Ambrarem starts with a blast of pepper, and a sweet, smoky syrup that reminds me slightly of a less bonfire-like version of CB I Hate Perfume’s Burning Leaves – that gorgeous maple leaf smell set on fire. The smoke here doesn’t come from a birch tar overload though, and is instead a big ole synthetic dose of oud. This oud fragrance is sweet enough to give you a cavity, with a nice dose of leathery castoreum to give Ambrarem a pungent-rot. The overall feeling of the opening is similar to the decayed white florals of fragrances such as Charogne - it’s bizarre. A lovely mineralic quality weaves in and out in the opening – and manages to trail through the heart of this fragrance – not quite as marine as in Petroleum, but similar…
The syrup never seems to truly take on an amber form, and instead mills around in a bit of a mish mash of vanilla, resinous notes and a dose of powder (a similar idea to how Lutens’ dissects florals in his fragrances). It makes Ambrarem multifaceted I suppose, but it’s too linear for me to consider it a shapeshifter. In fact, Ambrarem’s development is what lets it down for me… once the pepper burns off and you’ve wrapped your head around this “syrup accord” (which doesn’t take much longer than five minutes), that’s pretty much what you’re stuck with until the castoreum takes over..
The amber turns woody (surprise!), and the oud kind of sits in the background adding a little medicinal kick every now and again. A hint of saffron shows up, not doing very much. I like saffron, I think it’s interesting, but it’s subtlety here and uncreative use (paired with oud) makes it a bit so-so for me. But it’s there! The castoreum starts to dominate int he drydown, leading into a slightly sweeter Mona Di Orio Cuir finale. Castoreum overlaid with powder and syrup – a slightly smoky oud/leather combo that has been done with a lot more balls in other fragrances – but it’s nice enough :) What finishes Ambrarem a few hours later is a straightforward benzoin that leads until the fragrance vanishes.
Now I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom about Ambrarem, but here’s another thing I’m not too fond of… the texture is very translucent, light and almost too easy to manage. Fair enough, these could be challenging compositions if amped up, but as the are, the Edition Rare trio have rounded out anything difficult to be as smooth as can be. A good thing I suppose when you have a fragrance laden with castoreum, amber, oud and such… but for my taste, this just doesn’t quite give me the hit I need. It’s made to be too polite.
Honestly, I’d love to smell this on someone, it is a good smell, but not enough for me to want to wear that’s for sure. Still – I think this side of Histoires De Parfums is much more adventurous and fun to sniff than the majority of the standard lineup, but, I’m still not fully converted!
Ambrarem Edition Rare 60ml EDP Histoires De Parfums – 125 Euros http://www.histoiresdeparfums.com