Going to extremes with a trio of ambers

Me again folks, filling in for Danielle as she prepares to hit the road for Texas!

In a recent pack of lovelies Danielle sent me, she included a spray sample of Aftelier Perfume’s Amber. She also made some chance remarks about other ambers, such as Sonoma Scent Studio’s Ambre Noir, and Olympic Orchid’s Olympic Amber. Amber is not a note I have explored much, but realising that I have samples of these three, this afternoon I took them all out for a spin.

I like the Aftelier the best. Lending ease to the amber are notes I love – lavender and bergamot – so I was always destined to love this fragrance. There is also a mustiness in the base that stops it getting too floral. Unfortunately, this is the most short-lived of my trio of ambers.

Olympic Orchid’s Amber is sweet and makes things easy for you with a hint of vanilla. By contrast, SSS’s Ambre Noir is broodingly dark and smoky. What is especially interesting is the way that these two fragrances demonstrate their makers’ signature bases. In Ellen Covey’s (OO) Amber I get some of the honeyed orchid note that is a feature of her line (even though it os not mentioned in the notes), and in Laurie Erikson’s (SSS) Ambre Noir there is a strong suggestion of the deep rich rose she uses so often. Mandy Aftel’s Amber is the only one of her fragrances I have tried, so I don’t know how it sits with her other work. Please do comment if you do.

To my nose Ambre Noir is the most extreme of the three – too extreme for my taste. It scares me a bit, even with the rose. But I’m glad to have it as a comparison for the other two and any further ambers I may try. This is how you learn, after all.

I mean, I don’t wear Piguet’s Bandit much because it is so bitter, but I am glad to have samples to set against my other, less extreme greens. Similarly, a single spritz of Fracas sent me running for the shower, but at least now I know what the reference tuberose smells like. And while Andy Tauer’s Lonestar Memories gives me more birch tar than I want to wear on my own skin, how I’d love to smell it on the skin of a strong man. (And when I meet that gorgeous man I’ll let you know!)

So: what fragrances are too extreme for you? Can you appreciate them, even if their dominant notes take you down a road you would rather not travel?

24 thoughts on “Going to extremes with a trio of ambers

  1. The original Chloe – too much of a flesh eating flower for me. Tuberose is not my strong suit and this one is simply too raw. I’m not sure that I even want to smell it on someone else. This one scares me.

    Gucci Rush and Gucci Rush 2 – again a raw and fierce flower that grates on my nerves. I find them aggressive and not in a good way.. I do like both of them on others though – from a distance.

    YSL Opium EdP. Too spicy. Too oppulent. Too much liquid lava coming my way. I’m a wimp when it comes to spices in fragrances. It smothers me and that’s scary. The EdT I can wear on a cold winter’s day and I think I like it – I certainly appreciate it. I like the weaker and milder flankers a lot more.

    1. Ah yes, Opium is an extreme isn’t it? I’m like you. I appreciate the EDT occasionally in the winter, and that’s about it. I have not tried the Gucci Rushes, tho’ I noted GR2 going for a very cheap price the other week.

      ‘Flesh eating flower’ is a great image. Now that I know what raw tuberose smells like, I am understanding what I am smelling on other people. The other day I shared a car with a tuberose wearer. I doubt it was Fracas, but now you mention Chloe, perhpas it was that.

  2. I haven’t tried Aftelier’s Amber (though I’ve tried quite a few other ones and love them all!), and as a matter of fact, if you asked me even a year ago what notes/perfumes were too “extreme”, I’ d likely have said…”ANYTHING…with amber!” Blech!

    Of course, that was before I was devastated by Ambre Sultan…and I’ve liked quite a few since then…especially Olympic Amber. (If you love amber, may I recommend Neil Morris’ Vault Collection ‘Rumi’, It is beyond amazing.)

    Original Chloé…what a beast! Cinnabar was another one, and either of the Gucci Rushes make me green, too. For an unflattering shade of chartreuse, it would have to be Angel in any permutation. Just. No. Ever. Ever.

    Worth Courtesan and Bal à Versailles…love them as much as you wish, but let me know, so I can stay well away…;)

    On the other hand…if anyone has any Bandit that needs to find a loving home, let me know. I’ll pay quite well to have it spayed! 😀

    And man… those shoes! Would I wear them? Are you kidding? They’d look amazing with a buttoned up pinstripe skirt suit…;)

    1. Thanks for the tip about Neil Morris. I have only tried one of his – Prowl, I think. Thought it was very good.

      That’s quite a list of extremes. And your amber education seems to be comikng along nicely.

      I Googled extreme shoes and got that image. Why three? That is very extreme.

  3. annemarie, it’s a shame but I think you just have to accept the short-lived nature of natural perfumes and enjoy them while they’re around. Can be hard to jusitfy the cost though. The SSS sounds good. I’d like to find a smoky amber that’s not dense.

    As for extreme perfumes I totally agree with your picks. Can’t do Bandit or Fracas and though I love birch tar in moderation I’m not man enough for Lonestar Memories (do let us know when you find that guy!) I’m not woman enough for Carnal Flower either 🙂 I think tuberose and I are done after By Kilian’s Beyond Love was a scrubber on me the other day. Oud Cuir d’Arabie was way too extreme for me.

    I’m just getting into greens lately and would love to hear about your less extreme recommendations some time.

    Love those shoes!

