Friday, June 20, 2008

Ambre 114 & 1969 by Histoires de Parfums : Perfume Reviews

It’s Friday and as promised, we’ll once again be visiting the Histoires de Parfums library. The two perfumes we'll explore today are Ambre 114 and 1969; together they form the “Cult Books” subcategory in Histoires de Parfums' collection of tomes.

· Ambre 114: If you are a fan of amber fragrances, and especially if you like huge, golden holy dragons of scents, like Maître Parfumeur et Gantier’s Ambre Précieux and Artisan’s Ambre Extrême, then you definitely need to try Ambre 114 – you’re going to love it. Ambre 114 pays great emphasis on its gorgeous ambergris note, around which everything seems to revolve with inevitable attraction. It is a wonderfully aromatic take on amber, no doubt due to the use of thyme and nutmeg in the composition. The potion gradually changes from herbal luminescence to a mysterious darkness dimly lit by an incandescent heart of gold. Throughout the development the nose is seduced by a progressively intensifying, exotic smokiness, which finally disperses in the drydown to reveal the most gorgeous vanillic tolu-tobacco accord. Comforting and sensuous at once, this warm golden scent will be perfect for the colder months, ideally in front of a roaring fire.

· 1969: As a teenager, I spent a good number of years obsessed with song lyrics and titles – analyzing them, devising games to play with my friends and often, quite embarrassingly I must admit, replying to questions with them. Something that I discovered through this minor quirk is that numerous songs in both English and other languages are titled 1969. Even more songs reference 1969 in their lyrics. People are fascinated by this year, which has attained a power akin to a magical number in our culture. I am not surprised to see the date crop up on a perfume bottle; 1969 is indeed, as the perfume’s box indicates, a mythical year:

The Beatles give their last public performance.
Boeing 747 makes its maiden flight.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono conduct their Bed-In at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal; they record “Give Peace a Chance”
The first message is sent over ARPANET, the forerunner of the Internet; a few months later the first link is established.
The world watches as man takes his first steps on the Moon.
Cold War.

Perhaps it is that last reference, Woodstock, which has me expecting a patchouli-ladden, headshop extravaganza, done in the most sophisticated manner possible bien sûr, but 1969 is anything but. It is a surprise, much like every event in the unexpectedly significant last year of the decade it pays homage to. It smells like a quaintly decorated shop of sweet culinary delights and fruits. At the very same time, it smells like freshly washed shiny hair, warmed by the sun. It smells edible, but not quite, like candied fruit bewitched. The opening is intense and fruity, like citrus fruits preserved in sugar. And ever so slowly it becomes softer and softer, until the intensity of the fruit dissipates and unfolds, to reveal a perfectly blended, lightly sweet softness underneath. Smelling close, there is something lovely and strange emerging out of the smooth sweetness – something cooling, like mint. The passing of time brings floral notes to the fore, a gentle rose and a shy, mild carnation that become the most salient features of this scent, until finally, in the drydown we are left with a bed of cacao opening its arms to receive the shower of flower petals. This fragrance seems deceptively simple at first, but becomes more and more complex as you get to know it. Its most striking feature, the way it combines coolness with warmth, is definitely worth getting to know.

While we continue to discover the Histoires de Parfum line together, I would like to bring your attention to the fact that the lovely Marina over at Perfume Smelling Things is running a raffle today! The lucky winner will receive a sample packet of all 12 Histoires de Parfum scents.

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Unknown said...

Oh my that amber sounds divine; I'm finally getting back to my amber roots. Just got a 15ml bottle of the infamous Ambre Narguile; which isn't really an amber to me, but one of the most divine gourmands out there. Divina you are so lucky you did not have a father who graduated from from high school in the year 1969. He gets way too much delight from that :-P.

Divina said...

Hey Jen! I *looove* Ambre Narguile and I do agree with you, it is not what I consider as amber either. I get lots of cinnamon from it and a lovely tobacco flower accord, together with smoky sweetness. Mmm, it is so yummy! I don't have a bottle, but the people at the Hermes boutique in Amsterdam are extremely generous with samples. (not to mention uber polite and witty)

Divina said...

PS: Had to laugh out loud with your comment about your father! :-D *hugs!*

Unknown said...

I love the cinnamon and I absolutely adore the rum raisen accord on a bed of powder suger opening of Ambre Narguile. Glad you enjoyed the comment about my Dad. Hugs to you too.

Anonymous said...

Divina, I have been looking for a good bitter cacao perfume ever since I ate a strange cacao sauce on deer fillet. It wasn't sweet at all and it was spicy. Smelled divine. 1969 sounds like it might be too sweet for what I'm after though?


chayaruchama said...

These sound divine !

I was up to NO GOOD in 1969-
But then, I had a LOT of company, lol.

Nice to see you well, after all the schoolwork !

Divina said...

Hi Christine,
That was an intriguing comment! How cool that you are looking for a perfume inspired after a dish you ate! I am afraid I can currently think of a bitter-spicy cacao perfume, but I will keep an eye out for you. Send me an email so that I have your mail address and I will do a little research and get back to you. My brain currently keeps coming back to Bond's New Haarlem perfume which is of course more coffee than cacao, but might satisfy a part of your craving. Unfortunately I have to say I don't like it at all - though it also has to be said that it has a lot of fans.

Divina said...

Chaya my dearest lovely, how great to see you again! I am indeed doing well, not only are all the exams over but I am now counting down the days till my vacation. :)


Anonymous said...

Divina, I'm not a huge fan of patchouli (although I do like it in its more elegant incarnations, such as in Chanel Coromandel), but your review of 1969 has me intrigued. So, no headshop, and it's a changeling scent? I think I might have to get acquainted with this one!!

Divina said...

Hey Suzanne, from your description I would guess 1826 would intrigue you more, actually! Do try it!