“Something that feels familiar yet also unexpected…” — so reads one part of Roja Dove’s official description for Britannia, and it is a somewhat accurate description. This is a fragrance which does indeed smell very familiar, thanks to the way it echoes, at different points in time, everything from vintage L’Origan and vintage L’Heure Bleue to modern gourmand floral orientals and modern spicy-woody oriental ambers, including several from Roja Parfums. For me, the “unexpected” part of the equation arises from the degree to which Britannia’s first stage harkens back to the opulent vintage aesthetic which had originally made Roja Dove so incredibly popular, rather than the mainstream designer or Middle Eastern bouquets which have characterized so many of his recent releases over the last two and a half years.
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.