I didn't get Amber Absolute right away. My first couple of testings made me regard this Tom Ford Private Blend creation as a dumbed down version of Ambre Sultan (Serge Lutens). It lacks the challenging parts: the kitchen herbs from the opening and the chewy feel, but it's still a dark amber with very little (if any) powder involved, and a woody heart. For a while I only used it for layering and enhancing softer scents that could use a darker backbone, and experimented with combining Amer Absolute with other ambers (nothing to write home about).
It was actually the pairing with another Tom Ford Private Blend favorite, Noir de Noir, that allowed me to fully appreciate the beauty of Amber Absolute. Unlike the dazzling pyrotechnics of Ambre Sultan (which I still consider the best in its category), Ford's amber is polished like a smooth stone, but warms up gradually into a resinous incense that makes it glow from within.
There is no real connection between the amber accord in fragrance and the Baltic stone, but I can't help but think of vintage Lithuanian jewelry made with only half polished amber chunks that were kept in a vintage hand-painted lacquered box (I have a feeling my mother is the only one who knows what I'm talking about here. And maybe those readers who hail from the same part of Europe). It has an Old World beauty without feeling dated or retro in any way, and the sweetness is restrained enough to be utterly wearable by men. As long as they really love amber, that is.
I'm still rocking the roll-on from the 12 mini bottle set of the original dozen Tom Ford scents, but the way I'm going I'll need a full bottle ($180, 1.7 oz at Bergdorf, Neiman Marcus and select Saks and Nordsrom locations) sooner rather than later.
Fashion photo by George Hoyningen-Huene for Harper's Bazaar, 1940. Photo of lacquered Russian box from some eBay auction.