Perfume Review: Amouage Opus VI (The Library Collection)

Source: LearnLearn.net

Source: LearnLearn.net

The royal perfume house of Amouage would be perfect for a fairy tale or Greek myth. It would be the story of King Midas, and all he touched would be perfume gold. It would have Ali Baba and a cave filled with treasures of scent and spice, incense and frankincense — not stolen by thieves but given freely by the Sultan with the order to create the most luxurious scent in all the land. Actually, that last bit happened in real life — with the Sultan of Oman.

As the renowned perfume critic, Luca Turin, said in a 2007 German magazine article:

The story of Amouage is remarkable. Twenty five years ago an Omani prince decided that his country, renowned since Egyptian times for the quality of its frankincense, home to the unique Green Mountain rose and on whose beaches half the world’s ambergris lands at random, needed a perfume firm that would take on the world’s greatest.

Nakhal Fort, Oman. Source: AzzahaTours.com

Nakhal Fort, Oman. Source: AzzahaTours.com

So, in 1983, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the ruler of the Sultanate of Oman, ordered His Highness Sayyid Hamad bin Hamoud al bu Said to do just that. And the fame of the perfumes have spread ever since, helped by the fact that one of them (Gold) was once the most expensive perfume in the world.

In 2010, Amouage launched a new line entitled The Library Collection which was meant to be a “poetic homage to the art of living.” They were

inspired by the recollections and fragments that collectively represent a tome of memories. The name of the collection is drawn from the notion of the hidden treasures in a library; a notion that kindles our desire to discover, to learn.

Amouage Opus VIIn 2012, Amouage added Opus VI to its line and it was, surprisingly, the first amber perfume released by the royal house. Amouage describes Opus VI as “an amber, leather and woody fragrance inspired by the destruction and reinvention of knowledge and memories. Symbolising the end of a love affair, eternity is represented as broken memories in the design of the box.”

The notes, as compiled from both Amouage‘s website and Fragrantica, are as follows:

top: Sichuan pepper, Frankincense, St. Thomas Bay (bay rum)
heart: Periploca [silk vine], Cypriol [papyrus grass oil], Patchouli
base: Ambranum, Z11, Cistus [Labdanum or rock rose], sandalwood, Citrus

Periploca. Photo: Chris Moore via Basenotes.

Periploca. Photo: Chris Moore via Basenotes.

Since a lot of these ingredients are extremely uncommon, I’m going to take time to go through a few of them. According to Fragrantica, Periploca is “a plant that grows in the Balkans with an odor profile between almond and incense.” Elsewhere, however, the scent has been compared to jasmine; on Basenotes, some remark that the aroma is unpleasant and akin to rotting vegetables. In short, there is no consensus. As for the other unusual notes, cypriol is a kind of papyrus grass, and ambranum is a synthetic compound that replicate the smell of amber, while Z11 is a synthetic that smells like dry wood.

The Amouage press release quoted by Fragrantica explains not only the deliberate reason why the synthetics were used in lieu of the more traditional elements, but also elaborates further on the whole issue of heartache and memories:

Opus VI, presented as a romantic fragrance creating its own vivid memories, is a woody amber oriental, inspired by the traditional medicine for broken hearts, amber. But whereas traditional amber is created through balsamic raw materials, creative director Christopher Chong approaches this most traditional concept through a modern lens, fusing synthetic molecules with a decidedly modern olfactory profile, such as Ambranum and Z11. This supposedly helps create a discordant effect which is not unlike the emotional frame of when someone tries to forget the memories of a heartache! According to Chong: ‘Personal memories are a fragmented journey into our lives. A source of profound knowledge, a sort of secret diary in the minds of each of us.’

Hm. I haven’t the foggiest idea what heartache smells like but, whatever it is, I don’t think it smells like this! Opus VI is a very labdanum-heavy amber scent with lots of incense, patchouli and some spiciness that, to me, evokes nothing more than an old Bedouin sheikh who uses very heavy attars and perfumed oil in his beard in the traditional Muslim manner. No heartbreak, no profound knowledge, no secret diary. To me, Opus VI is a very traditional Middle Eastern scent that I think is tolerable at times, but hugely over-priced for what it is. 

"Arab policeman" by DennisSylvesterHurd via UnearthingAsia.com

“Arab policeman” by DennisSylvesterHurd via UnearthingAsia.com

Opus VI explodes on my skin with super-charged labdanum. You can read my Glossary (linked up above) for full details on what labdanum is but, in a nutshell, it’s a very leathery, heavy, balsam-like amber resin. Here, its usual masculine, dirty underpinnings are heightened to an extreme degree. For once, I am transported back thousands of years to ancient times when shepherds would scrape the resin off the chests and beards of goats who had clambered on or around the rock rose. There is almost a sweaty, goat-like feel to the labdanum and, even for one like myself who usually adores the note, it’s a little too animalic in those opening minutes. 

