Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Illuminum- Arabian Amber

Illuminum, the UK-based brand by Michael Boadi (who also launched Boadicia The Victorius), became famous last year when it was announced that White Gardenia Petals was Kate Middleton's choice as her wedding scent. Since then, many of us became familiar with Illuminum's main line in the squat square bottles (there's a second one, more interesting, actually, in tall narrow bottles, but that's a topic for another day). So today we're looking beyond the Duchess and her famous Gardenia at a more exotic offering.

Or maybe not.

The name Arabian Amber suggests a location somewhere between the wonderful world of Uncle Serge and the mystery of By Kilian's Arabain Nights series. I mean, it's amber. And Arabian. However, this Illuminum perfume might be the preppiest amber perfume I ever tried. Seriously, all it needs is a grosgrain belt and the wholesomeness is complete. The bergamot note in the opening is fruity, fresh and incredibly tenacious. Thirty minutes after spraying and it's still there, giving you its cute smile.

At some later point in Arabian Amber's development I start smelling nice woody notes under the orange-like veil. It's nothing dramatic: smooth cedar that offers light sweetness and even lighter of its pencil shavings facet-- it's just a hint. No weird notes were captured in the making of this Illuminum fragrance. Then there's a sandalwoody thing going on, but it's very gentle and doesn't assert itself over the other notes.

The sillage of Arabian Amber is polite and its longevity moderate-to-good, depending how much of it I've used. The lack of edginess, heavy notes or real sticky amber make this an excellent entry point for those who are intimidated by the band of bellydancers that accompany Ambre Sultan and its ilk. I find it completely and utterly free of gender bias, but I suspect that women who insist on floral blends will still find it too masculine. Final thoughts: Arabian Amber doesn't scratch my particular itch, but I wouldn't reject it on a stiffing summer day. It's a pretty perfume, just not ambery or oriental enough for my taste.

Notes: bergamot, Atlas cedarwood, sandalwood, patchouli,frankincense.

Illuminum- Arabian Amber ($140, 50ml EDP) is available from Henri Bendel in NYC and Luckyscent.

Photo of Kate Middleton in her university days from The Telegraph.


  1. Oh, dear: It is Boadicea, our warrior queen who led victories over the Romans and started their leaving. A nice scent, too. I have not tried the Gardenia one; it is something I have to do.

  2. I get what you mean about the no edge aspect.

  3. I had the chance to smell White Gardenia Petals this past summer while in Los Angeles. The sales clerk rolled his eyes as he sprayed my sample and explained how utterly sick he was of the hype this perfume was getting (he said they were getting 10-20 calls per day about this perfume!).

    After the hype and anticipation, all I got from it was a big "Meh". It was nice enough, but nothing interesting or special. Even the Hubs wasn't impressed, and he's pretty easy to please!

    I'd love to see the Non-Blonde give it a thorough review!

  4. I was thinking the picture of Kate must be an older one, as she would never pose now with that much thigh showing. AND she is so much thinner now - sorry, too thin! She used to look so strong and healthy-sexy. This picture is a prime example of the British Sporting Sexy look. Brits do that so well.

  5. The perfumes that you mentioned sound interesting but I'm swooning over those boots in the picture. It's too bad that I can't find boots that cover my fat calves nicely.

  6. As someone who loves animalic ouds and edgy oriental scents, this is probably a nice gateway amber for those just dipping their toe in the water but not scent for me.
    Looking at this picture-I seriously want to see Princess Katherine's boot collection, I bet it's fabulous.


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