Today I am testing new ambers. I wear the standby's so often (Amber Russe, Ambre Precieux), I thought I would take this opportunity to give full wearings to some of the samples I haven't given much time yet.
Left arm: Hermes Hermessence Ambre Narguile
Notes: benzoin, labdanum, musk, vanilla, caramel, honey, sugared tonka bean, grilled sesame seeds, cinnamon, rum, coumarine and white orchids (from NowSmellThis)
Right arm: Ava Luxe Ambra Tibet (thanks to Pebbles!!!!)
Notes: Tibetan amber, cardamon, Madagascar vanilla, ambergris, civet (from Ava Luxe web site)
Both started similarly--light spice, vanilla, a touch of leather and powder. The opening of each was really enjoyable, and different from most things out there. Unfortunately, neither stayed in this sweet spot.
As I have mentioned many times before, my skin dries scents out. Both of these are supposed to be very sweet, I am sure. Reviews of AN in the directory talk about its foody, sweet, sometimes cloying qualities. Well, on me, the sweet is gone, and all I have left now is tart, dry baby powder. The top notes were gone in a flash, and the middle was bypassed, going straight to the powder. This happened within 1 hour. I applied liberally since the Hermessences are known to have poor longevity, but it did not seem to matter. For most of the rest of the drydown, I have something that smells very similar to a baby's butt. I can see how this would work with the right skin chemistry--it reminds me of Bond Chinatown and Montale Sweet Oriental Dream. It may be worth looking into it if those other fragrances are appealing.
This is the first time I have tried the Ava Luxe, and I had no idea what to expect. I applied liberally with this one also, since it didn't seem very strong right out of the vial. The opening was beautiful, and I actually prefer it to the Hermes. It is a bit less "staunch" in its minimalism, and yet retains so much charm and perhaps some innocence (if a scent can have such a quality). AT has a bit of a modern leather note similar to the sharp leather found in Ambre Russe and some of the new Parfumerie General leather scents. That seems to be just the nudge needed in the top notes to give it a bit more balance than the Hermes. I sure wish this stage lasted longer, but given the affordable price of Ava Luxe frags, maybe needing to refresh a couple times a day is not all that bad. The dry down is very straightforward--mostly a simple vanilla skinscent. But I must say it is lovely, not pretentious, and not a caricature of vanilla (which is often the case with strong vanilla scents).
Neither of these really compare to my "go to" ambers for complexity or longevity. Of what I have tried in the Hermessence line, I must question the price, given the behavior of some of the compositions. I think it is normal to expect better performance out of a high end frag, and I just have not been getting it with Hermes. For the Ava Luxe, I am reminded of Comme des Garcons--very straightforward, affordable, modern, and most important--not FUSSY. This is a line I will enjoy exploring more!