Have you ever had one of those days where things were going along pretty well, nothing was terribly wrong really, but the thought of lounging in your pajamas all day while it snows outside, eating sinfully rich desserts as you pour over a great book sounds incredibly good? I have had those days too. Actually, I have those days quite often this time of year, because it never snows where I live. After spending my formative years in a much colder climate, I miss the opportunity inclement weather affords to lounge and hibernate. Rather than doing what I describe above, I have to simply imagine it. When I need some inspiration for devising the perfect lazy day in my mind, Hermes Ambre Narguile is the fragrance I choose.
Although the name of the fragrance suggests a steamy and enticing scent, what it offers is a sweet, slightly spicy and gourmand accord. Rather than the oriental, suggestive and mostly animalic ambers like Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Ambre Precieux, or Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, Ambre Narguile offers comfort like hot, sweetened tea or warm caramel apple pie. It is not what I expected at all yet I am pleasantly surprised at my delight in it.
Ambre Narguile was created along with five others for the Hermessence line in 2004. It is another wonderful Jean Claude Ellena formulation. Despite its very sweet and foody top, the drydown reveals his mastery with its depth and warmth. Its notes include benzoin, labdanum, musk, vanilla, caramel, honey, sugared tonka bean, grilled sesame seeds, cinnamon, rum, coumarine and white orchids. The beginning calls to mind very sweet desserts with fruit on top - perhaps some dried fruit to amp up the sweetness. I identify plenty of honey with vanilla, caramel and even a little almond. This sweet opening remains for a while, and if I sniff too much I become overwhelmed. The heart is more suggestive of very expensive pipe tobacco, similar to Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille but lacking the latter’s dynamic spices. As it dries and evaporates more, what remains on the skin is even warmer and more multi-dimensional. Although I never distinguish rum, white orchid or grilled sesame seeds, I do experience a snug and inviting feeling as the fragrances wafts, reminiscent of a heated blanket beckoning me to wrap it around my shoulders. This end stage of the fragrance identifies it as a Jean Claude Ellena creation rather than a celebrity foody scent.
Ultimately, Ambre Narguile is a grounding and warming fragrance, not too sweet, not too spicy but just right. I imagine by now it is loved by many and I am grateful to have made its acquaintance this week. Perhaps tomorrow I will allow it to take me on a restoring mind trip to a lazy, winter day in the Midwest.
I have yet to find a bottle of this fragrance online. I believe it can only be bought at Hermes boutiques, along with the other Hermessences fragrances. I cannot find a price, either.
Update 2/7/08: Found the price - $190 for 100mL at Hermes boutiques. The entire Hermessence collection is available as well in travel sizes for $135.