קיצער: A complex and completely natural take on amber, בורשטין לעבן (or Living Amber) is the latest creation from Washington perfumer Christi Meshell.
(נייַ!) איר וועט ווי דעם אויב איר ווי: וואַניל, לעדער, פעפער, טאַביק, קטורת, בורשטין, וואַלד.
פּראָס: Remarkably complex; a refreshingly unique take on the typical amber aroma; doesn’t possess that “natural perfumery” vibe typical of so many naturals; excellent longevity and development.
קאָנס: As this is a natural, handmade perfume, the price is a bit higher than what many may be used to; at the moment there is only the choice of a 10ml or 60ml product (would be nice to have something in between).
הערות: “Hiba Wood, Mimosa, דאַוואַנאַ, Frankincense, Marigold, Vintage Broom, צינדל, Dragon’s Blood, Ambreine, Tobacco” Matriarch.biz
דערמאנט מיר פון: Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Ambre Precieux
דיזיינער ס דיסקריפּשאַן: “Liquid gold; intense, yet subtle. More than one hundred different aromatics comprise this silky scent including rare essences of ambreine and dragon’s blood. Fresh mimosa and davana top notes awaken your fifth sense to the luxurious unfolding of this ultra-natural unisex fragrance. After the initial floral impression, the reverse drydown begins…..it takes about six hours to fully develop, growing mysteriously stronger with time. Vintage broom sweetens the blend to just-shy of gourmand, without adding any of the typical “powder” notes found in synthetic ambers. Three varieties of frankincense and four kinds of patchouli add layers of penetrating spiciness, while precious woods maintain the balance of the overall scent from start to finish. Our house made tinctures of Hawaiian vanilla, resin incenses, tobacco and peppercorns give this newest Matriarch scent a unique signature which is sure to become a favorite of amber lovers the world over!” Matriarch.biz
נומער פון מאל טעסטעד: 4 times from a bottle sent to me by House of Matriarch, ווינטאַגע 2012.
נומער פון ספּרייז געווענדט פֿאַר דעם אָפּשאַצונג: 2 sprays from the bottle pictured above (and that’s really all one needs!).
גערוך סטרענגטה: Eau de Parfum/Parfum
אַנטוויקלונג: (לינעאַר / דורכשניטלעך / קאָמפּליצירט) Ambre Vie is a rarity among amber fragrances in that it takes the wearer on quite a journey. Not content to produce the typical vanillic amber aroma, Meshell has composed a multilayered, peppery amber with hints of wood and tobacco. As the fragrance settles, it moves from powdery floral to smoky gourmand.
לאָנגעוויטי: (קורץ / דורכשניטלעך / לאַנג-בלייַביק) Lasts a good 6 to 8 hours on me…and then some.
וועקן: (א קליינע / דורכשניטלעך / אַ סאַכ) At a time when I am having difficulty smelling…געזונט, anything, due to sinus problems, I was delighted to discover that I could fully perceive Ambre Vie.
ווו קאן איך בוי ס? $88 US for 10ml roll-on; $250 US for 2oz spray. Matriarch.biz
באַמערקונג וועגן די פּאַקקאַגינג: The Eau de Parfum is housed in a bronze and gold-flecked rectangular glass bottle with gold and black label and gold atomizer.
די באָטטאָם ליין: I first encountered Christi Meshell’s artistry when invited to participate in the Brave New Scents project in autumn, 2011. You can find my review of her creation for that project, Carmine, by clicking דאָ. It was immediately obvious that as a natural perfumer, Meshell had a unique aesthetic incomparable to many of her peers. דאָס גלייַכן, smelling Carmine was a shock because for the first time I had experienced an all-natural perfume that smelled nothing like the natural perfumes I had previously experienced. In other words, gone was the murky, potpourri vibe that I had often discovered and, honestly, disliked. I enjoyed the creation so much that I quickly finished a 5 ml bottle:
“I’ve worn it to bed, after the sauna, to the classroom…in fact, I keep it in my briefcase! This admission of use is likely the biggest compliment I can bestow considering how rarely I purchase let alone use natural perfumes.”
Meshell no doubt appreciated my review and we continued our correspondence when she approached me about a name for her latest creation, “a to-live-for Amber…my slowest unfolding, longest lasting scent and dare I say the full dry down takes about six hours. Just when you think it’s arrived at it’s finish, it changes again. A ‘living amber’ it is!”
