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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Perfume Review: Annick Goutal Les Orientalistes- Ambre Fetiche, Myrrhe Ardente, & Encens Flamboyant

Review by Tom

Those of you who have been reading my petty ramblings on this blog know that I am a long-time fan of Annick Goutal; since I was a toddler in the 80's and discovered her scents at Bergdorf Goodman where they were the antithesis of that decades rather (ahem) definite scents. These were covered by Patty and March at Perfume Posse, and of course I had to log on to the Perfumed Court and get the samps.

Ambre Fétiche starts off boozy, all iris and frankincense, then getting a bit like a drier Sables. For me the actual Amber portion of the program doesn't pop out until well into the development, but when it does: oh my! This is an AG that lifts its skirts. It's not as definitive as say Ambre Sultan's glottal liquidness or the delightful debauchery of Ambre Russe (three spritzes of which could have you doing a field sobriety test), but it's amber in no uncertain terms.

Encense Flamboyant is perhaps one that is not quite going with the truth in advertising thing. It is a lovely incense, starting off with cardamom and a trace of nutmeg and drying finally to a your-skin-but-better note. It's not terribly heavy incense; there's no real weight to it, and I mean that in a good way. I can see getting a lot of mileage out of this one and immediately running out and getting another bottle after I had used up the one that I will no doubt buy. As much as I like Ambre Fetiche, I don't know that I would write the same about it.

Myrrhe Ardente starts off sweet, with vanilla and myrrh elbowing each other in the ribs to get to the front. Luckily, on me myrrh sucker punches vanilla fairly early on in the proceedings and a rather Eau-de Fier note drops in for a visit. Vanilla picks herself out of the weeds, dusts herself off and pops back in for the drydown. If you are averse to some of that sweetness (I certainly was not), I think you could spritz on a bit of Eau de Fier to cut it.

As March and Patty point out, none of these are reinventing the wheel. What they are doing, and praise be that the lovely people at Annick Goutal are, is making three very lovely and very worthy additions to a house that I will always think of as the original Niche House: one that in 30 years has never lost its way and has never debuted something that compromised the purity of the vision of their founder. I say hosannas for that, and get these stateside; I need a bottle of Encense Flamboyant...

Image source,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

glottal liquidness and delightful debauchery... excellent reading Tom! Thanks for the great reviews. I couldn't agree more with the exquisite taste and craftsmanship involved in each Goutal creation... I just sniffed Sables this winter and from that end of the spectrum to Eau d'Hadrien, this house is spectacular. I can't wait to sniff these three!

10:33 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tom, ooohh, these sound interesting - great reviews! i've been trying some incense scents recently like the comme des garcons series, passage d'enfer, black cashmere, etc. -- do you find any similarities between encens flamboyant and any other incense perfumes such as these?

btw, lol @ "toddler in the '80s!" you could always do what i do and just refuse to have any more birthdays! :-)

--erin k.
(i was signing in as "erin" the past few days, but noticed another erin commenting on this site, so adding the "k" - sorry!)

11:05 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


If you like the Sables end of the line then I think that these will please you!

11:38 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I don't see a lot of similarities with other incense scents out there, but I did catch whiffs (delightful ones) of other AG's in them. They are all very worthy additions to a very worthy line: Goutal really carved out the niche scent bit; always true to itself. I am thrilled that these are all that good and all unmistakably Annick Goutal

11:44 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tom, thanks! i haven't tried any of the goutal line yet; it is rather extensive, so i didn't know where to start with it. i had songes and sables on my ever-growing "to sniff" list, and i will be adding encens flamboyant to it, too.

-- erin k.

2:25 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A sparkling, crispy review, Tom, thank you. They're on my next Perfumedcourt order (I posted the last one yesterday - you made me for a regular there...). I'm not a typical incense-person, so this rather tender one could be something for me.

3:40 AM EST  
Blogger elle said...

Encense Flamboyant is without doubt my favorite of the three, but you're so right - definitely doesn't reflect the name. :-) Ambre was quite nice, but not necessary to my continued existence and the Myrrhe would actually put my continued existence in peril. The sweetness hit me like a nuclear blast - a very scary mix w/ my skin chemistry. I don't think even Fier could have cut it.

5:41 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

Tom, I could kiss you! Chastely, of course. Any friend of Annick is a friend of mine. I feel like the line somehow doesn't get the love it deserves because it's too accessible or mainstream or something for the niche-lovers (with exceptions like Fier and Sables.) Yes, these are beautiful additions. Thanks for the link BTW.

7:42 AM EST  
Blogger Beth Schreibman Gehring said...

Hi Tom,
What a great review, I am now salivating....
Like you I am another totally addicted longtime Annick Goutal fan, I actually used to sell it in my store thanks to a fabulous SA at Neimans in Chicago who hooked me up with the regional sales manager. It was HEAVEN to have all of that gorgeous product at my disposal. I have not tried these three and am now longing to. Encens Flamboyant sounds like it would be right up my alley. I also love Madragore although it sadly does not love me, if you haven't tried that one take a look. It's got all of the yummy and mysterious components that make the Goutal fragrances so bewitching to us hard core fans, including a GORGEOUS purple bottle!

