Armani Privé Ambre Soie



Amber gets the refined Armani treatment in Ambre Soie, an award-winning fragrance from his Privé  Collection. Like his clothes, Armani’s perfumes tend to be minimalistic, fluid creations with simple lines, the highest quality materials, and a very restrained, quiet style. They aren’t baroque, bold, or intense fragrances that make their presence known. For some people, Armani’s extreme refinement makes his scents the epitome of luxurious smoothness, but I’ve frequently had problems with their bland character, sheerness, and discreet nature. In one case (his iris Nuances), the perfume was so purified, safe, and refined that I felt claustrophobic from the airlessness.

Source: Bergdorf Goodman.

Source: Bergdorf Goodman.

Ambre Soie is significantly better. It’s still far from my ideal scent and I wasn’t keen on its opening phase, but I can absolutely see why so many people enjoy it. Its simple character is genuinely elegant, the materials feel expensive, and its middle/final phases have an appealing warmth. It has been compared to Fendi‘s Theorema, a popular gingerbread amber with patchouli and spices that was discontinued but is still very much loved. I think the Ambre Soie is better on some levels, thanks to that Armani signature touch and the use of more expensive, luxury ingredients. The end result very much feels like the sort of safe amber that would work in a corporate boardroom, worn by men or women who want to enjoy a smooth oriental under their expensive suits without bothering their colleagues with any scent trail at all.

Source: Bergdorf Goodman.

Source: Bergdorf Goodman.

Ambre Soie is an eau de parfum that was created by Christine Nagel, and released in 2004. According to Fragrantica, it has won 3 Fragrance Foundation (or “FiFi“) awards: Fragrance Of The Year Men`s Nouveau Niche 2006, Best Packaging Women`s Prestige 2006, and Best Packaging Men`s Prestige 2006. Armani describes it on his website as follows:

Ambre Soie is a contemporary magic potion, created by Giorgio Armani, using the rich and voluptuous Soft Amber. It evokes the scent of an amber when, during the 15th and 16th centuries, musk and amber scents were embedded in the mortar of palace constructions, despite their rarity and price.  Giorgio Armani wanted to reveal the raw beauty of the amber accord in simple, unpretentious fashion. With rare and delicate sense of balance, he has created a contemporary magic potion. “This is something I had always dreamed of”, notes Mr Armani. “A beautiful, rich and pure scent that evokes sensuality and mystery.” Warm and intensely compelling, Ambre Soie awakens the subconscious and stirs  the spirit.


According to Fragrantica, Ambre Soie’s note list is:

 ginger, amber, patchouli, pepper and cloves.



I think that note list is incomplete because it omits one very significant element that appears for hours on end, both on my skin and that of others: fresh anise or fennel. Ambre Soie opens with toffee’d labdanum amber infused from top to bottom with green anise, followed by spicy, brown patchouli, a dash of fresh ginger, and something that feels quite clean. There is a lot of fennel on my skin and its herbal freshness outweighs the ginger by a mile, while the cloves are only a speck in the distance and barely perceptible. For the most part, the spices are abstract, shapeless and fully merged into the patchouli.

The labdanum is interesting. For a brief moment, it has a toffee’d nuance, but almost all of the ingredient’s dirtier, animalic, musky, or resinous characteristics have been stripped away. Generally, on my skin, labdanum tends to skew primarily towards toffee, instead of the “cola” note that others frequently describe. Here, however, Ambre Soie turns within minutes into pure root beer, particularly in conjunction with the licorice undertones of the anise. The patchouli brings up the rear, lagging far behind the other 2 notes, and smells quite generic. There is none of the material’s smoky, woody, musky, chewy, leathery, or earthy plushness. Like everything else, it has been refined to the point of safeness and thinness.



Less than 10 minutes into its development, Ambre Soie is centered entirely on an anise-licorice root beer aroma, with ghostly, thin pops of gingerbread patchouli lurking in the distance. After another 10 minutes, the patchouli catches up to the other notes, and Ambre Soie becomes a three-way race with the root beer always winning. A clean musk weaves its way through the top notes, amplifying the fresh cleanness of ingredients which are traditionally known for being dark, resinous, earthy, and somewhat dirty. The sillage drops at roughly the same time, and Ambre Soie hovers just one inch above my skin. None of its feels plush, thick, or deep at this stage. It’s disappointingly gauzy and light in body as well, though the scent itself is strong when you smell it up close.

