Scent Intense is the other half of Costume National Scent, a supposedly darker variation on the ambery floral theme. Where Scent is more airy and sheer, Scent Intense takes its amber much more seriously. Costume National seem to have directed Intense towards women (while Scent has a somewhat more masculine leaning), but managed to still maintain the line's androgynous feel. Yes, it's an amber, but completely stripped of any ties to vanilla or powder, which makes it an easy choice for amber-loving men. A friend with a good nose mentioned today a strong resemblance to L'Ambre de Carthage by Isabey, and I can see why. It gives a similar expensive tea, incense, and golden amber inside a wooden box vibe.
Costume National pared their amber down a little (compared to the warmer and more incensy Isabey). I'm doing my best to smell without the brand-bias, but I do think that Scent Intense is somewhat more urban/modern/minimalistic. I smell a cold hard surface somewhere in there, which is kind of a cool effect in an amber perfume. While my skin tries hard to amplify the woody amber, there's quite a fight (and a lot of development) going on there, bringing forth a synthetic smoke. It brings to mind the skyline of a big city that takes shape at dawn. The bleak and brutal lines of skyscrapers, dark windows, and warm breath in the cold morning air.
Scent Intense makes me wonder what would happen if Le Labo would create an amber perfume. Think of it: Amber 11, a Hong Kong exclusive. I'd expect it to smell pretty close to this 2002 fragrance, a little roughly drawn, only slightly exotic, and very easy to wear.
Notes: amber, woods, jasmine tea, and mother of pearl hibiscus.
Costume National- Scent Intense ($94, 50ml EDP) is available from Luckyscent and select department stores.
Top image: Eliza Cummings for Costume National ad campaign (Fall 2012) by Glen Luchford.