I have two issues with Le Labo's Ambrette 9: First, the concept of a perfume for babies. Why? Who needs that? I'm not a baby person and don't go nuts for "baby smell", but I also have no intention to scent my two adorable nieces until they are old enough to spell "Bergdorf Goodman". The second problem is that to actually smell Ambrette 9 for more than 20 minutes, even in the grown up version (the one actually for babies comes in a water base), requires bathing and marinating in this stuff.
The first few times I've tested Ambrette 9 I thought I was completely anosmic to everything past the chemical fruit opening. Eventually I received a much bigger sample at the Le Labo counter in Barneys and one day accidentally spilled half of it down my arm and into my sleeve. Finally I could smell it.
Ambrette seeds are the source for a natural vegetal musk. In this Le Labo interpretation of this raw material it's definitely a soft skin musk with a fruity undertone. The problem is that Ambrette 9 smells like the pale, drowned ghost of CB Musk Reinvention. Where Christopher Brosius has created a warm, robust musk, Ambrette 9 is washed out and watery. The scent itself is pleasant enough in the sense that it smells nice if you press your nose against a skin that has soaked it, but it doesn't give me the thrill of wearing a beautiful perfume.
Le Labo perfumes ($52 for 15 ml, there are also larger sizes available) can be found at Le Labo Boutiques at several major cities around the world and also at Barnyes. In the case of NYC I actually prefer the latter to the Elizabeth Street boutique because the chairs are more comfortable and the customer service is excellent.
Freaky image from amazon.com.