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