If you read yesterday’s post you will know that luxury house Amouage have just launched a brand new duo of fragrances – Imitation Man and Imitation Woman. Inspired by the glamour of 1970s New York City, these hazy, hedonistic fragrances speak of Amouage Creative Director, Christopher Chong’s personal journey to the city in this most iconic of decades. Moving to Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1975 as a young immigrant, NYC presented an entirely new set of experiences for Chong, who was fascinated by the fashion, art and subcultures that quickly surrounded him. In Imitation he celebrates these elements but also the freedom of growing up in such a fascinating metropolis at an audacious time.
I was lucky enough to be invited to join Amouage in the Big Apple for the launch of Imitation* and during my stay I got some time to sit down with Chong to quiz him about all things Imitation, Amouage and perfume. This was my first time actually meeting Christopher Chong, but after several years of social media interaction it feels like we have known each other for quite some time and he had always struck me as an olfactory visionary with a strong character. So when it came to meeting face-to-face I was not disappointed! Below you can find our chat, which covers the inspiration for Imitation but also details how Chong works with perfumers to translate elements from real life into olfactive form. Enjoy!
– Glamour and Grit –
The exciting thing about Amouage is that one never knows where Creative Director Christopher Chong is going to take the brand next. His artistic vision is like no other’s and with his creations for Amouage he brings in concepts abstract to olfaction – notions such as death and gender identity – and crafts them into fragrant forms. The results are fascinating and it would be safe to say that nobody makes perfume quite like Amouage and Christopher Chong. These are rich, complex and sometimes challenging compositions that not everyone will love, and therein lies their strength. So yes, I’m always fascinated to see where Amouage goes next.
Well that ‘next’ turns out to be a time-travelling epic to 1970s New York City, the city and time in which Christopher Chong grew up. Arriving in the Lower East Side in the mid 1970s, the sights, sounds and scents of New York have clearly had a formative impact on the Creative Director, who this year brings us Imitation, a new duo of fragrances that represent the “subcultures of an iconic era”. With Imitation Man and Imitation Woman, whose names are inspired by Andy Warhol and his imitative art, Chong takes us on an olfactory odyssey of glamour and grit, evoking “audacious freedom” through the smooth velvet of the masculine and infamous nights out at Studio 54 in the women’s. They make for quite the pair, I tell you.
I was lucky enough to be invited to New York City to join Amouage for the launch of Imitation Man and Woman, with a wonderful opportunity to explore Christopher Chong’s neighbourhood on the Lower East Side (it’s THE place to stay in NY if you’re going, trust me). I was also lucky enough to spend some time with Christopher for an interview, which I will publish tomorrow. But for now, let’s get our heads and noses around the latest olfactory coupling from Amouage – Imitation.
Speed Sniffs is a way to bring you ‘to-the-point’ fragrance reviews that are quick and easy to digest. They are perfume reviews without the faff.
Sana Jardin is a new eco and ethically conscious fragrance house that aims to create luxurious niche fragrance that brings real change for the growers of the materials, specifically women. This is done through their Beyond Sustainability™ movement which, as Sana Jardin puts it, “is a movement to create tangible and measurable social change through commerce, not charity. It’s a movement to create female entrepreneurs who are agents of change in their community. It is built on traditional, sustainable practices and fair trade. Beyond Sustainability™ is preserving heritage skills while inspiring the next generation of artisans.”
It’s always good for fragrances houses to take a socially-conscious approach to their manufacturing and for this to be at the heart of a luxury niche brand is really encouraging. There are currently seven fragrances in the collection, one of which is the focus of today’s speed sniff! That scent is Nubian Musk and it’s described by Sana Jardin as follows; “A seductive scent recollection…a physical encounter, a chemical attraction, limbs entwined, souls lost to pure, carnal desire. Fragranced with the intoxicating, raw scent of skin, amplified in the heat of passion.” Sounds like it’s quite something, doesn’t it?!
“I am free” says Perfumer Christine Nagel as she sits comfortably in the handsomely furnished apartment above Hermès’ New Bond Street store in London. Nagel is here to talk us through the five new fragrances she has created as in-house Perfumer at Hermès. The five are her first additions to the Hermessence collection, a series of olfactory haikus created by her predecessor Jean-Claude Ellena. Nagel’s style is somewhat different from Ellena’s – his domain was of watercolours and minerals, wrapped in cerebral, thought-provoking compositions that birthed the Hermès olfactory signature. If Ellena created this signature, then Nagel’s has opened it up to a new-found richness with her more immediate, grander and more voluptuous style. Despite their stylistic differences, the creations by both Ellena and Nagel are undeniably ‘Hermès’ in every way.
Anyway, back to freedom. Christine Nagel has full creative freedom at Hermès and with it she has chosen to create a collection of five oriental fragrances to add to Hermès iconic Hermessence collection. Nagel wanted to return to “the origins of perfumery” to create three Eau de Toilettes and two oil-based Perfume Essences. According to Nagel, when she proposed this to the CEO his answer was simply ‘yes’. So off to the origins of perfumery Nagel travelled, focusing on the noble and historic notes of myrrh, musk, agar wood and cedar, with which she has created five distinct fragrances that celebrate the styles of the orient in a way that is truly and faithfully ‘Hermès’.
More! More! More! That’s what we want! Give us more!
Us greedy perfume lovers are very lucky because the perfume industry serves us up an all you can smell buffet with every kind of fragrance imaginable. There are fresh aperitifs, rich main courses evocative of exotic cuisines, and not to mention the desserts – oh the deserts! The perfumery dessert cart is filled with chocolate parfaits, rose macrons and candy floss knickerbockerglory sundaes. What’s more, this entire buffet is endless and brands are constantly us up more – more in the form of new treats, all for our insatiable appetite for scent.
This need for more doesn’t just apply to the volume of scent though, no, it also extends to the intensity of the fragrances we wear and one can guarantee that, when a brand launches a popular scent there will be an ‘intense’ or ‘extreme’ version that follows. Often, these flankers can be a little bit superfluous but sometimes they can do something really wonderful by giving more of the scented goodness that made the original so good. A perfect example of an ‘extreme’ done well is the new Straight to Heaven Extreme from By Kilian, which takes the booze and woods of the original, and intensifies them, resulting in something utterly excessive.