"Bordeaux 2," painting by Elizabeth Chapman. Source:

“Bordeaux 2,” painting by Elizabeth Chapman. Source:

My primary problem with Ambre Soie’s opening phase is not Armani’s obsession with light scents rendered discreet to the point of excessive intimacy. I’m genuinely irritated by the sterilization of two of my favorite notes, and by the fresh, green cleanness that is such a big part of the first few hours. What makes both labdanum and patchouli so enormously appealing to me is their innate darkness, cozy warmth, golden richness, and occasionally naughty dirtiness. Here, they have been lobotomized, stripped of their character, and turned into a polite Miss Manners.

Thankfully, Ambre Soie improves — so substantially, in fact, that I would caution others against judging the scent based solely on its first two hours (or testing it just on paper). This is a fragrance that merits a little patience and no snap judgments. Ambre Soie continues to be damnably discreet, but all of it gets better, from the actual notes to the thin, wispy body which subsequently deepens. There is even some dirtiness by the end, though it is always an Armani-like interpretation of dirtiness rather than something in the vein of Ambre Sultan, Amber Absolute, Opium, or O Hira. If you wait out the irritatingly insubstantial, lobotomized opening, I think you’ll be rewarded by a very cozy, appealing scent. It just takes a little time.



The first hint of that future promise begins at the start of the 2nd hour, when Ambre Soie turns softer, smoother, and a little sweeter. There is less of a pure root beer aroma with anise-licorice, and more plushness with a benzoin-like goldenness. The patchouli has melted fully and completely into the base by the 2.5 hour mark, losing its distinct, individual edge, but it works indirectly to amplify the spicy warmth. The ginger feels more prominent but, generally, it is fused seamlessly with the patchouli in the base. For the most part, Ambre Soie continues to be primarily licorice root-beer with gingerbread spiciness, but the labdanum is slowly changing shape. The toffee is returning; there is a distinct whiff of smokiness that curls its way around the notes from time to time; and a tiny suggestion of something resinous lurks darkly at the edges.

By the time the 3rd hour rolls around, Ambre Soie is turning into quite a different scent than what appeared in the opening. The dark, benzoin-like, sticky resin has risen to the surface, and is now quite apparent. It cuts through the clean freshness, ends the power of the green anise, adds a subtle smokiness to the labdanum, and sprinkles the whole thing with a pinch of powder. It feels a bit like Siam benzoin with its slightly nutty, smoky nuances, and it deepens the fragrance as a whole. It also serves to bring out the labdanum’s true characteristics, including a little bit of dirtiness, though nothing really intense. It certainly never approaches musky or animalic territory. (The thought of it would probably make Giorgio clutch his pearls with horror.)



As the green anise retreats to the sidelines and slowly fades away, what is left at the 3.5 hour mark is real labdanum amber infused with resins. The root beer cola aroma has vanished, and so has much of the licorice. What is left is not particularly sweet, golden, or plush, though. For the most part, it’s simply a dark warmth with a subtle undercurrent of smokiness, a tiny speck of dirtiness, and a wisp of patchouli. It’s also a skin scent by this point, though it isn’t hard to detect the fragrance up close if you bring your nose to your arm.



Ambre Soie remains unchanged until its very end, fading away as a blur of something resinous and warm roughly 9.25 hours from its start. I used 4 huge smears, amounting to 2.5 large sprays from an actual bottle, and the sillage was always soft throughout. It opened 2.5 inches above the skin, dropped to a mere inch after 20 minutes, then turned into a skin scent exactly 3 hours and 10 minutes from the start. I also tested Ambre Soie using a slightly smaller quantity: 3 moderate smears amounting to 2 small sprays gave me 2 inches of sillage at the opening; Ambre Soie felt positively translucent at first; it became a skin scent at the 2.5 hour mark, and lasted just a hair over 8 hours in total.

Theorema. Source: Fragrantica

Theorema. Source: Fragrantica

There are a few things that frequently come up in a discussion of Ambre Soie, and one of them is its similarity to Fendi‘s discontinued Theorema. Thanks to the kindness of a reader, “Connie,” I have a small sample of the vintage fragrance, so I did a side-by-side comparison.

