One Thousand Scents

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Amber Light: Prada by Prada

For those of us who love oriental scents, the big problem is finding one that doesn't overwhelm the senses in the heat of summer. Many of them are just too potent, too sweet and enveloping, to wear in the summertime, so we put them away from April through to October. Occasionally, we stumble across one that, while being an oriental scent with all that entails, still achieves a lightness that makes it wearable year-round. Yves Rocher's Voile D'Ambre is just such a scent, and I've only just discovered Prada by Prada, which solves the same problem in a slightly different way.

The official notes are

bergamot, orange, bitter orange, mandarin flower, mimosa, rose absolute, schinus molle, peru balsam, patchouli, raspberry flower, labdanum, tonka bean, vanilla, musk and sandalwood

and although ambergris isn't mentioned (just as in the list of notes for Voile D'Ambre), it's up there, front and centre: from the very first sniff you know that you're smelling an ambergris scent. (Voile doesn't present the amber immediately: it starts off with crisp citrus notes and spices, and introduces its oriental character a little later.) Whereas Voile remains sunny until nearly the very end of its lifespan, Prada starts off slightly dark, despite those citrus notes, and quickly turns darker still as shadowy flowers, indistinct but floral nevertheless, begin to emerge. When the base notes begin to dominate, the citrus and floral notes vanish entirely: we're left with a long-lived ambergris-oriental base which manages to keep its oriental character while staying subtle and close to the skin; this isn't a killer oriental, no Angel (despite some similarity of notes) or Opium. What keeps Prada relatively intimate--relative to most oriental scents, anyway--is the proportions; everything is laid on with a very light hand, despite the eau de parfum concentration. There aren't great heavy dollops of patchouli or vanilla, and even the ambergris is restrained.

The bottle is what has turned out to be the house bottle: a rectangular block with the sprayer mounted off-centre on a metal plate engraved with the perfume notes. (It reads "AMBER, Résine de Labdanum de France, Feuilles de Patchouli d'Indonésie, Résine de Benjoin de Siam et Santal des Indes.") It's a little clumsy to spray--the mechanism is very off-centre--but the chunk of glass has a pleasantly weighty feel in the hand.

Despite the extreme pinkishness of the packaging (the juice is actually a pale yellow, not the pink-orange that appears in the photo above, but the box is very pink indeed), Prada is, as are so many ambergris scents, perfectly unisex. The floral notes are nothing more than what you'd find in many men's scents; it's considerably less floral than that masculine standby Old Spice, to take just one example. But there's money to be had from marketing scents to the sexes individually, so of course there would have to be a Prada Pour Homme, which I'll tackle next.


  • pyramus -

    I adore your blog and hope that you continue to write your reviews, responses and thoughts on fragrance and perfumes for quite some time. Thanks to your insight (and praise), I have added numerous scents to my vastly growing collection. Most recently, I took a chance on Prade Amber, Gaultier Classique and "L" Lolita Lempicka and now all 3 are in HEAVY rotation this fall. I'm looking forward to your reviews and musings once you get back from England.

    Take care,
    Mark (a fan....yes, you have a fan)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:30 PM  

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