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.)
Amber Flash is the latest release from Andy Tauer‘s Tauerville line, a smoky take on amber that is redolent of the leathery creosote tar he uses so often in his Tauerade base. It’s an eau de parfum that was released around October of this year, and that Mr. Tauer describes as the “perfect amber scent.” Well, that may be the case for him, but it certainly is not for me.
Benjoin Boheme, the latest fragrance from Diptyque, calls to mind a Turner landscape painted in a palette of nut-browns, gold, cream, and silver, then edged in smoky shadows. The light is so soft and warm, it seems to ripple out from the canvas to envelop you with soothing, gentle comfort. The perfectly placed shadows merely underscore the warmth, the glowing cloud that invites you to dive in, to let yourself be enveloped, and to just relax. Diptyque is not a brand that does much for me as a general rule, but Benjoin Boheme makes me look at them in a new light. Colour me impressed.
Smoky leather corseted by frankincense, then enveloped in resinous amber, spicy patchouli, and fiery cloves lies at the heart of Cannibale, one of Serge Lutens‘ new parfums in his Section d’Or Collection. It’s a fragrance that took me all over the place. Images of wild tribal dances around smoky fires competed with flashbacks to France’s Madame Pompadour and the powdered aristocrats of the ancien regime wearing old-fashioned rice powder and acidic floral vinegars at Versailles. Those flashbacks were later replaced by flashforwards in time to modern niche hits like Mona di Orio‘s Cuir, Annick Goutal‘s Ambre Fetiche, and Tom Ford‘s Amber Absolute (or its tweaked parallel version, Sahara Noir).
And, throughout it all, there were loud reverberations of several past Lutens‘ creations, first and foremost Serge Noire, then Ambre Sultan and L’Incendiaire. At times, parts of Cannibale drew me in appreciatively before another element repelled me, sometimes making me recoil quite literally. There were also glimmers of the old Luten’ innovative whimsy and originality, but they occurred early on, before being drowned out entirely by a bouquet that made me feel I was wearing fragrances from other brands. When you spend a small chunk of time mentally cataloguing all the possible amber, leather, and Serge Noire combinations that could create the same scent — one bearing a far higher price tag than those individual parts — then I think there is a problem.