Random Musings


Amouage an Olfactory Artform

Amouage an Olfactory Artform


Posted By on Dec 12, 2015

I recently got another bottle of perfume from the Oman-based niche house Amouage. As mentioned in my previous article, Amouage’s scent profile is the stuff of kings and royalty.

Exquisite!

Exquisite!

With the mandate to help preserve traditional way of perfume-making, Amouage is deeply rooted in culture, history and stark artistry.

While most perfumes are vying for everyone’s attention, Amouage seeks out a select handful of clientele to let them in on this strange olfactory journey.

If you’re starting out with your fragrance game, it may be quite a bit for you to appreciate Amouage as a whole. More often than not, the house presents the notes in such intricate and delicate manner that one has to have a deeper understanding, patience and appreciation of picking out notes and essences to truly enjoy Amouage. As much as it’s not an easy scent to dissect, it’s also not an easy scent to simply use around. With Amouage, you have to look (or in this case smell) things in the light of true artistry.

Take the beastly Interlude Man.

Niche 4

Amouage. Gift of kings.

 

 

Frankincense, Myrrh and a whole lot of Amber, elements that have been traditionally used in religious settings and events are masterfully crafted to be a bit more contemporary (stress on a bit). While Interlude Man has heavy smokes, the opoponax or sweet myrrh, bergamot, and labdanum adds a sweet and rounded allure to the juice. The first 15-45 minutes has a churchy, ‘incensey’ vibe but after a while one appreciates its more modern nuances. The sweetness of Amber lingers on the skin and it feels royally divine.

And this is what I like about Amouage. Because the scents aren’t “mass-market friendly” it forces you to really appreciate every little nuance that was added to the fragrance. Heck, the packaging alone is something to marvel at.

Artwork in a box

Artwork in a box

As if the juice doesn’t scream royalty, Amouage’s bottles are adorned with 22 karat gold plating on the label and the cap is fitted with authentic Swarovski crystal. The bottle design mirror’s the brands Middle-Eastern heritage with caps resembling the Khanjar’s hilt – a traditional ceremonial sword –for the male bottles and the top of the Grand Mosque for the women’s bottle.

Intricate details, gold-plating and authentic crystals adorn Amouage bottles.

Intricate details, gold-plating and authentic crystals adorn Amouage bottles.

Amouage Journey Man is creative director Christopher Chong’s nod to his ancestral heritage. With heavy Sichuan Peppers all throughout the fragrance, Journey Man  takes you through the backstreets of China (or Hong Kong) in one of the most honest scents I have ever encountered.

Don’t let the Shanghai Noir fool you, this isn’t your typical oriental perfume. While Journey Man’s composition has elements of what an oriental-spicy fragrance should have (spices + resins + wood), the overall composition and the fine distillation and mixing that Amouage employs creates one of the most original (and honest) oriental scents I’ve ever sampled. While originally listed to have Sichuan Peppers (also known as Chinese coriander), the peppers in Journey Man resembles that of the long, red and fiery-hot Tien Tsin Chillies used commonly in Szechuwan style cooking.

Hot...or not?

Hot…or not?

Most fragrances that harness peppers have this ground pepper vibe to it that Journey Man doesn’t. The last scent I’ve sampled with a load of peppers would be Dior’s latest line, Sauvage . And while Sauvage’s peppers are dusty, Journey Man is clean, crisp and feels uncracked giving you real pepper aromas than just powdery fiery fluff.

This clean pepper mixes well with crisp Juniper berries, lush bergamot and creamy tonka to produce an alluring effect.

Amouage body1

As I said, Journey Man is one of the most honest orientals I’ve ever sampled. It doesn’t try to paint a picture of “orientalness” as seen through the lens of Western Media. None of the grandiose Eastern imagery we’ve been subjected to, this one is smaller, more personal. It’s as if you’re walking with someone through the streets of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzou and other urban streets of China or even Hong Kong. Journey doesn’t even convey the usual touristy glamour of the orient. To me, it feels like someone coming home from a day’s work, walking the streets up to his apartment and feeling the city come alive slowly. There’s a chill in the air as the temperature drops, the skies dim, street lamps start to flicker to life, the streets slowly awake from its slumber and you start to smell the faint whiffs of dinner being cooked by the neighbors as you walk past the small shops that line the streets leading to your flat. This, I believe, is Journey Man at its core and not the grand Shanghai Noir that the marketing seem to convey.

