Perfume Review – Amouage Fate (Woman)

Marion Cotillard photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott for the September 2010 issue of Vogue Paris. Source:  Glamscheck.com

Marion Cotillard photographed by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott for Paris Vogue, September 2010 issue. Source: Glamscheck.com

She stared at the rumpled bed which bore the traces of their scent. As the light streamed through the windows of their hotel room at the George V, she saw the trail of clothes leading to the scene of their final tryst. She recalled how crisp, aloof and controlled she had been at the start in her sleek, sculptured, black, couture dress, smelling of citruses, oakmoss and cool daffodils. The notes were as sparkling and cool as lemonade, or the champagne that chilled by the window nook, until he began kissing her neck…

She remembered how her limbs melted when he unzipped her dress, warming the daffodil scent until the roses and jasmine came out, infused by a musk that softly mimicked that of her own body. Flecks of rich, warm, smooth castoreum flickered like the flame of the candles that he had lit around their bed. Subtle touches of leather stirred like the trim on the expensive lingerie that he admired with a gleam in his eye — lingerie as black as the trails of sweetened incense that ran through her fragrance.

Marion Cotillard photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott for the September 2010 issue of Vogue Paris. Source: bkrw.com

Marion Cotillard photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott for the September 2010 issue of Vogue Paris. Source: bkrw.com

She thought of how he had gently placed soft, lush, velvety, pink roses around her body, framing her with their heady scent. He kissed her with all the spiciness of chili pepper and cinnamon, the scent of his soap mixing with their fire, with her musk, with the tendrils of incense and smoke, with the honey that he drizzled on her trembling stomach. She thought of their passion and how, when it was over, he had gently covered her body with the sheer, silky sheet that smelled of creamy vanilla and powder. She had been fated to meet him, she had been fated to succumb, she had been fated to have the affair end in the apex of passionate heat, and she was fated to forever remember him when she put on her fragrance. Fate.

Fate (Woman) is the latest release from the royal perfume house of Amouage and will be released worldwide in July. I received a sample thanks to one of my readers, “Dubaiscents,” who generously sent me a sample of both the men and women’s versions. Yesterday, I reviewed Fate for Men which is a very sophisticated, dry, woody fragrance centered on the immortelle flower. Fate for Women (hereinafter just “Fate” for the purposes of this review) is very different, but equally elegant and sophisticated. It is a chypre-oriental hybrid created by Dorothée Piot and which Amouage describes as follows: 

Amouage Fate Woman with BoxFate for Woman is a chypre oriental with a rich floral heart intensified by a dark and destructive accord resonating with the tumultuous unknown.

Top notes: bergamot, cinnamon, chilli, pepper.

Heart notes: rose, narcissus [daffodil], jasmine, frankincense, labdanum.

Base notes: vanilla bean, frankincense, benzoin, castoreum, patchouli, oakmoss, leather.

Field of NarcissusFate opens on my skin with a burst of yellow: fresh, crisp citrus notes, and the sunniest of daffodils. There is a momentary flicker of something sour that is soon replaced by spiciness, rose infused with patchouli, oakmoss, stirrings of a quiet, soft leather note, and a touch of musk. The oakmoss is a subtle swirl of nuances: fresh, green, slightly mineralized, and grey. The castoreum is smooth, warm, ever so slightly animalic, and sweet.

The true stars, however, are the yellow notes. The bergamot starts off crisply but, within minutes, turns softer, warmer and spicier, evoking the scent of lemonade that has been sweetened by the sun and by honey. At the same time, a subtle hint of vanillic powder at its base also makes me think of powdered lemonade crystals. Swirling all around it is the daffodil note that starts off being fresh and cool, but, like everything else in Fate, soon turns warmer, spicier, richer. In its footsteps is a delicate rose that is never as sweet as a tea rose, but also never as jammy, fruited, or liqueured as a dark damask rose. It feels like the headiest of pink roses, except it has the crisp, fresh zestiness of lemon. Both flowers are flecked by a mossy patchouli which works from the background to turn Fate into a very smooth, lush, velvety chypre fragrance.

