Add another perfume to the list of ambers I didn't know I need: L’Ambre de Carthage by Isabey. Isabey is a veteran perfume house that was originally in business between 1924 and 1941. It saw quite a bit of success, including a gold medal in perfumery at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. Isabey shut its 20 rue de la Paix doors at the onset of World War II. The brand was resurrected in the last decade by Parfums Panouge, a company that also owns the new incarnation of Jacques Fath. Panouge has been slowly releasing modern versions from the Isabey catalog, starting with the classic Le Gardénia. Last year they launched L’Ambre de Carthage, a marvelous dry incense and amber fragrance that has me whimpering with pleasure.
L’Ambre de Carthage is somewhat related to Josef Statkus and Tauer's L'Air du Desert Marocain. It's tamer than both, some might even say more balanced. It's definitely not a sillage anvil, though the fragrance has more than enough presence and bite. It is an amber, after all. The people at Luckyscent have placed L’Ambre de Carthage at the very end of the masculine part on the gender spectrum. I guess it's because this perfume doesn't have even the faintest whiff of vanilla, amber's long-time partner. Still, I can't perceive this gem as anything but unisex, and most women who love dark incense fragrances will not want to miss this one.
L’Ambre de Carthage is warm and a bit dusty. It gives the impression of treasure chests full of exotic goods, rare and highly coveted spices and tea (the list of official notes says jasmine tea, but it might as well also be oolong of the highest quality). The boxes are made of precious woods, decorated with colorful stones and are sitting open and invited in a dark cavern full of incense smoke and perfume oils. Don't you just want to roll in it? I know I do.
Notes: Cistus, Bergamot , Osmanthus, Jasmine Tea, Patchouli, Amber, Sandalwood, Olibanum, Musk.
Isabey- L’Ambre de Carthage ($160, 100ml EDP) is available from Luckyscent and Twisted Lily.
Images: Isabey perfume ads from 1924-1929, via hrprints.com.