Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Magic Carpet Ride
When I started writing “Olfactarama” just about a year ago, I didn’t expect much. I thought I’d simply post to it a couple of times a month, maybe, and that it would have a readership of one -- me. And that would be it. But some people started reading it, and I posted to some forums. Others saw it, and, eventually, it became somewhat known in this small but jewel-like world of people who love fragrance as wearable art. So here I am, still at it, with a first anniversary, a hit-counter milestone to mark, and some like-minded new pals. Not bad for one year!
To celebrate, I got myself some samples of Amouage perfumes. Not to wear on the town, or to impress strangers or scent a crowded room, but for me to wear on long days alone. So I’m sampling the women’s versions of Gold, Lyric, Jubilation 25 and Ubar, and yeah, I’m delirious -- not too much to analyze, of course, not ever -- but I haven’t taken the plunge, and it’s because of, uh, well, you know, er...the money.
We don’t discuss price much in perfumeland, although the name “Amouage” is generally synonymous with “big honking cash outlay.” If you are, say, the wife of an oil baron, confined in so many ways, but with all the money in the world to spend, you might feel free to line your vanity table with big bottles of Amouage. The thing is, I’m not a sheik-ah, so; well, just “so.”
Nevertheless, it is such gorgeous stuff. If you are, say, a sultan, and you give a legendary perfumer like Guy Robert carte blanche on the budget, that perfumer would come up with the likes of “Gold,” and did. My impression? It screams luxury. With an aldehydic floral Paris accent. And no less an event than attending the Academy Awards would seem splendid enough for this scent, which is why I wore it to shop for onions today, and will again.
Life is short.
“Jubilation 25,” created by Lucas Sieuzac, smells a lot -- a whole lot -- like vintage Rochas "Femme." It’s got that unmistakable caramel musk, is called a “fruity chypre,” and is unabashedly seductive, but you know what? I already have Femme. And “Boudoir” (a sample anyway.) This, of course, is better quality; richer, smoother, deeper, but it’s not unique enough for me to make that long-term commitment.
“Ubar,” the new one, is a reformulation of the 1995 version. It's the only Amouage (so far) I can imagine wearing in summer. The original formula was credited to a group called “Creations Aromatiques” which also made the original Paloma Picasso’s “Mon Perfume.” (I couldn’t find out who did the reformulation.) This is my second-favorite of these four, with a springlike bergamot opening, a sharpish herbal-lemony mid and an animalic-floral-musk finish, and it goes on and on.
And then there is “Lyric.” The opening is like...whatever was really in those boxes that the three wise men brought to the infant Christ child. It couldn’t have been just frankincense and myrrh, right? It must have been something that smelled like this. It’s a late bloomer, too, ripening from the rich spices to an almost-fruity dark black rose, and then to the softness of vanilla and tonka. I haven’t tried them all yet, but for me, this is The One So Far. (The perfumer is Daniel Maurel, who hasn’t many other credits, yet.)
So, anyway, I hear that smaller bottles of these elixirs of the Gods are sometimes available, and decants of course; never far from my mind. It’s all about the want, with perfume. It’s an odd combination, this mixture of art and commerce. Before I started this blog, I’d never heard of Amouage, but, before long, I started picking up whispers here and there, about these Arabian-nights fragrances of royal Omani lineage, in crystal bottles, outrageously expensive. But not because they had to pay celebrities to shill them. Because they found the best ingredients in the world to make them.
Amouage: for me, the perfect accompaniment to onion shopping.
Photo composite by Olfacta. All rights reserved.