Source: freehdwalls.net

Source: freehdwalls.net

Slowly, slowly, the base notes turn Fate into something warmer, richer, and spicier. As the rose note gains in strength, stepping on the center stage to share the spotlight with the daffodil, jasmine takes its place in the wings. Lurking further in the shadows is a subtle layer of soapiness. About twenty minutes in, like a brash understudy late to a rehearsal, chili stumbles in. Red, spicy, and adding a perfect touch of subtle heat, the red pepper bumps into the floral notes, warming them even further. In its wake is a shy incense note. It is far from the usual sharp, powerful frankincense so prevalent in many Amouage scents. Instead, the smoke is sweetened, soft, subtle, and verging on sunny.

Source: Kootation.com

Source: Kootation.com

Forty minutes in, Fate starts to slowly strip off its formal, crisp, citric-oakmoss, chypre veneer to bring out its oriental underwear. Like passionate kisses warming a lover’s body, the daffodil-rose bouquet turn more and more sensual, dancing on slightly musked skin. Infused by bergamot, trailed by jasmine, flecked by spicy chili pepper along with sweetened smoke and a shiver of vanilla, Fate is lushly heady, potent, incredibly elegant, and slightly haughty, but reeking of sensuous stirrings. The oakmoss and patchouli are still highly evident in the base, but the other notes feel alive with an oriental silkiness that evokes the most seductive of lingerie peeking out from underneath an elegant black dress. 

"Red Orange Rose Yellow Abstract" by LTPhotographs, Etsy Store. (Link to website embedded within, click on photo.)

“Red Orange Rose Yellow Abstract” by LTPhotographs, Etsy Store. (Link to website embedded within photo.)

At the two-hour mark, Fate shifts a little. The florals turn red with warmth and sweetness. Cinnamon replaces the chili on their velvety petals. But, to my slight disappointment, the underlying soapiness becomes much more pronounced. On a more positive note, Fate also begins to take on quite an ambered hue. The labdanum starts to rise to the surface, emitting a lightly honeyed aroma that mixes beautifully with the amber, the plushly sensuous castoreum, the musk, and the patchouli. The incense is still subtle, light and sweetened, and it still remains largely in the background.

Source: wallpaperswa.com

Source: wallpaperswa.com

Three and a half hours in, the base notes fully rise to the surface. Fate becomes a labdanum, oakmoss, and patchouli amber fragrance infused with rich, sweet, velvety, floral nuances, along with musk and a quiet tinge of soapiness. The labdanum’s honeyed characteristics have been largely replaced by a nutty, almost chestnut-like undertone that is a perfect counterpoint to the dry, but plush, oakmoss-patchouli.

Source: Superstock.com

Source: Superstock.com

Slowly, slowly, like a flower unfurling its petals over the span of hours in the sun, Fate turns softer, more ambered, more golden. The barely animalic musk underlying the scent melts even further into the skin, the labdanum glows like bronzed gold, and the vanillic benzoin adds a radiating shimmer to the now muted, very abstract, gauzy florals.  By the start of the ninth hour, the final stage has begun, and Fate is a sensuous skin veil of rich vanilla cream flecked with powder, golden amber, and a light, heated, sweetened muskiness.

All in all, Fate lasted an astronomical 13.25 hours on my perfume-consuming skin. The sillage was monstrous at first, wafting several feet across the room. It was heady, narcotic, sweet, but also very dry and crisp initially, before slowly turning more languorous, more sensuous, more oriental. Fate’s projection is powerful, even if it isn’t nuclear-tipped in the way of some Amouage floral scents (like Ubar, for example), but it did soften by the start of the third hour. My sample was a spray (and aerosolization adds to a fragrance’s power), but I think Fate would be forceful even if dabbed on. It didn’t become a skin scent on me until the start of the sixth hour, though it was still very noticeable when I brought my arm close to my nose. Fate only became hard to detect and somewhat abstract towards the end of the eighth hour, though it lingered on for almost another five hours in a very silken, muted, sheer form.

