And so we come to the end of what’s turned into ‘Christian Dior Week’ on The Scent Critic. After today, I still have seven more of the Collection Privée to work my way through (and they are all worthy of review, without exception – which isn’t something you can say of many scent ranges). But I’m back to being more of a perfume brand slut, after this week, lest anyone think that Dior are bunging me envelopes of fivers for this coverage. (They are not.)
However, Ambre Nuit is the perfect finale to the week. Sexier and more smoochy than the either Milly-la-Forêt or Vétiver, which I reviewed earlier this week. Not one for the office. (Unless you’re actually having an affair with one of your co-workers, that is.)
The clue is in the name: Amber Night. Although actually, despite its seductive qualities, to some extent it could be Amber Lite: not as intoxicating as some ambers (I’m thinking Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, or Laura Mercier Ambre Passion), which have a heady, pendant stillness, like the air before a big storm. It’s on-your-neck rather than in-your-face. And as a result, maybe Ambre Nuit isn’t quite racy or down-and-dirty enough for some amber-lovers – but for those who are just discovering this sensual, warm category of fragrances, it’s an exquisite amber ‘starter’ perfume.
In fact, Dior have tagged this as ‘unisex’. And yes, it could work on a guy. (Thanks to the spicy undertones in Ambre Nuit, I’m even vaguely and slightly bizarrely reminded of Aramis: that great classic male scent.) But at the heart of this is a pulsing, beautiful Turkish rose note, and the tingle of pink pepper, which made its debut (as I remember) in Lauder’s Pleasures, which have it listing in a feminine direction. Then a buttery-soft leather note creeps in, and more spices. (Cumin? Nutmeg? Bay? To me, it’s mouthwateringly Christmas puddingy, at this point.)
At the base, you’ll also eventually get to pencilly cedar, and blissful patchouli, once it’s been skin-warmed. And ‘warm’ is the active word, here. It’s cosy, nuzzleable, a faux fur blanket of a perfume, for snuggling up with when North winds are rattling your double-glazing, or for making an-already sultry summer night even steamier. At the same time, it has a sort of comfort-blanket factor: a skin-like quality that encourages self-sniffing. (Slightly embarrassing, in company, that, although I’ve often found myself doing it.)
There are soft, resinous whispers of incense (shades of Andy Tauer’s Le Maroc Pour Elle, here), which mean it’s right up my street – or rather, right up my (kashbah) alley. And there must be vanilla, too, because if I close my eyes, I get Nestlé’s Condensed Milk, momentarily. Or maybe the sweetness of smoke from a vanilla-scented narguillé pipe, wafting from an adjacent table in an Arabic restaurant. That kasbah-esque quality, again.
It strikes me Ambre Nuit literally see-saws between masculine and feminine, rather than being ‘unisex’, or AC/DC. The bergamot intro is fresh and sort of clean-male-straight-out-the-shower-esque. Then that floral heart goes all girly, powdery, pretty-pretty. And as it segues into the enduring, lingering base, all that leather and smoke in the base seems definitely more testosterone than oestrogen. And then there’s that vanilla. But it’s smooth. S-o-o-o-o-o smooth. Like a stair that has been worn to silkiness by a thousand slippered feet. Or a baby’s skin. A very, very expensive suede jacket. A glass of Bailey’s. All those fragrant transitions take place within Ambre Nuit seamlessly, beautifully, without so much as a discordant quaver – never mind a discordant note.
The Scent Critic would swoon to encounter it on a man’s neck. It makes me wish that my paramour would drench himself in something more complicated than neat patchouli oil. But since that’s not about to happen, I’ll have one more top-to-toe spritz of Ambre Nuit, slip into something more comfortable – and see what happens, when he smells it on me.
The weekend starts here…