The Allure of Amber

Since antiquity, ambergris, now referred to as amber, has been one of the most valued perfume ingredients. Labeled an aphrodisiac with mystical powers, it is said that solid ambergris will retain its perfume for three centuries or more. It used as a bottom note in many memorable fragrances for men and women. Amber dates back thousands of years (known as Rose of Sharon and one of only twelve fragrance oils listed in Biblical scriptures. This month, BN presents a selection of amazing ambers – where this seductive resinous oil is front and center.

Parfums MCDI is a French high-end niche line showcasing the work of well-known perfumers. The fragrances are presented in limited edition, numbered crystal flacons. Ambre Topkapi, created by renowned and retired perfumer Pierre Bourdon (creator of Escada Escada, Frederic Malle’s Bois d’Orage – aka French Lover and the ever popular Davidoff Cool Water) is targeted to men, but it is an androgynous amber that can easily be worn by women. The bottom notes of sweet vanilla and sandalwood temper the powerful notes of oak moss, vétyver, sandalwood, rosewood, and leather. Although this is a bracing scent, unexpected, precious, almost feminine qualities are brought by jasmine and violet. It is intense and complex; fruity notes such as Bergamot, grapefruit, pineapple, and melon dance a Turkish whirling dervish with spicy and herbal notes of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, basil, thyme and lavender. We recommend you try before you buy – a sample from is $4.00, but the bottle is $600.00!!!!

Also available at, the online Parfumista’s ‘Dream Boutique’ is the superb Ambre Russe by Parfums D’Empire. Amber, usually a warm scent, is transformed by the icy blast of cold vodka. It is a baroque, luxurious perfume; its notes of vodka, champagne, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ambergris, vanilla, spell excess. We hear “Lara’s Theme from the movie Dr. Zhivago each and every time we wear this. Omar, where are you?

The Armani Privé line of fragrances was the result of Giorgio Armani’s (very logical) desire to own a scent nobody else was wearing; it was meant to be a private collection of fragrances for himself and for his close friends. Price was no object; Armani wanted only the finest, purest ingredients, as natural as possible. The perfumes were to be complex compositions, a unisex “haute couture” line. Ambre Soie was inspired by the silk fabrics Mr. Armani found during his travels to North Africa and to the East. Ambre Soie is an exotic marriage of patchouli cinnamon, cloves and ginger. The beautiful black matte bottle features an amber colored jewel-like stopper that is an ‘objet’ in itself. Available at and select Saks Fifth Avenue Stores.

Speaking of ‘objets’, we adore L’Artisan Parfumeur’s hand made and meticulously carved Amber Ball. This perforated wood ball of fragrance, contains an exclusive solid amber fragrance. Intense and rich, it wafts through the air for up to two years. When the scent dissipates, buy the refillable crystals to refresh the fragrance. Available at and at Henri Bendel.

One of the premier online fragrance emporiums, is so comprehensive a source for unusual amber fragrances; we had trouble limiting ourselves to two!

Golden Amber is Becker.eshaya’s second signature fragrance. It’s an unusual amber scent; a blend of fresh mandarin and Calabrian bergamot. Sparkling with juicy lychee and Moroccan jasmine all wrapped in golden amber. The bottom notes are sultry sandlewood and musk. Golden Amber is bold, confident, and sexual. Go for it – it’s a new fragrance for a New You in the New Year.

i Profumi di firenze is one of our favorite fragrance lines; their scents are timeless and harmonize beautifully on the skin (Muschio e Ambra won a BN Best Scent 2007 Award as did Vaniglia del Madagascar). Ambre del Nepal is heavenly Nepalese amber laced with earthy cardamom and creamy vanilla–sinfully sensual and lusciously luxe.

Miuccia Prada’s first fragrance was simply named Prada. This amber infused best seller based its formula on a mix of tradition and innovation. Amber is the star; benzoin, patchouli, labdunum and sandalwood are the worthy supporting cast. Prada fragrance is offered in a wide variety of perfumed products, including Neiman Marcus’s 100th Anniversary Limited Edition Parfum Deluxe Atomizer. Only 100 pieces were made, and its insanely decadent removable crocodile leather base in a vivid deep, plum color has us wishing for a windfall. Available at

Another of our Beauty News and Sniffapalooza Best Scent 2007 Award winning perfumers, Mandel Aftel creates fragrances she blends from organic and natural essences without the use of any synthetic ingredients. Her line, Aftelier has carved out an enviable niche making natural perfumes for the likes of Madonna and Liv Tyler, (and the rest of us) has created one of the most interesting ambers we tested. Simply named Amber, it is a truly unforgettable scent. An ambery lavender spray with hints of pink pepper and bergamot in a base of organic grape alcohol the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. You will wear and he will wear it; it will amaze you both. Available at

Pacifica, (the American fragrance and candle company known for never using animal ingredients or testing) recently launched Spanish Amber an exotic, sweet and feminine fragrance. A warming blend with resinous amber notes at its heart and base, we smell rosy geranium, sandalwood and citrusy bergamot at the top. We love it even more because it’s not only beautiful but so affordably priced –under $20.00. (BN cannot get enough of Spanish Amber Body Butter and Bar Soaps). Available at

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