7:47 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i´m loving all three of them - probably encens being my favourite. this incense is warm 6 cold at the same time & somehow reminds me of a burning candle.
my "perfume obession" started when i was introduced to AG fragrances, but her last few releases - while being nice - didn´t really grab me.
but those three - i can´t stop raving about them! they are so smooth, warm & well composed, perfect for winter!

8:48 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think you will have a lot of fun with this line- they have some real beauties, and not a scrubber I can think of.

11:30 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'm right there with you re: TPC. I have to stop myself from going and lemming things from them. But it's better than getting full bottles, isn't it?

11:32 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Sorry to read about the Myrrh- but I think a lot of people have had that reaction to it. Oddly, I didn't mind the sweetness, but I didn't get gob-smacked with it either...

11:34 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I wonder if the line has lost a little cachet being at places like Bloomingdales (Which, at least at the Beverly Center carries Sables)?

But then again, that means more people will be able to try it, if they can wade through the SA's determined to force a bottle of Britney's Midnight Melon Meltdown on you because they get triple commission on it..

11:37 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


for some reason I have not tried Mandragore. I will correct that oversight as soon as possible!

11:38 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


They ARE perfect for winter, which is why they need to be here NOW! Even if they are exlusive to Saks or Neimans for the first few months..

11:39 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, this is what I'm telling to myself every time after I placed an order ...
(in fact, I'm even saving money ;-)

11:47 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A samp of Ambre Fetiche has been sitting on my shelf for a wk. I've been too congested to try it. It's killing me. I can't do Ambre Sultan or Ambre Russe & have high hopes for this one, despite not being able to afford it. And the other 2 ... well, a not too heavy incense sounds like just my speed. Heavy, even medium heavy incense makes me choke & scrub. And I'm a fool for a well orchestrated vanilla note. Bring it on. Hide the credit cards.

11:56 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, lovely review. You make all three of these sound delicious, but Encense Flamboyant is definitely the one that would suit my tastes to a T. I hope it does come stateside.

BTW, my decant of Guerlain Spiriteuse Double Vanille arrived this week, and I do love it. To me, it has aspects of SL Chergui to it--as if Chergui had a child who had gone to finishing school. Refined, but still a little bit smoky and boozy at the edges.

11:58 AM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

I want the incense one, not sure either of the others will appeal. Wish they'd get to the US already...

11:58 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The incense one is really growing on me, like a favourite disease. Love it, particularly cos it reminds me of Chene. But different enough to warrant a purchase? Fer sure. It's incense crossed with wood, like a tented cassock...

Good news. Your package arrived. You posted it on 7 December. LA post is now on a par with Morocco... Though I think it got held up in customs cuz there was no declaration label on it...

I could kiss ya, boy!

12:11 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


A month? Geesh; I could have hand carried it in that time. But I am glad it finally arrived; now if I could only remember what was in it?!?

12:52 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Me too! It's money in the bank, right?

12:53 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


sorry to read that you're still under the weather, that sucks (not in the good way). I think this might be a bit too ambery at the drydown for you. But I'd love to read your thoughts on it- hope you get well soon!

12:56 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Incense Flamboyant is on my full-bottle list.

Spiriteuse is a joy isn't it?

12:58 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I wish they would get here too!

12:58 PM EST  
Blogger KevinS said...

Tom: agree, Encens flamboyant is the best of the bunch.

1:39 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think so too- and it's a pretty nice bunch to be the best of!

2:05 PM EST  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

I sprung for the Ambre and the Myrrhe- not sorry, but I can't wear them to work...

They cling to me faithfully, and I think that my patients might fear that I was trying to usher them into the "realm -to-come", alas !

I'm surprised at how tenacious they are, compared to other AG's.
They seem to have that sheer quality, but they feel distinctly DIFFERENT, somehow.
They layer well with all sorts of things, but tend to dominate- only a drop is needed, for me at least.

I love the Encens, but I'm up to my bippy in 'encens' these days !
And 'nonsense' too...


7:59 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reviews, Tom. I'm awaiting samples from TPC, and wondering which one I'll like best. It's intriguing to notice that each of the three has been selected as the winner by different reviewers, which suggest that they all have something special going for them. I'm predicting the Amber, but who knows?

8:29 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I loved the amber but I have enough in the amber department for a while.

They Myrrhe was nice on me and usually that's a note that is not my best.

The incense I was delighted with and I don't have a lot (well, comparatively) of scents with that note so for me that was the winner. But I would be pretty happy to own any one of these, and yes, you nailed it; they have that AG sheer quality that's so great, but they are tenacious as all get-out.

As well as being gorgeous.

11:19 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


All of them are in their way really good. I'd love to hear which is your favorite..

11:20 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, now I REALLY must take myself post haste to my perfume shop & try these new AG scents! I am a fan from way back, and they all sound divine. Can't wait to see what AG does with myrrh and cardamom, it's almost too delicious to contemplate. I am sure I will like all of them - as you said, there is not a scrubber in the bunch. (All the bad things I ever said about Songes were WRONG. She got me in the end!)

4:16 PM EST  

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