Creative Director of Amouage, Christopher Chong

Creative Director of Amouage, Christopher Chong

Aside from the amazing fragrance blend, the exquisite packaging and the presumed narrative, what I love about Amouage is that the house forced me to be critically conscious about their scents. Amouage transcended from being a fashion accessory to being an artform; one that forces you to take it on its own merits and viewed with its own standards. It pulls you in and asks you to finely and adequately analyze the scent to its core narrative – before it asks you to appreciate it in full. And this exercise in forceful consideration, this play on a new form of medium, makes me appreciate perfumery in ways that I have not done before.  To that I say “thank you”.

Amouage Interlude Man and Journey Man1

Amouage can be sampled and purchased in Art of Scent boutiques. Price range from Php 11,500 to 17,500

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The holiday season is fast approaching and it’s almost the end of another year. How’s that fitness and health promise you made last January 1? Were you able to pull it off? If you’re like me (and probably the rest of the 99% who didn’t stay true to their New Year’s resolution) and slacked off on their supposed fitness and health regimen, Century Tuna is giving us the jumpstart that we need to cram our way to weight loss before the year ends.

Tuna2

The Superbod Abs Plan is a comprehensive diet and exercise program for both men and women initiated by the country’s best-selling canned tuna brand, Century Tuna.

With Century Tuna #SuperbodABS Plan, hindi forever ang paghintay sa leaner, healthier you.

With Century Tuna #SuperbodABS Plan, hindi forever ang paghintay sa leaner, healthier you.

Unpacked was invited last Thursday to the launch and was treated to scrumptious meals, talks from the health experts and short discussions with Century Tuna endorsers James Reid and Jessy Mendiola.

Just being thin isn't in. Jessy Mendiola expounds on being fit, healthy and having good eating habits.

Just being thin isn’t in. Jessy Mendiola expounds on being fit, healthy and having good eating habits.

While working out and exercise is a must (groan), significant weight loss really happens with healthy eating (double groan) but of course that doesn’t mean that every food you eat has to taste like cardboard (yay!).

Omnomnomnomnom Century Tuna "Meat"loaf c/o Nadine Tenco

Omnomnomnomnom Century Tuna “Meat”loaf c/o Nadine Tenco

 

Renowned fitness nutritionist, chef and weight management specialist, Nadine Tenco plans your meal and give good tips on eating out – what to order, what not to order—to keep you on track with your fitness goals while renowned trainer couple Coach Jim and Toni Saret of Biggest Loser Philippines fame plans your exercise program for the intense work ahead. Take heed, it’s not an easy task; weight-loss usually never is. However, Century Tuna Superbod Abs Plan points you in the proper direction to ensure that you get optimal results with your workout and diet program without burning through mounds of resources. In fact, Coach Jim and Toni Saret’s workout plan consist of zero weights and machines – everything uses your body weight alone. They call this the MetaFIT training which is pretty much a series of High Intensity, High Interval exercises designed to have you burn calories hours after your workout!

Nadine Tenco, James Reid, Coaches Toni and Jim Saret

Nadine Tenco, James Reid, Coaches Toni and Jim Saret

Another one with Jessy Mendiola

Another one with Jessy Mendiola

 

I’d have to confess that when I first got hold of the Superbod Abs Plan I was overwhelmed with the amount of info and data that the book contained.  It’s daunting and scary, but once you start going over the guide page by page you begin to realize that this is something quite achievable and this is probably because of how well-written the guide is. It took into account the usual hurdles people have with picking up a fitness routine – time, money, resources like gym equipment and memberships, even tips when you just have to eat out — and addressed them all. No time? A workout session should set you back no more than 15 minutes a day! Wew!

