torsdag 18 mars 2010
As you know, I´ve got obsessed with things now and then. Earlier this winter it was big, magnificent florals, but that obsession has calmed down now. Now, it is perfumes with prominent notes of amber. I belive it was the wonderful Ambra Nera that started all this.
Well, I was very much in to ambery perfumes before, so it isn´t as much surprise as with the florals. And really, amber isn´t really the correct word, what I mean when I´m talking about amber is actually ambergris (grey amber) a material from the sperm whale. Ambergris has been used by humans for a very long time, in perfumes, medicin and other things as well. But it wasn´t until we started to hunt whales systematically that we discover that the mystic smelling lumps found in sea and at shore lines originate from whales.
Apperantly people still hasn´t agreed if the lumps depends on that the whale has puked them up or poop them out. I belive it make more sense if they are puked up, like cuds from owls. Inside the ambergris lumps jaws from giant octopuss are found. Isn´t it fascinating that we still use whale puke to perfume our self?
Natural ambergris is still used in perfumes, while other animalic ingridients (musk, civet and castor) have become very rare. Most other animalic ingredients where created with much pain for the animals. And for intstant, the musk deer is now protected in many areas. Today, synthetic or/and vegetable ingridienses are used instead of animalic.
Natural ambergris is an expensive and rare material, if you find a big lump (as the women on the pic) you can get a lot of money (100.000 dollar or even more). Oh well, I could imagine me being an ambergris collector in the future. But, the lumps don´t smell that pleasant.
Since it´s common with synthetic and vegetable ingridienses (for instant labdanum resin a material that comes from a rose growing in the Mediterrean area) and in perfumes with ambery characther it can smell very different. From an ambery scent you can expect a warm, creamy or powdery feeling. A slightly resinous smell (from labdanum I presume), coconut, soft sea scent, sweetness, aromatic, amber usually feels full bodied and concrete rather than light and ethereal. Among the animalic notes, amber is the one least animalic, still there is animalic elements in many ambery scents. Amber is often used as a base note, it has an ability to deepen and strenghten other notes. Amber has a complex scent of it´s own and can be used alone in a scent.
There is a lot of interesting things to find out about every single note used in perfumes!
Anyway, my amber obsession make me searching through my drawers for ambery scents that I´ve forgotten about. And I found a small sample that I haven´t even tried. Ambre 114 from Histoires de Parfums.
Why I hadn´t tried it before I don´t know, maybe a premonition. Well, I put on a few drops of Ambre 114 and was expecting to be wrapped up in sweet, golden ambery warmth. But noooo... I had contaminated my skin with a scent that both screamed and scratched. Help!
Evidentually anything with amber isn´t a pleasure to wear. I don´t know how they think when they created Ambre 114. It is sharp, harsh and at the same time strangely bland. A very abrasive patchouli together with geranium isn´t exactly my kind of liking. Well, I didn´t scrub it, and eventually the base note was quite pleasant, but the road there, thanks but no thanks!
So, by now my amber favorites are Farmacia SS Annunziata´s Ambra Nera and as always, Serge Luten´s Ambre Sultan. Which are yours? And do you have any horror amber experience?
Pic: Bag of nothing