A goat whose chest and beard are covered with labdanum. Source: labdanum-creta.blogspot. com

A goat whose chest and beard are covered with labdanum. Source: labdanum-creta.blogspot. com

Though the labdanum dominates, there are other notes in that initial start. There is quite a bit of boozy rum — not boozy amber, but something more akin to actual rum. Underneath that, there is chili pepper, frankincense smoke, unctuously dirty, black patchouli, and almost a dry paper element. The second time I tried Opus VI, I could also detect notes that felt like bay leaf, cloves and cardamom. As the minutes pass, the labdanum starts to become a tiny bit less dirty and animalic, leaving more of a general feel of extremely thick amber with boozy rum. There is an undertone to the labdanum, perhaps from the strong patchouli, that sometimes seems almost like leathery toffee or slightly burnt butterscotch; it creates a visual colour image of burnt umber or blackened terracotta. Skirting around the edges of all this leathery labdanum, there is a citrus note that flickers like a candle in a wind.

Five minutes in, the smoke and spices increase. The frankincense becomes stronger, evoking the scent of a burning bonfire in the fall. The patchouli note is much more noticeable, too, but it is the chili pepper that impresses me the most. It definitely feels like Sichuan pepper and serves to add some spicy heat to the dominant accord of thick, balsamic resins.

Those resins soften considerably as time passes. The labdanum’s shriekingly dirty side becomes a little less extreme, leaving an overall impression of honeyed amber, patchouli, incense and spice in the richest way possible. Yet, surprisingly, the perfume’s strength in the first 30 minutes is not matched by its sillage; Opus VI’s projection drops rapidly to something much less aggressive and much softer. In fact, the perfume as whole starts to feel quite soft. I realise that seems like a contradiction given those heavy notes and their strength, but Opus VI turns into something that isn’t opaque and thick in weight.

Something about the spiciness of Opus VI in the first 30 minutes evokes the dry-down of vintage Opium. The Sichuan pepper, in conjunction with the other notes, creates something like the cloves, spices, heavy labdanum, sandalwood and citrus feel of (real, vintage) Opium’s final hours. Opus VI is nowhere as gorgeous, complex, sophisticated, layered or nuanced as Opium — my all-time favorite perfume — but there is definitely some nod to the great, benchmark Oriental here. It is quite a surprise, and a pleasant one at that. Perhaps the greatest surprise, however, is that none of the notes feel synthetic. Amouage may have used Ambranum to replicate amber and Z11 for the aroma of dry wood, but Opus VI smells as if only real (and very expensive) ingredients have been used. There is nothing chemical, artificial or abrasive about Opus VI, though the dirty nature of the labdanum may be a little excessive in the first twenty minutes.

At the one hour mark, the spices recede, the labdanum turns more musky, and there is the vague hint of some jasmine. I’ll assume it is from the Periploca since I’ve never actually smelled the plant and, prior to reviewing Opus VI, had never even heard of it, either. Whatever the reason, there is a quiet floral aspect to Opus VI but it is fleeting. Soon, all that really remains of the scent is labdanum intertwined with strong frankincense smoke, black patchouli, musk, and a vague, abstract sense of spices — all over a dry wood undertone. The odd thing is that musky element. There is a definite animalic, skanky side to the resin now that evokes both civet and, to a small degree, the pure musk of Parfum d’Empire‘s Musc Tonkin. I can’t say that I particularly like it. Even odder for me to wrap my head around is just how paradoxically sheer and light the perfume is, while certain notes feel so unctously thick. They aren’t actually thick at all, but something about that labdanum….

After a few hours, the main threads of leathery, musky labdanum with dirty, black patchouli, and incense remain the same, but, now, a very strong accord of dry woods starts to appear. It’s not any one particular type of wood; rather, it’s just an abstract and extremely arid vague “woods” note. The dryness is huge, undoubtedly due to the Z11, and it creates a surprisingly odd contrast. Honestly, I’m not crazy about the dissonance and overall polarity.

Opus VI has astounding longevity, so its drydown phase finally starts about 8 hours later. It is simple: just amorphous amber, honey, beeswax and benzoin which creates a vague sense of nutty, caramel, amber. I tested Opus VI twice, each time using a lesser amount. The first time, I put on the equivalent of 2 good sprays and the perfume lasted almost 15 hours! On me! It was mind-boggling. The second time, I dabbed on what would essentially amount to one smallish to moderate spray and it lasted 12 hours, with the perfume lingering for much of that time right on the skin. Almost no projection at all.

