Category Archives: Agonist

Black Amber – Agonist

Black Amber

Black Amber opens with a slightly boozy, syrupy accord of anise,  a surprisingly light resinous accord (labdanum dominated) and a trail of tobacco smoke. A salty, marine kind of note comes in within a couple of minutes, it feels slightly out-of-place but adds this bizarre sideline to the amber which I didn’t expect… it’s both savoury, and sweet, adding a cool herbal greenery and driftwood vibe atop a sweet, resinous incense/amber heart. The cool quality is almost mentholated, like a touch of eucalyptus or mint, but it vanishes quickly as the warm, dry woods and resins underneath heat up.

The incense starts to dominate up top – a spicy incense that smells more like that of middle Eastern perfumery than church-y incense. The salty note seems to morph into a musky ambergris – the tobacco is slightly sticky, with a fruity, raisin-like accent (blergh!), the labdanum becomes more “amber-y” as the vanilla in the base begins to sweeten the entire fragrance.

From here on, Black Amber remains relatively linear. A musky, tobacco-tinted amber, with a spicy incense heart, a drydown of dry woods (cedar and sandalwood) and a touch of patchouli and vetiver. It’s surprisingly light, translucent, and once the top notes have vanished, pretty simplistic. Do I like it? No I pretty much can’t stand it, and I’m not too sure why. The opening starts with promise, then goes completely gross. There’s a small phase after about 5 minutes where it literally turns my stomach, a reaction I have only experienced with a few fragrances (Mona Di Orio’s Vanille and Byredo’s Seven Veils). The drydown is completely boring to me – a watered down, slightly “fresher” version of La Via Del Profumo’s far superior Mecca Balsam. There’s much better out there in this category so, not worth a sniff :)

Black Amber 50ml EDP Agonist – 125 Euros

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Arctic Jade – Agonist

I’ve been wanting to sample this line for ages and with my last purhcase in Berlin (I’ll be talking to you all about my splurges once I get back :P !), I got a couple of minis from the Agonist house.

Arctic Jade

Arctic Jade opens with a hit of cool anise and a sweetened eucalyptus/lavender effect made tart by juicy oranges. It’s lovely: herbal, bitter sweet and ice cold with some florals underneath making it a little more “perfume-y”.

The florals I struggle to define. There’s the merest hint of ylang ylang that seems to dominate, with a subtle rose and jasmine below it. As they get stronger, they push away the more herbaceous aspect and diminish the anise effect completely. It’s at this point where Arctic Jade has a slight struggle between its personality and temperature – it doesn’t quite have the right flow but, I go along with it anyway.

It turns a touch soapy and I guess a little orange blossom is to blame, but yet again, I don’t really mind it. The super-clean orange blossom and the rose then take the lead and Arctic Jade yet again tries to find its feet, with each ingredient taking it in turn to be at the front of the composition.

The cool, clean, floral soap gets subtle quite quickly, and sweetens as a rich vanilla joins in. I really like Agonists’ use of vanilla – their Vanilla Marble (yet to review) is one of my favourite vanilla representations ever. It’s sweet and “cakey” – with an almost icing sugar like consistency. A berry-fruitiness (raspberry?) adds a tart quality to the vanilla, a surprisingly playful twist considering the stern quality of the opening: I like that! However, it’s not let loose into fully blown gourmand territory due to a sandalwood/patchouli duo that keeps it more on a classical side.

Here, the fragrance gets what I’d pretty much describe as “boring” – as the musky (slightly chlorinated) sweet vanilla and woods overpower the florals and interesting herbs, along with a subtle amber warmth. But, it’s undeniable that Arctic Jade is ridiculously comfortable and easy to wear. I’d almost consider it full bottle worthy were it not for the large price tag (although major kudos to them for releasing these in more affordable and still beautiful bottles) – the reason being: I’d wear it a ton. Once it dries down (which is very quickly), the cool vanilla-laden base is smooth, clean, comfortable and subtle, and yet just about charming and interesting enough for me to want to wear it – something that is missing in my collection.
Not particularly ground-breaking – but recommended if it sounds like your sort of thing, surprisingly – it’s mine! :D

Arctic Jade

Arctic Jade 50ml EDP Agonist – 125 Euros

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