It’s true, the two scents do share a kinship, but I think the differences are noticeable. Theorema is sweeter, with a substantially greater, more obvious, clean musk note (which is something I never really enjoy). It opens with an anise note as well, but I found it disappeared after a few minutes to be replaced by a tiny, muted wisp of abstract herbs. Theorema has much more of a gingerbread bouquet, and is a more vanillic benzoin amber without the heft of real labdanum on my skin. It didn’t feel really chewy, deep, dense, or dirty, though I would never use those words for the Armani fragrance, either, to be quite blunt. Still, Theorema has even less of it than the Armani. It felt simultaneously cleaner (due to the white musk), sweeter, and much more golden in hue. The amber smelled more generic at times, more gingered and cake-like, and without a root beer undertone.

Amber satin via

Amber satin via

The greatest difference for me is that the Armani fragrance felt substantially smoother. It has a different sort of freshness at the start, centered mostly on the green fennel fronds rather than clean musk. It’s sheerer, lighter, and more translucent in the beginning, but it turns darker and more resinous in feel by the end. The amber smells more obviously like labdanum (even if it is a very polite version of it), and it skews slightly darker in nature than the one in Theorema. For the most part, Ambre Soie is a softer, more intimate scent than Theorema, but it also felt much more luxurious and expensive.

However, you’re paying for that markedly higher quality, not to mention the Armani name. Theorema may be discontinued, but you can find it on eBay for quite a moderate amount, ranging from about $64 for a 50 ml tester bottles to about $120 for unopened, boxed versions. In contrast, Ambre Soie retails for $260 or £155 for 100 ml. You can find it for about $200 on eBay, but that is still a substantial hike from Theorema’s prices.

Photo: Heather A. Riggs, available at her Etsy store, ShyPhotog. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Photo: Heather A. Riggs, available at her Etsy store, ShyPhotog.
(Website link embedded within photo.)

On Fragrantica, a few people bring up Theorema, and find Ambre Soie to be a stronger, richer version. Others, however, talk about Ambre Soie’s weak sillage, sheer body, and iffy longevity on their skin. For example, a 2012 review from “Persofoni” states:

Really people? 150 euros for such a thin smell?? My bottle doesn’t say Cologne, it says Eau de Parfum, but the longevity is disappointing…

I fell in love with this last year, i adore the strong anise, amber, clove, cinnamon and patchouli, but no matter in which season and in which weather i’ve tried it, it’s gone within a couple of hours.. Only i can then detect it vaguely on my skin…

Am I the only one here who feels deceived..??

There are some similar remarks from other commentators: “it lasts about fifteen minutes on my skin before it starts to fade away, taking all of its beautiful and interesting warmth along with it;” “Seemed potent at first but didn’t last too long on my skin;” “Wish this adorable exotica lasted longer on me for an edp;” or “Longevity could be better, on the end it thins a bit, but all in all worth the money.”

Art by Matthias Hauser Fotografie. Source: (Website link embedded within.)

Art by Matthias Hauser Fotografie. Source: (Website link embedded within.)

However, in terms of the actual scent, most people are very positive, though a few women find Ambre Soie to be too masculine for their personal tastes. Some of the descriptions for the perfume’s bouquet are as follows:

