flare that you notice every time. I was like that once with ISO E Super, but then I tried a fragrance with too, too much of it and it triggered something in my nose. Same thing with these woody-amber synths. They appear in a LOT of the supposed “leather” fragrances as well as the ambers. On my skin, a number of the Andy Tauer fragrances smell exactly like what you described here. 🙁 It’s a huge problem for me, particularly since other people can’t detect it in the same way. But once you get triggered on it… I think you’re basically stuck smelling that in a lot of fragrances which use those sorts of materials. I really hope that is not the case for you and that Ambre Eternel is a rare exception.

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