The publishing team from New Leaf Multimedia with Jessy and Editor-in-Chief Lara Parapan

The publishing team from New Leaf Multimedia with Jessy and Editor-in-Chief Lara Parapan

Tuna3

Alternate covers! Woot!

The Superbod Abs Plan release comes at an opportune time as well since I’ve been trying desperately to shave off 5-10 pounds before my Bali trip with fellow Unpacked contributor and Hungry Geek writer, Eason De Guzman, Jr. this early December.

So here we go! Let’s hope I have the tenacity and the discipline to actually pull through with this. hahaha!

The Century Tuna Superbod Abs Plan is now available as a bundle with the Century Tuna Essentials Pack (a pack of 8 canned tunas + the Superbod Abs Plan for P250) at these Robinson’s SuperMarket:

  1. ERMITA
  2. GALLERIA
  3. METROEAST
  4. PIONEER
  5. MONTALBAN TOWN CENTER
  6. NOVALICHES
  7. MAGNOLIA
  8. EASTWOOD TECHNOPLAZA II
  9. 8 FORBES TOWN ROAD
  10. VICTORIA TOWER TIMOG
  11. BLUE WAVE MARIKINA
  12. LUCKY GOLD PLAZA ORTIGAS
  13. CALIFORNIA MANDALUYONG
  14. CITI SQUARE MALABON
  15. CAINTA
  16. STARMALL ALABANG
  17. KARANGALAN PASIG
  18. MERVILLE
  19. BF PARANAQUE
  20. TUTUBAN CENTERMALL

 Later though, the Superbod Abs Plan will be available in National Bookstores and Ministops nationwide.

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This year alone Unpacked EIC, Carlo Ople, and I have gone through the crazy process of acquiring almost 100 perfumes for the sake of, well, I really have no idea. The process started late last year when we started taking serious note of fragrances and the fragrance industry. While most perfume try to be “original” (if there ever really is such a thing on the art space) fragrances tend to bounce of each other every so often. There’s a lot of “this smells like that” in the perfume business and we here at Unpacked will try to pit similar scents together and see which ones deserve your hard earned money.

Since we’re still experiencing some freakishly hot weather out there we’re going to start with a summer favorite of ours: famed Terre d’Hermes by Hermes versus little known competitor L’Eau Boisee from the house of Guerlain.

FF comparative copy

Battle Begin!

 

While the two are different, they share some (if not a lot) of uncanny similarities. For one, they both exhibit a citrus and very dry vetiver, uh, dry down; and while L’Eau Boisee does not list any peppers as its ingredients, it does give off a faint peppery vibe similar to Terre d’Hermes. However, after this intersection, the two scents go very separate paths.

FF image1 Boisee

Let them fight.

Terre d’Hermes, feels warmer than L’Eau Boisee and this is in part due to the (actual) peppers included. The usage of orange creates a rounder overall scent as well – not as clean and linear as Boisee’s lime. The Grapefruit gives Terre the opening sting it needs to shock you into acceptance.

L’eau Boisee on the other hand operates on a different front. It’s not abrasive and forceful. Like a cool mojito on a warm sunny afternoon, Boisee seeps into you – cooling you before revealing the soft warmth of the vetiver and rum. Boisee is a sleeper scent wherein it opens very faint and almost disappointingly non-existent but after 15-20 minutes it makes its presence felt and he does so for a long, looooong time.

Tested it both on paper and on skin.

Longevity test. TdH – Roughly 5-6 hours while Boisee went as far as 6-8 hours.

We tested Terre d’Hermes and L’Eau Boisee in terms of longevity and we found out that when Terre decides to subside and stay calm, that’s when Boisee starts his number.

Price-wise, L’eau Boisee comes off php 2200.00 cheaper than Hermes as well.

Hermes' counter-attack!

Hermes’ counter-attack!

