New Perfume Review Amouage Figment Woman- Aria in the Key of Tuberose

Tuberose has been having a moment in perfumery over the last eighteen months. Most of those fragrances have concentrated on reining in the most boisterous of the white flowers. Finding ways to make it less extroverted to appeal to a wider swath of fragrance consumers. Thankfully Amouage operates under a different set of principles. Under the creative direction of Christopher Chong, the perfumes under his guidance do not want to be introverted. The ethos of the brand has almost been, “Where’s the line? Okay let me take one step over it.” It makes Amouage near the top as a brand which stands for a specific aesthetic. Figment Woman displays this using tuberose.

Christopher Chong

I was surprised that Figment Woman is only the fourth Amouage perfume to contain tuberose. The others are: Ubar, Opus I, and Honour Woman. In those tuberose is but a contributor. Figment Woman is all about the tuberose. Collaborating with perfumers Dorothee Piot and Karine Vinchon-Spehner; Mr. Chong has realized an aria in the key of tuberose.

Dorothee Piot

Using an opera term for known aficionado Mr. Chong is easy but when I wore Figment Woman it was the strong voice of tuberose which sings throughout the day. The perfumers have sourced a full spectrum tuberose allowing it all the room in the world to fill up. It is so overbearing if you spray it on paper that is all you will think is here. It isn’t until it was on my skin that I realized there were some supporting singers for that tuberose diva.

Karine Vinchon-Spehner

Upon first applying Figment Woman it is another white flower which provides the warm-up; gardenia. The perfumers choose to take the strong green thread within the gardenia and bracket it with saffron and Szechuan pepper. It provides an entry point for the diva to take the stage and with a deep breath she begins to sing; right from the top of her range. This is a gorgeous tuberose absolute that ripples with indolic energy. An array of other florals tune the effect as jasmine, orange blossom, and ylang-ylang provide some background vocals. Then the sticky green blackcurrant bud latches on to the green of the tuberose and elevates it. What is waiting to meet it is iris and papyrus. The orris makes it earthier while the papyrus provides a veil of green in a higher octave. It all ends as patchouli and incense provide a foundation.

Figment Woman has 24-hour longevity and above average sillage.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy the unfettered power of tuberose mainly because everyone seems to be running away from it. Thankfully Mr. Chong’s Amouage would rather provide a stage for tuberose to perform upon.

Disclosure: This review is based on a press sample provided by Amouage.

-Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Amouage Bracken Woman- Mud Season

We are in mud season here in Poodlesville. The rains are moving through on schedule the trees are nearly full of leaves while the dead wood is being broken up to be burned in the fire pit. There is a smell to this time of the year. Mud is sharper than moist soil. Conversely the green is softer. Breaking up damp wood releases this wet woodiness. It is an odd accord and it is one which you might not expect to make a fragrance around. Amouage Bracken Woman shows there is a perfume within.

Christopher Chong

One of the reasons I have consistently enjoyed Christopher Chong’s creative direction for Amouage is this ability to find beauty from things like mud season. Mr. Chong is one of the premiere perfume creative directors because he truly does think “out of the box” followed by working with perfumers who bring that vision to fruition. For Bracken Woman he works with two of his more recent collaborators as Dorothee Piot and Karine Vinchon-Spehner return as the perfumers.

Dorothee Piot

Bracken Man which came out previously was a Fougere, capitalization intentional. Bracken Woman pulls back on the intensity while still providing an alternative interpretation of green. From a very green opening Bracken Woman segues through leather which in conjunction with some florals form a wet mud accord to my nose. Before ending with my damp wood by the fire pit.

Karine Vinchon-Spehner

The perfumers open with a much softer green opening reminiscent of new leaves. Galbanum, violet leaves, and fern form the green which have a pinch of berries to remind one of the early fruit growing on runners underneath the green. Early in the transition to the heart a smoky slightly unrefined leather accord sets the stage for the mud. Narcissus provides an indolic modulation which begins the transition from animalic to sharp earthiness. Lily adds back the green while chamomile attenuates the overall effect. The base is my favorite part of Bracken Woman as the perfumers use birch, vetiver, and patchouli to form a damp wood accord. When I am breaking up the dead branches there is an expansive woodiness form the particles being captured in the air which is contrasted by the heavy dampness of the large pieces I’m stacking up. The perfumers capture this as the birch evokes the solid wood while the vetiver is the airier woods. Patchouli adds a lighter version of wet earth for this final phase of Bracken Woman.

Bracken Woman has 24 hour longevity and average sillage.

I’ve had my sample of Bracken Woman for a couple of months. I was so intrigued by this “mud season” perfume I wanted to compare it to the actual thing. I also always enjoy spending extra time with an Amouage release; Bracken Woman was one which paid back that time. As for how close it is to the smells of my backyard right now; I am thrilled to have mud season all year round.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Amouage.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Amouage Myths Man and Myths Woman- Real Surrealism

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As Amouage moves further into its “second cycle” creative director Christopher Chong is deliberately evolving the aesthetic of the brand. I believe this firmly began to take place with the pair of Fate releases which marked the end of the “first cycle”. Those perfumes felt like a capping of the aesthetic that had been built over the first six years of Mr. Chong’s oversight. Amouage had begun to move from a purely Middle Eastern aesthetic to a melding of European panache becoming a characteristic. The two Fates showed a brand in balance between the two. In the “second cycle” it seems as if the European is gaining the upper hand over the Middle Eastern. The pair of Journey releases from last year began the definition of this new formula. Now with the release of Myths Man and Myths Woman the evolution continues.

