Skip to main content

One of my favourite months is October. Where I live, it starts out as late summer, when the leaves turn fiery red, burnished gold and Jack O' Lantern orange and ends as the real beginning of autumn, the leaves fallen to the ground, leaving branches, boughs and limbs bare. It has an air of melancholy about it that makes me seek coziness and comfort.

October is a transition month for sure, and like other transition months, weather and temperature are unpredictable. There are warm days, hot days, cold days. One day you're wearing a jacket, the next, flip-flops. The only sensible solution for any perfumista is to find a scent that can perform in both warm and cool weather. It sounds daunting, but Ambra, from Etro is up to the job.

Etro started as a textile design company founded by "Gimmo" Etro in 1968. The Milan-based business soon became known for its paisley patterns. Today Etro is a family-owned fashion and lifestyle brand that produces fabrics, accessories, ceramics, wallpaper, clothes and fragrances. Originally, perfumes were added to the Etro stable in 1989 and were intended to enhance their clothing lines. This is around the time when niche houses like Serge Lutens and Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier started producing fragrances, making Etro a pioneer in niche perfumery. Ten fragrances, all signed by Jacques Flori of Robertet made up Etro's initial launch. Ambra was among them.

On me, Ambra opens with nose-tingling bergamot, backed by a note of fresh, bright lemon. Coriander is fresh, peppery and spicy, and it complements the citrus beautifully before the flowers appear. A geranium note smells lemony and green and rosy, the perfect way to introduce a sensuous note of rose. The florals keep the scent light and fresh. At the heart, ambery labdanum appears. The labdanum is deep, resinous and balsamy, and to me, smells like a forest of fir trees which adds a different dimension of freshness to Ambra. Things turn from fresh to warm and cozy when patchouli and styrax show up, giving Ambra a dry woodiness that lingers in the background as the base notes appear. There's amber, sweet, animalic, and a little powdery braced with caramel-tinged, warm, velvety opoponax. Vanilla is creamy and cozy, while musk adds sensuality and fixes Ambra to the skin.

This EdT has a lot of heavy notes, yet it's surprisingly light while still being rich. If you're looking for a BIG fragrance, look somewhere else. Ambra has an elegance that comes from being perfectly balanced so that the notes intertwine and dry down into a soft, smooth, refined sensuous stunner.

The real beauty of Ambra though lies in its duality. It transitions from a fresh scent into a cozy, warm one making it ideal for warm or cool days. Who am I kidding? I'd wear Ambra any day.

Ambra is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $7.00 for 1 ml.

 

 

A couple of weeks ago I was outside in the middle of the night in the front garden with our new pup, waiting impatiently while he tried to figure out why he was there. I wondered why I had thought that having a puppy again was going to be so much fun. Turning my head toward the house, l glanced up and was shocked by size of the full moon. It looked so incredibly close, so white and bright, like a spotlight directed right on me as I stood there in my pyjamas, wonderstruck. The puppy peed, we went back to our beds, he right to sleep, but I lay there thinking that I need to do more things like get up in the middle of the night and rediscover the unearthly beauty of a full moon. 

End of story, almost. 

A couple of nights ago I had a similar experience with a fragrance I had bought and put away until the time was right to wear it. I unexpectedly rediscovered the startling beauty of a big, full, complex Oriental extrait de parfum. Ursa, a 2015 fragrance by niche Italian candle and perfume house Tiziana Terenzi, hits all my favourite note buttons and made me realize why I love perfume so much. Named after the Ursa Major constellation, it was inspired by the night sky reflected on Lake Como in northern Italy.

At the top is a big smooth patchouli, followed by soft leather notes sprinkled with rum, followed by dried fruit notes and spices, nutmeg and elemi, with its spicy piney citrus facets. But the fruits are subtle, the main star through the drydown is a slightly boozy leathery patchouli, which at times goes woody and smoky as oud (agarwood) sneaks in the heart, then resinous and slightly balsamic green and woody spicy from vetiver and olibanum (frankincense). Tobacco lends a grassy sweet herbal balance to the patchouli, vanilla is used with a light sweet touch in the base to round out the resins. More fine leather plus agarwood (oud) appear in the base, creating symphonic waves of the most delicious smoky resinous waft you can dream of.

