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Ambre Précieux – Succumb to it - September 30, 2013 New Fragrance Listing

Photo - Wikipedia - Paris Kiosk, Boulevard des Capucines - Jean Béraud 1849-1935 - Walters Art Museum

At the top of Place Vendôme in Paris is rue des Capucines. Turn left and walk a short ways and you’ll find a perfume shop called Maître Parfumeur et Gantier. The shop is home to the French niche line of the same name.

Maître Parfumeur et Gantier or ‘Master Perfumer and Glovemaker’ in English refers to the long history gloves and perfume share. Catherine de Medici introduced the perfumed glove to the French court when at age fourteen she married Henry II of France. Scented gloves soon became the fashion and the tradition of selling scented gloves along side fine perfumes was born. In the 17th King Louis XIV century the king of France recognized perfumers by incorporating them and bestowing the title Maître Parfumeur et Gantier on the great French perfume houses of the day.

The perfume line, Maître Parfumeur et Gantier, was founded by Jean-François Laporte in 1988 after he left L’Artisan Parfumeur, a niche line he founded in 1976. It was while he was at L’Artisan that Laporte developed a reputation as an innovator dedicated to quality ingredients in frgrances that offered an alternative to mass market  perfumery.

Laporte created some outstanding fragrances for Maître Parfumeur et Gantier, like Jardin du Nile, Santal Noble and Ambre Précieux. In 1997 Laporte's former apprentice, Jean-Paul Millet Lage, became the house perfumer. Despite its pedigree, the house struggle throughout the aughts. Reformulations, and rumors of reformulations, eroded the public’s confidence in the brand, which why its fragrances are so often overlooked in the fragrance world. In the last few years the challenges that Maître Parfumeur et Gantier faced have largely been overcome and the line is gaining more attention and respect.

Over the years I’ve visited the Maître Parfumeur et Gantier store in Paris, tried and tested the fragrances and fell in love with a few but the back story was unsettling and made me hesitant to commit to fragrances from the line. Still, there was one frag that I couldn’t shake: Ambre Précieux. Considered the bench mark amber when it was launched in 1988, it has changed over the years, but it still clutches my heart every time I smell it. Finally, I succumbed and bought a bottle – one of the smartest perfume purchases I have ever made.

Amber is a favourite note of mine and fragrances that feature it - Alambar, Ambre Russe, Ambre Fétiche, Ambre Sultan, Ambre Précieux - move to the front of the line especially in the early autumn. I just want to rake ‘em all up into a pile like fallen leaves and roll around in ‘em.

In a line-up of outstanding amber frags, Ambre Précieux is a stand out. It opens with bitter myrhh, strong and medicinal softened with lavender. Then the amber, sweet, dark and rich appears. The lavender stands up to the amber, tempering its heft. As the lavender fades, the amber’s sweetness starts to come forward, just at this juncture Ambre Précieux then gets achingly smoky and animalic so that the sweetness is reined in just enough as nutmeg adds a note of spicy warmth. A woody base of balsam is the perfect complement to the amber while a note of vanilla softens it all making it gorgeous to wear and to smell.

Amber is present throughout the development of Ambre Précieux and truth is, it doesn’t evolve much. It’s the herbal, resinous, woody notes that modify and manipulate it do that it has a rich, herbal, smoky drydown.

Ambre Précieux is the first frag I bought from Maître Parfumeur et Gantier – the first of many, I’m sure. It’s definitely a fall must-wear frag. Hey, I think fall might be my favourite season. Nah – that’s just the amber talking. I’m a winter baby through and through and besides you can wear Ambre Précieux in any season.

Ambre Précieux is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.