What was interesting to me was that the lesser amount significantly changed what small nuances were detectable in the scent. Using only about one spray, Opus VI became a labdanum and patchouli fragrance with beeswax, and only the vaguest of other elements to it. It also became a skin scent in about thirty-five minutes on me. As a whole, this is not a perfume with massive sillage. On my first test, with 2 sprays, it became a skin scent within about 2 hours but even before, it didn’t projected out beyond a few inches. Opus VI is strong with a greater amount, but it’s also surprisingly sheer.

I liked the perfume less and less with every test. I actually put it on a third time just to be sure but, to be honest, I’d really had enough of it by that time and only lasted an hour before I washed it off. It wasn’t just the sometimes cloying, dirty, skanky aspects of the labdanum in those opening phases; I was also mentally bored by the scent’s linearity and something about its progression really turned me off. Yet, the reviews from other perfume bloggers are uniformly positive, even a little gushing. Whether it’s The Non-Blonde, Olfactoria’s Travels, The Candy Perfume Boy, or the always laudatory, always effusive, never (ever) critical CaFleureBon, the reviews are overwhelmingly adoring.

Well, apparently, I’m much harder to please when it comes orientals. I am a hardcore Orientalist down to my very fingertips, and if there is one thing I know extremely well is opulent, super-rich, powerful Orientals. There is, in fact, nothing I love more. But, to Opus VI, I give a nonchalant shrug. It’s fine, I suppose. Parts of it are actually quite nice on the very first go-round, namely the part where it smells like a less nuanced, less sophisticated, less interesting, less spicy and less potent version of my beloved Opium. Sure, Opus VI is quite rich as compared to something like a L’Artisan scent or Kilian’s boring Amber Oud (that actually has almost no oud in it at all). But that doesn’t mean Opus VI is a particularly interesting, complex Oriental except on the relative scale of things.

I started out being generally underwhelmed and unimpressed but, with successive applications, my slightly disdainful indifference turned into something much more negative. I love labdanum, have tested quite a bit of labdanum fragrances (especially recently), and I adore heavy, opaque, potent, resinously rich Orientals. At best, Opus VI is a simple but boring labdanum-dominant fragrance that is typically Middle Eastern like a million attars (or ittars) from the region. I’ve spent time in the Middle East and this is a pretty traditional, generic scent — so much so that I kept imagining some Arab man perfuming his beard or mustache with the oil of it. At worst, Opus VI is a monochromatic, linear, occasionally unpleasant fragrance that tired me out enormously, and which actually made me question just how much I loved labdanum as a whole.

And that’s even before we get to the price. $325 for this? Never in a million years. I think it’s massively over-priced for what it is. Frankly, I don’t understand the hype at all. I could perhaps understand paying Amouage prices for something like Jubilation 25 or maybe even Jubilation XXV — but never for Opus VI. I suppose I should add that a portion of the perfume’s high price probably stems from the packaging: all Amouage fragrances come in a bottle of expensive French crystal with some gold plating and, occasionally, sterling silver as well. Here, Opus VI

is adorned with a gold label simply declaring Opus and the number of the fragrance in roman numerals. The metal cap is gold-plated with the very regal and distinctive Amouage shield resting on the top protected under a transparent coat. The box is reminiscent of a tome (a volume of scholarly book). To complement the bottle’s contemporary classic look, the box is covered in champagne coloured fabric to give it an illustrious appearance.

Fine. Still not worth $325 though, in my opinion. In fact, I wouldn’t wear Opus VI if it were given to me for free.

DETAILS:
U.S. availability & Stores: Opus VI comes only in a 3.4 oz/100 ml eau de parfum that retails for $325. It is currently on sale at Beauty Encounter for $300 with free shipping in the US and international shipping for roughly an additional $25. Opus VI can also be purchased online at MinNY, ZGO, or Parfums Raffy. Parfums Raffy is the authorized retailer for Amouage, and provides free domestic shipping along with samples. Parfums Raffy also sells a Sampler Set of six Library Opus scents (minus the brand new, just released Opus VII) for a really good price of $30. Each perfume vial is 2 ml. Luckyscent usually carries Amouage but Opus VI is back-ordered until October 2013.
Outside the US: In Canada, The Perfume Shoppe offers a 5 ml travel size (about 65 sprays) of Opus VI for $50 with free worldwide shipping. I don’t see full bottles of Opus VI on the site but you may want to check for yourself. In the UK, Opus VI is available at Les Senteurs for £240.00. There is also an Amouage boutique in London. In Germany, it is available at First in Fragrance where it costs €275.00 with free shipping within the EU and shipping elsewhere for a fee. Of course, the perfume is also available on Amouage’s own website. The website also has a “Store Finder” for about 20 countries which should, hopefully, help you find Opus VI somewhere close to you.
Samples: Samples of Opus VI are available at Surrender to Chance (the decant site I always use) where the smallest vial costs $3.99. The site also sells a Sampler Set for 6 of the Library line which starts at $19.99 for 1/2 ml vials. The Parfums Raffy deal is a much better one given the size of those vials.
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57 thoughts on “Perfume Review: Amouage Opus VI (The Library Collection)

  1. Labdanum, frankincense,patchouli, sandalwood, beeswax…these are some of my favorite essential oils…I wonder whether or not I would like Opus IV? (and I was not aware of the history behind this brand…thank you for enlightening me).

