Brave New World…? Prada Amber for Women The Perfumed Dandy’s Censored Letter

‘In our future all fragrance will have this feel’

So says the leader in her meagre machine-like monotone addressing the crowds in the great hall.

She is a tiny silhouette, barely perceptible against the vast blank canvas of the white wall behind her.

She wears, as all the higher ones do, a white robe, a white cloak and her hair slicked back like a movie star of the times ‘before’.

Clothing is nothing more than a struggle to disguise her skeletal frame.

‘And everything, everything will be powered by electric.’ She declares.

‘Everything will be clean and silent and efficient’.

A shudder like a wave sweeps out across the crowd and finally breaks on you: a sample of the scent has been released into the air.

It is a surf of arid, half-remembered, artificial amber with plasticine patchouli and filleted, boneless benzoin.

It tosses and splutters at everyone’s senses.

‘Everything will save energy for the collective effort’.

The single accord is as insistent as her intonation.

You drift away.

You are in a past where everything is not so fresh, and scrubbed and anti-septicated.

In a moment in your nostalgia you forget that the soot from sentimental chimney stacks settled on lungs and stung the eyes of children.

That passion seemed inevitably to bring with it conflict and loss.

‘Everything will be environmentally sustainable’

The scent turns seamless vanilla as all dirt and rough edges perform a vanishing act worthy of a Grand Vizier’s court conjuror.

‘Everything will be ecologically sound’

And you long for steam trains and Ottoman toilets, oakmoss and stale flowers.

‘Everything will be for everyone!’

If there is anymore eloquent an expression of the pseudo-futuristic, elegant, etiolated ‘exotic’ fragrances of today than Prada Amber for Women, I have yet to come across it.

This highly engineered, over designed and too thought out exercise in perfume politics achieves exactly what it feels it must, and precisely no more.

Truly it is an unhappy utopia of a perfume.

It is a swift, clean scent-generating machine that gathers in the consumers’ cash by offering up a series of populist-formulaic chords: amber and patchouli, a slight Levantine baseline: vanilla, benzoin , something unnoticeably anonymously floral.

Everything in fact that is ‘bound to please the crowd’.

For all its symmetry and design-led precision it is ultimately an act of conceptual cynicism cooked up by big corporate interests.

It is the military industrial complex of decorative smells.

I prefer perfume created by artists to the essence of engineers, economists and silent egos.


Man, woman?

It wouldn’t matter if a machine wore this scent.

It would be equally as soulless.

As The Perfumed Dandy is indisposed today, this is a selection from the Classic Collection.

Readers may be interested to note that when first posted on a well known internet fragrance forum, this review was ultimately removed because it proved so unpopular!

What say you? Are these comments unjust?

I would so love to hear your thoughts.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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18 responses to “Brave New World…? Prada Amber for Women The Perfumed Dandy’s Censored Letter

  1. batkitty

    This is a brilliant review.

  2. Lilybelle

    I agree, it is a brilliant review. I feel badly for the Dandy, though, when he wears one he dislikes. A soulless fragrance for a soulless machine… 😦

    • Dear Lily
      Fear not, The Dandy gets to try so many wonderous perfumes that the odd calamity can’t be begrudged!
      Besides without contrast how would one be able to tell the true works of genius.
      So please do not feel sad for me, it is all part of life’s rich and perfumed tapestry.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  3. Lilybelle

    Oops, I posted before I read it was an older review. They actually removed it! All the more reason to write reviews in your own space here. I don’t feel as strongly about this scent as you do, Mr Dandy. If this is the one that came out simply as Prada around 2002 (or so?), then actually I rather liked it. I never owned any. It isn’t really my style.

    • Dearest Lily
      Yes – The Dandy was blacklisted!! Most worryingly by popular consent…
      In many ways, this Prada scent is far from the worst I’ve ever smelt, but it irritated me in its seeming quest for flawlessness.
      Now it has been pointed out to me that this is part of the house style of Prada both in perfume and clothing, indeed elsewhere as in Infusion d’Iris, I am quite at home with it – but here I found it difficult to bare.
      It did, however, lead me to reflect that it is the imperfections in perfumes that often endear themselves to me – the roughness of the peach in Mitsouko, the petrolatum in Jicky, the chemical roughness of No.5, the burnt quality of the leather in Cuir de Russie – and where these are absent, I am perhaps left feeling that the experiance is insufficiently human.
      So even from a fragrance I dislike, there is always something to learn, some new experience to be harvested.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Lilybelle

        I agree, there is always something to be learned, especially from something or someone who rubs us the wrong way, like it or not. “Insufficiently human”…I totally see how that would bother you.

