Browsing Tag

Amouage

Gourmand Oriental Oud Resins Review Rose Spice

Amouage Epic Woman

18th September 2015

Anybody here remember Opal Fruits? The tagline was: “Made to make your mouth water” – and sure enough whenever an ad for those tangy, sherbet-y little suckers came on TV, my mouth would begin pumping out saliva. Like Pavlov’s dog.

Well, I just have to glance at my dark green bottle of Amouage Epic Woman for my mouth to start to water. Like pickles, umeboshi, and sourpatch gummies, there is an almost physical pleasure to be had in a wincingly tart flavor. It is a credit to Amouage that Epic Woman contains so many piquant green notes and still manages to be so inviting. It smells like something pickled in brine! And yet sweet!

Every part of Epic Woman is as satisfying to me as a good meal – the lip-smacking savor of kimchi leading into a meaty, smoked rose and finally a few spoonfuls of thin crème anglaise, just enough to sweeten the tongue.

Many people say that Epic Woman belongs to the same oriental woody perfume family as Chanel’s Bois des Iles, Molinard Habanita, and even Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles. But I always get the feeling that putting those perfumes in the same sentence as something like Epic Woman is like saying tomatoes = strawberries because they are both fruits. Needless to say, Epic Woman is neither a tomato nor a strawberry. Clearly, it’s a salted plum.

I’m always trying to figure out where Epic Woman fits in the general scheme of things. No doubt about it, it is an oriental perfume. However, it lacks the plush sweetness and creamy roundness of most other orientals. After much thought, I’ve come to realize that the head space it occupies (for me, at least) is the same as for Tom Ford’s Plum Japonais and YSL’s vintage Nu EDP – smoky incense perfumes with a phenomenally sour streak of flavor running through them that prickle the saliva glands. In case you haven’t picked up on my feeling about this sourness – it’s good! I love it actually. It’s the tart streak in these perfumes that stops them from melting into the characterless vanilla-amber-sandalwood sludge that sometimes plagues the category.

Epic Woman balances the hot and the sour and the sweet as masterfully as a delicate Chinese dish – the heat from the black pepper and cinnamon, the green pickling spices (caraway), and the soft-but-oh-so-vinegary oud are the major players here. But there is also a diffuse sweetness, coming off the pink rose that blooms behind the sour opening notes and what feels like a mixture of powdered cinnamon and vanilla. I can’t say that I smell black tea, but maybe I’m just not picking out the tea tannins when placed up against a smoky guaic wood, incense, and other woody notes.

The vanilla in the base is extremely subtle – a thimbleful of creme anglaise rather than an ice-cream sundae – and spiked with just enough sugar added to round out the sourness of the oud wood. The sourness and the delicate spices surrounding the rose persist all through the perfume, though, and keep me smacking my lips.

In short, this is a perfume to be savored like a good Chinese sweet and sour dish, or the snap of a cold dill pickle straight from the jar when you’re starving. It is a wholly appetizing perfume – almost gourmand in the pleasure it affords me.

Attars & CPOs The Discard Pile White Floral

Amouage Afrah

29th June 2015

Amouage Afrah smells like a three-way clash between the heavy, fruity, musky aroma of champaca flowers, a licorice-like basil note, and the marine bilge unpleasantness of either ambergris or civet. The opening is heady and almost indolic/stinky with champaca, but the basil gives it a nice ‘black’ salted licorice lift. I give this attar points for originality, though. I have never smelled anything like it, and indeed, it does not smell like any of the other Amouage attars I have tried. It strikes as less oriental and more European in focus, perhaps. I kind of see where they were going with it.

I just find the civety stink of ambergris to not mesh well with the other notes. There is this heavy aroma of someone who doesn’t have very good hygiene, or who simply has produces bad body odor due to some medical condition like glucose over-production. Worse yet, it is specifically the ‘second day’ smell imprint of their body and hair and discarded skins cells that lies about on the sheets of your bed for days after they’ve gone. Not a winner in my book, I’m afraid.

Chypre Immortelle Review

Amouage Beloved Woman

29th June 2015

Amouage Beloved Woman is beautifully done. But what strikes me most about it is that it is clearly Amouage’s homage to that great classic, Clinique’s Aromatics Elixir, just as surely as Jubilation 25 is a homage to classic French fruity chypres such as Rochas Femme or Diorella.

Beloved Woman opens up with a bitter, powdered clove, lavender, and sage combination that smells as aromatic and as talc-like as one of those quaint gentlemen’s colognes you might find at Penhaglion’s, or indeed a modern interpretation of a Dandy perfume, such as Histoires de Parfums’ 1876. There is a certain spicy, resinous, talc-like feel that links all these fragrances in my mind.