    The only two Amouage I have tried thus far are Interlude (indifferent) and Epic (I adored). I could not see myself spending this amount of money on one bottle.

    • They are some of my favorite notes, too, Brie. That’s partially why I’m surprised their manifestation here was just so boring-to-unpleasant for me. I fully expected to adore Opus VI *because* of those notes. Yet, something about this scent was just cognitive dissonance at its highest form. Perhaps it’s meant to be that way given all the stuff about heartbreak and their goal of creating “a discordant effect which is not unlike the emotional frame of when someone tries to forget the memories of a heartache.” Or perhaps it was that labdanum which was just too sweaty, dirty, skanky and animalic for even my love of the note.

  2. I so enjoyed going on this journey with you and to learn more on the history behind the house of Amouage. I wish I had a goat like the one pictured who would come home every night laden with Labdanum. Well you know me and my love for Orientals, so I want to smell it. When I go to L.A. next week and hit Scent Bar I will see if they have it. Impressive and wonderful review and though the perfume got a thumbs down from you the review was a winner.

    • LOL at the goat! I don’t think your SF neighbors would be quite as thrilled. 😉 I hope you do get to smell it. Scent Bar will be SOOO much fun! I can’t wait to hear all about your adventures there, though I pity your poor wallet. And thank you for your kind words on the review, dear Lanier. xoxoxo

  3. I was ready to love amber! leather! woody! then I read dirty underpants and did a double-take…I misread, you actually wrote “dirty underpinnings”. Moving on….sweaty, goat-like, animalic, and by that point, I was a goner (in a really bad way) because all I could think of was SKANKY SKANKY SKANKY screaming at me. Thanks, but no thanks. Great review, though, dear Kafka.

    • You know that rich, nutty, absolutely delicious, but just faintly masculine and dirty labdanum? The kind that is in Dior’s Mitazh, Puredistance M, Ormonde Jayne’s Nawab of Oudh, Lubin’s Akkad, and about a gazillion other lovely labdanum scents? This is NOT that labdanum…. It’s not skanky, per se, because it doesn’t evoke unripe, unwashed panties or intimate private parts, but it is most definitely evocative of goat-like dirtiness, animalic notes, and heavy musk. Plus, it never ends. Never, ever ends. 15 hours on my skin?

      Why are the perfumes that actually last an *astronomical* amount of time on my skin almost uniformly perfumes that I cannot stand?

  4. As ever, I just love your reviews. You take us on a journey through the life of a scent in minute detail. And you try it again, to make sure. You re-evaluate. You second guess. You give difficult scents second and third chances. I have learned so very much from reading your reviews. You don’t toss off a critique lightly. Every review is well thought out and remarkably informative. And always that little bit, that comment that makes it so “you”. This fragrance contains all of my uber faves: labdanum, patchouli, amber etc. and yet you can clearly point out the faults and failings so that I can almost smell how it does not deliver, myself. Thanks. Great review!

    • Tora, you have no idea how touched and moved I am by your extremely kind, incredibly sweet comment. You’ve been reading me long enough to know I can be very verbose but, when I’m truly touched, I almost don’t know what to say. Here, I can only say “Thank you,” and that your words not only mean the world to me but that I appreciate them far more than you can ever know. I wish I could express just how much your comment means to me, but I can’t, so I will just tell you that you’ve truly made my week. Thank you so, so much.

  5. This seems to sound quite promising, and yet…*sigh*

    I’m kind of of wondering whether I’m just not the right audience for some of these more traditional middle eastern perfumes. I think it’s probably more of a taste issue than a chemistry issue for me, but I just haven’t adored one yet (though, admittedly, my exposure has been pretty limited).

    “Opus VI is nowhere as gorgeous, complex, sophisticated, layered or nuanced as Opium — my all-time favorite perfume — but there is definitely some nod to the great, benchmark Oriental here.”

    Sigh. Why oh why is vintage Opium gone? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY?! So wonderful. And it was reasonably priced. Please give me a time machine so I can buy some and hoard it! I’m hesitant to spray the bottle I have because I don’t want it to ever be gone, especially since the bottles of the vintage juice are painfully overpriced now. *weeps*

    As a rule, I just can’t get too excited for Amouage. I don’t know if it’s because of the pricing being a bit high or what, but I just can’t work up the strength to pay for a bunch of Amouage samples. I know the scents largely get rave reviews, but I’m just not enthused about them for reasons I don’t even understand. I tried XXV eons ago and enjoyed it, but I haven’t reached for it since my first try. Maybe I just need to suck it up and pay for some samples and give it the time it probably deserves before I fully judge it.

