Sunday, September 27, 2009

Annick Goutal Les Orientalistes- Ambre Fetiche

Perfume lovers who own a substantial number of bottles tend to reach a point in their collecting habit where considering a purchase becomes about deciding if this new (or old) perfume is worth the shelf space and its place in their rotation, since acquiring and wearing a new scent means less skin time for the other loves. In other words, we become so particular that a perfume needs to wow us if it is to join the other treasures in our cabinets. Ambre Fetiche from Annick Goutal didn't require any inner debate. It was a case of Sniff. Love. Need. Get.

For once, the list of notes (amber, frankincense, labdanum, stirax, benzoin, iris absolute, vanilla and Russian leather) actually tells the full story of the fragrance. It's a very dark amber-incense, where the expected sweetness is wonderfully balanced by a tarry, dirty black leather. Yes, it's an oriental, therefore forever doomed to be compared to various Guerlain perfumes, from the classic Shalimar to the modern Cuir Beluga and Oriental Brulant. But while I doubt someone who hates the Guerlains would find Ambre Fetiche wearable, it's different enough thanks to the impressive amounts of smoky incense and stands out among the above and other famous big ambers (Serge Lutens and Tom Ford's, for example).

Ambre Fetiche is not for the demure. Anyone expecting the typical floral Goutal would be surprised and not necessarily in a good way. It's strong and thick, uncompromising in its sexuality and would make one think of ancient perfumery traditions from the days it was all about frankincense, myrrh and lebonah than anything dainty and/or French. It easily stays on for 24 hours or more (after only two sprays) and you'll catch a whiff of yourself at every turn. In the late drydown, when most of what's left is a smoky vanilla, you might feel the urge to try licking yourself. Try to resist.

The four Les Orientalistes perfumes (Ambre Fetiche, Encens Flamboyant,Myrrhe Ardente and Musc Nomade) are available in 50 ml, 100 ml and also in the rectangular masculine bottles at the usual department stores, from Bloomingdale's and up, but also for a considerably better price from several online retailers. I'm starting to realize that Ambre Fetiche is one of those very rare perfumes I actually should have bought in the bigger bottle.

The bottle in the Goutal ad at the top is the limited edition butterfly bottle.

Photo: Black Corset by Horst P. Horst, 1948


  1. I finally got a bottle of Musc Nomade, which I love, & I've been considering Ambre Fetiche--you may have pushed me over the edge! I used to "visit" them at Saks, but they've been pulled (they're not at my Bloomingdale's or NM either). I've read that they are being reformulated; that would explain their recent appearance on the discount sites. It might be time to stock up.


  2. I love all 4 of les Orientalistes... you can get them cheep from!

  3. I'm beginning to realize we have very similar taste. Ambre Fetiche was the same for me - sniffed then promptly purchased. I also have the limited edition butterfly bottle and an extra back-up regular bottle (I like the mens bottles better with AG.)

    I totally agree about the far dry down. I must refrain from licking myself. :-)


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