There’s just something about ambergris. The smell is as conspicuously consumptive as trailing Thai silk along the ground, or lining your slippers with minks. It’s outrageous and most people don’t even know how pricey the molecules they inhaled when you passed by were. Ambergris is stealth wealth indeed.
However, since ambergris is and was so prohibitively costly, the ingredient has never turned up all that frequently in perfumes. When it does, as in Cartier’s Panthere, or Hermes Caleche Eau Delicate, or old Miss Dior, the entire dry down resonates with is extravagant tonality, somewhere in between leather and iris. Something in the resulting coda, has suffered a sea change into something rich, and strange.
The emphasis there is definitely on the rich side of the statement. Ambergris in Miss Dior turned the perfume into a fur coat of a fragrance, every molecule a velvet textured delight
In Amouage Gold, ambergris transforms that road production of Mme. Rochas into a gold brocade extravaganza and in 24 Faubourg it warns everyone to get out of your way. “Here comes serious money, so get your small change butt someplace else, and pronto.” Both perfumes suit divas right down to the ground
Myself, however, I prefer my ambergris use discreet, which is why when I really want to smell ambergris these days I repair to the Creed counter, admittedly disputed territory for many perfume lovers. However, Creed does use ambergris – tincture they stipulate these days – but they use it. Well, even if the ambergris sloshed through the formulas in Wellington Boots I’d still smell for it. And in some, ambergris still ambles. Take Fantasia de Fleurs
No one mentions it, and the perfume is much simpler now than when I first smelled F.D.F in the 90’s. Nowadays, Fantasia is a bit of bergamot on top of a lot of rose and some iris, but the train of this trailing tea gown of a scent is ambergris, and it goes on and on.
Fantasia was supposed to be the perfume of Elizabeth of Austria, the beautiful princess with the incredible head of hair. Fantasia was supposedly used to scent her chevelure which must have cost – what, per hair follicle?
Well, I’m not counting, and although the expanded heart of the fragrance has collapsed in on itself, that spendthrift dry down remains. After Angelique Encens, Fantasia de Fleurs is by far my favorite Creed, whose creed appears to be that rich really are different- they smell better than the rest of us.