  • it lasts about fifteen minutes on my skin before it starts to fade away, taking all of its beautiful and interesting warmth along with it. For the few minutes that it does bloom on my skin, I’m speechless as what starts out as an overwhelming blast of powdery anise, slowly transforms itself into a very unmistakable cola accord (it’s as though Lolita Lempicka and Estee Lauder Youth Dew had a child). It’s reminiscent of sipping root beer through a straw of black licorice; something I’ve never done, but can imagine would taste heavenly. The scent stays very close to the skin and doesn’t say much after the cola note has put in its two cents’ worth; when the root beer accord begins to fade, dragging the anise away behind it, there’s not much left to enjoy except a hint of what was so beautiful just moments ago. Despite the lack of sillage and staying power, I will add that if all fragrances bloomed and transformed the way this one does on the skin, the world of perfume would be a much more intriguing place for everyone.
  • Great take on amber….Ambre soie is really dirty, like unearthing a chunk of amber from a dirty, peaty soil but with a slight sweetness. I get a peculiar liquorice vibe from the combination of ginger, cloves and pepper with a slight creaminess of patchouli it’s really good I enjoyed it the first time and my second try of this has made me realise just how good it is.
  • If you miss Theorema, once made by Fendi, this is its stronger, pungent and much better clone of it. Excellent and naturally smelling amber. It has something masculine in it, maybe a bit of oudwood.
  • The warm spicy opening is wonderful; a juxtaposition of ginger, clove, and what seems like a cinnamon-nutmeg cross. A bit later, a clear anis note comes forward then blends with the spices. As the dry-down continues, the amber note comes to the fore, while the spices still linger. Sillage is limited, and longevity is acceptable. It would be on my love-buy list, except I find it has just a shade too much of a masculine touch for me.
  • the longer i have this one, the more i really appreciate it. it seemed quite simple & linear at first but repeated wearings (across all seasons) have slowly revealed a very subtle yet complex interaction of amber, anise & patchouli. very classy, low-key and cozy as hell. has overtaken bois d’encens as my fave armani prive and borneo 1834 as my fave patchouli (cuz it’s SO well-blended!)  [Emphasis to named added by me.]
Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Personally, I have very mixed feelings about Ambre Soie. While I liked the actual smell by the middle/end stages, I consistently have difficulties with the Armani aesthetic and style. Every review I write for one of his fragrances feels like an ordeal, because I’m infused with enormous apathy even when I actually enjoy parts of a scent. They simply don’t move me, period. I’ve mulled over why I have such a struggle, and I don’t think it’s because of the discreet sillage and thin body, even though I find the extent of both to be very annoying at times. I think it’s because the fragrances are so safe that their refinement feels more like a lack of character or personality. If you look at Armani’s clothes, his Haute Couture Atelier line manages to infuse boldness into the luxurious minimalism and they really stand out on the red carpet. His Privé fragrances, however, feel like a well-tailored but generic grey suit without any real spark or pizzazz. They’re perfect for the office because they ultimately fade into the shadows. None of that is me — especially not at $260 a bottle — but I recognise that it’s a question of personal tastes and styles.

Photo: Dove Voice via

Photo: Dove Voice via

The bottom line is that Ambre Soie is a nice fragrance, and one that you should try for yourself if you love the genre. I think it is a scent that definitely improves with time, and rewards patience as well. It’s not the most complex, interesting, intense amber around, but that was not Armani’s goal. Edgy, bold, and different are not his thing; he’s all about refinement, smoothness, and seamless transitions. If you don’t focus, though, you’re likely to miss it, because the word “subtle” really is emblazoned over everything he does. For that reason, Ambre Soie does have more development than one might initially suspect if one isn’t paying attention. As one of the Fragrantica comments astutely noted, the interaction between the three main notes is “very subtle yet complex.” As a final caution, I don’t think Ambre Soie is well-served by testing on paper, so if you’re tempted to try it, do so on skin. I’d also advise applying a pretty decent quantity, especially if you want to counteract the fragrance’s discreetness and sheerness.

All in all, Ambre Soie is an elegant, smooth amber with a very wearable, versatile, easy character and a softness that might make it some people’s perfect office scent.

Cost & Availability: Ambre Soie is an eau de parfum that come in a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle and costs $260 or £155. I’ve seen the European price range from €155 to €218, but I believe €215 may be the actual retail figure. Armani: You can buy Ambre Soie from Armani’s U.S and U.K. websites, but his International and French pages don’t have an e-store for direct purchasing. Obviously, it is available at Armani boutiques. In the U.S.: The discount retailer, FragranceNet, sometimes has Ambre Soie but they are usually sold out. (Just as they are now, at the time of this review.) Ambre Soie is sold for full price at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. I haven’t seen it elsewhere. Outside the U.S.: In the U.K., Ambre Soie is available at Harrods, Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser, and Selfridges. In Ireland, it’s sold at Brown Thomas for €167.50. In France, Le Bon Marché carries the Armani Privé line, but Ambre Soie is the only one not shown, so they may be sold out. I found Ambre Soie at other European vendors: in Belgium, at Parfuma at a lower price of €155; in Germany, at Douglas for €205, while the Dutch Douglas offers it for €165; and, in Spain, at Perfumes en Red for €209. In Australia, David Jones and Myer sell Ambre Soie for AUD$210. In the Middle East, I assume it’s available at Harvey Nichols. For all other locations, you can rely on the Index of different geographical Armani websites, or use their store locator within the site applicable to your area. Samples: Surrender to Chance sells Ambre Soie starting at $3.99 for a 1/2 ml vial.

