Amouage returns to the fougère family with its new Bracken Man, the latest eau de parfum to join the higher-end Midnight Flowers Collection. Last year’s Sunshine Man (also in the Midnight Flowers Collection) had fougère elements as well, but mixed them with gourmand elements. This time, in the case of Bracken, Amouage adds dark, oriental flourishes but the fragrance is truer to the fougère genre, at least initially.
With Lilac Love, Amouage heads fully into European territory, abandoning the Arab aesthetic and the silver Omani frankincense that were once its signature in favour of an easy, approachable, gourmand floral whose classical composition is fully in Roja Dove and Guerlain‘s wheelhouse. Lilac Love is not a bad fragrance; I find it more luxurious in quality than some of the recent releases with their noticeable arid synthetics; the very Shalimaresque classical themes of the drydown were actually lovely; and I think it would be a best-selling fragrance with women if the price were not so high.
However, I also think parts of Lilac Love feel incongruous in the first stage and, more importantly, that hardcore lilac fans won’t be satisfied. My advice for them is to put aside all thoughts of a true lilac scent. If they have no expectations, then they might perhaps be pleasantly surprised by any temporary, abstract, and wholly impressionistic whiffs that may pass by the European, floral oriental gourmand bouquet.
Reviews often begin with some insightful, interesting, witty, or encapsulating sentence, but I can’t think of anything to start a discussion of Amouage‘s Myths for Men, perhaps because the scent leaves me feeling too apathetic to summarize it or to be eloquent. So I’ll just get straight to the basics. It’s an eau de parfum, it was inspired by surrealism, and its notes, according to Amouage, are:
Chrysanthemum, orris, rum, rose, vetiver, elemi, labdanum, ashes and leather.
Amouage‘s new Myths for Women was not what I had expected. There was the welcome, happy surprise of carnation as its driving focus, instead of the litany of white florals that have dominated so many of the brand’s recent releases. Red but drenched with greenness, hot but chilly, the carnation was a beautiful note that took me even further off guard with the way its companions — my ultimate green nemeses, violet leaf and galbanum — somehow recreated a passing impression of one of my favourites, hyacinth, from its liquid floralcy to the venomous bitterness of its sap. It’s a brief and wholly impressionistic touch, but I was delighted. Equally unexpected, but far less welcome, was Myths’ persistent dryness and diffuse sheerness, two things which I think characterize the Opus Collection’s aesthetic as opposed to the regular line whose women’s fragrances exemplified oriental opulence and full-bodied richness, or at least they did, once upon a time. As a whole, both Myths, the Women’s and the Men’s (which I’ll cover in the next review) feel like the continuation of Christopher Chong’s style of perfumery, moving Amouage away from its Franco-Arabian and vintage-style roots into something purely Western and modern. How you feel about that will depend on your tastes and expectations.