If you were looking for a spicy floral amber fragrance that paid homage to ambergris, then you are in the right place, but if you expected this stuff to contain or smell mostly of real ambergris, you had best turn around now. Perris Monte Carlo Amber Gris (2012) is from the gold bottle launch series of the brand, and the businessman Gian Luca Perris himself supposedly perfumed the entire launch series (or at least micromanaged a ghost perfumer), so this alongside the rest of the initial gold bottle range is supposed to be his direct collective vision. Rumor has it that Lucca Maffei was that ghost perfumer, as he made the next black bottle series to come out after the intial one that included Amber Gris, and to top it off, the drugstore brand Alyssa Ashley which alongside Houbigant is also part of the "Perris Group" of brands is said to get cheapened takes on alternate unused formulas from Perris Monte Carlo. If you guessed that Luca Maffei is listed as perfumer for those, you would be correct. Moving on, there are traces of elements found within real ambergris present in Perris Monte Carlo Ambre Gris, so the inspiration is there, it's just more loosely-interpreted than some folks may like.
The opening of Ambre Gris is sweet and breathy, just like ambergris is supposed to be, with a bitter artemisia mixing with a salty blast of ambroxan meant to announce the ambergris star of the show. The next phase is a fairly bog-standard rose and geranium combo, feeling a bit dandy and a bit powdery as it passes through coumarin and some woody aromachemical elements until the amber base appears. This is a labdanum-heavy amber very much similar to what Avon uses as their house amber note, so if you don't like the idea of paying $200 for something a 130+ year old value brand uses as the base in their fragrances, here's your second turn-back sign. Continuing on, we find some ethyl vanillin and javanol (gosh Perris likes using those a lot), alongside some vague white musks, a bit of that breathy ambergris vibe coming back, and some benzoin. Overall, this could be something Avon themselves put out in the 1950's complete with that same musty old handbag vibe those nitromusk-laden ambery perfumes are (lovingly) known for, but swapping out the banned stuff in them for a bit more-updated chemistry. Wear time is about 10 hours of moderate but steady sillage, so you get bang for buck in the performance territory, but where you'd want to smell like this is up to you.
At its most basic Perris Monte Carlo Amber Gris smells good, and pretty unisex as floral sweet ambers go (although some may say "grandma" smelling), but in such a crowded field of high-end ambers as the one it enters, I think Ambre Gris gets lost in the shuffle. Add to that the fact so many people have pegged an Alyssa Ashley fragrance made under the same corporate umbrella by a perfumer who also has worked with Perris Monte Carlo themselves, and you're quickly left to wonder how relevant this is to collectors of niche perfumes? I mean if they really are that close, why not just buy the Alyssa Ashley for one-tenth the price and deal with whatever likely small quality dip you'll find for taking a 90% discount? If this is true, the lesson here is don't clone your own fragrances and sell them for discounted prices under a different name plate, because savvy fragrance enthusiasts will reach for the cheaper one every time unless they want to flaunt spending power. All told, I think Perris Monte Carlo Ambre Gris is an okay fragrance, but at the $200 price point, just being an okay fragrance, not to mention one that doesn't completely smell like what it's named after, is a one-way ticket to being forgotten. Sample first, and see for yourself. Neutral
Of all the Perris Monte Carlo scents that I'd recently sampled, this one was the most eagerly anticipated.
Intial application takes you right to an ultra-smooth, powdery sweet amber-coumarin spice opening, thick in structure. Floral elements drench the heart of this sensation, and what I get is a slightly "active" motion between an untold number of fine ingredients known and unknown in this EdP.
Wow, Ambre Gris feels like a dreamy trip into the heart of romantic feelings of love, devotion, and sophistication. Patchouli is very evident amidst this dream, along with a general dry woodiness contructed from the lovely cedar, exotic sandalwood, paired up with rock rose; musk dances flirtatiously within, not drawing attention to itself but not easily ignored. Intimate, attentive, lush in its expression, Ambre Gris does not disappoint as a beautiful oriental scent that either gender can enjoy.
Ambre Gris opens with a sweet, slightly fruity davana before quickly transitioning to its heart. As the composition enters its early heart smoky amber featuring a sea-salt facet resembling ambergris takes the fore, supported by a noticeable cedarwood undertone with a dose of slightly animalic musk and mild geranium. As the composition reaches the late dry-down the musk remains, turning near-transparent with the amber eschewing the smoke but keeping the salty facet, adding in subtle vanilla through the finish. Projection is excellent and longevity outstanding at around 15 hours on skin.