But more than anything, the rose, the hay-like chamomile, the sage all sing a tune that is familiar to me from my lovely, pagan, mother earth Aromatics Elixir. AE is earthier, dirty with patchouli, and far more ‘deep down in the forest’ than Beloved. Beloved is a fine lady, and AE is a hippy mom. But the essential bone structure is there. One was like the other in a different life, and all that.

The rose note in Beloved is pretty remarkable. Hidden behind the aromatic powder of the opening, you might miss it at first, but then it swells in intensity, rising up from a crumble of dusty potpourri rose petals to become a big, juicy rose fluffed out by moisture. The rose lingers for a while in a pool of boozy, hay-like immortelle, for a combination that is simultaneously syrupy and dry, sweet and savory. The immortelle adds a lovely ‘baked grass’ note to the florals and makes it feel less rarified than the start.

The dry down of Beloved is more pedestrian and standard-Amouage-oriental fare than its ‘Classic French’ opening and heart. After the herbal chypre dressing gown is dropped to her ankles, Beloved lurches off into a dry, resinous base made up of cedar, a heavily spiced musk, and a fairly bitter olibanum (Frankincense). This part’s a bit of a snooze after the impressive first half, but it’s still an Amouage base, so you know things weren’t done on the cheap or stuffed full of nasty, cheap woody ambers.

Beloved is unquestionably a beautiful, almost intoxicating perfume, but I won’t be spending any money on it. For one, it is over-priced, even within the usual standards for an Amouage fragrance, and for my money, Aromatics Elixir performs a similar trick of making the wearer feel womanly, powerful, and in control of her own fate, but at almost ten times less the cost of one bottle of Beloved. That said, there is an uneasy beauty about it that moves me, and I put it down to the bitter-liquorish, golden afternoon note of immortelle, casting its warmth over the cool, forest-like tones of the rest of the fragrance.

Fruity Scents Masculine Oud Review

Amouage Jubilation XXV

25th June 2015

Fit for a king, they say about Amouage Jubilation XXV – and in this case, they mean it quite literally, because the Sultan of Oman frequently gifts bottles of Jubilation and Gold to other monarchs when they pay official state visits to his sultanate. And if I were a visiting monarch, I too would be delighted to find a bottle of this resting on my pillow.

Jubilation is a richly spiced oriental that has the best of everything in it – an opulent Frankincense, jammy fruit (orange and blackberries), warm pie spices, a hot, smoking oud, and a superbly salty musk and ambergris reconstruction extending it all at the tailbone. The opening, in particular, has a berry and dark chocolate effect going on that’s interesting (I assume it’s the patchouli interacting with the fruit and incense).

It’s very balsamic, from the myrrh, opoponax, and Frankincense, smoky thanks to the labdanum and guaiacum, and very sweet – almost syrupy sweet actually – thanks to the big dollops of honey. Sweet enough for a woman (this woman included). I love it.

Opulent, rich, oriental, smoldering……I’m thinking Omar Sharif with those bedroom eyes of his. But it’s classy, too. Although Jubilation is rich, it wears quite lightly and is a teeny bit famous for sillage that comes and goes all day, making you wonder if you’ve put on enough (you have). A couple of sprays under a shirt will provide subtle wafts of gorgeousness all day.

Funnily enough, I never would have thought of trying this for myself but for a mistake someone made while filling a sample for me. I had requested a sample of Jubilation 25, the woman’s version because I wanted to see if it was much different from the sample of the extrait I have. The sample came marked “Jubilation 25”, so I sprayed it on one wrist and a bit of the Jubilation 25 extrait on the other wrist. Immediately, I knew that it couldn’t be the same perfume at all – this one was far sweeter, softer, and more affable than the Jubilation 25 I was familiar with. I put two and two together, and interested, began looking into the reviews of Jubilation XXV.

Now don’t get me wrong – I love Jubilation 25, and as a piece of “art”, I still believe it to be greater than XXV. But Jubilation XXV is a much easier wear. It has a sweet juiciness to it that just comes off as more friendly and approachable. Jubilation XXV is a dopey Labrador to Jubilation 25’s sly cat.

I’m a fan of many Amouage fragrances, but I really feel that the Jubilation brother and sister pair represent the pinnacle of the house’s artistic achievement to date. Released to celebrate Amouage’s 25th birthday in 2007, the Jubilations kicked off a new era for the company. And out of the house’s “couple” scents, the Jubilations are also the most different from each other. Unlike the pairings that followed (Lyric, Epic, Memoir, and Journey), the Jubilations are utterly different in feel and texture to each other, and even the notes that do connect them (fruit and Frankincense) are treated so differently as to render any similarity between them on a purely technical basis moot.

