Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Spirit in liquid form - Part One

Dear readers, friends and brands,
As Christmas approaches I am compelled to think about the scents of the season. Every year I read/write about spices, such as nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. The smokey smell of wood burning in the fireplace...etc etc etc. It is always very pleasant to read, but this year I wanted to explore fragrances in a different way. I wanted to find what kind of fragrances would embrace the Christmas spirit and warm the soul during this magical season. So, this month of December I plunged in, I adventured myself in some nose diving in bottles of perfumes, and came out with one word: AMBER!


There are many sources of amber in perfumery. From sweet powdery amber notes to salty animalic, amber fascinates me for its tenderness.


Ambergris - it comes from the Sperm whale (the largest of all toothed whales). They live in deep seas and they feed from squid and jellyfish. Squid and jellyfish beaks irritate the linings of the whale's stomach producing cholesterol in its intestines. This cholesterol is called Ambergris and it is discharged by them into the ocean. They are floating pieces differing from black, brown, grayish to white color; from hard to sticky waxy texture.
Ambergris is a very expensive raw material in perfumery and the pricing is fixed due to its color. The lighter it is, more fragrant and more pleasant it is. The lighter tinge is a result of the action of the sun and the salty water of sea. But what really gives Ambergris the sweet pleasant characteristic is a bacteria called spirillum recti physeteris.
Ambergris can smell animalic with a faecal note, and they can also present a stong marine note with the smell of seaweed. For some it is very sensual and attractive, from other may be repulsing and provoke nausea. 
In history, Chinese believe that Ambergris came from dragons' drooling while they were sleeping on sea rocks. It was already traded in the Middle East as an aphrodisiac and for perfume and incense making, and it was called by the Arabs - Anbar.

Moby Dick

You have probably heard of Sperm whales in the famous book Moby Dick (1851) by Herman Melville. The book tells the a story of the adventures of a sailor called Ishmael and the captain Ahab, and their voyage in the search of a sperm whale called Moby Dick.
But back to perfumes... Ambergris olfactive description is amber, musk, warm, animal sea, tobacco note. The main odor of Ambergris comes from crystals called ambrein. When exposed to light and air it oxidizes to form, among other fragrant components, very valuable amber and floral lactones, aldehydes and ketones.
Ambergris was used to compose Chanel Nº5, Guerlain's Mitsouko, Dioressence by Dior and Eau de Merveilles by Hermès.Today, Ambergris is substituted by synthetics by the industry.
Synthetic ambergris can be also found in Narciso for Her by N. Rodriguez, Angel by Thierry Mugler, Tom Ford's black Orchid, Poison by Dior, The One for men by D&G, Cinema by YSL, Black Bulgari by Bulgari, L'Instant by Guerlain, Tresor by Lancôme, Prada by Prada and many more.


Iconic oriental fragrance from the 70's





Amber - composing perfumes called orientals. In this case, amber is an accord. Oriental perfumes are warm, spicy, slightly powdery with an animalic touch, long lasting perfumes. It is a large fragrance class that comes from traditional perfumery and it is inspired by the Orient (Middle and Far East).


Photo credit: + Q Perfume Blog

Amber notes - there are many ways to recreate amber notes. Natural perfumery uses combination of resins and oils such myrrh, ambrette seeds, labdanum, benzoin, peru balm, vanilla, angelica and clarysage. In the lab, (I noticed during my visit last friday) there are also many ambers. Ambers with names such as Ambroxide, Ambroxan, Ambrein, Ambretone...you read these labels and they sound like ingredients to compose some chemical bomb of mass destruction! 
In this case, we are simple speaking of an olfactory note that can be a part of any perfume creation.
The fact is, they all smell luxuriously tender!


Let's explore in the second part of this article, the amazing amber fragrances I could put my hands on!!



Meanwhile enjoy Judy Garland's velvety amber y voice singing, by clicking HERE









  

3 comments:

Michael said...

What a beautifully written and informative piece, Simone. Looking forward to applying some Ambre Sultan on Christmas Eve; just the thing for the mellow vibe of our living room, amidst all the candles and under the Christmas tree...

Thank you by the way for your wonderful comments on my blog the other day. Have you tried Jubiliation XXV yet? It really is one of the very, very best scents I've ever come across. I'm so glad I discovered it, even if it was just by chance. When I later saw the Luca Turin description, it was nice to see he felt it was a fine scent, but his description, though was positive enough, probably wouldn't have been enough for me to feel I absolutely needed Jub. XXV.

Question regarding ambergris: I don't know if you're familiar with the fragrance "S-eX". It was a 5-star review in the Turin book. I'm often sceptical of ratings, but in this case it was totally justified; I wore it this past summer and absolutely loved it (and loved the compliments, too). I don't know what ambergris pure smells like, but I somehow sense that S-eX has a strong dose of it. Would love to hear what you have to say about it.

Here's wishing you a very Merry Christmas! Keep up the high quality of your blog in the New Year, too -- always a pleasure!

XOXOXO
Michael

+ Q Perfume Blog said...

S-ex is a great fragrance indeed. The project amazed me for a long time. I follow the blog what we do is secret for a looong time. Japan is my thing!

Regarding Jubilation - still flirting with the sample...curious but haven't tried yet.

Thank you so much for your support, your gentle words and you amazing blog. It works as an scape for me from routine, stress and ugh! feelings. Your refined taste, your well written articles and the amazing pictures have the RESET button effect on me!!! Please continue to amaze us in every way.

merry X-mas darling!

many many kisses from Brazil :-)

Sample Forms said...

Really beautiful, great written and very informative!

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