Ambergris (Animalic Amber): 23 posts

Natural ambergris smells like soft leather and salt encrusted seaweed. Its man-made analogs capture a whole range of smells: dry and crisp like wood shavings or savory and leathery like oil cured olives. It can be used together with the sweet amber based on the Mediterranean rockrose (labdanum, cistus labdanum). For fragrances featuring that note, please see Amber (Sweet Labdanum).

Givenchy Live Irresistible : Perfume Review

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Following a nefarious example set by Lancôme La Vie est Belle, perfume copywriters have assumed the role of social philosophers. “We live only once,” proclaims the press release for Givenchy’s Live Irrésistible, but I’m not sure why I’d fritter away my time on earth in the company of their fragrance.

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Like many of the recent LVMH perfumes (Givenchy is controlled by the conglomerate), Live Irrésistible seems like a focus group driven creation, where the each component is augmented to be likable. Desperate to please, Live Irrésistible heaps together everything that women are thought to like–a sweet, juicy top note, clean florals, and sweet amber drydown accented with cotton candy, all tinted pink. The result should at least be cute, but somehow it ends up as dowdy and bland.

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Christian Dior Sauvage : Perfume Review

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Replace Alain Delon with Johnny Depp, add a generous dose of Bleu de Chanel in the mix, shorten the name–and voilà, a new bestseller in the making. Although this kind of launch often strikes me as lazy, its make a lot of marketing sense. Sauvage banks on the impressive heritage accrued by its predecessor Eau Sauvage, and what it lacks in originality it makes up with presence. If you complain that perfumes don’t last on you, then look no further. Sauvage will not leave you alone.

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On the other hand, those who would like complexity and interesting stories should take to other pastures. Sauvage offers neither. It’s fresh, bright and radiant, with a pearly toothed Colgate commercial in a perfume bottle. I predict that we will smell many similar fresh-enough-to-disinfect accords in other fragrances in the coming months.

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Tom Ford Noir Extreme : Fragrance Review

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Elisa on Tom Ford Noir Extreme and olfactory desserts for men (and not only).

First there was Thierry Mugler Angel, widely credited with creating both the gourmand and “fruitchouli” categories; perfumer Olivier Cresp poured ethylmaltol – the smell of burnt sugar – into a patchouli-heavy oriental base, starting a craze for caramel in perfume that hasn’t much slowed in 20 years. Then came Angel’s counterpart A*Men, also released in 1996, making the world safe for gourmands for men. A*Men smelled shockingly like mint chocolate chip ice cream, but retained its masculinity thanks to lavender and plenty of that same earthy, mothball-like patchouli seen in Angel.

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Since its release, it has spawned plenty of variations. In addition to all the A*Men flankers (including my favorite, A*Men Pure Malt), other gourmand-friendly lines like Hanae Mori and Viktor & Rolf have offered up sweet scents for men. Take HM (1997), a crazy but appealing mix of candy notes, lavender and lemon. Later, in 2000, came Lolita Lempicka au Masculin, a delicious licorice fougère. And the release of Spicebomb in 2012, with all its smoky, leathery tobacco goodness, felt like a masculine gourmand revival.

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Alaia Paris by Azzedine Alaia : Perfume Review

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Taking Alaïa note by note is complicated, but since Azzedine Alaïa became famous for his unusually structured knitted dresses, perhaps, this is only to be expected. While most fashion designers don’t convey much of their aesthetic in fragrance lines they launch (see Miu Miu), Alaïa is an exception. Fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa wanted to incorporate recollections from his Tunisian childhood but avoid any trite “oriental” references; the idea instead is to convey couture with a personal touch. For me it works.

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Alaïa is a transparent modern floral, with a velvety woody-musky drydown. Alaïa doesn’t shock, but it is different from the legions of fruity bonanzas and cotton candy laced new releases: its combination of abstract flowers and mineral, wet chalk nuances is surprising; its manner of rendering animalic notes is novel, and its gauzy but enveloping sillage is alluring. It’s a promising debut.

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Top 10 Amber Fragrances for Fall

Amber perfumes are some of the most popular choices for cool weather, and today Patricia explores various options, from light to dark, from simple to complex.

Ambers are crowd pleasers, the Golden Retrievers of the perfume world, ready to encompass you with a warm, furry greeting and a wag of the metaphorical tail. Granted, some are easier to love than others, and there is always someone who would rather not, but generally speaking the amber aims to please. Here are some of my favorites.

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Amber for Beginners

My “starter” amber fragrance was the easy-to-wear L’Eau Ambrée by Prada.  With mandarin, rose, and jasmine to sweeten the way, I happily wore it until the patchouli drydown started to grate on me. I graduated to the warm and beautiful L’Ambre des Merveilles by Hermès, and its sweet caramel vanilla seems perfect for the cooler months. It reminds me of Prada Candy, but I much prefer its greater complexity. Every September I reach for the stunning starry bottle turned on its side.

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