Fragrances with real ambergris are not the norm in the fragrance world, so I was excited to try Les Indémodables‘ Ambre Supreme, created by the famous Antoine Lie.
After trying it, I’ll say this as a hardcore amber lover: I wouldn’t run a marathon or climb Mt. Everest to get my hands on it.
Ambre Supreme is an eau de parfum that was created by Antoine Lie and released in 2021. Les Indemodables describes it as follows:
Ambergris, the near-mythical aged and oxidized exudate from a sperm whale, is one of the most prized ingredients in perfumery. Due to its rarity and cost, Ambergris (“grey amber”) is synthetic in 99 percent perfumes that list it as an ingredient.
In Ambre Supreme, the natural version specially sourced and tinctured using our proprietary ultrasound extraction is used in a 10% dosage, putting a spotlight on this precious ingredient with a unique ability to amplify and unify other notes in a composition.
All of Ambregris’s intriguing facets are on display from the ambery, animalic, to the mineral, marine-like and salty- adding what perfumer Antoine Lie describes as a “sheen, a patina, a feeling” to the fragrance.
Precious ingredient: Ambre gris 10%
As you can see from that percentage number, 90% of Ambre Supreme’s ingredients are omitted. Luckyscent offers a more complete note list:
Aldehydes, Clary Sage Oil Switzerland Grand Cru, Pink Pepper CO2 Madagascar, Cardamom Oil from India, Orange Flower Grand Cru, Neroli Oil from Morocco, Jasmine Absolute from India, Patchouli Oil Grand Cru, Ambergris Tincture Grand Cru, Immortelle Extract from France Grand Cru (from the brand’s private field)
Ambre Supreme opens on my skin with the smell of a grey day at a stony beach in Normandy: crisp, brisk, clean salty air; cold ocean water; grey-skewing mineral undertones; and a touch of herbal, grassy greenness. It’s the result of aldehydes, the salty side of ambergris, a slug of oceanic calone, and the clary sage. I should stress, however, that the salty sea vibe is nothing like Profumum‘s famous salty, mineralic, algae-flecked, soapy and oceanic Aqua di Sale. Ambre Supreme is far better balanced, less on the nose and overt, very different in vibe, and very different in raw materials. If anything, I’m reminded more of the clean floral iris aroma infused with aldehydic clean airiness and salty sea water of Antoine Lie‘s Secretions Magnifique, a fragrance that does not warrant even a tenth of the hyperbolic “It made vomit” mass hysteria over what is, essentially, a pretty innocuous maritime floral iris bouquet.
About 2-3 minutes in, the central mineralic, salty, oceanic core is joined by: a smattering of crisp citrus and also an indeterminate sweet floralcy that hints at being jasmine and/or orange blossom but doesn’t smell exactly and clearly of either one. Growing amounts of the clary sage’s herbal greenness weave everything together, then a smidgeon of soft spices is strewn on top.
Running through the base is a chemical twang that appeared in all 3 of my tests of Ambre Supreme. I’m guessing it’s from the calone which is used to recreate the ocean world within which ambergris is formed. As a side note, the calone is of a variety that is far less abrasive, screechy, loud, and obnoxiously chlorinated than that which is found in a number of ocean-fresh fragrances. It’s nothing like the calone notes in fragrances like Davidoff Cool Water.
Roughly 10 minutes in, the mineral, oceanic calone, salty, and floral tonalities double in strength. At the same time, there is the first suggestion of ambergris in solo form (as opposed to its individual components or by-product aromas) via a sort of radiant, softly sweet, salinic goldenness that warms things up.
25 minutes in, everything dissolves into a soft, lightly sweetened, shimmering, multi-faceted but blurry bouquet.
Ambre Supreme shifts in fractional degrees after the first hour and in the hours that follow but the changes are almost entirely to the order, prominence, or nuances of the individual notes because, by and large, this is a simple, linear, soliflore composition in both (intentional) focus and scent.
70 minutes in, the ambergris grows more prominent, turning into a central note and eradicating any traces of coolness in the scent. At the same time: the calone’s oceanic chemical twang becomes more noticeable and no longer feels like a lurking base note; the aldehydes, herbal, grassy, and citrus tonalities weaken and recede into the background; and the pink peppercorn suddenly appears.
90 minutes in, the jasmine turns into a major note, fusing with the salty calone water, the lightly sweetened salty ambergris, the minerals, and the pink peppercorn spiciness. This is now the central bouquet. Patchouli and cedar rise from the base and flit around, adding a muted woodiness.
2.75 hours in, Ambre Supreme is a blurry but harmonious and seamless blend of salty, mineralic, oceanic, lightly sweetened, warm, radiant ambergris infused with fluctuating layers of jasmine floralcy, spices, and a smidgeon of dry woodiness. The order and prominence of these elements change over time with the woodiness, spiciness, and floralcy in particular ebbing and flowing but the central core of mineralic, salinic ambergris remains constant.
