Perfume Directory

L'Eau d'Ambre (1978)
by L'Artisan Parfumeur

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L'Eau d'Ambre information

Year of Launch1978
GenderShared / Unisex
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 108 votes)

People and companies

HouseL'Artisan Parfumeur
Parent CompanyPuig Beauty & Fashion Group

About L'Eau d'Ambre

L'Eau d'Ambre is a shared / unisex perfume by L'Artisan Parfumeur. The scent was launched in 1978

L'Eau d'Ambre fragrance notes

Reviews of L'Eau d'Ambre

Back in the day, counter-culturalism had style. The movement’s cri de coeur that the personal was political gave fashion new political significance. Style became a function of free speech and Hippies and Yippies groomed and dressed both to identify themselves to fellow travelers and to scare the stiffs. But costume wasn’t the only prop. The culture war of the ’60s and ’70s took place on an olfactory level.

As much as hair and costume, scent drew the line between us and them. To the straights, head shop scents like musk, patchouli and amber oils meant poor hygiene and the imagined miasma of a Haight Ashbury commune. To counter-culturalists traditional perfumes and colognes would have been the stink of The Man. A problem with this sort of transactional style is that it’s easy to co-opt symbols and drain them of their meaning and intent. In 1967, bellbottoms and peasant blouses were far out. By 1972 the patterns for them could probably be found in the back of issues of Family Circle Magazine. In the early ’70s amber was the scent of rebellion. By 1978, the hippie-amber gave way to fancy French perfume. If niche was an alternative to the mainstream perfume, the scents embraced within the counter-culture were a logical place for the early indies to plant their flag and l’Artisan Parfumeur had already made its reputation on amber. The brand’s famous amber balls were its first product when the line launched in 1976. Perfumes didn’t enter the line-up until 1978 when l’Eau d’Ambre launched the perfume line, along with Mure et Musc, Santal, Vanilia, Tuberose.

The perfume is simple in that it derives from its principal materials–at no moment during its evolution would you ever imagine that you’re not smelling a potent amber-patch accord. Yet even as early as 1978, Jean-Claude Ellena’s ability to make resins sheer was apparent. A mercifully unsweetened dose of vanilla keeps the perfume from ever falling into goopy head shop syrup. The perfume has been attributed to both Ellena and Jean-François Laporte. Perhaps Ellena was perfumer and Laporte was artistic director, as was the case with some of the other l’Artisan perfumes. The two might have looked to the head shop for inspiration, but l’Eau d’Ambre was no sloppy copy. As an artist trained in compositional rigor and the dynamics of his materials Ellena managed to create something that, as hippies would appreciate, smells really fucking good, but stands up to the interrogation of olfactory art.

Ellena navigated the risks of his chosen materials smartly, avoiding both the lotus-eating laziness of head shop oils and the orientalist theatricality of the Shalimar set. He focussed on labdanum’s mineralic side, giving the perfume a whiff of paint or putty that reminds me of the scent of an artist’s studio. The top and heartnotes are boosted by geranium. In the setting of an overtly resinous accord geranium acts like a breeze that blows out the cobwebs that can gather around patchouli and labdanum. It counteracts the density of the central amber accord, a trick performed by bergamot in oriental perfumes from Emeraude to Youth Dew to Opium. l’Eau d’Ambre’s aromatic geranium creates a tension that distinguishes the perfume from its head-bobbing hippie predecessors. Rather than complicate the composition, geranium streamlines it, reminding the nose that despite the perfume’s simplicity it has deliberate point of view.

L’Eau d’Ambre’s success lies in its simplicity, perhaps one reason that it has weathered materials restrictions and any possible reformulation so gracefully. The materials are allowed to state their own case without adornment or needless complexity. L’Eau d’Ambre wasn’t the first indie perfume but it was a frontrunner and demonstrated how well the niche movement bridged the desire for new, clear, materials-based fragrances and the long history of oriental perfumes.

from scenthurdle.com
27th June, 2018
This is a beautifully balanced and very simple amber - nothing foodie or over spicy, sweet but not at all cloying. It's a perfect scent as opposed to perfume - I mean it doesn't really develop or take you on a journey. There are no surprises, just a comfortable sense of well-being. I couldn't wear it every day as I'd tire of it, but on days when I want a simple comfortable and enveloping haze, this is perfect.

It's light but persistent, and very very calming. A perfect cocooning blanket for 'recuperating' on the sofa. I also find it surprisingly airy at times.
10th July, 2017
It's alright if you like that sort of thing, and if you do like that sort of thing there are many others that you will probably prefer (see other reviews for suggestions). I love the Amber accord/base, but this is a little too timid for me. After a few minutes on the smelling strip there is apparent a slight milky sweetness which I don't particularly enjoy, but it doesn't last long. I really cannot get excited about this, but don't hate it. I'll wear it when I cannot think of anything else to wear.
16th November, 2015
This fragrance has been to my first untrained, later a bit more skilled nose THE archetypal amber. Nothing exceeding, here: not too aromatic or fancy the opening, not too sweet and sugary the development, not too dark and animalic the base. A green, spicy geranium on top, a core of vanilla, a nice round patchouli in the base. I can see how people looking for an amber with a bolder, more distinctive character- more animalic, more aromatic, sweeter, spicier..- can find excellent alternatives on the market, but this fragrance remains the perfect one, for me.
It's a scent I associate with end of year festive days, I feel its warmth and composed sweetness as a source of golden, mellow light, so easy and comfortable to wear, yet elegant and subtle.
04th January, 2015
Genre: Oriental

The mildest mannered amber I've ever sampled. I don't wear amber to be mild mannered. Dries down all nougat and vanilla, without the sexy edge I look for in this kind of fragrance. Pleasant, but hardly interesting
19th June, 2014
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom
An amber not for cooler weather? Here it is: light, nigh bright, but definitely amber, albeit with a white floral undertone at times. Added is a touch of tonka. Quite original as a concept, albeit not sensationally unique - but as an autumn scent it is well made. Very good silage and protection with eight hours of longevity. 3.25/5
09th January, 2014 (last edited: 20th November, 2016)

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