A perfume is more than the sum of its notes, and when we're lucky it's also far more than the story that accompanies it. For me, that's the case with Geisha Amber Rouge from Aroma M. Technically it's a flanker to perfumer Maria McElroy's Geisha Rouge, Amber Rouge is much more than that (and on my skin- a more interesting composition). The original is a blend of a delicate Japanese incense with spices and oriental-gourmand elements. The sequel adds the magic of a thick and rich Moroccan amber.
Aroma M Geisha Amber Rouge moves between two opposites: the comforting and the dangerous. The gourmand facet is more prominent at first. From memories of childhood hard candy (the Husband says butterscotch) to a blend of baking spices: clove, cinnamon, star anise (I smell more of the latter while the Blond gets all the clove). Maria McElroy has a very delicate hand and never goes over the top with either: it's not too literal nor extremely sweet. More of a suggestion, of images appearing and forming in the very light incense smoke at the end of the room, then disintegrating as new ones appear above the censer.
Then there's the amber that reads as a dark warm honeyed liquid on my skin, sensual and soft to the max. This is a sexy perfume, no doubt. But I'm not sure if it's particularly femme. It just...is. Warm, silky, and inviting. It's paws are velvety like the Japanese tiger in the antique print above, but this is a grown tiger, not a cuddly cub, so the risk is yours if you decide to pet it. In any case, while projection and silage are pretty low (this is a perfume oil, after all), longevity easily reaches 24 hours even when only applying a drop.
Aroma M- Geisha Amber Rouge ($75, 1/8oz perfume oil) is available again directly from aromam.com. I'm not sure for how long, though, since it's made in small batches and some of the raw materials are harder to source than others.
Image: Antique scroll showing tiger and bamboo by Hikaru, C1800 EDO Period.