A STRANGER IN THE NIGHT ~ Atelier d’Orient Rive d’Ambre by Tom Ford



The great amber dragon skimmed and curved north from Hong Kong through the mountains of Guangdong province, its glowing cyclopean eye never wavered from the silver twin silk threads that were the path to Shanghai. Within the mechanical beast Lily Chu had fallen asleep to the clickety-clack of the dragon on the tacks. She was dreaming on the edge of sleep. Slowly she realized she was not alone in the bed. There was a body pressed up against her back. It was not human and not of this earth. She tried to roll over but the thing kept her pinned against the wall. As it pressed harder its hot breath was upon her neck just behind her right ear. She tried to scream when she felt the claws moving up along her spine.


(Fan Bingbing as Lily Chu)

Eyes flashed open. A large strong hand instantly covered her mouth. The nightlight gave his eyes a terrifying neon glow. She tried to scream again and pushed against his muscular arm that held her paralyzed as if caught in a jade vice.

“Were you having a nightmare?” He smelled of bitter oranges and cognac. “Don’t scream Margaret and I won’t have to hurt you. Do you understand?”

She nodded in the affirmative.  He uncovered her lips slowly. He still held her pinned as securely as a prized exotic butterfly in a glass case.

“No Margaret, my name Lily Chu.” She said. “No Margaret…”

His low baritone laugh filled her ears blotting out any hope of pretense. “Now that is the worst Susie Wong impression I have ever heard.”  He unpinned her. “Sit up.”

She did as he commanded. “I am cold, may I have my coat?”

He tossed her the mink. As she pulled it on over her shantung silk pajamas she fumbled at the empty pocket.

“Looking for this?” She looked up to see her gun pointed precisely at the bridge of her nose.

“I have a great deal of money I can…”

His icy smile cut her resolve. “Your get right to the point, smart girl. The usual question would be, who are you and how did you get in here?  It is my job to get into locked rooms and who I am is not important. What is important is I know what you have done and that there are men after you because of what you have done.”

The gun pulsed ever so slightly to the beat of the blood running through his trigger finger.

“Are you a cop?”

“Not a cop, not a, what is it you call it, a private eye?  No, nothing as simple as that, I am here on an unofficial basis.”

“You’re not American… you’re Australian.”

There was a tiny quiver in the gun. “British.”

“Are you going to kill me for the money?”

“I don’t need the money.” He lowered the gun and with the index finger of his left hand touched her nose. He smiled almost warmly as his finger deliberately moved over her lips to her chin.

“I am here Lily Chu to help you get away with it.”

-0dragontrain agenteyes


Rive d’Ambre from Tom Ford’s his Atelier d’Orient line is a light elegant take on a classic eau de cologne with a twist tied up with a silken rope of mystery. The nose behind its creation is perfumer, Olivier Gillotin. He is known for creating 10 Corso Como, Cristobal for Balenciaga and Notorious for Ralph Lauren. Among his many perfumes is one of my favorites, Fath Pour L’Homme for Jacques Fath. (See my review Falling In Love With Fath)

Classified as an Oriental for men and women Rive d’Ambre opens with a sparkling pop of citrus notes like the clash of cymbals and wind chimes in an exotic modern symphony. These notes are linear and come at you in a heady bright jumble of lemon, bergamot and bitter orange. This plays around on the skin for about 20 minutes and slowly the course of the opening they calm and are absorbed into a cocktail of cognac and amber. Spices of cardamom and tarragon add dimension to the fragrance as it falls to the skin at about 5 hours.  In the dry down there is the warmth of tolu balsam and patchouli to cover and comfort the bones of what remains of the fragrance.

This is not a complex or challenging fragrance but that does not make it uninteresting. On the contrary it is surprising in where it goes from that familiar eau de cologne opening into an exotic warm range.  It is a perfect fragrance to wear in the tropics where the heat will open it up and add to its projection. In more temperate climates it would work best in summer. Rive d’Ambre is a light bright smart and sophisticated addition to the Atelier d’Orient collection by Mr. Ford.




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