  4. I heartily disliked this perfume on first try, Dear Perfumed Dandy, but I came eventually to a friendly relationship with it. I cannot say that I love it or ever could, but I can wear and rather like it on occasion–perhaps because I love labdanum, which figures prominently in the composition. In my His or Hers? series at Il Mondo di Odore, I selected Prada for her over Prada for him! Perhaps you dislike both? For similar reasons?

    In any case, I love the above review so much that it makes me wish that I hated the perfume! 😉

    • Dearest Sherapop
      Maybe time is – as with so many things – the answer here.
      However, I gave this a number of outings and my heart could not warm to it. Maybe a change if seasons ans well as mood is required…
      Ah, no interesting that you should mention your love of one note as being the saving grace for this fragrance, as the reason for my preferring ‘for him’ in this instance is simple : saffron.
      Now that has set my mind turning again – perhaps that saffron is too perfect too – to the perfume wardrobe I return!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  5. Another well-written review, sir! *scratches off Prada Amber for Women from list*
    And I will adopt “anti-septicated” as my new word …

  6. rosestrang

    Ah, shudder! Your evocative review took me back to my time as an arts curator incarcerated in the corporate division of the NHS!
    While I’ve never tried this perfume I applaud the ideas behind it. I agree, a true perfumer is an artist, or what’s the point. I think as ‘noses’ become more prominent (hoho) their individual creativity will drown out the corporate blandification process! You could even draw parallels with visual artists emerging as individuals in about the 16th century. Also thee’s the rising popularity of niche perfumes
    I can’t really hate Prada though since they invented Infusion d’Iris which was a risky retro sort of perfume (I really like it anyway) I wonder what happened when they made Amber, mind you I haven’t tried it yet. What a thought provoking review, I could rant on about strangled creativity in institutions and so on, but I’d better get on with some work!

    • Dear Rose
      I can only imagine how it must have been trying to encourage art to flourish in the (generally) benign but bruising bureaucracy that is the NHS.
      Your parallels between noses and artists of the Renaissance is a truly fascinating one – and of course there are other parallels in the importance of sponsors or patrons in both periods.
      I too adore Infusion d’Iris, and you may have hit the proverbial nail on the head for why the two scents are so different.
      The Iris is risky and retro – this is a modern risk free fragrance.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  7. Dear Chap
    So unfair that you were blacklisted! Boo to those Prada Perfume Police. I am not a Prada fan myself (find them a little dull) but was taken with Infusion d’Iris – this is the one with orange blossom, yes? Unfortunately on the day I spritzed it at Liverpool John Lennon Duty Free it rather clashed with my Guerlain Green Vetiver. I had doused myself in it so as not to have to bother carrying the bottle but was rather pungent. The clash of vetiver and orange had a rather whiney, sickly quality which called to mind those strange puddings one used to have at school – orange mousse in a flan base, butterscotch tart, peppermint custard…UGH! Ireland really smelt me coming that day.
    A bientot

    • Dear Seafarer
      Heartily I bid you welcome!
      I’m with you on Prada generally and on Infusion d’Iris as being the exception that proves the rule, being a wonderful fragrance.
      Did you know that it only became possible as a result of technological advances which massively reduced the cost of inserting the iris note into perfume – thereby allowing the makers to throw caution to the wind?
      Your story of haphazard layering of scents and its after effects have brought wry smile to The Dandy’s eyes as he well remembers similar experiences – always at airports.
      Duty Free stores are designed to lead us astray are they not?
      Though I must say your school dinners seem rather fancy compared to those I recall.
      I very much hope to see you here again soon.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  8. At last I got to read the review that the collective baned! Bravo and brilliant. I want to smell it but fear my soul may be ripped from me if I do.

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