24 thoughts on “Armani Privé Ambre Soie

  1. As someone who owns several hundred fragrances and probably sampled thousands throughout my life, for some reason I have never even tried an Armani Prive’ fragrance. I have always admired Mr. Armani’s excellent taste in fashion (although I could never afford any of them–except for two cherished purses that I am amazed I own). And the more I read about the Prive’ fragrances I realize that most reviewers say the same things.
    Maybe on my next NYC trip I will try to sample them.

    • What is it that most reviewers all say? I assume they’re NOT as torn or ambivalent as I am. LOL 😉 I feel like a bit of an oddity for not being hugely swayed by the scents, but they are definitely worth a test sniff. I think what someone just wrote on the blog’s FB page sums up Ambre Soie really well, but also the split at the heart of a number of the Privé scents:

      It pushes no boundaries for me in any sense but I find it as chic and comfortable as a camel colored cashmere coat. The sort of thing you wear to feel effortless and put together. I always end up wearing it on things like lunch dates and to the grocery. Things where no subversion is necessary but I just want to feel elegant and a bit posh.

      I don’t get much longevity either. I think I’d like it a bit more if it swayed a little more in either the gourmand direction or had some animalic fangs. Though I enjoy it, it’s clearly a bit ambivalent. It’s also one I have a hard time recommending to people because it’s not got a wow factor that I think can rope somebody in within a heartbeat.

      I think that encapsulates the pros-and-cons really perfectly. Hopefully, Ambre Soie will feel like that effortless amber for you, too, or you’ll find something else in the Armani range that you love. 🙂 Bois d’Encens seems to be the big hit, followed with Ambre Soie, but a few of the others are popular as well.

  2. I was getting exited until I read anise. I can eat fennel, roasted and somewhat caramelized, but the smell of anise is just not my thing at all.
    I have certain precocity with my perfumes: I want my pleasure relatively soon. I am not sure I can wait three hours for the licorice smell to go away. As you know, I adore amber but this one? I am not sure.
    On a side note I have decided to buy L’orpheline. I wanted to ask you if you can recommend something along the lines of l’orpheline but stronger. On me it smells like a kitty that was playing in a dusty musty attic and, covered in gray must, went out a window and got its pretty fur wet. then it decided to dry its fur under some lightly sweet musky dream (but without projection!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) it was a very timid kitty, I am afraid. Still, I want to smell like this furry wet little gray silver kitty. What will you recommend?

    • ROFL, that description of yours!! I’m laughing, but I’m also a little thrown, to be honest. The whole kitty, furry, wet, gray kitten thing is so far from how I mentally process notes or scents. That said, if we focus on actual notes, it seems you definitely need something with both myrrh incense, patchouli, some woods, and some musk. But particularly the myrrh for the dustiness, patchouli for the musty earthiness and sweetness. There is a scent that I’ll be writing about next which has some of that, but I don’t think it replicates what you’re talking about as a whole, due to the other notes as play.

      What you’re describing or those particular combination of notes…. it’s thrown me for a blank. Perhaps Les Nereides’ Patchouli Antique which, alas, has now been reformulated into a weaker scent called Patchouli Precieux? It’s universally seen as a worse version of the scent, and it doesn’t have the myrrh to create that white/grey or musty elements you describe, but it used to be a very dusty attic scent and it certainly does have patchouli. That may be one to test sniff, but I don’t know if it will please you or have the necessary projection. I’ll think about it a little more, but that’s about all I can come up with right now as even an approximate fit.

  3. I haven’t spent too much time with the signature range but have the Ambre Oriental, and the sillage and density are all- encompassing with this one!

    • That’s great to hear. I’ll keep Ambre Oriental in mind for the next time I want to try an Armani fragrance. Thank you for the tip.