    • Don’t get me started on the issue of Opium….. *sigh*

      As for Amouage, though I must have about 6-8 samples now, I’ve only gotten around to testing 3 of them, and only this one was a traditional Middle Eastern perfume. I really don’t think either Jubilation (men or women’s version) is. To me, they are very European fragrances with just some M/E elements. Jubilation 25 in particular is very reminiscent of classic French skanky chypres. You’ve started to enjoy the skanky notes a little bit more than before, so maybe it will be different for you now? If you want to give the brand a chance, I think you may want to consider trying things like Lyric (women) and Epic, or some of the women’s line in general as those seem to be more beloved by men than even the men’s line.

  6. Labdanum-heavy amber? I’m gonna stay away from this one. I really like Opus II, a spicy lavender and Opus V, an alcoholic orris root 🙂
    And I’m curious about Opus VII

    • You should stay away — nay, RUN — from this one with your particular perfume profile and tastes. Lucas, this would make Coromandel seem like a lovely dream for you….

      I’m curious about Opus VII too. As for Opus II, I think that’s one that perhaps *I* better avoid, given my lavender issues. 😉

      • Dear Kafka, Sounds like LAVENDER is to Kafka as la-la-la-la-la is to Hajusuuri.

        If you get the chance, please try the Atelier Cologne Sous le toit de Paris.

        • I can tolerate lavender is very small doses but, I have to admit, just seeing that word in all-caps sent a bone-deep shiver through my body. My whole back arched like I’d been zapped with a Taser gun. *cringes into a foetal ball*

          As for the Atelier Cologne, I’m hoping a sweet friend will share a sample with me. I asked tonight after your message. 🙂

  7. The only Amouage I’ve sniffed is Jubilation 25 because someone was nice enough to send me a sample. I’ve pretty much tried to steer clear of this line because of the prices. There are a few that have me curious. On paper the notes catch my eye but I can find similar notes in lesser priced scents so the bargain hunter in me wins out most times.

  8. I have strange relationship with Amouage offerings. I used to be crazy about Memoir man to the point that I couldn’t live without a bottle in my collection. Now that I acquired it I barely use it(if all). Lyric man I hate with a passion although I love rose based scents and have quite a few in my arsenal. With Interlude man I felt like I was on fire sprinkled with lots of oregano that I I had to scrub it off. I enjoy Jubi XXV a lot. From the library collection I tried IV and I quite like sampling it but never thought about requiring a bottle(maybe the price doesn’t seem right?)
    Anyways, thank you Kafka for such an enlightening review. You always take me to a scented journey wich I appreciate it so much.

    • I’m fascinated by all this, Ross. Do you know why you barely bother with Memoir Man, now that you own it? Was it more about the hunt and acquisition than the actual scent? And what happened with Lyric man that makes it so heinous to you? Interlude Man….. good lord, sweetie, that sounds absolutely ghastly!! I’ve noticed that a LOT of men seem to prefer the women’s fragrances from Amouage to the men’s ones. I don’t know why, but it is really widespread. Perhaps they are not quite as dry? I haven’t tried enough to know — but I have about 8 Amouage samples (mostly women’s, but a few men’s fragrances, like Dia), so I will plunge into the line much more in the upcoming weeks. As for Opus IV, that one seems to get a lot of love. I actually have a sample of that one, I think. LOL.

      • Perhaps you are right about it being more of a hunt and aquisition of Memoir Man than about the scent itself. Although I admire its uniqness, sometimes I have a feeling that it dies down way too fast on my skin.
        With Lyric I have a really strange story that i`d like to share. I ordered a sample of it last year from Min NY. They sent me Lyric woman by mistake, which I liked it enough to order a decant of it from a split that I was participating. So when I got my decant I was in shock how different it was from my previous sample. Later I realised that I was testing Woman`s version of it 😦 Lyric man its a soapy~green rose scent on my skin which is not my type of rose. I like deep, dark rose based fragrances( e.g.NdN).
        And Jubilation XXV is amazing offering but it dies down too fast on my skin and its a dealbreaker for me to justify its price. I`ll be testing it some more to see how
        it developes in the future.
        Do you have any favorites in Amouage line so far from the women`s/men`s side, Kafka?

        • Soapy green rose? Oh dear, that does not sound pleasant at all. I’m also a bit amazed by the issue of sillage and longevity for you. (Or is it just sillage?) Amouage is supposed to be uber-potent and long-lasting! But I think, after reading all that, that you would be far better served trying the women’s line (assuming there were no sillage/duration problems). Men seem to prefer the women’s Amouages far more than the men’s stuff! Of course, if none of it lasts on you, then it definitely wouldn’t be worth the price!