Christopher-Chong-Amouage-Creative-Director

Christopher Chong

Myths Man was composed by perfumers Daniel Visentin, Dorothee Piot, and Karine Vinchon-Spehner. This is perhaps the most morose perfume ever released by Amouage. There is a bit of a wag within me that wants to call this Mr. Chong’s Elegy. In the press materials both Myths are inspired by surrealism. If I can unmoor my association of the fresh florals which open Myths Man from the funereal I find it easier to see the surrealism underneath. I just found it very difficult to do that because the floral accord is so realistic I can almost smell the air conditioned air of the funeral parlor. The rest of the development does move away from that but not for an hour or two.

The perfumers use chrysanthemum, orris, and rose as their floral opening. It is so real as if it was a bouquet containing all three notes which I can move my nose from bloom to bloom. The chrysanthemum is the most prominent and that is what sets off the sad association in my head. Having smelled way too many chrysanthemums in too many funeral homes. It is enhanced a little more with the addition of a leather accord. This again imparts weightiness. It isn’t until the rum, elemi, and vetiver decide to break out into an old-fashioned Irish wake that the mood lifts making the last few hours a party instead of a funeral.

Myths Man has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am not sure others will retain the sad aspects I associate with the early development. It will be easy for many to home in on a fresh floral top accord leading to leather and rum. I think those people are going to like Myths Man a lot. I like it a lot but it also has such an emotional impact on me I’m not sure I’m going to wear it often.

nathalie lorson

Nathalie Lorson

Myths Woman was composed by Nathalie Lorson. This is the promised surrealistic fragrance. It is a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces seemed forced together. Except the picture that is represented has an unexpected power for its discord. It has a kinetic resolution to it which can be wearying or exhilarating. I found it to be the kind of perfume thrill ride I want to take.

Mme Lorson begins with galbanum and violet leaf. This is a green scalpel honed sharp as it takes precise cuts throughout the early moments. It almost begs to be buried within an earthy matrix which Mme Lorson provides with a rich patchouli. Concurrent with that comes a leather accord. Here is one of those forced jigsaw pieces I am referring to. The leather and the green patchouli accord go together but there are places where they just don’t seem to mesh. This sets up that kaleidoscopic development which begins to try and resolve the differences without ever really achieving it. Carnation adds a fresh floral aspect to this perfume-in-motion making it even more unruly. Some order is retained as moss, ambergris, and musks present a more conventional finishing accord.

Myths Woman has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

This is the third perfume from Amouage which has contained this phase of moving parts that maybe grind their gears a bit. It is going to be too much for some and for others, like me, just right. Few brands would take this step. It speaks volumes that Mr. Chong does not step back from that challenge. Instead he leans in to it. Which is why Myths Man and Myths Woman provide real surrealism without compromise.

Disclosure: This review was based on bottles of each perfume provided by Amouage.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Hayari Parfums Le Paradis de L’Homme & Only for Him- Couture for the Nose

Designer perfumes can be a tricky undertaking. By putting their name on a fragrance label the fashion designer is trusting the fragrance team to interpret the couture into the olfactory. It is by its nature a very hit or miss proposition. It gets even harder for me if I know the fashion designer and admire their clothing. Nabil Hayari is one of those designers who creates incredibly detailed pieces of fashion which are regularly seen on red carpets and on the bride at weddings. Along with the detail there is often cutouts and sheer panels to add a sensual nature to the fashion design. So when I see the name Hayari on a fragrance what I want is detail and texture mixed with sensuality. For the two newest releases from Hayari Parfums, Le Paradis de L’Homme and Only for Him, I got exactly that.

nabil hayari and mark

Nabil Hayari (r.) and I at Sniffapalooza Spring Fling 2013

Le Paradis de L’Homme was signed by Dorothee Piot who previously did Goldy for Her in the Hayari line. This is about as straightforward a perfume architecture as one can ask for it is woods and leather. What sets it apart is Mme Piot’s choices to add textural context to this simple design. First there are no real top notes meant to linger for a while and dissipate. Le Paradis de L’Homme starts with light woody notes of redwood and cedar. To add something to the stark woodiness Mme Piot uses the greener aspects of papyrus and vetiver to wrap them in a bit of gauzy green from the papyrus and a silky green from the vetiver. That both of these predominantly green notes also have a woody underpinning allows them to be woven seamlessly into the early woods. The leather accord comes next and it also melts right into the greenish woods and creates a really beautiful intersection as the leather enhances different details. Eventually sandalwood and musk add the sensual finish to Le Paradis de L’Homme.

cecile in hayari

Cecile Zarokian wearing Hayari at Esxence 2014

Only for Him was composed by Cecile Zarokian and captures M. Hayari’s heritage as he was born in Algeria but works in Paris fashion. His designs may have a label which says “Made in France” but in small print it should also say “Inspired in Algeria”. Only for Him also unabashedly has one foot in France and the other in Algeria. Mme Zarokian takes a Mediterranean citrus mélange and spices it up with a pinch of black pepper. She also uses elemi to add a bit of citrus tinged resinous depth to the top notes. The heart is a very Parisian verdant floral boutonniere of jasmine and muguet also draped in green notes of papyrus and an herbal patchouli. This time they are there to butch the florals up a bit and make them less overtly floral. The base is all oriental as amber, benzoin and vetiver provide the foundation for guaiac and cedar all of this is set over a musk laden finish.

Le Paradis de L’Homme and Only for Him have 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Both of these perfumes capture the spirit of M. Hayari’s fashion. Both Mme Piot and Mme Zarokian each illuminate a different part of what makes that fashion unique. This time the perfume matches the couture beautifully.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Hayari Parfums.

Mark Behnke