Perfume Pen Pals: Histoires de Parfums Ambre 114, Patchouli Noir and 1826


Last night, I put on Histoires de Parfums Ambre 114, perhaps not the best choice as I would be attending a silent film festival and sitting in a crowded theater for hours. A crowded silent theater, which makes a difference because people can smell better when there's no noise. (That's only my theory but, you watch, it'll be widely accepted before long.)

Thank goodness there was a live orchestra to provide aural texture for my perfume (and also the films), and it was obvious the music complemented me because the entire audience appeared delighted.

But it wasn't Ambre 114 everyone was smelling, it was Ambre 114 and HdP Noir Patchouli, the result of a mistake back at home. I use these tiny little sprayers for my tiny little vials because I don't like to pour perfume on my wrists, let alone all over the floor, the desk, the sofa, wherever I happen to be applying. (I have the dexterity of a rhino. You should see me with chopsticks. Ever see a rhino with chopsticks? Same thing.)

I'm always careful to rotate my tiny little sprayers and then wash them all out. Except when I'm not, when I just leave them lying around, filled with who knows what. (If you're eating light, they're also great for applying salad dressing.)

So last night, my Ambre 114 sprayer was filled with Noir Patchouli and my first two sprays smelled suspiciously like I had smelled earlier in the day, but then my next two sprays smelled like amber, and at the end of what was a confusing few seconds for me, I smelled great! Very, very great! The earthy patchouli notes still came through but now they were layered with sweet, warm amber.

I realize proclaiming amber works well with patchouli in 2010 is like pairing chocolate with peanut butter and then boasting that your sudden weight gain is the result of a delicious new discovery, but I don't normally venture into layering, so please permit me to celebrate this one happy accident.

I kept smelling myself throughout the evening, assuming the experiment would eventually fall apart, that one or the other perfume would take charge while I sat by helplessly, watching a sad old film, listening to sad old music, and trying not to shed any tears at the image of sad old me, sitting in a movie theater, smelling myself, while everyone else was having a grand old time. But that didn't happen, KP! Because I smelled great and the whole audience agreed, I'm certain of it.

A side note (and, let's face it, everything I write is a side note, it's not like I'm breaking any news from Afghanistan): this morning I noticed that Histoires de Parfums 1826 features both amber and patchouli and so I assumed it would smell the same as I did last night, but I was wrong.

1826 is sweeter and more subdued than Ambre Patchouli (Noir Ambre?) and while it's really quite lovely, its sweetness seems as much vanilla as amber and its patchouli is a background player, maybe even a stagehand, to 1826's softer fruity side.

Nonetheless, I like it, it's a good, sweet perfume that has just enough spice to keep things interesting. It smells like summer. Uh-oh, it is summer. That's bad news for my budget. Wait, do I have a budget? Because you can't have bad news for something that doesn't exist. My budget is the dialogue of my silent movie. And my perfume is the orchestra. Thank goodness for the orchestra.



  1. Is there something about the HdPs that makes people want to slap on the heavier ones, then sit in a crowded theater, happily sharing the waftage with the masses? T3 for the opera, 114 and Noir for the film festival. Maybe this should be written into their ad copy?

  2. What? Are you saying amber and patchouli don't mix well with Brian Eno?

  3. that's very interesting about noticing smell more in the silence- you are probably right- although you weren't in the silence. I wonder if that's why I don't smell as well in the city.

    amber on a man is always a winner

  4. nathan, Brian Eno was designed to work with every fragrance, particularly the later Eno flankers. I'd say only 2 early releases from the House of Eno, "Here Come the Warm Jets" and "Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy", are not suitable for layering.

    m61, perhaps you jest ("perhaps"?), but I think you've hit on something. The HdP lumber their perfumes with all that backstory (Marquis de Sade here, Casanova there), that it makes you want to live in a cloud of the heavier hitters to see if you, too can experience the epic-ness.

  5. ..."its sweetness seems as much vanilla as amber and its patchouli is a background player, maybe even a stagehand".

    See, this why I like 1826 and would have been a little diffident about sharing a stall with you (in the theatre). Vanilla-amber-patchouli-as-stagehand has my name on it!

  6. Rose, a good deal of smell is perception and it seems the fewer the distractions, sound or otherwise, the easier it is to perceive something. Though I've perceived plenty of awful smells in the city, so who knows?

    And flittersniffer, in retrospect, 1826 would've been a better choice for the theatre, but I have no knack for matching fragrances with events. If we ever sit together, I promise to let you decide what I wear. Of course, you may then be diffident for other reasons.

  7. I love silent movies, and used to go see them often at that theatre on Fairfax. Somehow the grandeur of a silent film -- all that emoting and drama -- simply requires a fragrance with some cojones. I'd wear one of my biggest baddest to an event like that, and I'd trust the other members of the audience -- usually fanatic film types -- to "get" it.

  8. Dan,

    How do you rank this one to your other amber's? I like you love a good amber. I seen some things written about his one, but just haven't gotten around to sampling it.


    This site should come with a warning, Its a danger to the heath of your wallet!;)


  9. Gojira, I like a good amber but I don't love many. That's more Katie's domain. Among the ambers I've worn, Ambre 114 smells most like a proper perfume, not heavy or cloying like, say, Tom Ford's Amber Absolute. I do like Hermes Ambre Narguile, which falls in between the two, lighter than AA or the Serge Lutens ambers, but still sweet and sentimental. It reminds me of a cheerful holiday gathering, the kind you find in movies more often than real life. It's my holiday-movie amber. I'm sure Katie will have some better points of Ambre 114 comparison.

  10. Oh, I did get you guys mixed up. I forgot you have the vanilla love affair. I found Vanilla Aoud because of you and Katie. Love it! Dan,I only been getting back to this hobby the past year. And with this site and Fragrantica and Bassnotes, I been having a blast. I never imagined that I really had all these choices. Thanks again for you 2 endangering my wallet's health. lol

  11. Gojira, I rank Ambre 114 right in the top echelon of powdery ambers. In face, I might just inch my way out on a limb of the echelon tree to pronounce it my very favorite powdery amber.