          As for my favorites, alas, I really haven’t tried the line enough to know. I have Lyric (women), another one that I cannot recall, Dia men, and I just ordered Interlude Women. But I never just sniff or casually wear perfume until I’m about to review it, so I don’t know what any of them are like. Lyric will be next up for Amouage though but there may be a Tom Ford perfume that I’d like to test before that… 😉

          • That’s a real pity, Ross. But the positive side of that is that you are saving yourself a HUGE amount of money! LOL. I’m going to be very interested to see how the sillage manifests itself on me when I end up trying more of the line. I will definitely keep your experiences in mind. 🙂

        • Awww, how sweet of you to say that. I lurk on your site too and am always excited when I get an email alert. LOL. And I ascribe it solely to you that I finally figured out that ISO E was a problem for me. “Gallons and gallons” in Montabaco…. honestly, you weren’t kidding! You may have been understating the issue even. LOL. I always think of you now whenever I think of that perfume. 🙂

  9. OMG. That is one gnarly-looking goat! Now, I won’t ever be able to think about labdanum the same way. I can just smell him/her through the photo!

    I have to say that I have never really explored the Library Collection. I think I just too get distracted by the Man and Woman fragrances. I keep meaning to rectify this because I hear that there are some really amazing ones in it.

    • Ha! He is really quite something, isn’t he? Between the mangy coat and those horns, he makes me laugh too.

      With my enormous love for labdanum, Opus VI was a must try but — out of all the labdanum perfumes that I’ve tested — I have never, EVER been made to think of labdanum’s original, ancient method of sourcing. Until now….

  10. I was hesitant to comment… I don’t won’t you to think that I’m just being contrarian. 🙂
    I liked Opus VI when I tried it. I don’t think I’ll ever go for a full bottle of it but I’ll probably buy a decant at some point. I think maybe it’s because I’m not a huge fan of oriental perfumes? I should test it again tonight!
    (and yes, I also chuckled on you description of CB’s reviews; I stopped even going there but not because of the reviews tone but because of a censorship: after they removed a casual mentioning of Bois de Jasmine blog from one of the comments)

    • I think the labdanum must have manifested itself on me differently than others but perhaps the greater issue is that I have very big expectations for a heavy oriental, I really *do* love heavy, spicy orientals above ALL else. Plus, I’m familiar with traditional Middle Eastern attars or fragrances due to having spent time in the region, which perhaps not everyone has. So, I am probably coming at this very differently than others. But, even so, Christ, that labdanum was just so….. DIRTY! On my skin, it really evoked an almost goat-like, animalic, occasionally sweaty muskiness that was nothing like the much smoother, nuttier, more elegant labdanum of other orientals. So, all that combined with the fact that it didn’t live up to the oriental aspects that I expect… well, you saw the result. 🙂 That said, I’m always happy when someone else loves a perfume. We’re all different and we all come at things differently, even apart from the enormous issue of skin difference. But I truly would be interested to see your take on that labdanum if you try it again since I know you found the Cuir Mauresque from Serge Lutens to be very animalic and dirty, and I would have thought that the Opus VI would be even more so for you.

      As for CFB, they did that??! I’m truly surprised and, yet, somehow not surprised *one bit*….

  11. Well Kafkaesque … I dunno about Opus VI, does not really tempt me ….. but I am off to Vienna to score myself a gorgeous full bottle of UBAR and can hardly wait. I will insist on samples of all the Amouage´s that they can possibly give me, and then come home and slowly try them. Gosh … going in for the kill!! Don´t you just love that feeling?? 🙂 Hugs. CQ xxxx

  12. I have a few Amouages – Jub XXV, Epic, Interlude – and thought this was enough; it couldn’t get any better, right? The previous Opus offerings were hit n miss but nothing great. Opus VI really had me at first sniff. Didn’t want to get yet another Amouage, so I sampled it again, and again, looking for aspects I didn’t like. The opposite happened, and I knew I had to bite the bullet. Sure, I could do without the resplendent packaging, but this is one impressively constructed experience, not merely a scent. It’s not linear at all on me, in fact it shifts almost constantly in weight and perception. The longevity is nuclear. The patchouli is very subtle but it literally sizzles with the incense – WOW! yes, I bought it. And I love it. It’s all I want to wear for the time being in spite of the goat & Arab’s beard references that I now associate with this masterpiece. Thanks 😉

    • LOL! I deeply apologise for both the goat & the Arab’s beard with which you are now mentally associating Opus VI. 🙂 I’m very glad you like the perfume, Tim. I know I’m in a very distinct, tiny minority when it comes to this one. And, frankly, it was a surprise even to myself. But, try as I might, it simply didn’t bring me to my knees. Just out of curiosity, have you ever tried Dior’s Mitzah? Given the love you expressed for the incense, patchouli and amber, you may like that one as well. BTW, welcome to the blog and thank you so much for stopping by to share your thoughts. 🙂

