Ambre Noir (Yves Rocher)

You'd imagine that a fragrance called Ambre Noir would involve some sort of spice and incense, a modicum of the 'mystery of the Orient'. But look closely at the bottle (huge, like a skyscraper) and the font (boldface, like a shout). Appearances do not lie. Before you've even opened the bottle, it's clear what you're in for: a belt upside the head.

Ambre Noir is a thoroughly commonplace fougère of the sort deliberately designed to project overweening male superiority. Wearers of such fragrances do not want to smell good. They want to be objectionable-- to offend, to drive back, to take by brute force, to own all the space around them (and with sillage like this, that's a lot of real estate). In these strident, oily notes, a sort of rank contempt for other, 'lesser' beings is encapsulated. Breathe it in, and you can almost hear the chest-thumping challenge: You gonna disrespect ME?

In this, one may find an echo of the cult de soi-même practiced by 19th century 'gentlemen dandies', whose self-absorbed preening and love of bloody duels presaged the misbehavior of today's fashionable bastards. If each alpha male is an army of one, then a solipsistic fragrance like Ambre Noir will serve them well-- for they're destined to be very, very alone.

Scent Elements: Amber, patchouli, vetiver, tonka bean, cedar, lavender