I think Fate Woman is an astoundingly beautiful, complex, refined fragrance — a sophisticated chypre-oriental which combines the best elements of both categories. It is perfectly balanced: never too sweet or too dry, never too indolent or spiced, never too charged by patchouli, musk, or castoreum. I was a little surprised by the softness of the frankincense smoke, especially as my skin normally tends to amplify the note, but I’m also glad that Amouage chose to mute its signature base accord. Fate doesn’t need it; the beauty of the fragrance lies, in part, in how pitch-perfect it is across the wide spectrum of its notes. (As a side note, the perfume stunned The Ultimate Perfume Snob, a.k.a my mother, who interrupted a conversation to ask “what is that smell?”, then shook her head and blinked in disbelief at Fate’s beauty, asked to smell it several more times, wanted to know where to buy it, and finally lost all reserved, British aloofness to become practically passionate in her raves. Trust me, it rarely happens.)

Something about Fate draws you in for another sniff, again and again, especially when its sensuous, warm heart starts to bloom. Yet, there is also a refined, cool sophistication in its opening which makes it very much one of those scents that feels like protective armor, if that makes any sense. Again and again, I have the vision of a cool, confident, wealthy woman, perfectly groomed and sophisticated in the elegantly cut, structured, designer black dress that is the uniform of choice for some Parisienne women. And I see her stripping off her armor to reveal the seductive satin and black lace lingerie below which she then peels off entirely to reveal her smooth, softly musked, lightly powdered, silky, amber skin. Control and abandon, French style.

Yet, for all that imagery and despite the gender classification in the perfume’s name, I happen to think Fate Woman is quite unisex in nature, and a scent which would be very seductive on a man as well. The same visual would apply to a man, only he’s cloaked in a dark Armani suit with a crisp white shirt, and looks a little like Hugh Jackman…. Regardless of gender, Fate is a very wearable fragrance, though I think its powerful projection may make it a little too much for the office unless you’re very careful with amount you spray. It would, however, be perfect to wear on a date or to seduce.

Lest any of this was even remotely ambiguous, let me put it plainly: you need to try Fate Woman. Like its male counterpart (Fate Man), it shows why Amouage is one of the leaders of the perfume pack. With its sophisticated, nuanced, complex, often innovative and intellectual, but always luxurious and opulent fragrances, Amouage is really one of the best perfume houses out there. And, under the deft, brilliant direction of Christopher Chong, I doubt that’s going to change any time soon. 

 

DETAILS:
Availability & Stores: Fate (Woman) is an eau de parfum and is available in two sizes: 1.7 oz/50 ml which costs $310 or €240; or 3.4 oz/100 ml eau de parfum which costs $375 or €290. As of the time of this post, the perfume is not yet officially released beyond the Amouage website and boutiques, but it will be widely available as of July 2013, according to CaFleureBon. At the present time, the perfume is unfortunately sold out on Amouage online, but I’m sure that will be remedied soon. I will update this post with retail links much later when the perfume is officially released and becomes widely available. 

Perfume Review – Amouage Fate (Man)

Corsica is usually associated with its rocky cliffs, Napoleon, and the Mediterranean sea, but I think Corsica has a special smell, especially inland: slightly dusty, dry, very woody, and sweetly floral. In parts (namely those where I was clambering up rocky mountains like a dying billy-goat), it smelled strongly of immortelle, a flower which is very common to the island, sweet woods, dried greens, and dustiness. So it is Corsica which comes to mind when I tried Fate (Man), the dry, woody, immortelle-based fragrance that is the latest release from the royal perfume house of Amouage.

Corsica. Photo by: Rolling Thunder. Source: Trailjournals.com http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=393192

Corsica. Photo by: Rolling Thunder. Source: Trailjournals.com
http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=393192

Fate — in a dual Men and Women’s versions — was launched just last week in Oman, and will be officially released worldwide in July. A reader of the blog, “Dubaiscents,” whose generosity is only surpassed by her thoughtfulness, sweetness and kindness sent me a sample of both fragrances. I thought I would start with Fate for Men (hereinafter just “Fate”) which was created by Karine Vinchon-Spehner, and which Amouage describes as follows: 

Fate for Man is a spicy and woody construction parodying the force and power of the inevitable.

Top notes: mandarin, saffron, absinth [wormwood], ginger, cumin.

Heart notes: everlasting flower [Immortelle], rose, frankincense, lavandin, cistus, copahu.