      • I did in fact try Mitzah out when I bought Leather Oud, and it’s the only one of the Couturier line I really don’t like – it came off on me as too soft/feminine, nutmeg-y spicy and just meh (as I remember). Their Patchouli Imperial was fbw (as well as the sublime Ambre Nuit, and Vetiver and Oud Ispahan). I sure didn’t want to like a 270 euro perfume, but VI wouldn’t let go… You know, this is almost exactly what I thought Puredistance M would smell like. Alas that one WAS a real scrubber for me, again in spite of almost universal praise; cloying & messy. I have been checking out your blog for some time, I just rarely feel compelled to write. Thanks for the welcome & talk to you down the road…. doei from Amsterdam!

        • Well, to me, all that counts is that someone has a perfume that they truly adore. I’m genuinely happy for you about that! 🙂 And I’m also sorry that the others didn’t work for you, but we’re all different and so, there’s something for everyone. A perfume that takes you over the moon, that sizzles, that tempts you, and that makes you feel incredibly happy every time you put it on — rock that Opus VI!! And welcome aboard. 🙂 I look forward to getting to know you better, Tim.

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    • Dear Andrew, your comment on Basenotes about Opus VI made me smile. There is *nothing* better than a truly passionate review of a fragrance. Or, perhaps, I should say, there is nothing better than loving a fragrance with the sort of passion that you have for Opus VI. Bravo! That is what perfume should do, and I’m utterly thrilled Opus VI does that for you. Whether you and I share the same feelings for this fragrance is totally besides the point; what matters is passion and where a fragrance can take you.

      I honestly don’t know why Opus VI left me so cold. It really should have triggered my every button. I expected it to, and I wanted it to. I wish I knew why it didn’t. I know some other bloggers who are otherwise fans of Amouage have struggled with the Library Collection, and found them a little too dry for their tastes. I certainly had difficulty with Opus VII, though for totally different reasons, so perhaps the same holds true for me as well. But you know, all I can do is smile at your love for Opus VI. It was a joy to read. Truly. 🙂 As for your kind words about me as a reviewer, thank you. I’m genuinely touched. But what intrigues me is you — someone who is so passionate about a fragrance that they write about it with fire is special indeed. So I hope you will stop by more often. Few things make this whole blogging more worthwhile than talking about perfumes that move us, inspire us, and transport us. I’d love to hear more about the perfumes that move you — in a positive way or not. And, again, thank you SO much for taking the time to share your love of Opus VI. I’m still smiling. 🙂

      • You are incredibly kind, but I already knew that from reading your site! I thoroughly enjoy your reviews–your passion, your diligence, your commitment to finding the Truth (capital “T”) about each fragrance, even the ones you dislike. For my money, you are the best writer on fragrances out there, including his majesty Mr. Turin!

        I have been on something of a quest to find a sample of Coromandel ever since reading your review of it. Anything that earns a comparison to your beloved Opium is worth pursuing!

        I am actually rather new to this “hobby,” having only taken it up seriously in the last couple of months. I am still in that wonderful period of discovery–I haven’t learned the map yet, let alone the territory! It’s thrilling–I am sure you can relate.

        Aside from my beloved Opus VI, I really enjoy Azzaro Pour Homme, Rive Gauche, Prada Amber Intense, Santos by Cartier (I think), and L’air du Desert Marocain.

        The last of these provoked a really strange reaction in me: I found myself really edgy all day while wearing it. Moody. Overly aggressive. I couldn’t figure it out. Then it hit me: I was like an addict in need of a deeper hit. I LOVE (LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE) that scent I can’t really get enough of it, and that is a serious problem. It simply didn’t have the longevity, sillage, or thickness that I needed from it. As a consequence, I became Sheikh Grumpypants…LDDM is just not good for my soul, I’m afraid.

        • LOL at Sheikh Grumpypants! Hilarious. I liked LDDM quite a bit, but something indescribable held me back and I think you pinpointed most of the reasons why: it didn’t have the thickness or power than I wanted. I wanted something much more resinously opaque, luxuriously molten and deep to perhaps counter (in just the smallest, faintest way possible) the dryness. I like dryness, I LOVE spices, but I think I needed what you did: molten, unctuous, heaviness.

          Rive Gauche…. mmmm, lovely scent in the vintage form. I haven’t gone near it in a long time — too scared of what I would find. As for Coromandel, if you end up ordering a sample, try to get one of Dior’s Mitzah as well. Try the Mitzah first, then go for Coromandel. There are some overlaps between the two. But Coromandel isn’t really anything like Opium except in the initial, incense, spice, labdanum *feel* of it, if that makes sense. Coromandel is smoother, softer, less layered in spices, and not floral in the same way.