However, that’s not to say that Terre D’Hermes is on the losing front. While more expensive, Terre d’Hermes is slightly more versatile than L’Eau Boisee. It’s an excellent scent that can be worn all year-round because it doesn’t come across too fresh or too woody. It’s a scent that can be worn during the day and can also be worn on some nights. The peppers and wood make Terre D’Hermes suitable for an early evening affair while the sharp and rounded citrus makes it perfect for day wear. In contrast, L’Eau Boisee is a marvel at day time but is hard to pair with during night (unless you’re in Havana having a margarita or mojito). The freshness of Lime & Mint of Boisee lends itself just a bit too linear, clean and uber fresh.

Aside from versatility, Terre d’Hermes also got us more compliments than Boisee. In fact, to this day, I have yet to get a compliment from wearing L’Eau Boisee. This could probably be due to the fact that Boisee’ scent sits a little bit too close to the skin versus Hermes that announces its presence to the room immediately.  So, for an additional 2200 pesos, you have a scent that’s a bit more versatile and garners better compliments which also happens to be part of the uber luxurious fashion house of Hermes.

Final Tally3

 

 

Really close fight, but, oh well. Sorry Guerlain. :(

Really close fight, but, oh well. Sorry Guerlain. :(

 

With better versatility and compliment-getting factor, Jean Claude-Ellena’s seminal Terre d’Hermes emerges as this round’s winner.  We do have to note that both fragrances are amazing on their own right and we urge you to still go out and test both of these. You can try Guerlain L’Eau Boisee  at Rustan’s Beauty Section and Terre d’Hermes at Hermes boutiques, Rustan’s or Art of Scent stores.

 

Unpacked Pro Perfume

If you like this, click this link and head over to Fragrance Fight! Round 2 where we pit Dior’s Sauvage versus Creed’s Aventus!

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Perhaps it’s the barbershop quality or the old-school flair, but there’s just something about Vetiver that’s intrinsically so manly and classy that I cannot quite get enough of the stuff! My obsession with Vetiver occurred early this year with the accidental purchase of Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver – my first conscious vetiver-centric perfume—and boy was I drawn into a world of suave lavishness that just would not stop! Gyaaaah!

Glorious vetiver!!! T_T huhu (Why you so gooood?)

Glorious vetiver!!! T_T huhu (Why you so gooood?)

Vetiver is a South-Indian native grass that is used in majority of fragrances worldwide due to its naturally fixative properties which help bind other volatile oils and fragrances together. The natural essential oils taken from vetiver come from its roots – emitting a semi-sweet, slightly citric, smoky, earthy (dirty) finish.  While majority of Vetiver essential oils come from the roots, there are some perfumes (and perfumeries) that uses the leaf component as well. This, of course, gives off a fresh-cut-grass scent.

Also known as chrysopogon zizanioides...but don't ask me to pronounce it. :D

Also known as chrysopogon zizanioides…but don’t ask me to pronounce it. :D

 

The best Vetivers are sourced in Reunion Island (also known as Bourbon Vetiver) but most of the Vetivers used on the market come from Haiti and Java with both having varying degrees of scent profile (from sharp zesty citrus to earthy or ‘dirty’ creaminess).

 

SO WHY VETIVER?

So why go the single-note route? Well, aside from the class it exudes, vetiver-centric fragrances are easy to wear and easy to appreciate especially in our climate. Its cooling effect and how it works absolutely well with citrus oils give vetiver an aromatic feel that isn’t just marine (Davidoff Cool Water, Bvlgari Aqva) or citrus (CK One, Tommy by Tommy Hilfiger). The compound binds to your usual fragrance notes and adds a warm depth –grounding it and giving it more substance (and some would say even “history”).

 

My lovelies. :D

Lovely :D

If you’ve ever wanted to ‘up’ your fragrance game and graduate from your high school designer fragrance options then vetiver-centric fragrances is a step in the right direction. It definitely adds a level of maturity to your collection without thrusting you to grandpa-old levels.

 

Here are 6 easy-to-wear vetiver fragrances for you to start with:

 

1. Comme Des Garcon Cologne Series 4: Vettiveru

 

Vettiveru 125ml Cologne retails for Php 2950 at Comme Des Garcon boutique in One Rockwell or in Greenbelt 5’s Adora

Vettiveru 125ml Cologne retails for Php 2950 at Comme Des Garcon boutique in One Rockwell or in Greenbelt 5’s Adora

Light, airy and casually playful, Comme Des Garcon’s Vettiveru is a joy to splash or spray on a fine summer day. The citrus overdose from Bergamot and Neroli definitely helps in taking away the otherwise seriousness that vetiver usually brings.