Base notes: labdanum, cedarwood, liquorice, tonka bean, sandalwood, musk.

Source: CaFleureBon

Source: CaFleureBon

There is a detailed backstory in the official description of the fragrance about how the “Book of Fate is opened by the mysterious puppetmaster and the carousel, symbolising the wheel of fortune, is set in motion.” There is also talk about how “’Fate’ for man and woman explores the uncertainty of the future and the universal principal [sic] by which the order of things is inescapably prescribed. In his latest conquest, Amouage Creative Director Christopher Chong proclaims a finale that parodies the force of the inevitable, veiled in the mysticism of the unknown.” It’s lovely prose, but it’s not what comes to mind when I wear the perfume. I simply see sunny Corsica.

I tested Fate twice and, while the openings were largely the same, the nuances were slightly different. The first time, Fate opened on my skin with a split second burst of citrus that was quickly replaces by loads of ginger and flickers of dry cumin powder. The scent was simultaneously sweet, pungent, sharp, and slightly dusty in a dried, herbal, powdered sort of way. Immortelle soon followed, and it was my favorite manifestation of the note: the dry, floral aspect where you can smell the flowers as well as the slightly herbal stem. Underlying the whole thing was an amorphous woody base that smelled sweet but dry. The focal point of the opening minutes, however, was the ginger which felt pungent, spicy, biting and a little sharp.

Immortelle, or Helichrysum in Corsica. Source: Wikicommons.

Immortelle, or Helichrysum in Corsica. Source: Wikicommons.

iStock photo via Wetpaint.com

Ginger. iStock photo via Wetpaint.com

The second time I tried Fate, it opened with that same fleeting citrus element, but the main thrust was immortelle. There were flickers of abstract woodiness, ginger, sweetness, and the same subtle hint of cumin powder, but it was the immortelle that really dominated the show. This time, it was beautifully infused with a honey nuance which I assume stemmed from the labdanum in the base. The ginger was much less powerful, and it had different undertones. It was simultaneously like sharp, fresh ginger, but also a little more like dry, ginger powder, and lightly sugared, crystallized ginger as well. This time, the herbal element was also different. Instead of some nebulous “dry green” note, I smelled something that was just like dried tarragon with its anise-like undertones. I know licorice is one of the elements in Fate, but, to me, that has the aroma of the chewy, black candy with its sharper, darker characteristics. What I smell in Fate in the opening hour is something much more like herbal anisic facets of dried tarragon.

Artemisia Absinthe or Wormwood. Source: Esacademic.com

Artemisia Absinthe or Wormwood. Source: Esacademic.com

Despite these subtle differences, the rest of the perfume’s development remained largely the same in both tests. Five minutes in, the wormwood (also known as absinthe or Artemisia absinthium) starts to rise to the surface. It’s sweet, but has a faintly medicinal nuance that smells a little rotten and that strongly evokes the “noble rot” of agarwood (oud). Flickering in the background is a light, muted incense. The cumin has completely vanished from sight — something that will undoubtedly be a relief to the many cumin-phobes out there. I’ve read a few accounts where people have said that they experienced quite a bit of cumin at the start, but the note seems to be a dry, powdered one on their skin, too, and nothing reminiscent of stale, fetid sweat or Indian curries.

As time passes, Fate settles down into its primary essence in this first stage: a dry floral arrangement of immortelle with ginger, sweetened but slightly medicinal wormwood, and frankincense. In the background, there are muted, ghostly flickers of a dry vanilla and warm, sweet muskiness that pop up every now and then. The interesting thing about the scent is the wormwood. It has a slightly oud-like nuance, but it is also sweetened and honeyed. The primary notes fluctuate in intensity, but the overall bouquet remains largely unchanged.

The odd thing about Fate was that the dominant facet seemed to depend largely on temperature. Given where I live, I have the air-conditioning set at very chilly temperatures, and the wormwood in Fate seemed to take on a slightly biting, sharp, bracing tone in the opening hours. However, whenever I went outside into the warm, humid air, the note immediately turned soft, rounded, smooth, almost creamy, and definitely sweet. All medicinal elements retreated, until I re-entered the house and was exposed again to the arctic air. I tried it a few times to see and, each and every time, Fate bloomed in the humid, night air to become significantly more floral and with a sweeter, less oud-like version of wormwood.  

