I suspect L'Eau d'Ambre Extreme is at least partially responsible for L'artisan's reputation as making sheer and ephemeral perfumes. Most amber lovers expect a lot more body and bite from their fragrances- sweetness, sillage and a certain density. L'Artisan's L'Eau d'Ambre Extreme does not deliver on that front.
Nevertheless, L'Eau d'Ambre Extreme is not a shallow and dilluted juice. It's a low key spice-fest, full of the good stuff like cinnamon and cardamom. The opening notes are almost fiery and very dry. If things have progressed along these lines we would have had a serious contender for top amber perfumes. However, by the time the ambery accord fully kicks in it feels like I'm smelling it from across the room and not from my own neck or wrist. It's a lovely oriental, dreamy and soft, more woody than powdery that actually lasts for long hours but remains between me and my clothes, never leaving my personal space.
L'Eau d'Ambre Extreme is so discreet and intimate it's hard to decide if it's an office-appropriate amber or actually a third date perfume. Both, I guess. This Jean-Claude Ellena is, indeed, sheer and a bit elusive, but also a great example of a non-foody, very crystallized amber. L'Eau d'Ambre Extreme makes you listen and pay attention to the way it treads on its soft paws. Nowadays I find it more beautiful and much sexier than I ever considered this L'Artisan perfume. It's not that I'm forsaking any of my favorite heavyweight ambers, but sometimes I want to enjoy this accord in a somewhat more private way.
Notes (from Luckyscent): cinnamon, pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, amber, vanilla, rose, patchouli, sandalwood, benzoin, tonka bean.
Bottom Line: how come I still don't have a full bottle?
L'Eau d'Ambre Extreme ($115, 50 ml) is available from all authorized L'Artisan Parfumeur retailers (Luckyscent, Aedes, MiN NY, Barneys, Henry Bendel, BeautyHabit, Blue Mercury and others) as well as from L'Artisan boutiques in Paris.
Photo by Norman Parkinson for Vogue, February 1969