At the end of the 7th hour and start of the 8th (or about 7.10 hours in), the drydown begins. I’d estimate that roughly 80% to 85% of Ambre Supreme consists of that main core. The remainder is the syrupy jasmine which weaves in and out from time to time, sometimes there for 30 or 45 minutes before vanishing, then reappearing once again. Another thing that fluctuates is the sweetness of the ambergris; sometimes it smells like caramel, sometimes it’s a milder, softer, more generic sweetness.
The whole thing has a textually plush feel to it which I really like. It’s as though the ambergris has melted into a puddle of creamy suede-like goldenness. If only Ambre Supreme were better in terms of sillage, presence, and volume throughout its lifetime. (I’ll get to the details of that in a minute.)
Ambre Supreme remains this way until its final hours when it is simply a golden, sweet, warm abstraction infused with wisps of saltiness and an fleeting undertone of floralcy.
Ambre Supreme had very good longevity and initially moderate sillage that turned low sooner than I would have liked. With 2 good squirts from an atomiser sample, equal to 2 sprays from a bottle, the fragrance opened with about 7-8 inches of sillage that dropped to about 4 inches after 50-55 minutes. There really is no scent trail around me unless I wave my arm around my head or face. 3.25 hours in or 25 minutes into the 4th hour, Ambre Supreme projected about 2 to 2.5 inches off my arm. The number dropped to 0.5 inches an hour later. Ambre Supreme became a skin scent on me early into the 7th hour or about 6.10 hours in. However, it wasn’t difficult to detect up close until the start of the 10th hour at which point I had to push my nose into my forearm and inhale hard. In total, Ambre Supreme lasted just shy of 14 hours, though much of the last 4 hours consisted of a muted whisper.
In the interests of fairness, I would like to note that the sillage numbers on Fragrantica suggest that a number of people had far better luck than I did in terms of the sillage and performance of Ambre Supreme.
Speaking of Fragrantica, some people there claim that Ambre Supreme has a retro vintage vibe, while one of the site’s columnists wrote a whole article about how the fragrance was purportedly ” A Contemporary Mitsouko For Vintage Lovers?” If my eyes rolled back any further in my head, they’d pop out all the way to Sri Lanka. No, this is neither a chypre, a vintage-style or vintage-smelling fragrance, or retro in any way. And if you hope that a fragrance that includes calone and salty aquatic elements but lacks oakmoss, castoreum, birch tar leather, peach, and other chypre or Mitsouko-central elements stands a good chance of smelling like Mitsouko, then you are a sweet thing who might also be interested in buying a bridge I have in Brooklyn.
Yes, Ambre Supreme has a variety of notes but it is still a soliflore, in my opinion, because many of those additional elements are added to mimic innate or natural facets and nuances of real ambergris. Though there are different grades and types of ambergris, almost all have a salinic, warm aroma with mineralic, oceanic, green, grassy, fatty, musky, sweet, and/or even occasionally peanut-y nuances. Antoine Lie clearly sought, in my opinion, to highlight or accentuate a number of these tonalities while also seeking to replicate the vibe of the seas in which ambergris is found, right down to its salty air (via aldehydes) and metaphoric seaweed or algae (via clary sage). Just because Ambre Supreme also includes jasmine does not change the fact that the fragrance’s entire primary focus is on the salty ambergris/sea elements and, by the same token, does not turn it into a chypre or anything other than an ambergris soliflore when taken as a whole.
Another ridiculousness is the claim that Ambre Supreme resembles Serge Lutens‘ Ambre Sultan. The only way one could proffer such an argument is if one has absolutely zero knowledge of the olfactory differences between labdanum and ambergris. (See, Guide to Amber: Part I on the different types of materials that fall under the vast “Amber” umbrella, what they smell like, and their differences.)
Let’s move on.
Ambre Supreme is a perfectly decent, cromulent fragrance that is well-blended, smooth, and comprised of (mostly) high-end materials. As a hardcore amber lover, I think it’s nice – minus that annoying chemical twang that lasts for hours – but it doesn’t blow my socks off.
I’m particularly underwhelmed given the price and size: $225 or €210 for just 50 ml. I have no problems paying that amount for a rich, complex ambergris-driven fragrance that also projects and performs well on my skin but not for one that feels thin in body, is far too discreet for my tastes after just 60-90 minutes, has a calone chemical twang, and is, by and large, overly simplistic for the price in question. (Even if it were a 100 ml bottle, I would not be tempted.)
That said, if you’re an ambergris lover – particularly one who loves the salty, sweet, and mineralic facets of the material – I think you should sample Ambre Supreme to decide for yourself.
Disclosure: My sample was provided courtesy of Luckyscent. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews and my opinions are my own.