Ambre Vie is a solid, all-business reference amber that bears close resemblance to the scent of actual, extracted amber by sidestepping predictable sweetness and deploying a more buttery approach.
It opens with a delicate chord of spices that's merged with yellow, waxy florals of mimosa and genet. A cunning balsamic note is also struck that hints at a gourmand, wine-like texture, possibly emanating from the davana, but mainly serves to mark out the lactonic path ahead. Yet Ambre Vie never spins into any of these sidelines too far; instead it maintains a demeanor dedicated to representing amber in its truest, most natural form.
Like its closest analog, HdP's Ambre 114, this stuff utilizes more than 100 materials to achieve its effect, yet the result is largely free from bombast. There's musk lurking beneath, but it merges with the buttery tones of the base to keep from announcing itself too loudly. Similarly, soft, smoky notes appear alongside what seems to be clove, but these notes never get close enough the surface for full recognition. It's as if Meshell has taken these supplementary materials and has encased them within an olfactory representation of a block of Baltic amber. Consequently, Ambre Vie positions itself between a visual representation and the scent of the conifer extraction admirably.
The fragrance develops a little more over time as the fatty florals of the opening clear a space for the amber itself to flourish, but at no point is the scent leaping from the skin. The central accord seems to be structured less upon harsher, turpenic and incense notes, instead relying more on cozy balsams and a slightly dirty frankincense to maintain its oily qualities. However, it should be added that for those seeking the force of a scent such as Amber Absolute, this simply isn't it. Like much from this line, the all-natural approach renders the fragrance as restrained yet deceptive. It rides low on the skin, but unfolds in stages, revealing itself at various volumes when you least expect it. It dries down to an ambergris-like foundation (although apparently there's no ambergris in it) that imparts a slightly bitter tobacco effect, and its through this that the wafts of remaining amber surface.
Ambre 114 has always served as the reference amber for me, even though I personally like others more than that one. Ambre Vie is very close to what Ambre 114 accomplishes, only it does so through the all-natural approach which renders the wearing of the scent quite different. Consequently, this should appeal to fans of the genre, but is ideally suited to those who would prefer a fragrance that gets closer to the scent of the amber extraction itself without losing sight of its function in replicating the visual image of amber as well. Overall, a strong contribution that sets itself apart from others in an otherwise crowded crowded field.
Pros: It's one of the more mimetic renderings of the note that manages to keep its interpretative qualities intact.
Cons: As with many all-naturals, this sits close to the skin and dissipates in unusual ways."
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