Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Cuir Fetiche

Cuir Fetiche is a name that might conjure up thoughts of fetishes, whips, and bondage leather, but put that aside completely and think instead of grand floral oriental classics. Specifically, vintage Bal à Versailles, perhaps with a tiny drop of Serge LutensCuir Mauresque added in as well. This is not the world of 50 Shades of Grey or Etat Libre‘s Rien; it’s the 1950s world of Dior, Cecil Beaton, and Jean Desprez where women swirl in ball gowns and long gloves amidst clouds of sweet, lightly animalic floralcy, although some people think of Cuir de Lancome, Cuir de Russie, or Knize Ten instead.

Cecil Beaton photo of Charles James' ballgowns via wnyc.org

Cecil Beaton photo of Charles James’ ball gowns via wnyc.org

Regardless of which fragrance classic is referenced, you should put aside all thoughts of modern or masculine leathers with their smoky, tarry, blackened birch and you should think of clouds of flowers instead. They are infused with citrus and chypre-ish elements before being placed atop iris chamois or suede gloves that have been coated with civet, resulting in a sweet, lightly animalic floral bouquet that gradually turns more oriental through golden flourishes of amber and cinnamon-scented resins laced with vanilla. That’s Cuir Fetiche in the broadest of strokes. It’s an incredibly pretty fragrance, one that I’ve been tempted to buy for myself on several occasions, but it’s also sufficiently familiar that I’ve held off in actually doing so.

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MPG Ambre Precieux & Ambre Precieux Ultime

Source: Pinterest via Uploaded. Original source or photographer unknown.

Source: Pinterest via Uploaded. Original source or photographer unknown.

Sometimes, the simplest things can be the most comforting. Ambre Precieux from Maître Parfumeur et Gantier (or “MPG“) is one of those things for me. An instant love, a soothing blanket, an addictive scent with a narcotic hold on me from the very first moment that I tried it and that I keep turning to again and again. Caramel amber with creamy vanilla, smoky incense, and bits of toffee in a lusciously sweet, frothy mix that has been lightly dusted with spices — it’s like a perfume lover’s dream latte, only far better than anything Starbucks could ever put out. In fact, Ambre Precieux is so deeply comforting to me that I ordered a full bottle within moments of sniffing it, and I’ve gone through a rather alarming amount of it in just a short time. You know how people sometimes say that a fragrance makes them want to eat their arm? That is Ambre Precieux for me.

"Abstract streams of gold." Photo: Jason Tockey. Site: jstimages.wordpress.com

“Abstract streams of gold.” Photo: Jason Tockey. Site: jstimages.wordpress.com

So, when I heard that MPG was coming out with a deeper, richer version of the fragrance — an eau de parfum this time — called Ambre Precieux Ultime, I practically salivated on myself. I had to try it. Immediately. The fact that the Ultime is a limited-edition release and only 1000 bottles were made added to my sense of urgency.

Others felt the same way, too. Ambre Precieux is not only one of the benchmark fragrances in the genre, but a mainstay in many amber lovers’ collection. Such is the love that people feel for the original that several friends of mine rushed to get their hands on the new Ultime, buying full bottles blindly and without regard to the higher price. I didn’t succumb to that extent because I’m wary about blind buys in general — and I’m glad I waited. The two fragrances don’t diverge enormously, but there are some definite, noticeable differences that impact my views of each one. As a result, I thought it would useful to cover both fragrances simultaneously. Continue reading