I often wonder how many perfume gems are “out there” that I’ll never smell. I sample absurd quantities of perfumes — niche, designer/mainstream, “home-brewed” — and I still haven’t tried many established or “old” fragrances (sad, but even a two-year-old scent seems aged when compared to a cologne that's about to make its debut). So, I was pleased with my recent introduction to a “new” (for me) fragrance: 2000’s Amir by Laura Tonatto.
Just this year I’ve tried and enjoyed two Tonatto perfumes: Eleonora Duse and Amir. As with so many niche lines, you have to work to get your hands on samples or find testers of Laura Tonatto fragrances. Finally, a new shop in Seattle stocks the Laura Tonatto line, and I’m working my way through the Tonatto perfumes in stock.
An amīr (or emir) can be a general, a leader…a prince. Since the word “amir” has Islamic and Middle Eastern connotations, I expected to find (even before smelling Amir or reading its list of notes) sweetness, amber, musk and frankincense in the fragrance. Amir does have a Middle Eastern vibe, but it’s also a bit quirky, not your typical oriental-amber concoction.
Amir includes notes of petitgrain, orange, lime wood, myrrh, incense, amber, labdanum and musk. Amir opens with a dusky citrus peel and green-wood/lime accord (this accord has a faint floral character too…a dash of “sour daisy”). During Amir’s mid-development, it smells like an elixir made of myrrh, “cola syrup,” black tea, and labdanum. The dense, liquor-y nature of Amir begins to “dry out” and fragment on skin in late mid-development, and Amir’s base notes smell like a luxurious talcum-incense powder full of labdanum-rich amber and mid-strength musk with a smattering of benzoin and toasted tonka bean. Amir is neither an “ashy/smoky” severe amber-incense fragrance nor an overly sweet amber that strangles the wearer. Amir’s early phase of development reminds me of Crown Perfumery Eau de Russe – but souped up.
Amir has good tenacity and sillage and can be worn by amīrahs as well as amīrs. Just like we all look to the past to discover “new” singers, music, books, and artists to enjoy, it pays to search out older fragrances too. My backlog of scents to try is long…and getting longer by the day, but when I come across a great fragrance like Amir, the extra sniffing pays off.
Laura Tonatto Amir Eau de Parfum is €72/$96 for 100 ml. For buying information see the listing for Laura Tonatto under Perfume Houses.
Note: top image is Emir of Bukhara (circa 1910) [altered] by Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii via Wikimedia Commons.