There are so many amber perfumes from which to choose. For someone new to this fabled accord of labdanum, vanilla, and benzoin (often with bergamot at the top to lift and a variety of incense materials, resins, and balsams in the base), it may be a bit overwhelming. Truth be told, amber can only be done so many ways and many scents out there that showcase it may rely more heavily on the sweeter vanilla and amber and avoid highlighting the more sensuous, animalic qualities of labdanum. There may be a tiny, wispy plume of smoke, a saturation of iso e super, or a dash of accessible fruits and florals. I am convinced that many green fragrance enthusiasts expect amber to always be quite sweet-smelling, almost gourmand. This would be furthest from the reality of the accord.
Take this (rectangular bottle) version of Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche. One of the more smoky and sultry ambers, any sweetness from vanilla is tempered by a higher ratio of benzoin that reveals more of its leathery thickness and a buttery, unctuous, labdanum. In fact, the ratio of the three weighs heavily on Cistus ladanifer, and with this the amber enters much more of an incense direction (labdanum is used just as much as olibanum in many incenses). It's also worth noting that there is a sizable dose of Styrax (Liquidambar styraciflua), a leathery resin with a profound fixative quality and its peculiar styrene top note that imparts this combustible quality that one would find in burning incense. There is just enough patchouli in its base to evoke a dry woods sensation in the dry down.
I also wonder if fossilized amber absolute was actually used. Yes, even it is thought that the Amber accord was named as it imagines the scent amber resin would emit if it did have a fragrance, fossilized amber IS actually used as a perfume material! A tenacious material with fixative quality, it is a dry distillation that brings out a very smoky, almost tar-like quality, with elements of coniferous resins (as to be expected), and can be used in traces in a composition to lend some really striking effects. I have some in my possession, and could swear it was used, but perhaps it's just the styrax interacting with the other materials. One can imagine, though...
A stellar amber that has unfortunately been reformulated to a rather tame version in the newer Goutal bottles, one should seek out a rectangular bottle to experience the intentions of Isabelle Doyen. A really spectacular amber to behold.
Rich, thick incense. Ambre Fetiche has that sharp edge of woody incense and a rich edge of resin incense rock. It dries down to amber with smoked burnt cork notes and vanilla, and a faint version of that sharp woody edge. Very nice incense perfume overall and completely unisex, though it definitely has attitude. This is amber in it's punky clothes.
I loved the very unisex amber, powder and mushroom opening but then the projection became too masculine (leather) for me at times. Amber, vanilla and incense. I would absolutely love it on a man, but I know some may say the powdery (iris) feel would be too much for them. Great fragrance anyway.