Upon receipt of the fragrance, held up due to folks in Finnish customs likely wanting to keep the bottle for themselves, I was blown away. It is so incredibly rare these days to find a scent that can be deemed impressive or surprising AND utterly wearable. L’Artisan used to be my go-to fragrance line for surprise (witness the golden days of the company with releases like Dzing!, Passage d’Enfer, Bois de Farine). לעצטנס, Creed has had some successful shockers (ליבע אין ווייסע, צעלקע אינזל וואסער, אאז"וו). דערצו, some of the microperfumeries like Ava Luxe, אָפּוס אָילס, פאַרטאָג ספּענסער הורוויץ, Scent by the Sea און L’Aromatica have caught my attention while more mainstream perfumery has routinely left me cold.
Any perfume lover will automatically recognize the aroma of amber. As ubiquitous as soliflore aromas like vanilla or rose or violet, amber is quite commonplace as far as fragrances go – a dash of vanilla or heliotropin, perhaps some tonka, benzoin or French labdanum, maybe some woody accords or musk, and voila, we have an amber aroma. I’ve owned ambers from numerous companies over the years always coming back to Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier’s Ambre Precieux as the gold standard by which I measure all others. Sure, L’Artisan has an amber as did L’Occitane, לאַודער, Demeter, GAP, דזשאָו מאַלאָנע, מאָנטאַלע, Bath and Body Works, etc and so I have felt a bit inundated by amber scents…and am usually left feeling underwhelmed. I’ve likely owned 20-30 amber fragrances in various forms (samples, decants, full bottles) over the last 20 years and not surprisingly only own two at this point – Estee Lauder Amber Ylang Ylang (review forthcoming) און MPG Ambre precieux (just check out the sterling reviews). My usual complaint is that 1) they all tend to smell the same and 2) there’s nothing very compelling or unique about them.
So it is with extreme pleasure that I introduce Ambre Vie, a handmade fragrance made by the standards of modern natural perfumery, that enters my collection as the third of only three amber scents I really have any interest in wearing. Meshell describes her approach to aroma as…
ULTRA NATURAL, and when we say “natural”, we mean it! It’s a word that is used very loosely these days, and many perfumes claim to be natural, but depending on how you define “natural”, that can mean a lot of things. As members of the Natural Perfumers Guild, we are united with other Natural Perfumers around the world, collaborating to establish guidelines for the industry. By following Guild standards (the strictest standards in the perfume business regarding natural ingredients) we can guarantee a 100% natural productready to ignite your passion for bona fide fine fragrances….Why Natural Perfumes? Why bother with added expense of natural aromatics when chemicals are seemingly superior in staying power and variety? There are so many reasons. ערשטער, natural perfumes have a much more intricate fragrance than synthetics. The complexity of Mother Nature can never be duplicated in a lab. Chemists have been trying to no avail for decades. Read more.
ווידער, although a natural perfume, Ambre Vie doesn’t really seem like a natural.
The fragrance opens with a blast of sweet, powdery, almost fruity mimosa and glimpses of warm tobacco. The typical amber aroma is present in the background as is an almost edible vanilla. There is a surprising freshness (perhaps davana?) to Ambre Vie at this stage that seems contrary to what an amber aroma typically smells like. A hint of leather and pepper accompany this freshness until the disparate facets merge and the scent begins to blossom into a powdery floral set against resins, woods and frankincense. A united blend of multiple notes, Ambre Vie manages to keep a singular character throughout the wearing while its development is truly magical. While amber as a stone or raw material (hardened tree sap) offers a honey-hued tone, it also usually offers specks of black, gold and yellow. Similarly, Ambre Vie sparkles with additional notes of broom, marigold, צינדל, אאז"וו.
When I brought out my bottle at the dinner table earlier this week, my two companions asked to sample the fragrance and were immediately impressed with the aroma. This is often a great litmus test to explore the universality of a perfume: I know that I have a somewhat experienced nose, but will others react to a scent as I do? אין פאַקט, one friend loved it so much that I had to promise to make her a sample from my bottle…and to think, she’s a die hard white floral fan who wears Miss Dior L’Eau, the original Romeo Gigli and Clinique Simply!
A few final aspects of Meshell’s creations worth mentioning: 1) All products are labeled with the vintage year as Meshell believes that like a fine wine or whiskey, her natural perfumes will only improve with age; 2) Aside from her website, Matriarch.biz, the fragrances are only available at one boutique in the entire world (David Lawrence); 3) Meshell offers samples of all fragrances to help you consider whether a scent is decidedly “you”; און 4) Meshell makes some of the most exquisite all-natural incense…a little secret that only a few loyal customers and ThePerfumeCritic readers know about. I recommend her “Idyll” און “Ballade”.