    1. Yes, I realise I just have go woth the beauty that naturals offer. The trouble is, I usually want to make my fragrance dollar work as hard as possible! Sigh.

      I did find Ambre Noir a bit dense. Still, I hope you can give it a try.

      Some people adore Carnal Flower, but it does not sound my kind of thing.

      Extreme leathers! Now there is a post all by itself; not one I’d be up to I don’t think. I’ll give some thought to ‘lesser greens’. I’m in Chanel No 19 EDT today.

      1. Ah, and that’s the great thing. You can appreciate them, even if you don’t like them yourself. I love it when people say this. So often you see comments on fragrance forums where people say something like ‘This fragrance smells like rotting corpses’ (as if the commenter HAS actually smelled rotting corpses) and that anyone who wears it must be mentally deranged or intent upon spreading revulsion to everyone they meet.

        For these sort of people, the sole criterion for judging whether a perfume is good or not is their own taste. Thanks to perfume blogging, I think we have moved on from that.

  4. My personal answer to “what’s too much?” has got to be, foremost, anything you can smell coming down the hall. Poison used to skeer me (the extrait, dabbed, is much much quieter). And I absolutely despise the big balsamy things like Youth Dew and Opium. Guerlain Insolence literally chased me out of the house, and my sample went immediately into the (outside) trash can! Another one that’s too much is indeed Bandit for me. And Angel, blergh. It’s like being chased by the enormous Sta-Puf marshmallow man from Ghostbusters, and he’s intent on squishing me…

    I have realized that sometimes just a tiny dab of a really big scent is very pleasant. I’m probably never going to like Youth Dew or Opium or Angel, but some of those others I mentioned are tolerable in small doses. I do have a tolerance for many of those tuberose scents people have been mentioning, but my personal theory is that tuberose settles down on my skin and gets cosy, so that it doesn’t rise up like a huge choking cloud the way it sometimes does.

    1. It is often the case isn’t it that an extrait is not necessarily ‘bigger’ than an EDP, but has a quieter, more ‘controlled release’ effect. Simetimes a big spray from an EDT, actually the least concentrated form, can be the the most offensive.

      You put a Guerlain sample in the bin?! Crikey it must have been the scrubber from hell. I don’t remember Insolence much except that I did not like it.

  5. Oh, and I forgot: I’m not that much of an amber fan, and I therefore would say that my favorite amber is Alahine. Which is, of course, as much floral as it is amber!

  6. I admire Fracas, but I couldn’t wear it. The same goes for Opium and Shalimar, way to heavy scents for me. I admire Andy Tauers Une rose vermeille, and am somewhat sad it’s impossible to wear for me, the raspberry note I think. Bandit though I have no problem with, on me it’s a quite mellow, lovely scent!

    1. Nah, I can’t do Vermeille either. I prefer my raspberries in a bowl, with cream.There is a form of Bandit that is mellow, and EDP (I think?) released in the 1990s? I’m getting muddled now, but I do have some and it is quite different from the EDT and extrait, whichI also have as samples.

      Or maybe you reaction to Bandit is like Mals’s to tuberose. In each case, they just work for you!

      1. (stating the obvious) How different we all are! I’m with both of you on Fracas, I can’t do Opium or Shalimar, but URV is (so far) my only love from Tauer’s line (I’ve tried 5 or 6). I would have bought a FB but it’s so strong, all I need to wear this perfume is a couple of touches from a dab vial – what will I do with all that bottle?! But I still might go for it eventually.

  7. Thank you Anne-Marie, it’s nice you were willing to explore these amber notes, and I’m so glad that Danielle passed my Amber spray along to you! I hope you have a chance to try more of my work. Mandy Aftel.

  8. I have a problem with Ambre Sultan. It disturbs me so much I haven’t had time deciding whether i like it or not. Its bitter, herbal variation on amber gives me an immediate sad reaction. I even have a sample that I tried and I had to (try) and wash of. I could pick up traces of it for hours after that and I even had to lock the vial inside a box to get rid of this feeling of depression. A perfume that can create such strong feelings must be good.

    1. Yes indeed, how interesting. Worth going back to to see if you can hear its message in a different way next time. I like that you are not just dismissing it out of hand. I like bitter herbal scents – in moderation!

  9. In theory, because I like rich perfumes, I thought I would love amber. But in practice, for me also, it is a difficult note. One noteable example is Andy Tauer’s L’Air du Morccain – it is a beautiful, gorgeous fragrance, but there is one note (and I think it may be the amber/ambrox) that makes it difficult for me to wear. I love smelling it on my mom though..Puredistance M is on the right side of the border of extreme amber for me..It reminds me of the Tauer but is softer, with a bit of spice and leather softening the dry dusty ambery edges..

    I haven’t tried any of these Ambers though – am curious about Mandy’s since I have been loving almost everything I’ve tried from her..

    Tuberose is my favorite fresh-cut flower, but I don’t always like tuberose soliflore – there is something about the way the buttery rich tuberose note is used that doesn’t evoke the flower for me and makes me ever so slightly nauseated..
    The two soliflores I absolutely adore though are Carnal Flower and Tubereuse Criminelle..(BK Beyond Love felt like I had applied thick strokes of chalky tuberose paint on my skin. I did not love it..:()

    1. Love love Marocain, and have no trouble wearing it (in the winter). Does the difficult note last all the way through the fragrance?


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