Ambre Russe by Parfum d’Empire

*Picture from Fragrantica

Many beautiful perfumes are an abstract combination of accords. But some gain their stature due to the opposite of balance: that is, by blasting one unsubtle note louder than anyone else dares to.

Yves Saint Laurent’s Paris is a classic due to its unabashed excess of rose. Carnal Flower is said to contain more natural tuberose than any other perfume on the market. And Ambre Russe projects an explosion of amber. I’ve smelled Caswell Massey’s rendition of ambergris oil and this smells sort of like it, but natural ambergris isn’t used much in perfumery.

Ambergris comes to be in a rather inglorious way: it is bile that comes from a whale’s stomach. (Proof) I recently went to a Smithsonian Museum of American History exhibit about whaling, in which I learned of the dreadful deaths that occurred as a result of whalers chasing this substance, which was pound for pound the most valuable thing to be gained from these quests.

I usually think perfumes that smell of one thing are a waste of money when you could just buy a one-note oil or absolute. But Ambre Russe is more refined and has far more intent than my ambergris oil. I think it works much better on a woman. It has a serious, high-minded, full-bodied sex appeal, like how I imagine Catherine the Great would have smelled.

There’s several other notes I can pick up on, the strongest of which is a honey and vanilla accord and a subtle but dangerous leather note in the background. But these do not come in layers behind an amber backdrop like I would usually say, nor do I notice them becoming more or less powerful as time goes on. They are simply accents that add personality without being noticed, sort of like a characteristic gait of someone you know that you don’t realize is relevant until you see it in someone else.

After all this, Ambre Russe manages to be nothing but contemporary and wearable. If you are looking to own, say, 5 perfumes, this would be a good one.

Note List (Fragrantica): vodka, rum, incense, coriander, cinnamon, vanilla, tea, amber, honey and leather
Perfumer: Marc-Antoine Corticchiato
Price Range: Moderately Expensive-Expensive
Recommended Occasion: Fancier than not.
Release Year: 2003
My Rating: 9

Check out other reviews at Olfactoria’s Travels, and Perfume Smellin’ Things. Both emphasize Ambre Russe’s proverbial Russianness a whole lot more than I do.

This entry was posted in Amber, Cinnamon, Coriander, Honey, Leather, Rum, Spicy, Tea, Vanilla, Vodka and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Ambre Russe by Parfum d’Empire

  1. formaggio says:

    Great review. Great perfume.
    I did notice sweetened black tea in this.

  2. formaggio says:

    Just re-read the review. Realized that your observation about noticing someone’s gait in someone else is very unusual, especially in the context.

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