The last decade has seen a popularization of the Arab world's ancient scents, as reflected in Serge Lutens' successful Moroccan niche fragrances and oud attars being sold in the West. But rather than importing perfumes from the Middle East, European luxury brands are trying to do the opposite, namely to promote products that are created with the lucrative Middle Eastern market in mind. This market is currently a primary focus of LVMH, whose marketing teams know that people in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf perceive European luxury goods as status symbols.
In January 2016, Guerlain will launch its fifth Middle Eastern fragrance, called Ambre Éternel. It's a follow-up of Santal Royal from 2014, with the bottle design as well as several fragrance notes in common, like strong woody notes, leather, neroli, peach, cinnamon, and amber. The name, Ambre Éternel, suggests that this perfume particularly highlights the amber facet. According to Thierry Wasser, Ambre Éternel features ambergris. The bottle for these scents is a dark opaque version of the Aqua Allegoria and Eau de Rituel bottles, with a woollen scarf around the neck. For Ambre Éternel, the bottle is coloured chocolate brown, and the scarf burgundy. Thierry Wasser explains that Santal Royal and Ambre Éternel together form the start of a whole collection, which Guerlain calls Les Absolus d'Orient.
While Guerlain's Middle Eastern trio from 2012, Les Déserts d'Orient, had all the rounded refinement and luxury feel that we associate with the brand, to most Guerlain fans Santal Royal felt like a departure. Arabs simply aren't attracted to classic European perfumes, not even the orientals; living in an extremely hot climate, they prefer strong woody scents, dark rose, and spices. Santal Royal came with a rough, masculine boisé sec type accord, mixed with rose and fruity notes, and not much sandalwood. We'll have to wait a few weeks before we know what Ambre Éternel smells like. Notes listed are coriander, cinnamon, ambergris, peach, neroli, ylang-ylang, woody notes, leather, and amber. Photo from the press party at Maison Guerlain taken from Instagram. Read more about Santal Royal
(December 2015, photo of Ambre Éternel from Instagram)