Detecting the principal notes of fragrances is one of the most annoying and confusing aspects of perfume collecting. Who would know-for example-that the main note of Fracas is Tuberose? And who would intuit that YSL Paris is largely concerned with roses? No one does. You simply have to find that out yourself over time checking out different websites, and ultimately, trusting your own nose.
So last year when Patricia de Nicolai’s fragrance Ambre Cashmere came out I thought it was an amber perfume because of the name, and since most of the reviews accused AC of a tooth enamel eroding sweetness, I let the matter rest, and it wasn’t until for entirely different reasons a sample came my way, that I actually tried Ambre Cashmere.
Ambre Cashmere is an iris/woody oriental, and who knew? Many reviews insisted the new de Nicolai was a gourmand (actually my sample is not foody) that it had a big lemon frosting note( this section is short and understated in my sample) and that the perfume remained very gourmand all the way down. Mine is really rather dry, woody, and very dark. The only resemblance I find to these descriptions is the initial lemon/butter cream of the beginning which is truncated, more creamy than sweet, and followed by sparkling cloud of pepper and clove on me.
Now possibly Parfums de Nicolai reformulated this, in which case I have no way of knowing which version early reviewers smelled, but this sample resembled another favorite of mine Bois d’Armenie, and was pitched at about the same level of sugariness (a very low level).
I’ve worn Ambre Cashmere for a month now and find it both surprisingly good at this intermittently rainy time of year, and pleasing in a dark floral manner already familiar to me from my bottle of Bois d’Armenie, though it begins with that scintillating pepper clove pop, the olfactory equivalent of a champagne cork coming out of a bottle. That nose tickle is entirely absent from Bois d’Armenie, but both perfumes contain a lovely iris in their centers, which I sometimes accentuate with a little dab of Apres L’Ondee* or L’Heure Bleue**.
In the main I find Ambre Cashmere is only briefly lemony, with a creamy consistency in the fragrance that comes from iris butter, a material rarely used in contemporary perfumes, except for Xerjoff’s Iriss, Iris Silver Mist, and a few Chanels, otherwise the most noticeable elements of the scent on me are pepper, a little clove, that purple iris, and the dry down which pairs patchouli with amber elements well. I never entirely lose the iris in Ambre Cashmere.
It’s an elegant perfume that could very well be used by men, and I notice is primarily mentioned by them on perfume forums. I find myself wearing AC a great deal. As with Patricia de Nicolai’s other recent release Musc Intense, which is also about Turkish rose as well as musk btw, this is a fragrance you begin to crave.
Bois d’Armenie on the other hand has been much reviewed and is a scent that many people love, but they don’t often point out that it is another iris-y woody oriental. What I love about Bois d’A is its chic. As long as the temperature’s not too hot, this one can go with you almost anywhere, the wood, the incense, the iris all combine to give the mix a dried vanilla bean scent, then the iris again, and the variation is one of the most charming things about the perfume. I frankly prefer Bd’A to Iris Ganache which I also owned but really did find too sweet.
These are irises that surprise you a little. They do make their respective perfumes a bit shadowy, or let’s say that the perfume fabric interwoven with iris is like black wool faille, studded rather than embroidered, but the darkness is versatile, stylish, and intermittently catches the light in a black sequin.