Since being bitten by the Amouage bug last year thanks to Honour Woman (there is no cure BTW) the wait for the next annual Woman/Man duo has almost been a bit too much. Luckily since then we have had the wonderful Opus VI and Beloved to keep us busy, but still the anticipation has been growing. The problem with such a strong hunger for a new fragrance launch and the high expectations that inevitably accompany such an appetite is the fact that so often the final result is disappointing. This is not something that can be said of the this year’s fragrance duo from Amouage.
For 2012 Amouage is releasing Interlude Woman and Interlude Man, both inspired by the “interlude moment […] a reflection of all the trials and tribulations one overcomes to attain personal satisfaction and achievement”  Encased in Amouage’s signature bottles, hued in pure midnight blue, the Interlude duo has been created to “evoke an air of disorder while maintaining a sense of balance and tranquility”  Both encompass the chaos of life and offer moments of desperately needed escapism in the form of unique, contemporary fragrances.
I’m at a point now where I have tried the majority of the fragrances in the Amouage stable (although not all have been reviewed, yet) and Interlude Woman & Man are easily the most unique, and perhaps the most daring to date. The multi-coloured graffiti of the packaging gives a mere hint of the high-scale chaos that each fragrance adds to the Amouage line. Where they don’t differ however is in quality and sheer artistry, they are 100% Amouage in those respects.
Bergamot, Grapefruit, Ginger and Tagete, Frankincense, Rose Absolute, Orange Blossom, Helichrysum, Jasmine, Opoponax, Nut, Honey, Kiwi and Coffee, Vanilla, Benzoin, Amber, Sandalwood, Agarwood, Oakmoss, Leather, Tonka Beans and Musk
How Does it Smell?
Right from the first spray it is clear that Interlude Woman is an incredibly unusual fragrance. A unique floral chypre like no other, it opens with a cacophony of aromas; coffee, honey and jasmine to name just a few. A splash of fruit (bergamot, grapefruit, dates and kiwi) like a big neon green streak of paint cuts through the warmer, aromatic notes. It really does create a striking contrast, and whilst it may be slightly perplexing and chaotic (even disturbing) at first, with time it really pulls you in. There is method to this madness.
Syrupy, honeyed flowers (rose & orange blossom) and the sour, medicinal funk of oud intertwine in the heart, each fighting for dominance with the harmony between the two lying in the discord that they create together. It’s this challenging aspect of Interlude Woman that makes it so interesting and perseverance is the key because once you love it there is absolutely no turning back.
With time the more classic chypre notes become more prominent. Sour, mossy patchouli and oak moss are shrouded in a creamy soft, fluffy cloud of vanilla, benzoin and sandalwood, adding a more contemporary touch to the chypre structure. The spices and fruits, which become fermented and boozy with time, are deeply set into all that womanly warmth and add a sense of plush femininity.
It would be safe to say that Interlude Woman is not at all what I expected, but I’m glad it isn’t. I see it as a real shape-shifter, with each sniff it seems to switch the balance to show off yet another surprising facet not experienced before. Interlude Woman is a fragrance that takes you away from the chaos of life by keeping you on your toes and distracting you with its unusual charm.
Bergamot, Oregano and Pimento Berry Oil, Amber, Frankincense, Cistus, Opoponax, Leather, Agarwood Smoke, Patchouli and Sandalwood
How Does it Smell?
When I received my samples of Interlude Woman and Man I decided to give Woman a full wearing first (no surprises there really) and bullied Nigel (my partner) into wearing Man. Cue me following him around like a gooey-eyed idiot all day wondering what it was that made him smell so damn delicious. Thus is the power of Interlude Man.
Interlude Man opens with a bonfire-and-a-half’s worth of smoke. What’s interesting is that this glorious leather and wood smoke is instantaneously oozing with sweet, creamy and spicy vanilla. A sprinkling of herbs goes a little way to curb the sweetness, allowing Interlude Man to be shaped in two perfect proportions of smoke and vanilla.
To me, the rest of the development focuses on an occord of leather, opoponax and amber. The amber isn’t entirely dissimilar to that of Amouage’s most recent amber-offering Opus VI, but it is decidedly more smoky-spicy and lacks the delicious gourmand quality of the Opus. Still, it’s just as addictive, if not more so and thankfully it avoids heavy animalics to bolster the leather, as so many similar fragrances do (I’m looking at you Cuir).
The creamy, snuggly base of vanilla, patchouli and sandalwood retains a good degree of the smoke that dominates Interlude Man’s time spent on the skin, and that’s fine by me because when you get to the base, if you haven’t eaten yourself/been eaten by someone else that is, you will be more than happy for it to last forever.
Interlude Man is my favourite Amouage masculine so far and unlike my second favourite (Epic Man) which I enjoy immensely but wouldn’t necessarily wear, I really can see Interlude Man being a staple fragrance in my collection, it strikes the right balance between smoky masculinity and sweet gourmand cuddliness that makes it perfect enough to wear when you’re in the mood to ensnare unsuspecting guys/girls with your mighty fine smell.
Interlude Woman and Man will be available in 50ml and 100ml Eau de Parfum, with prices starting at £155 for Woman and £140 for Man.
Samples via Amouage. Notes via fragrantica.com. Image 1 The Real Amouage Page on Facebook. Image 2 & 3 fragrantica.com.  &  fragrantica.com.