Never Say Never – Review: Annick Goutal Ambre Fétiche

For the longest time I hated Ambre Fétiche with a passion, it was my nemesis, the most unwearable amber I knew. The strong feelings stemmed from the fact that for one everybody seemed to love it and perceive it entirely differently then I did, and what is more, from the fact that I am the proud owner of a full 100ml bottle of said hated fragrance that came to be in my possession, because I am prone to stupid, impulsive, unsniffed buys, or rather have been, because those times are over.

But that bottle is unopened and untouched, since I received a sample of this perfume before it arrived, I took one whiff from that sample and was thoroughly put off. I tried several times and was nothing short of disgusted with the scent everyone raved about.

Well, moving on…

But my dear friend Dee persisted and sent me a decant from her bottle, because I had suggested that maybe my sample was off or mislabeled, since I saw it so differently from everyone else.

And – you already guess it – I loved Dee’s Ambre Fétiche. My god-awful sample was mislabeled, I don’t know what is in it (would be interesting though!), but I am so glad it is not Ambre Fétiche.

Thank you Dee, through sending that decant you also gave me a “new” full bottle! 🙂

So, after a long journey that turned out to have been with the wrong fragrance, I arrived to worship at the amber altar that is Ambre Fétiche.

It was was released in 2007 and created by Goutal in-house perfumer Isabelle Doyen, as part of a three perfume collection called Les Orientalistes, also featuring Myrrhe Ardente and Encens Flamboyant, which in the meantime includes a fourth, Musc Nomade. Notes include amber, frankincense, labdanum, styrax, benzoin, iris, vanilla and leather.

Ambre Fétiche is not at all sweet, an important point with me, and it opens rather voluptuously and fiercely with a blast of incense, iris and amber that doesn’t leave any room for doubt what this perfume is about.

Strangely though it is not too much at any time. No shy flower, for sure, it manages to proclaim its AMBER-ness in a clear voice without having to resort to shouting.

It is mostly linear although there is a softening sensation after that initial entrance of the star ingredient. It has excellent lasting power and stays on the skin, albeit closely, for the entire day.

Ambre Fétiche makes me feel very daring, since it is so far from my normal soft, flowery or cologne-style unobtrusive self. But I find myself gravitating towards more sensual scents at the moment, maybe as a counter-movement to the mass of (often disappointing) summer fragrances I have been testing for the blog, maybe because of the interesting and unexpected, slightly Janus-headed facet such a perfume gives me.

I look so innocent, a blonde mom pushing a stroller in flat ballerinas and a trench coat and I smell, well NOT like that mom should or is expected to.

That seems to induce an element of surprise or even confusion in some that I rather enjoy.

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45 Responses to Never Say Never – Review: Annick Goutal Ambre Fétiche

  1. Marina says:

    Yeah, I know how it is when everybody loves something, whilst on you (me) it is Not Good At All. Like with me and POTL.

  2. Alice C says:

    How does it last? I have several AG’s, but not this one…surprising since I seem to love amber’s (but iris….?)

  3. Suzanne says:

    I’ve mostly avoided the Goutal line because the few I’ve tried in the past did not seem to be simpatico with my chemistry. But your review of this one makes me think, hmm, maybe I should give them another shot. A friend sent me a sample of Rose Splendide months ago, and I have let it sit ignored, so maybe I’ll start there. 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Ambre Fetiche is certainly no representative of the “typical” Goutal in my opinion. Generally the line is famous for its light and lovely creations with a twist. Matin d’Orage or Ninfeo Mio come to mind, as well as the soliflores. The Orientalistes is certainly a bit of a departure from the usual for Goutal, but a great one.

    • deeHowe says:

      Suzanne, I’m going to back up our lovely host—AF has nothing to do with the rest of the line! Excluding the other Les Orientalistes, of course. It’s the mink coat in a closet full of sundresses 🙂

  4. deeHowe says:

    There was a poll on NST a while back, which asked, What perfume(s) do you think will stand the test of time, and be around for another 50 or 100 years?, and my answer was the Les Orientalistes collection. I really believe that to be true. Especially with Ambre Fetiche; it’s ancient and it’s modern, it’s authentically “gender” neutral, and it smells FANTASTIC!

    I’m glad that I persisted with the issue, because I’m not sure I could care for a woman who does not care for AF. 😉

    (just kidding, I’d love you anyway!)

    • Olfactoria says:

      Let us hope you are right. AF is really great, so glad I got on board. 🙂
      But it totally bugs me not to know what was in my mislabeled sample! I will sniff it out, if it kills me! 😉

  5. Tarleisio says:

    For most of my life, I’ve been positively terrified of amber. Too much, too heavy, too heady, too…too! No thank you. I’ll stick to my green/chypre/not-overly flowery scents if you please and just leave it at that. My relationship with amber anything was like pouring Amaretto in a perfect dry Martini – it made me green to even contemplate!