Incense stick. Source: Stock footage and Shutterstock.com.

Incense stick. Source: Stock footage and Shutterstock.com.

Two hours into Fate’s development, the whole thing changes quite dramatically. Indoors or outdoors, Fate has suddenly become a very ambered, sandalwood fragrance that is smoother, warmer, and better rounded. The wormwood’s medicinal veneer has been replaced by a lovely coating of honey from the labdanum, while a lightly peppered cedar stirs in the base. My favorite part, however, is the sandalwood which is rich, creamy, and warmly spiced. It’s absolutely beautiful. Furthermore, to my surprise, the immortelle has remained as a floral element, and hasn’t turned into the maple syrup that I dread so much. The dried, green, anisic herbal note still lurks underneath, but now, it is also joined by black licorice that is lightly salted and sweet. A hint of creamy, slightly vanillic lavender wafts daintily about, while a sweet muskiness dances at the edges like a golden light. The entire thing is intertwined by tendrils of frankincense smoke which tie the elements together like a ribbon does a bouquet.

Fate remains that way for many more hours. The bouquet of notes softens and becomes a skin scent around the start of the fourth hour, but the scent lingers for much longer. Around the sixth hour, Fate turns quite abstract and nebulous: it’s now simply immortelle woodiness infused by a light, sweet muskiness. It’s so sheer, you may think it’s gone, but Fate hangs on tenaciously. In its dying moment, a little over 10.25 hours from its start, Fate is nothing more than a vague, sweet woodiness. Both the middle phase with its beautiful sandalwood amber and the abstract drydown stage are absolutely lovely. Fate’s longevity was good on my voracious skin, but the sillage was moderate to soft. I sprayed, not dabbed, so I actually expected something much more powerful from Fate (especially given Amouage’s usual full-throttled nature), but the furthest it projected was in its first hour when it wafted about 3 inches above the skin.

Fate is a phenomenally complex, extremely unusual, refined, sophisticated scent that initially takes a little adjustment, but which definitely grows on you. The first time, I was very intrigued, but not wowed. I have a tendency to prefer the Women’s versions of Amouage fragrances as they are generally sweeter and not as dry, but the second time I tried Fate, I definitely sat up a little straighter. There is something fascinating about the notes, and the heat definitely improved the scent, in my opinion, by smoothing out some of the more bracing elements of the opening. It also rendered the perfume slightly sweeter which is something you may want to consider when testing Fate.

I think men will go quite crazy for Fate (Man), but I think a number of women will, too. Even though women will have their own version of the scent, Fate (Man) has such perfectly balanced sweetness in its undertones that it renders the fragrance quite unisex, in my opinion. If you like dry, spiced, woody fragrances or oud ones, and if you’re intrigued by the thought of Amouage’s signature frankincense combined with an unusual floral like immortelle, then I think you should definitely seek out a sample.

Fate Man with box.

Fate Man with box.

With Fate, Amouage continues its distinction of being at the forefront of original fragrances that abound with depth, nuance, layers and complexity. Honestly, this is not a perfume that you may adore at first sniff, but it will keep you thinking, sniffing, and trying to pull apart all those beautifully crafted, well-blended layers. And the more you sniff it, the more it seems to sink its elegant, little floral-woody-smoky talons into you. By the time you’re finished, and you set eyes on that simply spectacular iridescent bottle, I fear you may be quite hooked. Even if, at the end, it turns out that you’re not fated for true love, I think you’ll concede that it’s a perfume worthy of huge respect. Try it, and see what your Fate will be.

 

DETAILS:
Availability & Stores: Fate (Man) is an eau de parfum and is available in two sizes: 1.7 oz/50 ml which costs $280 or €220; or 3.4 oz/100 ml eau de parfum which costs $340 or €270. As of the time of this post, the perfume is not yet officially released beyond the Amouage website and boutiques, but it will be widely available as of July 2013. Unfortunately, the perfume is currently sold out on Amouage online, but I’m sure that will be remedied soon. I will update this post with retail links much later when the perfume is officially released and becomes widely available.