Ambre Gris is a tough composition to like. The davana open is quite nice, but it only lasts five seconds before the extremely odd salted smoky amber arrives in all its glory. This is obviously what the perfumer is trying to portray as ambergris, but if this is what ambergris is supposed to smell like, I know I don't like it. This holds especially true with the musk and geranium pairing that adds to the off-putting nature of the composition. The late dry-down is tolerable, but it is not even close to enough to save this disappointing concoction by Perris. The bottom line is the $155 per 100ml bottle Ambre Gris by Perris is a weird smelling approximation of rare ambergris that is extremely difficult to tolerate sniffing let alone wearing, earning it a "poor" 2 stars out of 5 and an avoid recommendation.
There are no prominent top notes in Ambre Gris but it does open with the briefest "sparkle", which suggests orange to me, particularly on paper. Otherwise, straight away we are into an airy floral accord of rose and subtle geranium. But these early stages are only a prelude anyway, to the heart of this fragrance, which is a beautiful dry, dusty amber with salty notes , a wallop of musk, and something softly animalic. I emphasise "softly" animalic because there is nothing at all skanky about this fragrance, but it is there is definately an undertow of salty warm intimacy.
The mid development reminds me very much of L'Air de Rien by Miller Harris. Both fragrances have notes of dry, dusty old books, melancholy rooms with old wooden clocks, dust dancing in the light, and both fragrances have something of the body about them. Ambre Gris is easier and more wearable in my view. It has a slightly aromatic feel which makes it more friendly somehow. I imagine at times that there is a little heliotrope in Ambre Gris which plays a lovely part, although it is not listed. The base is a rich ambery/woody/ balsamic/ vanilla. Ambre Gris does wear quite close to the skin which I think is appropriate for this one as it is an intimate fragrance, best shared close up.
The opening is quite dense and bold, a earthy-ambery dusty and somehow metallic concoction of animalic notes, amber (both ambroxan, more dry and austere, and a light sweet amber note). there is also a prominent salty note all over, which I guess being due to aromachemicals. The nuances floating around the central axe of amber: a chypre accord of rose, geranium, musk, benzoin, vanillin, quite linear, restrained, like "frozen" in a shop window. So far so "meh", but the drydown is more interesting, it loses a bit of (frankly disappointing) "artificiality" and settles on a really pleasant and enveloping accord of ultra-dusty vanilla, with an airy, rarefied, chalky amber accord on an elegant, white-rose powdery and softly woody sheet. The overall allure becomes more fascinating, an austere and dusty scent, romantic and powdery, nothing stunning but more complex and charming than the synthetic-salty ambroxan opening. Like many niche scents of today, it has an overall "lack of substance" and depth, it smells good with that particular sort of transparent "dustiness" of many contemporary scents, but somehow a bit pale, although I guess that may be an intentional stylistic choice. However a versatile, discreet, inoffensive, decently elegant scent, not really worth its cost but nice.
A royal ambergris for us, dry/powdery but full of luxurious nuances from the aristocratic top to the diaphanous dry down. As well as for Essence de Patchouli even in this case the Perris Montecarlo's performes manage to create a solid musky-landanum/rose/geranium/hesperides olfactory "platform" to play as noble central "flexible" structure to project a dominant luxuriant element which in this case is a chypre (cedary) high quality ambergris while in the previous concoction it was a powdery/musky patchouli. Both the fragrances are finally extremely subtle, musky/powdery (almost talky/eliotropic/almondy) and fluctuating by a valzer of "neoclassic" nuances. Ambre Gris starts soon "baroquely" with a ballet of utterly refined floral notes (rose-geranium absolutely evident), a regal bergamot/orange co-operation, a touch of patchouli and musks in order to easily morph in to a delicious powdery/boise amber-vanilla combo able to convey through the ages several talky/rosey and translucent childish memories as well as a white winged horse flying through the paths of memory. Extremely lush dry unisex amber slightly leaning over a sophisticated and romantic feminine "yard". Not a great projection on me but a durable stuff in all its otherworldly volatility.