  4. I tried Ambre Soie twice and both times felt “meh” (at the same time I like Ambre Orient). I think that for the price it should be much more spectacular.

    • Definitely more spectacular for $260, I agree. Good to know that a 2nd person also prefers Ambre Orient. I’ll keep that in mind the next time I get an Armani sample.

  5. i read this over breakfast and it reminded me that i haven’t worn this in ages, so i’m sitting here supervising an exam on wwII in a (discreet – it IS perfect for the office!) cloud of AS. it’s one of the few bottles i have a full back-up bottle (the old wood ones which are as elegant as the frags they hold). the very thing that puts you off – the “lobotomizing” 🙂 of patchouli & labdanum – is one thing that appeals to me. i think of it more as refining these notes to a sheer but sturdy nub of elegance. thanks for another well-considered and fun review! is bois d’encens in the works 😉 ?

    • No, I think Bois d’Encens will be covered for a while. For one thing, I’ve got this Italian Series going on, albeit with some occasional detours. As for Ambre Soie, I thought of you during the review, as I know you love it. 🙂

  6. Another wonderful review. I will be passing on this one. From your description I know I would not like it and I have plenty of lovely ambers already in my collection. Thank you for saving me from buying expensive samples!

  7. It is a nice amber but longevity and sillage are poor on me, thus I would not buy (I own a bottle I received as a gift but would not repurchase when/if it ever runs out).

    • The sillage is really terrible on this one, isn’t it? The longevity isn’t all that much better, either, imo. I understand completely why it isn’t a fragrance that you’d buy for yourself.

  8. Thanks for such a thoughtful, well- written review of an amber that works like gangbusters on my skin. Ambre Soie doesn’t feel thin, sheer, or short-lived on me; it does feel elegant, smooth, & refined, and I enjoy the opening as much as the drydown phases.

    For me, it’s an excellent office scent–I get my amber fix, but I don’t offend anyone (do not wear Absolue Pour Le Soir to work in early September). I actually get lots of compliments whenever I wear this one. I don’t have perfume-consuming skin (I wish your skin didn’t eat up scent so voraciously) so this one has great sillage & longevity on me, hence all the compliments & requests to write down the name (whenever I do write down the name, I wonder what they’re going to think when they see the price!).

    I scored a large bottle for a great price on eBay, so that only increases my pleasure w/ Ambre Soie. I think that ambers lovers who have unicorn skin (like me) should definitely give this one a try.

    • LOL, my skin does eat things up voraciously as compared to yours, but I’m not the only one who has a lot of trouble when it comes to Ambre Soie. I think you just have unicorn skin, indeed. 😉 😀 Lucky devil. As for the scent itself, I’m sure you smell extremely elegant, though I’d bet that you’re the best smelling person in that whole building in general. Truly, I’m really pleased you’ve found something that you not only like a lot, but that works so enormously well on your skin. (Even better, you didn’t have to spend $260 on it but got it for a good price on eBay. One day, I’m going to send you out eBaying for me. lol)

  9. I’m always on the lookout for a bottle of Gothic 1 for you, dear K! I also have some competition in the perfume arena at work–I gave my beloved cafeteria lady a bunch of samples & she’s been trying them out on a daily basis. She loves the “hard stuff,” no delicate fruits or florals for her! BTW, the Hard Leather experiment on her husband was a huge success (I didn’t ask for details)!

    • I love stories about your cafeteria lady. She sounds like such a hoot! And it makes me smile so much that she’s into the “hard stuff.” ROFL. 😀 😀

  10. This sounds lovely, but it’s really a damn shame to hear it’s so thin. I feel like that beautiful bottle deserves a more potent scent!

    • It’s a good work-scent, I suppose. The next time you’re in Neiman Marcus, you should test it, preferably on skin. I don’t know how bowled over you’d be, though, especially given how your skin eats through sillage for much stronger scents.

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  12. Hi Kafka, thanks for your reviews, so detailed and beautifully written! I received this one as a present over Christmas… It is my first Armani Prive and I was very excited… The bottle design is awesome, the scent is lovely on me even if it is not hard core amber… I like the fact that I can wear in our summer months yay!