    So it was strange days indeed when I came across my first ever niche and my first ever niche scent – Ambre Sultan, no less! – and had a total OM(F)G! moment. Due to either age, encroaching senility or just a kick to my own perfume boundaries, I’ve grown to very much like them. In the case of AS, it’s more of an obsession, but that’s another story.

    I’ve only tried Eau de Hadrian from AG, so I’m in no position to say much about Ambre Fetiche. There are good ambers, bad ambers and not a few Tales from the Crypt of Horror ambers. One amber I did try was Ambre Narguile. I managed to get away before I was eaten alive – just!

    But it could have been that tester. It could have been the day. It could have been mood or anything else – but you never know when one day, a lightning bolt fromn the blue strikes and – you totally GET it – that mink coat in the closet aspect – the “it’s so NOT me, which makes it utterly…me!”.

    It’s always a good thing to confuse your surroundings with your scents. Especially if they think they have you all figured out! 😉

    You never know when love might strike! Or amber!

    • Olfactoria says:

      I have often heard you speak so beautifully about Ambre Sultan, and my recent ambery success emboldens me to try it. Ambre Narguile is more gourmand than amber-amber, but nice anyway. Maybe you had a bad day…;)
      I totally agree with you last two sentences! Wise words as usual, T. 🙂

  6. *jen says:

    As usual, you all have spoken so eloquently I shouldn’t bother with my two cents!

    Ambre Fetiche was the one that pulled me down the rabbit hole. I had found perfume blogs and boards via Gaia’s site and ordered a few samples, thinking I would review them on my beauty blog. Ambre Fetiche pretty much enslaved me. I was obsessed. I drained the sample and ordered a bottle, twitching like an addict in withdrawl while I waited for it to arrive. Amazing scent that works well on my skin. I should try other ambers, but I’m so smitten with Ambre Fetiche I just haven’t bothered. 🙂

    When you fin out what’s in that mislabled sample, let us know! I’m dead curious.


    • Olfactoria says:

      Jen, please always bother with your two cents, I want to hear them! 🙂
      How nice to hear it was AF that was your ticket into Perfumeland, it is indeed addictive.
      I will certainly let you know if I ever find out what was in my sample, but it is not going to be easy finding out.

  7. Gisela says:

    See, that’s what I soo love about perfume: it makes it possible for my unobtrusive self (had to borrow this!) to be surrounded with a glorious, brash or ballgown-y or vamp-y or whatever scent, wearing my totally unspectacular casual attire. It’s the most comfortable way to dress up for me – you can tell I’m lazy (and high heels are killing me!). 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      You are so right, Gisela! Perfume is the easiest and best way to dress up and change who you are just a little. That is what makes it so great! What is your favorite “dressy” perfume?

      • Gisela says:

        That’s a great question and thinking about it was a lot of fun: Chanel Cuir de Russie extrait makes me feel like I’m wearing an expensive rider’s outfit with fabulous boots on my way to the stables, Vero Kern Rubj extrait is like wearing layers of exotic silk in wonderful shades in a beautiful garden, Iris Silver Mist is like wearing a tailored suit with perfect hair and makeup (me, not the suit ;-)), Joy extrait is like wearing an elegant evening dress to the opera watching Rosenkavalier (Ja, ja!), Carnal Flower is like wearing the most seductive dessous and Amouage Gold makes me feel so regal, that it is hard to pull off and I don’t wear it often. 😉

  8. You know I like this one 🙂
    I love how the leather wears on me. That alone makes it an amber worth owning.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Victoria, you know what is strange – on me there is almost no leather most of the time (although on some days it is more apparent) and that is why I love it! 😉

  9. Undina says:

    Olfactoria, thank you for the review (and Dee – thank you for your persistance) – I will try this perfume (and probably the rest of Les Orientalistes collection).

    So far my statistics on the line aren’t too favorable: I absolutely love (100+ used up and replenished ml speak to that) Petite Cherie, like (but not enough to go beyond a sample vial) Eau d’Hadrien, hoped to love but ended up strongly disliking Quel Amour! and Ninfeo Mio (though the latter one still has a chance, I’ll try it again when it’s warmer) and I’m very disappointed by having a very powerful adverse reaction to Le Mimosa.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Les Orientalistes are truly a different pair of shoes from the rest of the Goutal perfumes. Maybe you would like Vanille Exquise a very interesting vanilla scent?
      I have not tried Le Mimosa yet, but your report is not encouraging. 😦

      • Undina says:

        Don’t be discouraged by my opinion! *jen from This Blog Really Stinks had a great time with Le Mimosa (her review was published in the end of February or you can find a link to it in my post about mimosa perfumes – it might be easier to navigate since I do not have too many posts).
        Anyway, after you try it please let me know if you liked it – I’m curious.

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  16. A shot of amber, and it is fetiche… I had to wear it. And I like it.
    Some of my friends found it a little too church-like (the incense) but it calms me like the fresh touch of a granite column…

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