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Another love has died... RIP Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan

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I mentioned a while ago that major dietary changes seem to have completely screwed up my skin chemistry and rendered many of my old HG / faves obsolete. Now I have way too much perfume to just go out and buy more but sadly I am far from my collection at the moment so do need to choose alternatives.

Anyway, the dietary changes were:

Cut out 90% processed sugars
Cut out all dairy products
Cut out egg and egg protein containing foods - including egg lecithin
Cut out most soya based foods - though still occasionally risk some containing soya lecithin

Perfume wise, the old skanky or powerhouse perfumes that I wore so well and quite a few of the more subtle, sexy ones have now had their teeth and claws pulled. They are either screeching torturers or boring blehs. I am rather lost as to what to try or what I can do. I can't go back to eating stuff that I have severe intolerances / allergies to...

These changes were implemented drastically in january this year, I would have thought my skin would have settled by now... It was fine over the summer... well I spent most of summer wearing Lanvin Oxygene, Givenchy III (vintage), TBS Mostly Musk, Arran Aromantics After the Rain and Cerruti Image Woman. These are all rather dry woody based scents so I am not so surprised. My skin seems to favour drier white woods (sandalwood, cedarwood) with soft musk and vanilla. It also seems that jasmine and ylang ylang are still very much my friends.

After a rather pleasant day (no screeching headache and rather pleasant drydown) with Dolce & Gabbana Woman yesterday I decided to reacquaint myself with my old amber HG Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan.


Top: Oregano, bay leaf, coriander, myrtle.
Middle: Angelica, patchouli.
Base: Labdanum, styrax, Tolu balsam, benzoin, sandalwood.
- Susan Irvine, The Perfume Guide


Serge Luten's Ambre Sultan is a rich, resinous amber with animalic undertones. The top note (scent given off upon first application) is dominated by herbs and spice, particularly coriander and oregano. To my nose the angelica (somewhat candied) is also very present adding a delicious black bite. One is immediately taken to a Moroccan souk or a cottage kitchen herb & spice cupboard - take your pick.

Soon, but subtly, the herbs recede and the dry woody patchouli heart takes the centre stage. Usually I find Serge Lutens creations on the sweeter side often bordering on gourmand but this is far from the case with Ambre Sultan. Serge Luten prefers his patchouli, stark, dry and woody with a wonderful smokiness unsmothered by tonka or vanilla. I love him for this. Since it is so unsweetened it can and is often construed as 'masculine' by many samplers, however I find it less 'maculine' as just plain powerful. Not in relation to projection or sillage, though it has plenty of both, but rather as a scent which conveys the impression of strength, presence and power. Not restricted to male or female. This scent is not seeking to make friends or be liked. It is a scent of self possession and containment. People either love or hate this person. They don't care. There are many detracters but there are also many who appreciate and champion the virtues of this one regardless of popularity or fashion.

Not to worry though because already the vanilla scented benzoin alongside the rich, creamy sandalwood and very authentic amber balsams are emerging and moving the scent into a much more sensual softer dimension. With time the amber deepens to a rich yet austere sensuality, with other notes coming through, most notably the smoke and leather of labdanum and styrax. This last stage is the most enjoyable and persistent stage of the scent. A true masterpiece.

That is how Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan was for me. I was one of the devoted advocates even though I rarely wore it outside of the golden days of autumn.

So I reached for it last night before going to bed, ready to enjoy its smokey amber delights upon waking. Well.... that turned into a bit of disaster. Initial spritz was jarring with no angelica or deep amber promise. It smelled familiar but ... thin. I wasn't too bothered as it is the deep drydown that I love...loved. So I went to sleep looking forward to the morning. It is usually wonderfully smokey, burnished, luxe and lasts at least a day and a half on me. Not anymore. So meh!, so bleh!

Today I awoke to it being most gone... and what is left is only vaguely reminiscent of the beauty of Serge Lutens ambre masterpiece. What I have is sharp almost powdery meh uurgh!

So sad....
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