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Ambre Premier (Jovoy)

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

This article was written for, and first published, in CaFleureBon.

If you’re in the middle of luxury, it’s not luxury, it’s reality; you have to be really, really far away from luxury for it to be shiny; clear; a story. In a way, it is not those who live it, nor is it those who cater to it who define it as such; for only separation from luxuries can determine them, and only those living a different reality can see luxury from a wide angle. (To put it in perspective (yes, pun intended), “luxury” (meaning “comfortable excess”) and “luxation” (meaning “dislocation”, “bending”) have the same root. Fittingly, for my kid self, aristocratic blue blood equaled riding horses.)

Does that chip at its splendor? Does it change the way we crave? Apparently not--our psychology ensures that, if we ever get to live our first idea of luxury, we’re never disappointed; in fact, we move it from the aspirational bucket into the memory bucket, and keepsake it tenderly alongside everything that’s dear.

Vintage Otto and Neckermann collage. Photo, creative direction, editing and digital art by @a_nose_knows for Jovoy Ambre Premier

As a child, the closest I felt to luxury was when my aunt (master tailor at the fashion gallery in town) would gift me expired editions of the Neckermann / Otto magazines. I’d come home, perch on the top of the bed, take my scissors, glue, and blank paper, and I’d start creating my own collections... [apart from looks], magazines brought the unfathomable notion of seasons, issues, and "new" collections. I also kept checking the date on the cover, and remember being overwhelmed by the discrepancy between the world out there and us. The impact was often too great to bear.


The chariot. Photo by George V.; creative direction, editing and digital art by @a_nose_knows for Jovoy Ambre Premier

Up to 5 years old or so I lived with my grandparents. My grandmother was the preacher’s housekeeper; sometimes she took me and it was like entering another world where everything was different. The priest would come home in a chariot pulled by a large, docile, beautiful black horse; the chariot had 2 seats, a ladder pulled by a chain, and its own stagecoach. The big guy always wore a long fur coat with fur at the collar, a high top hat, and a street cane with a silver duck handle. They had personnel for everything- horse keepers, cleaning staff, cooking staff; the front door had painted glass panels; inside the house there was a small altar, a piano, a guitar; floors were covered of the same kind most people save for wall decor; and in the garden, under a vine, there was a swing. Everything, everything was different.


The bathtub. Photo by Amy Peterson; creative direction, editing and digital art by @a_nose_knows for Jovoy Ambre Premier

The ultimate luxury of my childhood was the bathtub. We lived in a Soviet-style dormitory, on a long corridor lined with mini studios; each family occupied one, and we all shared a kitchen and bathroom (shower only) at the end of the corridor [like you now see in period movies]. There was a strict table with washing and cooking times, and we all kept a rigorous track of it all.

Enter our visits to my aunt in Chisinau [n.r.- the capital of the Republic of Moldova], which at that time was my personal Paris. I had never seen so many books, Burda magazines, a perfume bottle closet (still remember the small, green bottle I finally identified as Coriander), a large terrace-type balcony with vines…. but most importantly, a BATH! Lying in it for hours was my absolute luxury, a refuge in an imaginary life. That was my "aristocracy."


The towel hook. Photo by tackrus; creative direction, editing and digital art by @a_nose_knows for Jovoy Ambre Premier

She was the sister of the painter I.C., and S.C.'s [world-renowned conductor] sister-in-law. Her name was Susanne, and she was around 60 when I met her. She was thin, always careful with her figure. She smelled of expensive creams and looked fresh and composed; she was very gentle and funny, spoke French as her first language, and kept an Oxford English. Her husband was extremely courteous, and together they lived in a small, tidy, fragrant, airy, and especially warm apartment. Upon my arrival, I’d be asked to wash my hands and in the bathroom I’d stare at the expensive toothpaste, French creams, and other imported wonders.

Susanne tutored about 4 children a day, and she really enjoyed her classes although I now know they were her only source of income. I found out much later that her father had spent years in prison as a political detainee after the rest of the family managed to escape to France. Yet, it was this couple’s cheerfulness, zest for life, and immense politeness that separated their kind from the rest of us.


The teacup. Photo by shein; creative direction, editing and digital art by @a_nose_knows for Jovoy Ambre Premier

I will evoke here the luxury of keeping one’s habits to the end. My grandmother never bought anything pret-a-porter; her clothes were always made to measure, and her shoes made to order; she kept visitation hours even when the only snacks to spare were limited to jam and homemade cookies. Looking back, I wonder if what I considered a luxurious lifestyle was simply her refusal to adapt... However, the first time I really pondered upon luxury was when my grandmother (the epitome of luxury for me) told me about her own unattainable reference point: a friend of hers refused any marriage proposal that did not suit her, despite social pressures to become a bride.

At that age I didn’t understand luxury as an inner state, so my grandmother put it simply: she lived as she liked.


The horseless ride. Photo, creative direction, editing and digital art by @a_nose_knows for Jovoy Ambre Premier

Ambre Premier, even after years of knowing it, makes me smile. It does not land into the pits of the stomach like some life-altering events (and, yes, perfumes) do; nor does it get attached to people, objects, notions or desires. It doesn’t conjure thoughts I do not have, nor does it make me what I am not. Instead, it rather calms me and brings me to the state one feels after traveling for 38h to get to the other side of Zanzibar: the quiet realization of dreaming-come-true, the satisfied sigh when you—pun intended—have arrived.

The application is linear and glowy, the sniff--honest and easy: the amber is crystalline and solar like a lump of hardened caramel; the citruses are confit and jewel-like, with floral undertones of peachy roses; the body is substantial enough with musks and darker vegetals to give this a grownup rendering. Shiny and carefree, Ambre Premier is effortless… like watching Dynasty, from really far away, in full technicolor.

Official notes: amber, spices, rose, vanilla, citrus, patchouli.

Other perceived notes: cotton candy, salt, cocoa, peach, powder, cardamom, white musk, doll heads, pepper, nutmeg

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