Prada Amber by Prada (2004)

Ambers tend to be the kind of perfumes you don’t want to accidentally break in your bag because they never. go. away. The drydown, under perfect conditions (an old suitcase, a trunk,  a drawer) can last for years. So I was surprised when after about two hours Prada Amber had seemingly disappeared. I thought hmmm. Well, if I’m going to write about this thing I better reapply. And so Reader, I basically bathed in it and now, while making my way to lunch with girlfriends I find myself subliminally apologizing to everyone whose paths I cross.

Imagine the opening of Austin Powers, with the choreography punctuated by “Sorry!” at the 4 and 8 counts of each phrase.

When you’ve got on too much perfume, you feel like you’re starring in a goofy comedy with bright colors and everyone else is in an episode of like, Parenthood or something.

However, while I did overload (Shit AND damn), that’s not Prada Amber’s fault. Luckily,  I’m a fan. If a bit reluctant about my momentary heavy handed enthusiasm.

Prada Amber is one of the more wearable yet strong ambers in the mass market, but it is not apologetic. While the true perfume freaks may find it to be a bit boring or a bit too close to Mugler’s Angel, I could see it being a gateway drug to the Eastern spice parties of the niche brands. That is to say if you’re a little bored by say, Chanel Mademoiselle (a similar juice) or D&G Light Blue (completely different), give Prada Amber a spin.
In general, I find Prada perfumes to be well made and intelligent if not exciting. You could really build a nice wardrobe with Prada alone. Candy is my favorite mainstream gourmand and a lot of fun to wear. It is a bit overtly foody but so much better than a lot of the sugar bombs that are available today. Infusion d’Iris is subtle, cool and would make a great job interview scent. I mean, sure. Not the most glamorous idea but sometimes nothing won’t do. The original Prada I found a little surprising, at least compared to the glut of fruity florals a lot of design houses were pumping out, particularly at the time. Prada Amber is a flanker of the original and in some ways, an improvement.  It seems to be the general feeling as, based on my not-too-thorough search, Amber now seems easier to find than its older sister which may have actually been discontinued
So let’s talk about the actual juice. In the top, it’s a little weird. I’ve heard it compared to Dune by Dior (a perfume I love). I agree. Dune is better but read on. Both perfumes share a marine note. Dune’s is pure ocean. Amber’s is. Well. Pool water. There is a weird chlorine note that disappears very quickly. It’s like Dune is reading a book on the beach and a storm is threatening to come in. Amber’s at the pool back at the house shouting, “Where is Dune? I heard thunder. Let’s get out of the pool and watch movies.” Dune is the studious melancholy one. Amber is a little more fun. But just a little. Angel is the one sneaking liquor and cookies and also she found a taco and she borrowed your top. If you’re looking for an amber party, quit thinking so much and go buy Angel. She’s the original.  No one will ever come close. She also might make out with your boyfriend AND you.  Dune and Amber are sisters.  Angel is their crazy cousin on Patchouli’s side.
But back to Amber. Amber, interestingly, quickly dries herself off from the pool, and puts on a sweater and settles in. I like this chilly stormy beach metaphor we’re using here. It keeps perfumes like Dune and Amber from being relegated to fall or winter (A place I would encourage Angel to stay).  Also a man could easily wear this. Prada perfumes are very unisex in general. Candy might be stereotypically “feminine” but Amber is not.  (I also think, much like the metaphorical sweater I’ve got Amber wearing) it could layer well.

The biggest note in Amber is the patchouli. It’s a refined patchouli. The good clean dirt kind.  A little rougher around the edges than that powdered cocoa patchouli I so adore (See Back to Black by Kilian and Chanel Coromandel), but it wears beautifully.  If you admire head shop hippie fragrances but find them to be at best embarrassing,  and at worst suggestive of a particular lifestyle, Amber might just be for you. It’s what I call J. Crew hippie. Slightly bohemian, but she’ll see you at brunch.  Even though she’s the spokesperson for J’adore, I suspect Charlize Theron might smell something like this.

There are resins here.  Spicy ones. No cinnamon excactly, but a very dry, almost raspy spice accord, as if cinnamon had a vetiver-like quality. I look forward to attempting to layer it with Commes des Garcons White. They share a non-foody spice and White would bring cedar to the mix. There is a creamy vanilla in the drydown but I still wouldn’t call this foody either.

After I climbed Sephora’s bullshit mountain – the product description has litrally no mention of what it smells like (“a scent inspired by the past, that embodies the future.” What?)- I did find a list of notes and for the most part I find them to be accurate.  I think the bergamot, in very Earl Grey form, provides that pool water note with that herbal vegetal bergamotty citrus spice. I don’t get much of the other flowers other than perhaps the mimosa in those early stages. The tonka and vanilla come out a little later making it nicely cozy and sensual. Early on, and lasting for longer than usual, is the orange.  It’s blended so well it merely reads “fruit.”
In short, Prada Amber is the girl that shows up at the party, immediately says something weird and for a second you’re like, “Who’s this chick?”  but then you find out she’s just nervous and she’s actually pretty funny and one time she met Jon Stewart and he was so nice.  And then everyone realizes they all think Jon Stewart is hot except for one girl (One of the Toccas) who is a Colbert holdout and we all respect that.
Prada Amber.  You don’t know her, but you totally know her.  She’s your best friend’s best friend from home and now you see why people love her.  She’s the girl you HOPE is also in the bridal party.  You’re going to be facebook friends and you ask her where she got that perfume because honestly, she just smells really good.

3 Stars


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