Luca Turin's perfume reviews @perfumes_ilove

Power Tools

amber xtreme.jpgSome new things are immediately, obviously useful, some reveal their brilliance in time (e.g. many Apple devices in my experience). A month ago I posted about Ponk, a subscription service that sends themed perfumery raw material samples by mail. They kindly sent more. This time the Module 5 collection of small samples, as ever beautifully packaged, was of woody-ambers, which have seen an extraordinary arms race in recent years. With a smell character memorably described to me by Charles Sell as “glorified rubbing alcohol” —Ponk’s own description, Power Tools, is no less aptwoody ambers are now everywhere, mostly in masculines but also used as a sort of fluorescent black light to illuminate feminine fragrances from the inside. The old materials (by old I mean twenty years ago) were not shy. Cedramber, Amberketal and Spirambrene were solidly powerful stuff. Then the chemists got busy and Karanal came along, discovered accidentally by Karen Rossiter at Quest. Karanal took no prisoners, and smelled wrong to a fraction of the people. Edouard Fléchier, a brave man, used it memorably in Malle’s Une Rose, recently reformulated. Then came Ambrocenide from Symrise, one of the most scarily powerful materials in memory, the sort that you can easily smell on the outside of the sealant around the cap of a never-opened bottle. By then every Guido on earth was strutting around smelling of Godzilla isopropanol, and it seemed things just could not get worse. Then IFF released  Amber Xtreme, a nuclear-powered woody amber chemically related to Galaxolide that outguns them all. The explanatory leaflet explains that “Lazily designed, badly composed perfumes are easily spotted by relying too heavily on their use.” Yup. Module 5 is a delightful lesson in modern perfumery history, warts, designer stubble and all.

pic: Amber Xtreme

Categories: off topic