    I also agree with everybody who commented about the sillage, very disappointing indeed. The best way to wear it is to reapply after about 4h00 if I want a lasting effect. To me, this is lighter than wearing SL Ambre Sultan which I adore but it is too much for our kind of weather and my better half is a bit allergic to strong scents

    What are the other amber types that you could recommend that I try?

    • Sorry for the delayed reply, AfricanPerfumista. I wanted to think about your question and the scents that may suit your competing needs. One of the difficulties in figuring out what would work for you is the temperature, humidity, and weather you’re facing, because some of the best scents (IMO) are super rich, dense, luxuriously opulent and thick ambers. Their sillage isn’t always huge (and projection drops with concentrated richness, like that of an extrait or pure parfum), but I suspect they would still be too heavy for your climate. For example, Profumum’s Ambre Aurea which blows Ambre Sultan out of the water, and which is perhaps the Rolls Royce of Ambergris (with some labdanum) fragrances. (There is also the sibling, Fiore d’Ambre, which is excellent, too, but both will be far too dense and heavy for you, I think.)

      So you need something that is both light and, for the sake of your partner/Significant Other, something with soft projection. One option would be the wonderful ode to ambergris in Dior’s Ambre Nuit from their exclusive Privée Collection. That means it won’t be available in department stores with other Dior fragrances, but you can find it at any Dior boutique. You can look up my review for locations, if that helps, or you can order samples from Surrender to Chance which ships worldwide for $12.95.

      Another option would be Farmacia SS Annunziata’s wonderful Ambre Nera which I call a punk rock amber, as it has far more going on that just ambergris. For labdanum ambers (and labdanum is the type of amber used in Ambre Soie and Ambre Sultan), Dior’s Mitzah (also from the Privee Collection) is great but discontinued and hard to find.

      One thing I love passionately is Ambre Precieux from MPG (Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier) which is a benzoin amber with labdanum, vanilla, and some gourmand traits. Light and airy, but it does project, yet not so much that your partner may suffer. A similar sort of benzoin amber would be Histoires de Parfums Ambre 114. You can order samples from their website and I think they ship worldwide but their website should also have a store locator guide. Hopefully, someone in South Africa or a country close to you will carry the line. You can read my review to see if it sounds appealing and sufficiently soft, airy, and lightweight for you.

      There are some others I could name but I suspect they wouldn’t fit your particular needs. What will be difficult is finding the right balance between your desire for some sillage and lasting effect vs. your partner/spouse’s issues with strong scents and something that is also light enough for your weather. Hopefully, one of the ones on this list will be the perfect Goldilock’s version for you.

      Do you ever order samples from online, whether from one of the stores that ships worldwide like First in Fragrance or Luckyscent, or one of the American decanting sites like Surrender to Chance? Do you have a few niche boutiques in your city/area that have a wide selection of stuff? I worry that it may not be easy to find something like Farmacia SS Annunziata’s Ambre Nera which I think would be a very good fit for your competing needs, along with Ambre Precieux.

      • Hi Kafka,
        Thank you, thank you, thank you for your reply.

        I am learning so much from the comments that you make and absolutely love reading your blog! Your passion and knowledge of perfumes is just amazing.

        I have ordered samples before but it is not easy exercise and the cost of shipment is prohibitive. South Africa like many other African countries have serious problems when it comes to a functional post office. We rely heavily on fedex or DHL type of courier services because theft and loss is just unavoidable hence the price tag.

        As for the niche boutiques, there are not many. I have toyed in my head with the idea of opening an online e-shop for the African market and it is truly something that I am starting to think about very seriously.

        In Johannesburg where I live, and this is the economic hub of South Africa and a shopping mecca for many other African countries. We have large departmental stores that stock some of the big perfume names i.e. Dior, Channel, YSL, Guerlain etc. Most of these departmental shops will only stock the more main stream perfumes in their lines and rarely some of their prive or exclusif genre.

        Luckily, I use to travel quite a bit, mostly to Europe and would stock up that way or alternatively use friends/ family based in the UK and Belgium or Germany to get me stuff that I truly wanted and could not get to South Africa.

        Let me use that channel to get the perfumes that you have recommended, I will be in Geneva next week and might check if they are also available there… will keep you posted.

        Take care and best wishes from a sunny Joburg…

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