          You know, you have all the passion and interest to turn into a truly knowledgeable perfumista. It’s the hunger to know more and experience more. I think that’s wonderful. You may have just started this voyage of discovery, but you have all that is needed to become a true expert. I just hope that your wallet will survive….. 😛 😉

          BTW, if I haven’t responded to your incredibly generous, kind remarks about my reviews, it’s only because I’m a bit at a loss for words. Yes, I realise it rarely happens 😉 but it does when I’m really touched. Thank you, Andrew. You’ve rather made my day!

  14. Oh, and Chanel Antaeus. Really love that one, too.

    Like you, I am repelled by most Montales. Worse, I am offended by them. I know I shouldn’t be, but the cheap hucksterism and phony history really turned me off. Whether we like to admit it or not, fragrances are at least as much about the imagination as they are about the olfactory nerve. We pay money for scented water not just to “smell good,” but to “feel good.” I felt like a complete fraud wearing the Montales I have sampled.

    • Heh, which Montales have you tried? Please don’t tell me Aoud Lime. That one is truly horrific! As for Chanel’s Antaeus, fantastic choice. Are you going for the vintage versions of all of these? If so, have you tried Chanel’s vintage Egoiste? If you want to round out your education of the classics, then you should also try Guerlain’s Habit Rouge, Hermes’ Bel Ami, and perhaps, Xeryus as well. Kouros as well, though that is definitely very polarizing. (I happen to love it on a man!)

      • Black Aoud, Red Aoud, Dark Aoud, Aoud Musk, Forest Aoud, and White Aoud. Lime Aoud sounds ghastly…I am not tempted by it.

        Unfortunately, my experience is with the reformulated versions. I wish I had access to the originals, but part of me thinks that my nose is not sophisticated or well-trained enough to appreciate the differences anyhow.

        I do like Egoiste Platinum, but it smells generic to me. Like Eternity but with some ballast. I could see it as a good summer fragrance, but there was nothing about it that stood out as exceptional.

        Kouros….no thank you! I wanted to like it, but it smells like a sordid bath house to me. Masculine? Sure, in the sense that distilled testosterone is “masculine.” It’s not my cup of tea. I like manly scents (Rive Gauche, Antaeus, Opus VI), but I like a bit more subtlety than Kouros offers (again, to my admittedly inexperienced palate).

        The others I haven’t tried, but they are now officially on my list!

        • Egoiste Platinum is terrible! And so are most of these other fragrances in the current formulations (except current Bel Ami isn’t too bad, from what I’ve heard). My suggestion to you is to join the Facebook group, Facebook Fragrance Friends, and see if you can buy a few samples of the vintages from people there (I’m sure many would offer you tiny samples for free). Trust me, your nose will be able to tell the difference, right down to Kouros which actually does smell of a bath-house and men’s urinal *now.*

          See, what you’re responding to in something like Opus VI is the richness and the luxurious ingredients that haven’t been watered down and which don’t have a flood of cheap synthetics. But that’s what the OLD vintage formulations were like, almost across the board in most cases. You will be able to tell the difference in quality right away!! Okay, now I need to take out the Hairy German for a run. I look forward to speaking more later. 🙂

  15. The thing I enjoy so much about this hobby is that it combines so many of the ethereal, Platonic things that I love into something…physical! History. Mythology and religion. Psychology. Romance and adventure. Risk. Hard to list those as “hobbies,” but you can bring all of them to bear in exploring the world of fragrances.

    I do have a fragrance-related dream, actually. In fact, I would love to get your opinion on it. Is there an email where I could send you the idea privately? I would treasure your honest feedback.

    • Bingo! It combines every possible facet of beauty from art to history, mythology, poetry, literature, romance, religion, psychology…. and more. Very astutely noted. Ultimately, it’s all about escapism — into other worlds, other countries, other eras and other lives. Food does it, too, but perfume is the fastest neurological trigger of memories and emotions. And, of course you can email me. It’s listed in the “About Me” section, along with some favorites. Or just write to AKafkaesqueLife @ Gmail dot com (all one word). But I’m about to go out with my German shepherd for a run as it’s finally cooled down a little here, and then have to finish doing some work, so if you don’t get a reply until much, much later this evening, don’t think I blew you off! 😀

  16. Regarding Rive Gauche…could a man wear the original “women’s” formula? More to the point: *should* he???

    I see a few reasonably priced vintage YSL RG’s available on eBay, and I’m tempted to try it. Do you think it is a better option than the reformulated “pour homme” versions (including the intense)?

    • I answered you in greater depth in an email, but I need to repeat one more time: Rive Gauche for Women is… no. Just no! Even if you love aldehydes with a passion, I wouldn’t really recommend it.

  17. Pingback: Perfume Review- Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan | Kafkaesque

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