Atelier Cologne Ambre Nue : Perfume Review

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Ambren

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

I admit it. I am a perfume Casanova. The moment I meet Atelier Cologne Ambre Nue, I immediately go through my roster of amber favorites. I have to make sure that we have not met before. The classical amber accord based around labdanum is an ever popular fragrance style. It is sweet and warm. It is redolent of vanilla, the perfume note equivalent of an easy tune. Add some incense or dark woods, and the amber becomes sexy and dark. The problem is that after a while this theme gets repetitive, unless a composition offers some new and original twist.

As it happens, the best aspect of Ambre Nue is that it is true to its name; it is sheer and radiant. The tenacity and sillage of this composition are excellent, but it wears like a light veil, rather than a fur coat. It opens on a bright citrusy accord that accompanies many vanilla and amber blends, a deliciously refreshing contrast to the richness that is soon to follow. The crisp dry amber sets the main tone for the drydown, while the accents of sugared almonds, smoky vanilla, chocolate-like patchouli and balsamic labdanum add an interesting texture. The late drydown is reminiscent of sticky vanilla beans, and the smoky, rubbery sweetness is what lingers on the skin.

Then it suddenly hits me—Ambre Nue is the little sister of Vanille Insensée, also from Atelier Cologne. Just like Vanille Insensée cannot decide whether it wants to be an amber or a vanilla, Ambre Nue oscillates between two main impressions. It is softer and lighter than Vanille Insensée (and most of my other amber favorites), to be sure, but the characters of the two fragrances are similar. Perhaps I might check in on Ambre Nue from time to time, but Vanille Insensée is the one that I take home.

Some of my favorite ambers include:
Annick Goutal Ambre Fétiche 
Christian Dior Dune
Hermès Ambre Narguilé
Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Ambre Précieux
Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan
Parfum d’Empire Ambre Russe

Atelier Cologne Ambre Nue includes notes of mandarin, bergamot, marigold, orchid nigritella rubra, cinnamon, benzoin, cistus labdanum, patchouli and tonka bean. Available from Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Luckyscent. (30ml is $70, 200 ml is $185.)

Sample: my own acquisition

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13 Comments

  • Vanessa: Light veil sounds perfect – I like my amber to be soft and sheer rather than thick and treacly. Marc Jacobs Amber Splash and Prada L’Eau Ambree hit the spot for me. If this has the vibe of Oolong Infini, but with amber to the fore, I am in! I would love to try that Vanille Insensee one too . January 16, 2012 at 5:55am Reply

  • sweetlife: Huh. This description makes me think of Yves Rocher’s amber, Voile d’Amber, right down to the name! Would be very curious to see how you would compare the two.

    (Also, laughing at your Casanova ways…) January 16, 2012 at 10:47am Reply

  • Victoria: I think that you would like it then. It is certainly sweeter and sharper than Oolong Infini, but it is likewise light and sheer. And try Vanille Insensee too! January 16, 2012 at 11:08am Reply

  • Victoria: That could describe many of us, no? Glad to make you smile. 🙂

    Voile d’Ambre is much sweeter, with a cotton candy like note, where as Ambre Nue is smokier and drier by comparison. January 16, 2012 at 11:09am Reply

  • Liz: Have you tried L’eau de L’ambre Extreme from L’artisan Parfumeur? Its quite warm and rich, though perhaps not quite as sophisticated as Ambre Narguile (which is my favorite amber to date, but I am quite new to loving perfume!). January 24, 2012 at 8:42am Reply

  • Victoria: I’ve tried it, and I agree with you. Warm and rich is right on! I should revisit it again one of these days. It would be perfect in our grey winter weather. January 24, 2012 at 5:24pm Reply

  • Annette: Perfect description about it being the little sister of vanille insensee! It really melts into the skin so nicely and on me, I can smell the mandarin and the tonka bean. This is the first amber scent I’ve ever purchased as I always found amber too strong. This is perfect for those who want to foray into amber scents! It really is beautiful. January 27, 2012 at 10:18pm Reply

  • Victoria: Very true, a nicely done amber cologne. I also enjoyed your description of it as a gateway to other richer ambers. January 28, 2012 at 10:26am Reply

  • sdn: How funny that you compare this to Vanille Insensee! These are the two Atelier scents I like the best and wear most. And I don’t even like vanilla perfumes, or powdery dry-downs, but VI made me love them. AN kind of smells like freshly cut wood to me. August 26, 2012 at 12:58am Reply

  • Alessandra: I was given a sample of this by one of the Atelier Cologne ladies at Galeries Lafayette back in October… and I have to say, while it had a first good impression on me, wearing it did not have the same result. I find it *too* sheer, boringly (in my opinion, of course) sweet, and obviously lacking that smokey, dark quality that I attribute to my favourite ambers (one uber alles: serge lutens’, which is obviously an entirely different story, even intention-wise, so there is no point in comparing the two, I know). Persistent though it is, which is impressive for a cologne.
    In short, I only wore the sample twice, then got bored with it, and I doubt I’ll change my mind next time I wear Ambre Nue just to be sure. I don’t think it suits my taste.
    Au contraire, I adore Oolang Infini. January 30, 2014 at 11:43am Reply

  • Alessandra: Mind you, I suppose I don’t like the idea of an amber cologne per se. Maybe that’s why I dislike this. To me, amber goes hand in hand with cashmere-like comfort, with some depth and smoke. AC’s amber doesn’t make me feel that way but I am sure it doesn’t even intend to.. so there, I guess it’s a matter of ‘stance’, haha. January 30, 2014 at 11:45am Reply

  • Annette Reynolds: It’s funny: I wear Vanille Insensee. I’m on my second bottle, actually. But I don’t see any real resemblance to Ambre Nue (which I also like very much, but not enough to buy a full bottle). Vanille Insensee is big and bold on me with a haunting sweetness hidden in the dry cedrat and vetiver, and very un-vanilla-like. But there’s something about it I really love, even though I also love true vanilla fragrances like Maison de la Vanille’s “Vanille Givree des Antilles” (one of my all time favorite vanilla perfumes). October 8, 2014 at 1:47am Reply

    • Victoria: They have the same essential core, but the accents differ, and of course, this can make a big difference in how they are perceived. October 8, 2014 at 7:54am Reply

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