Masculine Review

Amouage Memoir Man

25th June 2015

Possibly my favorite Amouage for men, out of the four or five masculines I’ve tried from the house. Amouage Memoir Man is quite a sparse perfume – basically a mix of bitter herbs providing a layer of green crunch over dark and smoky Frankincense and a bone-dry, papery cedar. I like its austerity, and unlike the more opulently decorated Amouages, its stretched-out form allows room for each of the materials to “breathe”.

In its treatment of the famous Omani silver frankincense, Memoir is the dramatic inverse of Jubilation XXV: in Memoir, it strips the material back to a smoky, parched, and ashy skeleton, whereas the more affable Jubilation XXV piles on the honey and candied berries to counter the citric bitterness of Frankincense. If Jubilation XXV is Omar Sheriff exploding in fulsome Technicolor on our TV screens, then Memoir Man is Cary Grant in a black and white movie, smoking a cigarette and smiling wryly at poor Jimmy Stewart’s pathetic attempts to steal his woman. He doesn’t speak much, but then, he doesn’t have to.

The opening notes are a vivid one-two punch of minty basil leaf (with its hints of licorice root) and bitterish artemisia (wormwood). Artemisia is a silvery-green Mediterranean shrub that the French use to make absinthe. Absinthe, which until quite recently was illegal because of its reputation for making you hallucinate (or simply die), kind of tastes like Pernod, which is to say like aniseed, but far more bitter.

I see that both artemisia and absinthe are listed in the notes, and really, the opening does have a very pronounced “herbal bitters” flavor to it. To my nose, it is also somehow similar to the snapped-stalk astringency of fresh angelica and rhubarb. This wet, lush botanical greenness is much needed – soon after the opening, in rides this dry, smoky Frankincense and bone-dry woods combo that nearly sucks the moisture out of my airways. The dryness of the woods/incense actually reminds me of Naomi Goodsir’s Bois d’Ascese, which has a similar kind of pitch-black, charred, sooty aroma.

I’m not going to lie – there is also something fairly chemical about this phase, and something about it hurts my nostrils. But the green herbs and stalks from the opening notes are still there, in the background, offering a little flash of cool wetness here and there to relieve my nose. The dry-down is a beautifully smoky cedar, dry and papery, and wholly reminiscent of Dior’s Eau Noire’s dry-down, with its Finnish sauna and hot stones steaminess.

Mysterious, dry as a bone, and smoky as hell – I find myself thinking about Memoir Man long after I’ve finished my sample. I would drape myself over any man debonair enough to wear this.

Masculine Review The Discard Pile Tobacco

Amouage Journey Man

25th June 2015

The first time I tried Amouage Journey Man, I was bowled over by the opening – a massive fist of dark tobacco leaves, bullied on both sides by a phenomenally bitter bergamot and a mean, biting Sichuan pepper note. It’s an almost opaque wall of smell coming at you – strong and bitter and tannic, like chewing on the Lapsang Souchong tea leaves left in your cup. It dries down into a slightly less bitter tannery leather, but overall the impression is ALL MALE.

There’s also an odd but memorable second act to this, coming in right after the tobacco opening, where it smells like a huge handful of damp earth. I don’t mean it smells like patchouli or vetiver (it’s neither moldy nor grassy), but literally like a flinty, mineral damp soil that you’d imagine worms crawling through. Really weird – am I the only one picking up on this? The soil note or accord is quite realistic.

The more I wear my sample, though, the less impressed I am. The opening is very distinctive, but the perfume gets pretty thin and boring towards the end. Plus, something about it reminds me of the old-fashioned fougeres that men wore in the 1970’s, all leather and ferns and tobacco and dry woods. No cream or sugar please! It seems to me that when the

It seems to me that when the fougere was born, the notes that defined masculinity – that old-fashioned, hairy-chested masculinity I mean – were also locked down. So from that moment on, perfumes that featured any one of those notes up front and center, without providing anything to soften them (like vanilla or sugar or amber), spell out “men only” to me.

I know that Journey Man is technically a woody-spicy perfume, but it reads as an all-male fougere to my brain, and I can’t handle it. If Journey Man was a person, it would be hairy-chested 70’s idol such as Sean Connery, or better yet, Burt Reynolds, lying back in bed and fingering his gold medallion.

Impressive, but not for me.

%d bloggers like this: