I have always loved the smell of amber in perfumery. Ages ago, I was told by a not-very-well-informed pharmacist-herbalist that amber aroma came from a tree — it was "just the resin" of a fragrant plant from India. I took him at his word until I went into a Beverly Hills aromatherapy boutique and asked for amber essential oil. The clerk grimaced and said: “There is no such thing.” Abashed, I did not ask for an explanation and one was not offered. Investigations commenced.
The scent of "amber" (as most of us know it) is an Indian creation — a blend of fragrant oils, waxes, gums, resins and powders. Amber is used in Ayurvedic medicine as a calming agent; its use relaxes one for enlightening meditation or…good sex. This fragrance blend may have been created to mimic the scent of rare and expensive ambergris — thus the name "amber" (derived from the Arabic word "anbar", meaning "ambergris"). Amber recipes vary widely, but most contain benzoin, sandalwood, patchouli, and frankincense; myrrh, vetiver, agarwood, cedarwood, and any number of spices and floral notes may be added to the mix. In the delicious-smelling, waxy amber cubes I buy to scent cabinets, boxes and myself, I can smell beeswax, sandalwood, benzoin, frankincense and a hint of rose. I love most ambers. Only ambers drenched with musk give me pause and remind me of a barnyard — smelled through a haze of perfume.
L’Occitane’s Amber is elegant and refined (perhaps too refined). It is sweet, powdery, mildly resinous, with a balsamic vanilla note. I wish one or two "loud-mouthed" ingredients had been tossed in — patchouli, cedar, smoky incense, or spice (coriander, cumin). I let several people sample Amber Home Perfume spray and the verdict was unanimous: all considered the room spray aroma "very feminine".
Amber Home Perfume is tenacious in both room spray and candle formulations. It smells "rich" but is reasonably priced at $23 for a 100 ml spray. The hammered-glass bottle is handsome and best of all: label-less.
Amber Home Perfume is available at L’Occitane online or in the brand's many boutiques.