There are generally speaking three directions on amber, that perfumery trope which although reminiscent of alembicated elixirs derives in reality from the late 19th century and its advances in chemistry. Roughly, much like human body types, there is the thick-set endomorph, vanillic and zaftig amber, often powdery but a little too snuggly the way a favorite aunt suffocated you as a child when she tried to hug you; there's the linear ectomorph, naturally rail-thin and giving only a hint of an oriental, fit for people who consider sipping a latte as having the equivalent of a dessert orgy only the calories fly off their cage-like backs (Marc Jacobs Amber Splash I'm looking at you); and finally the elusively callipygean mesomorph, its discovery as awe inspiring as the realization of the protagonist in They Live, an amber that's got to be extra-terrestrial, since there's no other explanation for its perfect, almost perverse precision and special abilities.
|photo by Francesco Middei for National Geographic via Pinterest (Namibia sand dune)|
Some of my favorite ambers belong to that last category, managing the trick via either a generous helping of herbal accents (Ambre Sultan by Lutens is the crowning example) or a devious splattering of incense notes, via frankincense or myrrh (Ambra del Nepal or Angelique Encens are decent examples.)
Barkhane belongs to this special category, a foudroyant amber perfume both thanks to its transparent treatment of the labdanum (cistus)-vanillin pairing and the bittersweet myrrh resin which illuminates it the way vitraux illuminate a cathedral. From a distance Barkhane suggests repetition, since Alahine (Cabanel's 2007 fragrance) was also a terrific amber. But it is not, since it lacks the rosy floralcy and the woody element, as perfumer Jean-Francois Latty here focused instead on the introduction of a tempered oud note which tilts it into the slightly medicinal, more masculine or unisex territory. There is also a notable spicy component (reportedly built on cumin and curry notes) which melds with the myrrh.
Last but not least: the lasting power is phenomenal for something so well balanced and, yes, at its fighting weight.
Barkhane is the latest fragrance by niche French brand Teo Cabanel, re-introduced recently in the States and repackaged to new heights of luxury under the direction of heiress Caroline Ilacqua. The fragrance's name derives from the naturalist Alexander von Middendorf, who used it to describe "the smooth velvety dunes which gently ripple under powerful desert winds".
I have a self-bought* large sample for one lucky reader in Europe/rest of the world. If you're in the USA, thanks to Hypoluxe Inc.'s generosity, there's the option of one BIG 1/2oz spray for ONE lucky winner and 15 sample vials for 15 more winners.
Please enter a comment saying your opinion on amber fragrances and if you have a favorite/Kryptonite one and please state whether you're in Europe/USA/rest of the world.
Draw is open till Thursday midnight, winners to be announced sometime on Friday.
(*The company did send me another one for reviewing purposes)