There are so many niche perfume houses out there it’s a struggle for your friendly neighbourhood perfume blogger to keep up. There are niche lines within designer houses, niche lines within niche houses, private collections and exclusives – the mind boggles.
To cope I have to tell myself that I simply cannot sniff everything and there are niche lines that I will ignore completely, purely because my brain cannot handle adding them to the pile of things I need to try stacked somewhere at the back of my mind, behind all the stuff I don’t use anymore; like algebra, the steps to the Macarena and the ability to resist cake.
One niche house that will always receive my attention however is Amouage. I still haven’t managed to try everything in the Amouage stable (I’m taking my time and enjoying it thank you very much) but what I have tried, whether to my tastes or not has been interesting, high quality and worthy of the praise it receives.
The Library Collection is Amouage’s capsule collection of unique fragrance “works”. The collection is described as being “a poetic homage to the art of living”  and it offers a break from the house’s tradition of grandiose, opulent fragrances. After falling truly, madly and deeply for the mind-blowing amber of Opus VI I couldn’t wait to poke my nose through the rest of the collection, and on a recent shopping trip that is exactly what I did. It was on that shopping trip that I discovered Opus III…
Top: Mimosa, Broom, Carnation, Nutmeg and Thyme
Heart: Violet, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang and Orange Blossom
Base: Ambrette, Musk, Papyrus, Cedar, Guaicwood, Benzoin, Vanilla and Frankincense
How Does it Smell?
Opus III is inspired by “the art and science of the creative process, from the darkest moments of frustration, to the brightness of enlightenment and discovery”  and was created by Karine Vinchon under the direction Amouage’s Creative Director Christopher Chong. To me, Opus III is a modern take on Guerlain classics such as Après L’Ondée and L’Heure Bleue but with the Amouage touch.
The opening of Opus III is entirely reminiscent of flower filled meadows in the spring. It opens with sweet mimosa and broom flowers and gives the impression of sun-kissed fields of flowers, grass and hay. It’s impossible not to take a big sigh as you inhale its fumes, your thoughts buzzing about your head like the bees who flicker amongst the spring flowers, each one saying the same thing; “this thing is just so darn pretty!”
As it develops Opus III becomes less sweet and a beautiful, pale iris makes its way into the foreground. Where most iris notes are pure grey, this one is ever so slightly purple as if it can’t quite make up its mind about what colour to be. The real interest with the iris lies with its supporting acts; violet and and ylang ylang, the former of which adds an atmospheric quality whilst the ylang ylang gives Opus III a marvellous tropical warmth and some lovely banana-like nuances.
Opus III is reminiscent of both Après L’Ondée and L’Heure Bleue as mentioned above but it is also a much better interpretation of this style than other modern orchestrations such as Oscar de la Renta’s Esprit d’Oscar et al because it isn’t afraid to be soft and understated, a trait that is practically unheard of in an Amouage. Whilst it may be take cues from the classics it does manage to carve out its own unique identity, especially as it moves into the base notes.
The base is where Opus III heads into familiar Amouage territory, it is still soft but is much warmer and contains plush, creamy notes of sandalwood, vanilla and frankincense. There’s a touch of spice, but the main focus is on the warmth of the remaining florals and the richer notes, almost as if Opus III transitions from bright spring morning to glorious, twilight-filled evening.
Opus III is available in 100ml Eau de Parfum for £200.
Image 1 quimalcantara.com. Image 2 edle-essenzen.de. Notes via basenotes.net.  amouage.com.  nstperfume.com.