One of the most influential perfume brands in all artistic perfumery has been Amouage. Throughout the two decades of this century the Oman-based house has introduced the perfume buying public to a vision of fragrance as a true luxury, with a price to match. They single-handedly showed there was a market for these kind of products before most others. The best part of that is I rarely heard from those who experienced Amouage that it “wasn’t worth it”. It has lived up to a high standard with aplomb.
Amouage is going through a transition. The creative director Christopher Chong who creatively directed the brand from 2007-2019 has given way to a new team. In a bit of fortuitous timing I received my sample of the last perfume Mr. Chong oversaw within days of the new perfume from the current creative team. It gives me a nice perspective on the brand as it moves forward. I’ll review the new release tomorrow. Today I am going to focus on the last of Mr. Chong’s era, Amouage Overture Man.
Overture Man was released last year as an exclusive to Harrod’s and is currently being released to the rest of the world. It is a curious thing to do because it inevitably invites comparisons. Overture Man is a brilliant example of all that Mr. Chong brought to Amouage over his tenure. Much of that came through his love of music, opera specifically. An overture at an opera is the musical piece played at the beginning by the orchestra. It gives you hints of themes you will hear in the performance to come. Overture Man acts as the opposite as it is a perfume which captures the themes Mr. Chong developed over the years.
Working with perfumer Karine Vinchon-Spehner for the eighth time Overture Man shows a creative team which has a built-in rapport. Mme Vinchon-Spehner knows how to reach the high notes Mr. Chong is seeking.
Overture Man hangs upon a spine of cognac, myrrh, and sandalwood. It evokes the milieu of an elegant gentleman’s private club. This is that opulence for which Amouage has become known for. The cognac comes first. It is a strident booziness which is tempered by a smart bit of perfumery. Mme Vinchon-Spehner uses saffron to round out the edges providing a cask-aged glow to it. A festival of resins comes next with myrrh leading the chorus. Labdanum, frankincense, and lentisk add backing vocals. This is the soul of Amouage the use of resins with meaning. The entire portfolio of perfumes by Mr. Chong is replete with this theme. It is rarely done better than it is in Overture Man. It picks up the cognac and finds a way to create a memorable duet. A hint of leather and smoke introduce the final piece of our trio. Sandalwood comes through the smoke with a patina of benzoin. This immediately finds harmony with the myrrh and cognac. It all settles in for the long run as a comforting delightful companion.
Overture Man has 18-24 hour longevity and average sillage.
A coda is the concluding piece of music at the symphony. For the twelve years Mr. Chong was at the conductor’s podium at Amouage he created a memorable piece of perfumed music. Overture Man is the perfect coda for his time there.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Amouage.