I bought Ambrelia because I didn't know anything about it. I still don't really know anything about it now except for how it smells. It was made by Contina Corporation in Detroit, Michigan, a company about which I could not find any information. I have no idea when they were founded or how they were closed, if they were dissolved or acquired. They made a few other perfumes that I found pictures of floating around on the internet, but those didn't have any other information about Contina attached to them. I don't have release dates for any of them. Even the name 'ambrelia' is devoid of content. It doesn't seem to mean anything. It's the name of an insurance company in France.
The bottle is a plain symmetrical ovoid, clear to show the fairly dark juice inside. The cap is smooth, tapered gold plastic. I didn't think much of the bottle until I opened it. It was made extremely well. The glass has a reducer molded into it so the bottle won't spill much if knocked over, and there's a plastic plug on the inside top of the cap that has kept the contents pristine for what I believe has been at least 40 years. I like this design much better than bottles where the plug is a separate piece that can be easily dropped and lost. Some of the gold lettering on the bottle has rubbed away. If it wasn't for that, you could have passed the bottle off as made yesterday. Not so much as a drop vaporized before I got my hands on it.
I thought Ambrelia might be an amber, since it's got 'ambre' in the name. It's not. It's a chypre. I'm happy with this. I love ambers, but I just don't have enough chypres. Ambrelia is a prickly green landmine of galbanum, oakmoss, hyacinth, and the smell of the inside of a pack of cigarettes. Tannic roses appear about half an hour in and intensify through the drydown. There are also some metallic notes that make me think of bruises. The very last of Ambrelia is a light green floral trail. This is the closest it ever gets to being 'soft', to having its pointy edges rounded off. Even here, it's still somewhat harsh in that it is cold.
Ambrelia makes me imagine getting kicked out of casinos for starting fights, fishing bus fare home out of the fountain outside, and doing it all over again next weekend. It's cold and abrasive in a 'failure of the social contract' way rather than an 'intellectual woman in charge of her life' way that chypres are generally shooting for. I mean this in a good way. I like having this character in my collection, and sometimes I actually do what to capture that spirit for a little while. Just maybe not while I'm hanging out with other people. I have a lot of other priority fragrances to chase after, but I hope to try other Continas in the future and see if they convey a similar mood.