Rich Fruity Labdanum
Prada and I got off to a rocky start. When I first tested PRADA AMBER, I overapplied it and was frankly overwhelmed by the dense, dark, wine-like fruity opening. It's not quite the scent of wine, because it is much less sweet. But I'd say that it does come rather close to wine dregs. Suffice it to say that the opening is very intense.
My first encounter with PRADA AMBER was through a decant sent to me by a fellow fragrant traveler in New York City. Since she is a woman who in my estimation has excellent taste, I suspected that my problem with this perfume had something to do with me. With time, I realized that I needed to give PRADA AMBER another chance, and I am very glad that I did. I now regard this as a fine fruity amber perfume with a great deal of depth and complexity and a gorgeous labdanum drydown. There is much, much more labdanum here than vanilla, so much so that it actually smells to me closer to a straight-up labdanum than an amber perfume. Unlike many amber perfumes, the vanilla is not even detectable to my nose as an isolable note. The labdanum is central to this composition, and the patchouli is fairly strong as well, but again this is not a part of the post-ANGEL sweet patchouli pack at all. PRADA AMBER is unique.
I ended up liking this creation enough to eventually pick up a 50ml bottle, and I continue to pine for one of the stunning atomizer models. It's only a matter of time before I find one at what seems like an unbeatable price, at which point I'm sure that I'll snap it up. The Prada aesthetic is top notch when it comes to packaging. Fortunately the perfumes smell very good, too!
PRADA AMBER was selected along with eleven other perfumes by Chandler "Contingency Plan Man" Burr to be included in the Art of Scent exhibit currently being held at the Museum of Art and Design. On the other hand, PRADA AMBER was not so favorably received by the authors of The Holey [sic] Book, who appear to hate the house of Prada and every perfume they ever produced. I applaud Burr for having the guts to float as masterpieces of olfactory art a number of perfumes derisively dismissed by Turin & Sanchez as failures. Prada obviously does not jive with the Royal[ties] Couple's taste, above all their hatred of clean scents (Dolce & Gabbana LIGHT BLUE was awarded one star) and all things amber. Since everything from this house is either ambery or has a decidedly clean demeanor, it did not fare well. Burr has done much to resurrect the image of this perfume house, and I do not believe that it has been only a result of the fact that Puig is one of his major funders. Though I'm also quite certain that it didn't hurt.
What Burr's radical disagreement with the other two self-appointed "experts" shows, it seems to me, is that in fact, when it comes to olfaction, beauty does indeed lie in the nose of the sniffer! According to me, Prada has produced some excellent creations, and PRADA AMBER for her is certainly one of them, although it is not an easy perfume to wrap one's nose around, as it defies most of the usual categories. The quality of the materials is top notch, and there certainly could be much worse things than increasing the global sales of this perfume through proclaiming it to be a masterpiece of olfactory art. It's a good perfume, no doubt, but labeling it a work of neo-romanticism may be stretching things a bit.
Did the perfumers, Carlos Benaïm, Max Gavarry, and Clément Gavarry, and the house conceive of this perfume as anything more than a perfume when they launched it back in 2004? Of course not. Why we should appropriate the language of visual art for ephemeral scents is far from obvious to me. But that's a another story. The bottom line here, again, is that this is a fine and original oriental perfume.