Serge Lutens : Ambre Sultan – guest review by Mario

The amber stone, not the accord.

The amber stone, not the accord. (click to enlarge)

Created by : Christopher Sheldrake

Date : 1993

Genre : Herbal amber

Concentration : eau de toilette

I was very happy that Normand asked me to review Ambre Sultan. It was my first experience with any Serge Lutens fragrance and I was very curious to experience this prestigious house.

After the spray, I was very disappointed with the smell of the fragrance, as it reminded me of a very old-fashioned snobby ambery concoction that a duchess might wear to the opera. Luckily, this first impression lasted only a few minutes before I got into the soul of this incredible fragrance.

Ambre Sultan is an amber in the rough, images of dust and soil went through my head. Although the amber accord and amber gems are two different things, AS is as far from the highly-polished gem of the same name as it can be! What I got from Ambre Sultan was much more the wood resin as it comes out of the tree… before it is polished by nature or by man into the gems used in jewellery today.

Ambre Sultan is very smoky and not unlike vetiver in that way. It is also herbal (it lists oregano as one of the main notes). It reminds one of dried oregano leaves. I was also surprised how natural this smoky-ambery fragrance smells… as to the smokiness and the herbs. If you like Sycomore, you will certainly be interested in this.

The amber is present throughout the day but I could not tell if I preferred the smoke or the amber as both gave me more pleasure than I expected. It was a long-lasting journey. At the end, the smoke dissipated to let a beautiful vanilla-amber impression that I stayed on my skin until I went to bed.

Guerlain : Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic

Created by : Marie Salamagne

Date : 2007

Genre : Herbal citrus

Concentration : eau de toilette

Disclaimer : I am not a big fan of overly herbal scents.

For all that has been said of Jean-Claude Ellena’s lovely Jardin series for Hermès, not enough has been said of the simple but elegant Aqua Allegoria series by Guerlain.  Although none are groundbreaking, I have found them all very wearable except for maybe one or two, Lys Soleia comes to mind.  Take Mandarine Basilic for example.  It’s a simple duet of orange and basil… it lasts for several hours and on a hot summer day, it would make a perfect eau de cologne.

The orange note of Mandarine Basilic makes my mouth water.  And with that herbal backnote, well… it’s wonderful.  It’s the kind of perfume I would bring on my next trip to Cuba (hopefully in 2013).  I suspect it’s synthetic which means it should hold up well in the Havana heat and humidity.  My only very petty criticism of Mandarine Basilic is that the orange note wears out before the herbal ones and you’re left smelling of a pungent herbal mixture.  If you like that, then Mandarine Basilic is for you.  It’s just not my thing.  But if you’re looking for an orange-centric, well-behaved eau de toilette… the orange-herbal duet goes on for easily 4 to 5 hours.  After that… it reminds me of a thin-crust neapolitan pizza which I love to eat… but not necessarily wear.

Let’s end this one with one of the most beautiful duets… ever!  True Love by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly.  What I wouldn’t give to be able to kiss, sail a boat and play the accordeon all at the same time.

Have a nice week everyone.

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