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Ambre Fétiche - So much more than a simple fetish (December 10, 2010 New Fragrance Listing)

Photo - Wikipedia - Adoration of the Magi - Gentile da Fabriano

Created by Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen, Ambre Fétiche  is part of an Annick Goutal  set of three perfumes, called Les Orientalistes - the other two are Myhrre Ardente and Encens Flamboyant. I bought the set in Paris because I love Orientals, and because it was on sale and came in a beautiful white leather case.

The set is very good-looking – three heavy square bottles in clear glass, with glass stoppers attached with gold wire, and each fragrance has its initial on the front of the bottle. Lined up in the case you see – A-M-E – which means "soul" or "spirit" in French and Latin. I was grabbed by this small marketing gimmick (maybe being an "old" marketer has something to do with it) - but a painting I have in an art book of the Three Kings bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myhrre immediately flashed through my mind, and it was the deciding factor which made me buy three untested and unexplored perfumes at one time.

 I was smitten right away by the piney and cool  Encens Flamboyant, which I still think is one of the best (frank)incense scents you can find. A few months later I fell hard for the weird smoky sweetness of Myhrre Ardente, and now this winter I’m in love with rich leathery Ambre Fétiche (Amber Fetish). The name is appropriate for how I’m starting to feel about this fragrance.

The "amber" note in perfumes was actually from ambergris from sperm whales, which for years was used as a fixative and also for its sweet musky scent – modern perfumery now uses labdanum  to produce the same unique amber note. So Ambre Fétiche contains no amber – the notes includes frankincense, labdanum, styrax, benzoin, iris, vanilla and leather.

The top is heavy and creamy sweet at first, which I totally expect with a perfume labelled Orientalistes. What I don’t expect so soon, and what pulls me in, is the puff of piney smoky resins which lies underneath the sweetness, and which is followed by notes of leather soaked in vanilla. Dry iris and smoky benzoin appear, and the accord created by the total mix is almost hypnotizing – softly sweet, exotic, deliciously earthy and musky – and it has a subtle but very rich character whose warmth stays with you for hours.

And the thing about Ambre Fétiche, the thing that makes it different from the other two perfumes in the set, is that it’s really “alive” on the skin. Encens Flamboyant is gorgeous but quite linear -  once the drydown sets in, you’re wearing resins and incense. Ambre Fétiche changes through the drydown – it expands and retracts – teasing with leather, then vanilla, then a sort of caramel/cocoa note, then back to smokey leather and incense. It unfolds, and refolds, and seems to engage your senses in a powerful way. It’s definitely not a “girly” amber scent.

The Sales Assistant at the Annick Goutal shop said I should layer these three perfumes, which I thought was a little over the top, since they are such rich scents on their own. I tried layering yesterday, and I have to say – Encens Flamboyant and Amber Fétiche smell pretty damn good together! Sweet leathery balsam.

Tomorrow I’m going to try another combo, or maybe mix Ambre Fétiche with Muscs Koublai Khan. Now that thought really stirs my soul. Maybe the little play on A-M-E is more than just a marketing gimmick.

Today, we’re adding Ambre Fétiche to our Decant Store. Samples are $6.00.