Created by perfumer Paolo Terenzi and conceived by his sister, artist Tiziana Terenzi, Ursa is an Oriental in the classic sense, extremely well balanced and blended with high quality materials - the patchouli is as close to patchouli perfection as one can get - with a beautiful unique bottle designed by Tiziana. The scent is not animalic or funky but is sooth, resinous and tenacious, and it must be worn on skin to be truly appreciated. Ursa has been compared to Straight to Heaven by Kilian, which is a lighter patchouli, but Ursa is in another perfume class altogether.

Classic, potent, an extrait de parfum as are all Tiziana Terenzi fragrances, Ursa is patchouli, leather, incense, rum, smoky resins from top to bottom, a scent that works magic on both women and men, and one of my fragrance dreams come true.

Ursa is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $7.00 for 1 ml.

 

Welcome to perfumeniche.com

"She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight."

                                                                       Raymond Chandler

We are Gwen and Kay, two perfumistas making our scent journey in the cool, clear North.  We are also BFFs - we hang out together a lot, travel together - so we try, buy and share fragrances.

What started out as a shared interest grew into a hobby, and has now become our obsession.

We’ve spent many evenings with a glass of prosecco, a little cool jazz playing in the background, spritzing, sniffing - “How does this smell on you?” and, sadly, sometimes scrubbing.

We’ve tested and tried hundreds of samples over the years, and when we deemed a fragrance ”full bottle worthy” (FBW), one of us has tracked it down and bought it. We now own a lot of really great perfumes, and we continue to buy bottles of what we think is the best of "niche" as new scents are launched.

Also, we include many perfume "classics" that are the foundations of modern perfumery - like Shalimar, Chanel No.5, Eau Sauvage - plus other perfume "gems" that have been discontinued, or were ahead of their time when launched but now fit perfectly in the Niche category. 

With so many exciting discoveries, we can’t help but talk about our passion with other friends. Wherever we go, people ask “What is that perfume you’re wearing? Where can I get that?” So we end up sharing a bit of our “juice” with friends. But the circle has grown, so we've started this website to let others buy and try samples from our collections and experience the fragrant beauty we write about.

WHAT WE DO

We blog

We blog once a week and post a story about a scent from our collections, and add it to our Decant Store. We're not scent critics, so these aren't negative reviews. We love all our fragrances  - that’s why we bought them! But we describe how we think they smell, and share our stories about why we love them - maybe you’ll rediscover an old flame, or fall in love with a new scent.

Or we post conversations about whatever has grabbed our attention recently. Or we write about a specific perfume note,  and offer a Decant Pack, which allows you to explore new territory by trying 3 or 4 fragrances in a special pack at a special discount price.

We sell

We sell 1 ml. decants - .7 ml volume once you allow for the stopper in the vial - filled from our own bottles in our collection because the only way to experience a fragrance is to try it on your own skin. We take the fragrance from its original bottle and decant it into a smaller brand-new, 1 ml sterilized glass vials so that you can try it on your skin to see if you like it.

Through our Decant Store you'll have access to some of the world’s greatest niche scents, hard-to-find fragrances, and classic favourites. 

When you click on the Decant Store tab you’ll find our personal descriptions of each of the fragrances we currently offer from our collection, then you can add them to your Shopping Cart.

Let's be clear (this is a disclaimer!!)

  • We don’t sell full bottles of any fragrance - just .7ml decants. We only sell decants  from the perfumes we've bought.... because we love them.
  • We don't re-sell manufacturers samples.
  • We don’t represent any perfumers or distributors, so we don’t have every scent from a whole line of perfume.
  • We aren’t being paid to promote any product or scent.

If, after sampling a fragrance, you decide that you must have it, i.e. it is FBW (full bottle worthy), and you can’t find it, e-mail us and we will direct you to the best source we know – retail store or online source.

We provide

A place for you to learn about scent, and to share your fragrance experience with others. Click on the section called Resources, under My Perfume Notes (see top right), where  you'll find a Glossary, and fragrance FAQs. You'll also find two great tools we've created - Handmaps and My Sample Perfume Notes - so you can keep track of, and record your own scent experiences.
 
We hope you enjoy perfumeniche.com, and visit us often. Leave your preconceptions behind, look around, see what’s on offer, read the Blog, share your experiences and discoveries, and join the circle.

It’s just us.