 

2. Lalique Encre Noire

 

Encre Noire 100ml EDT retails for Php3950 at Art of Scent or selected SM Stores

Encre Noire 100ml EDT retails for Php 3950 at Art of Scent or selected SM Stores

Deep, dark and smokey, this one is all business but business in the 21st century. Switching an iPad for a briefcase, Lalique Encre Noire is a young professional’s rightful arsenal in the business world. The vetiver is a bit dirty (earthy) and the smoke creates a sense of mystery, but it’s still an easy wear nonetheless.

 

3. L’Occitane Eau de Vetyver

 

L’Occitane Eau de Vetyver EDT retails for Php2950 at any L’Occitane boutiques

L’Occitane Eau de Vetyver EDT retails for Php 2950 at any L’Occitane boutiques

 

Shifting to the realm of a more traditional masculine scent, L’Occitane’s Vetyver opens very dirty / earthy and stays that way for some time before drying down to a more rounded, more aromatic citrus-leather feel (it sounds weird, but trust me it’s pleasant). This one needs some time to develop to be fully appreciated but if you’re looking for something more classic, Vetyver is a great scent to pick up. It’s also quite affordable.

 

 

4. Guerlain Vetiver

 

Guerlain Vetiver 50ml EDT retails for Php 4300 at Rustan’s Beaty Section

Guerlain Vetiver 50ml EDT retails for Php 4300 at Rustan’s Beauty Section

The ultimate reference vetiver scent. Guerlain is really where most perfumers draw inspiration from. Dirty, Aromatic, Citrus, Soapy, all of this you can find in Guerlain’s classic Vetiver scent. Aside from heavy vetivers, Guerlain also included tobacco, peppers and spices adding a bit of a kick to the juice. Guerlain Vetiver reminds me of days of old where everyone would wear suits to work and people carry briefcases. If you want something that can transport you back in time for some classic 1950’s Americana, Guerlain Vetiver could be the thing for you. J

 

5. Tom Ford Grey Vetiver EDT

 

Tom Ford Grey Vetiver 100mlEDT retails for about Php 6000 at selected Art of Scent

Tom Ford Grey Vetiver 100mlEDT retails for about Php 6000 at selected Art of Scent Boutiques

Easy, suave, and classically modern, revered fashion designer Tom Ford has successfully crafted a timeless vetiver scent for the modern gent. This one borrows something familiar and gives it a refined twist. Tom Ford describes Grey Vetiver to be the Navy Blue suit of the perfume world –something that’s staple, classy, rooted in tradition without being dated.

 

6. Monotheme Vetiver Bourbon

 

Monotheme Vetiver Bourbon 100ml EDT retails for Php 1250 at Rustan’s Beauty Section

Monotheme Vetiver Bourbon 100ml EDT retails for Php 1250 at Rustan’s Beauty Section

This gets special mention as being a decent ‘first’ vetiver-centric scent that you can warm up to before venturing into various ‘more mature’ vetiver fragrances out there. Easy to wear, freshly green, sugary sweet and crowd-pleasing, Monotheme’s Vetiver is versatile as it is amazingly affordable. The cheapest Vetiver in my collection, Monotheme cost Php 1,250 for 100ml bottle. Yup! So…given the price, this one’s a no-brainer.

 

And there you have it! This is part of a series we’ll be doing moving forward. Let us know in the comment section if you agree on our selection or if you wish to add any in here. Cheers, and happy sniffing! 🙂

 

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Earlier last month I came across a pretty ridiculous deal on perfumes on a well-known group-buying / flash-deal site. Hermes’ seminal Terre D’Hermes was being sold at less than half the retail price in stores. Now while I’m no stranger to these sites selling counterfeit goods, the promise of a 7-day money back guarantee if product is not authentic pushed me to place an order for it anyway.

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