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.