Sweet, resinous, aromatic – the core attributes of any amber perfume are appealing on the surface. They ride the line between mysterious and inviting, bringing an edge to familiar vanilla constructions.
Like many other genres of late, ambers face increasing competition as indie artists craft their own spin on the genre. I’ve mentioned in past reviews that, about a year ago, I ordered an amber-heavy sample set and found myself increasingly bored and discouraged. There just isn’t enough range between different amber perfumes to make sampling dozens of them enjoyable.
All that being said, Ambre Russe was one of the first niche ambers to make waves in the perfume industry. Parfums d’Empire – the personal fragrance house of perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato – has been releasing excellent perfumes for nearly two decades. As the name suggests, the house draws inspiration from ancient empires to craft fragrances of weight and grandeur. Ambre Russe was one of their very first releases in 2003, and since then, the house has garnered numerous nominations and awards. The question is whether such a fragrance still stands strong twenty years later amidst a flooded market.
Ambre Russe Notes
Top notes: Vodka, Champagne
Heart notes: Leather, Cinnamon, Tea, Coriander, Birch, Juniper
Base notes: Amber, Incense, Musk
It’s impossible to talk about Ambre Russe without stating the obvious: it absolutely smells like a modern amber scent. If you told me this had been released this year, I would have believed you; there is nothing dated about Ambre Russe whatsoever. The top, while not quite as boozy as the note pyramid would suggest, does have a sparkling champagne cleanliness that complements the spices and syrupy sweetness lying beneath. The heart notes unsurprisingly dominate the fragrance. The herbal dryness from the tea and juniper is deftly balanced with the warm spices of coriander and cinnamon. All the while, the base offers classic amber stickiness, just barely threatening to overwhelm, yet managing to stay contained among the other notes.
There’s nothing all that surprising about Ambre Russe. Smelling this, you’re likely to immediately sense craft and quality. You’re also likely, unless this fragrance strikes the perfect chord, to find yourself remembering little about it except that it’s a nice amber fragrance. The pricing is admittedly quite good for a perfume of this quality. The bottle is as well – elegant, but nothing that will stand out on a fragrance shelf. It’s almost admirable how willing Ambre Russe is to do its job and do it well without any needed flash.
However, this is a perfume that may have outlived its purpose. Curious noses have better places to look for an exciting new experience, and thrifty noses can likely find something at a similar or lower price that fits the bill just as well. Ambre Russe is essential only for noses who absolutely love amber perfumes and are still searching for a perfect fit for their standard wear. In this day and age, Ambre Russe is certainly a perfume to admire, but not one to get too excited about.
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