Sexy, smoky, and snarling, Ambra Nera is a gritty, punk rock amber that is simply gorgeous. It is a compulsively sniffable parfum from the ancient Italian house of Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561, and is far more than the “black amber” that its name implies. Rich woods, spicy patchouli, incense, sticky balsamic resins, animalic warmth, and earthiness are all cocooned in musky ambergris in a way that feels like amber with an edge. While its essence can be over-simplified down to patchouli-amber-woods, Ambra Nera leaves fragrances like Ambra Aurea or Jovoy‘s Psychedelique in the dust of their golden palaces, where aristocrats lounge near fireplaces sipping cognac. Instead, it chooses to get on its Harley-Davidson, snarling in black leather like Iggy Pop, Billy Idol, or the Ramones, and zooms off singing “with a rebel yell, more, more, more.” It’s a fantastic, unexpected surprise, and a fragrance that lovers of hardcore amber-patchoulis must try.
Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561 is an Italian brand with a long history, and its unpretentious, high-quality, beautifully rich fragrances are hugely under-rated, in my opinion. Most are really extraits in concentration, and tend to focus on one note which is then amplified to great depth. Ambra Nera is a little different than others I’ve tried from the line, as it has more layers and complexity than some of its siblings, but it bears the overall Farmacia aesthetic and made me do a double-take from first sniff. If it weren’t for the size of the bottle, I would have bought Ambra Nera for myself right away.