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Balmain Ambre Gris

October 18, 2009

I used to be totally and one hundred percent convinced I hated perfume. I have horrible allergies, and a lot of it makes me sneeze and/or want to run and die in a closet or something. I still cringe when I think about the perfume counters, but through the magic of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, I’ve figured out which notes suit and which don’t.

I have a lot of love for my BPAL collection (and the Arcana, and the Nocturne Alchemy), but since this fairly recent discovery I’ve been tempted to go back to more… “upscale,” shall we call them? scents. Mostly I really want to find one or two things in very pretty bottles to set on my nonexistent vanity so I can feel precious. Who’s falling into consumer culture now? That’s right: This girl. Anyway, I figure there must be SOME difference, right? I wonder what it would be like if Beth (from BPAL) designed a scent for one of the major houses. Anyway, whatever the reason, I’m collecting decants of various perfumes, which have sort of started to take over my house.

Balmain Ambre Gris (image courtesy of LuckyScent)

Balmain Ambre Gris (image courtesy of LuckyScent)

Today I got a few decants from LuckyScent, which offers lots and lots of them at reasonable prices. I’ve tried By Kilian Back to Black, Juliette Has a Gun Midnight Oud, and this: Balmain Ambre Gris. Reviews on the first two will be forthcoming sometime soonish; I think they need a couple of wearings so I can make up my mind, and not at the same time. One on each wrist = confusing throw to the nose.

I ordered the Ambre Gris sample expecting that I would probably love it. The listed notes are: Pink pepper, cinnamon, tuberose, immortelle, myrrh, smoky gaïac wood, benzoin, white musks, ambergris. Every one of those is a yes for me, and there’s no vetiver or jasmine lurking around to screw it all up. So! I was a little surprised when I sniffed the decant and it was kind of… sharp and weird. As it turns out, this is because I forgot about the part where these scents (unlike BPAL et al.) contain perfumer’s alcohol.

When I first put it on, the alcohol sort of overwhelmed everything, and so I have very few impressions of what the scent is like wet. In the drydown, I can pick out the benzoin and ambergris, with a hint of pink pepper and myrrh. But the thing is, it doesn’t come across as complex — rather, it’s just kind of soft and warm and snuggly. There’s probably something a little generic about it; it’s triggering a scent memory I can’t put my finger on but which is definitely perfume-related. But I think that might be what I’m looking for: The generic “warm snuggly,” or whatever it is this reminds me of. High school? Experiments with Samsara? I think that’s it, but it’s been a long time since I had a bottle of Samsara, so don’t quote me on that.

Since I’m not great at picking out notes (yet?), or detailing how they interact with one another and with my skin, I sort of base bottle-worthiness on how a scent makes me feel. The visual image I have from this would be sort of equivalent to wearing a cashmere sweater and a big wrap, walking on the shore in fall, in the fog. Near your cabin, so the fire and tea are nearby. It’s not particularly sexy, but sort of a romantic daydream. And that’s enough to make me want a bottle, at least.

Also a cabin on the shore. With a fireplace.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sunny permalink
    October 18, 2009 12:46 pm

    Every time you talk about perfume, I want it. LOL. This is a very dangerous thing.

    • October 18, 2009 12:55 pm

      If I didn’t love this one I would totally pass along the decant, but it’s staying in my imp box until I can afford the whole bottle.

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