Amber Classico Modern by The Zoo

Punchy, classical, and just a little bit strange, Amber Classico Modern provides a new slant on ambery fragrances.

Listed notes

White musks, orchid molecules, gentian, mandarin, amber, benzoin, geranium, patchouli, peru balsam, labdanum.

Top notes

The first few bars of Amber Classico Modern are pretty wild. You could look at that notes list and imagine that mandarin will be the first thing to leap from the bottle at you, and whilst it does, the mandarin that we encounter is turned into a peculiar beast indeed by the addition of gentian. Yes, it is fresh, yes, it is juicy, and by goodness is it uplifting (the fragrance positively wooshes as it takes off in its upwards trajectory) but it only smells of mandarin to me if I sniff and think “mandarin”. The gentian smells green but barky, and whilst I haven’t smelled the raw material in isolation, it seems to have a really gutsy determination about it, tenacious, lively, and giving off a self-assured and confident vibe. There are honeyed undertones here too, and a sort of dusty floral feel, but these latter elements are subtle.

If I close my eyes and experience the scent without preconception, then it smells like really hot pine trees or pine needles, absolutely blasted by the sun, or, alternatively, like tinsel, with a fruity undertow. Admittedly, that sounds rather strange, but it is the combination of bright and uplifting, with a facet which smells somewhat green and zingy, and all that laying over a shiny amber. I relate that to the shiny feel of tinsel when it emerges from its summer hibernation, intermingling with the expectant Christmas tree smell and the fruit bowl overflowing with oranges, and that’s the link it makes in my brain. Possibly peculiar, but definitely the sort of thing which raises a smile.

Heart notes

If I said “think of the smell of salted caramel”, you would perhaps imagine something sweeter than Amber Classico Modern provides in its heart, but think more of the caramel colour, shiny and glossy, studded with mouthwateringly salty speckles. That’s the sort of vibe that the scent evokes. The zingy, energetic sort of woody/green/herbaceousness from the start lingers on into the fragrance once it has settled, with the mandarin phasing in and out of focus. I found this an interesting thing about wearing the scent: sometimes it is definitely mandarin, in other breaths it is more abstract and pine-needly. I suspect that different skins and body chemistries will accentuate one facet or another more or less. I tested this simultaneously on skin and blotter and on the blotter the mandarin is more consistently recognisable, so worth seeing what it does on your skin.

There’s a dryness running throughout the fragrance which isn’t the smooth and silky powderiness of, say, a finely milled talcum powder. This dryness is spiky and blast-baked, which again brings me back to that idea of pine needles toasted and dessicated by the harshest of sunshine.

Amber Classico Modern definitely keeps the wearer on their toes. It’s beefy, chunky, bursting with character and backbone. Nobody could reasonably accuse this scent of being a shy and retiring wallflower.

Base notes

The lingering remnants of Amber Classico Modern are described as “nuzzly” by the perfumer and that is exactly what they are. The bright, shining, joyful amber with all its polished, burnished and smoothed glory positively radiates loveliness and you just want to get your whole face in to bask in the glow. It is nuzzly, but not in a meek, mild and begging for attention way. Instead it’s like one of those obstinate cats who sidle up to people who hate cats and rub themselves all over their legs, just because that is the most cat-like thing to do. Amber Classico Modern will let you nuzzle into it, but it’s not going to be all needy about it.

The musks in the base bring lightness to the scent and slow the tempo of the fragrance down, slowly, gradually, bringing us to this place of nuzzlement towards the end.

There’s a place in Iceland where you can stand with one foot on the North American tectonic plate, and one foot on the Eurasian tectonic plate and I feel like Amber Classico Modern is a bit like that. Only instead of tectonic plates, it’s amber fragrances of the past and the future, and Amber Classico Modern has a foot in both camps. The clue was there in the name really.

The other stuff

The perfumer for Amber Classico Modern was Christophe Laudamiel.

The longevity of this fragrance is absolutely stellar. It’s one of those that you will still smell the next day following a wear. The projection is similarly bold and robust too, this is a room filler if you were to overspray. For under sprayers you’re most definitely going to want to go easy on the trigger.

Amber Classico Modern is a pretty versatile scent and I can see it working in a variety of situations, depending somewhat on how much you put on. Lighter on the spray it would work as an office scent, heavier and it would work well into the evenings, especially on sultry, stormy nights, then it would be perfection itself.

The brand

The Zoo are a New York based brand by Christophe Laudamiel. The brand is fresh, modern, and thrilling. They balance a conscious approach to the concept with education and transparency. You can find out more about The Zoo on their About page.

Christophe Laudamiel is one of the key drivers behind the development of the Perfumery Code of Ethics for both perfumers and reviewers. The Sniff pledges to uphold this code of ethics.

Buy it

Amber Classico Modern is available from The Zoo web store where it is priced at $135 USD for 60ml. It is also available from Sainte Cellier in the UK where it is priced at £125 for the same size.

We were gifted a sample of this fragrance by Brooke, from Sainte Cellier, with no strings attached. Our thanks to Brooke for the kindness.

Header image by Joe from Pixabay.


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