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Amouage an Olfactory Artform

By December 12, 2015 No Comments

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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Colin Chan

Colin Chan

All-around geek, Colin stretches his passion for fashion and fragrances (really, he’s an addict). A once regular contributor for Unbox, he’s jumped from site to site and juggles Ungeek.ph as well as Unpacked.ph. In his off time he scours through mounds of websites, youtube reviews and ads that talk about perfume (that’s when he’s not busy gobbling up TV series, movies and videos games left and right).

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