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Fall Fragrance Trend: Amber Waves

This fall, the hottest note in niche perfumery is pure fantasy, inspired by a substance that has no smell: Amber.

In short, there is no such thing as an amber essential oil.

The concept of “amber” — fossilized tree resin hardened into a golden stone — is a late 19th-century olfactory invention typically comprising vanilla, benzoin and labdanum. Combined, these rich ingredients impart a soft warmth, a subtle sweetness and depth.

The earliest amber perfumes were legendary: Jicky — introduced in 1889 by Guerlain, and Ambre Antique — created by François Coty circa 1905.

“Amber notes are becoming more popular as retro-inspired fragrances continue to trend,” said Sherri Sebastian, a Los Angeles-based perfumer who is launching her own niche brand — Provision — this fall. She is spotlighting a trademarked ingredient called Amber Xtreme in Resonance, a star eau de parfum in the collection.

“Amber notes vary in intensity and effect,” she explained, “making them the perfect complement to a variety of fragrance profiles — from green citrus to heavier, smoky, woody scents.”

Case in point: A slew of niche perfumes making their debut this season feature amber, blended with notes ranging from Turkish Rose to Green Coffee.

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Give amber a whirl, and maybe you, too, will be described as someone “of enigmatic allure, incomprehensible, aloof” — just as wearers of Coty Ambre Antique were in a 1936 ad for the scent.