Do you love your amber with a shot of booze, or straight up? Do you want it as dark as night, its toffee’d chewiness beset by either tobacco, leather or incense, or would you prefer it to be so golden that it evokes James Bond’s Goldfinger girl? Have you sought an “amber” fragrance layered with the creamiest and silkiest vanilla, or do you prefer it accompanied by some combination of dry woods, spices, salty caramel, bitter expresso, chocolate, jammy roses, or aromatic herbs instead? Whatever the combination or your particular preferences, my hope is that there will an “amber” on this list of 50 fragrances to tempt you to explore further.Continue reading
“Amber” is a glorious genre of perfumery, a showcase for all that is decadent, inviting, resinous, and golden in scent, with facets that range across a broad spectrum from the musky, sultry, smoky, and spicy to the deliciously cozy with sweetened aromas of toffee, caramel, or vanilla. But “amber” is a word that needs to be in quotation marks because it is, in reality, an umbrella catch-all term that encompasses many varieties of materials and, as a result, a slew of different aromas or styles.
I’d like to go over the basics of those genres or, to be more precise, sub-genres in what will be a two-part series, starting today with the history, definitions, basics, and scent profile of the materials in each group. In the next post, Part II, I’ll list fragrances that I love and recommend within each category, as well as a few famous ones beloved by others, even if they don’t strike the same chord with me.
Atelier des Ors is a relatively new French niche house that arrived on the scene in 2015 with five eau de parfums, including the two subjects of today’s review, Larmes du Desert and Cuir Sacre. (Both fragrances are officially spelt with accents as Larmes du Désert and Cuir Sacré, but I’m skipping them for the sake of speed and convenience.)
Atelier des Ors was founded by Jean-Philippe Clermont who is also the artistic director for the brand. All the fragrances are eau de parfums that were created by Marie Salamagne. All of them come in glass bottles cut in an Art Deco design and filled with 24k gold flakes. I generally am not one to either get excited about packaging or to comment on it, but I must say the photos I’ve seen for some of the bottles really turned my head. The Art Deco-style sun flares cut into the glass look gorgeous!
Close your eyes and imagine yourself spending a day in an old souk, perhaps in Marrakesh or Tripoli. The air is thick with heat, so you buy a refreshing drink of blood oranges infused with Angostura aromatic bitters, decorated with candied orange peels and sprigs of fresh herbs. One vendor catches your eye, his tables piled high with leathery black figs, the fattest, stickiest Medjool dates, syrup-laden Middle Eastern sweets, and honeyed desserts. Large sacks of colourful spices lie on the ground, next to ones filled with bitter Bay Leaf, oregano, and other green herbs. Nearby, bottles of rich labdanum amber and leathery Tolu balsam resins surround gleaming silver trays filled with cinnamon-scented, hard, dark benzoin resinoids.
An enterprising chap, the seller even offers you cooked food in case you missed your lunch, large bowls filled with curries or banana-leaf savory dishes straight from his Indian wife’s kitchen. You stand before his wares, sipping your drink of herbal Angostura bitters and orange, nibbling on a dried date as you contemplate ordering either a main meal or dessert. Suddenly, a vendor on a bike comes out of nowhere and crashes into you. The barrel of immortelle in the back goes flying into the air, crashing into the tables, throwing everything to the ground, and releasing a flood of sticky syrup over them all. Apologizing profusely, the vendor offers to cook you dinner in his kitchen. Hours later, he replaces your ruined clothing with an outfit made of soft Tuareg leather, but the resins from the accident still coat your skin, encasing you in a cloud of amber infused with spices, sweet myrrh, and sweetness.