A few years ago, I decided to create a new fragrance for my natural perfume line that featured a fresh, free-spirited feeling. I wanted the fragrance to be breezy and confident, lush but not heavy, and to evoke a carefree, bohemian sort of vibe.
At the same time, I wanted it to have all the irresistibly luscious, luxurious aspects of an amber perfume.
Amber perfumes have always appealed to me. They’re warm, sensual and opulent. They’re cozy, with a plush, exotic feel. They bring to mind luxury and comfort, and a bit of mystery.
It’s interesting to note that, contrary to popular belief, the word amber in perfumery does not refer to a single, standalone essence. “Amber” is actually an olfactive concept, one that seeks to invoke the feelings and associations described above. It does this by using a suite of essences to create the “amber” note.
The amber note, one of several so-called “fantasy notes” in perfumery, is achieved by blending certain base notes into an accord. Though the specific formula of an amber accord is up to the perfumer, it typically begins with vanilla, benzoin and labdanum — rich, resinous base notes.
To those, a perfumer may add tonka bean, liquidambar, patchouli, vetiver, peru balsam or a number of other notes, building out the amber accord to achieve the perfumer’s desired effect.
Amber notes pair beautifully with notes from other fragrance families, including the floral, woody, spicy and citrus families. They add mystique, depth and sensuality to any composition.
Perfumers work with aromatic materials much like a painter works with a palette of colors, and the possibilities are endless when it comes to the aromatic pictures they can create.
For example, an “amber floral” fragrance is a fragrance whose primary structure is composed of amber and floral notes.
But the primary structure of a perfume is just the beginning of the story, with the potential for many more olfactory facets to be added to a composition that increase its depth, nuance and expressiveness.
Which brings me back to that day several years ago when I decided to create what would eventually become an amber floral perfume.
I began by building a cozy amber accord …vanilla, benzoin, labdanum, and several other notes, anchored with some gorgeous aged patchouli. Then I contrasted it with lots of citrus, spice and cool green floral notes.
As well, I built a number of additional facets into the perfume — a woody facet (sandalwood, cedarwood), an agrestic facet (oakmoss, hay), and a white floral facet (orange blossom, jasmine), among others.
The result was Haute Bohème. It has an exuberance mixed with a glowing ambery vibe that seems to light up everything around it. It makes me feel happy-go-lucky and confident whenever I wear it. Let me know what you think! — Claudia xo