One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Neither Here Nor There: Stella in Two Amber


If you've read more than a few of my postings, you will have discovered that I am a madman for ambergris. Perfumery would be nearly impossible without it: it adds a warmth, a lustre, a sweetness and an earthiness to everything it touches.

Naturally, I was delighted when I found the new Stella in Two scents at a local department store--two scents meant to be worn separately or together in whatever combination the wearer desires. I wasn't expecting too much from the Peony, because I am mostly not a great fan of that flower: fresh peonies are pleasant but I find they don't survive the process of the perfumer's art (I find the same is true of lilacs). Great bottle, mind you. But the Amber--surely that would delight me.

It's a solid perfume in a remarkable little case: a faceted octagon in pale pink enameled metal with a lid that pivots, and it is heavy. What did they make it from, lead?

And what did they make the scent from? It's really amber in name only. Mostly the scent consists of a rose note with an ambergris undercurrent: the whole thing is pale, a faded watercolour--a bizarre achievement, since amber is anything but pale. It's muscular: it makes its presence known. But this wishy-washy scent: what is it? It's just about the most baffling commercial scent I've ever smelled.

I can't imagine having bought the odd, pinky little thing, even if I'd liked it, but I wanted to like it, and I was disappointed that I didn't.

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