I never know what to expect when a new Amouage lands on my doorstep. The entire output from the industry’s most luxurious of houses is complex, intricate and grand beyond much else found in perfume stores. This complexity means that they’re not always the easiest perfumes to pin down and I personally find that one has to spend a fair bit of time with an Amouage before they can truly say they know it.
Amouage’s latest edition to their experimental Library Collection, ‘Opus VIII‘, is no exception and much like the wickedly dangerous, galbanum-soaked leather jacket of Opus VII and the delectably intense, salty amber of Opus VI that have preceded it, this beguiling perfume created by perfumers Pierre Negrin and Richard Herpin in conjunction with Creative Director Christopher Chong, is perhaps the most labyrinthine composition to have ever exited Amouage’s doors.
Top: Jasmine, Ylang Ylang and Orange Flower
Heart: Frankincense, Saffron, Ginger, Vetiver and Gaiac Wood
Base: Balsam, Benzoin and Jamaican Bay
How Does it Smell?
If there’s one fact in life that I know more than any other, it’s that Amouage know how to do a floral. After all, they are the very people that brought us the magnificent opulence of Gold Woman, arguably one of the finest aldehydic florals of all time, so there’s really no room for argument here. They’re also responsible for the heartbreaking beauty of Honour Woman, a slightly less diva-esque but equally as gorgeous take on the floral genre. So it’s absolutely no surprise that Opus VIII, a wonderfully unique floral by all accounts, is something quite spectacular indeed.
Right from the outset Opus VIII sets to make waves and in the opening it shocks by appearing as cold as ice. One spritz unleashes silvery strands of frosty jasmine and incense that is at first, so highly concentrated and diffusive it verges on suffocating – in a good way, of course. The strange thing however, is that Opus VIII feels simultaneously heated, capturing the feeling of clouds of hot breath, exuded slowly from the mouths of a thousand jasmine flowers.
This orchestral barrage of jasmine is simultaneously omnipresent and as light as a feather. It brings to mind the image of silvery velvet curtain, draped in front of a grand stage – the shimmering shifts in light catching the inflections of texture on the fabric to create something truly multi-faceted. It’s both opulent and delicate, speaking in paradoxes that are irresistibly contrasting.
In the base, Opus VIII becomes much softer and more quiet. It dries down to a delicate haze of mineral and herbal notes that give the impression of cold stone. Amouage’s signature incense intensifies and adds to this coolness, casting a grey shadow over the jasmine, changing it from a shimmering sea of flowers to matte brushstrokes of finely milled powders and resins.
When Amouage launched their seventh opus (Opus VII) I thought that it would be a tough act to beat, but gosh darn it they’ve only gone and followed it up with something as equally beguiling and beautiful. This eight opus is truly a wonderful piece of work in every sense; it smells absolutely magnificent but it’s also intriguing to wear and is one of those perfumes that doesn’t reveal its secrets straight away, keeping one at arms length. Opus VIII is unusual, aloof and contrasting but by gum is it one heck of a perfume.
Amouage’s Opus VIII is part of the Library Collection and is available in 50ml and 100ml Eau de Parfum.
The Non Blonde
Sample via Amouage. Image 1 via fragrantica.com. Image 2 via blog.orangecarton.com.