Perfume Review – Amouage Opus VII: The Heart of Animal Darkness

Amouage Opus VIIIn 2010, the royal Omani perfume house, Amouage, launched a new line entitled The Library Collection which was meant to be a “poetic homage to the art of living” and inspired by the concept of memories as treasured books in a library. Just a month ago, in mid-April 2013, Amouage added a seventh “book” to its line, this one created by Alberto Morillas and Pierre Negrin. Opus VII is described as “a green, woody and leather fragrance evoking the juxtaposition of harmony with the intensity of recklessness.” It is a difficult, complex, assertive and very masculine scent that takes you to the heart of darkness in a smoky oud jungle populated by ferocious big cats. 

According to the Amouage press release quoted by CaFleureBon:

Opus VII literally stands out from the previous six editions as it is the first to use a black flacon with gold criss cross lines; an allegory of the mind when thoughts are subjected and diverted. The use of galbumum and violet in Opus VII are integral to the composition and Christopher [Chong]’s vision.

Amouage-Opus-VII-Library-CollectionI don’t see violet listed as one of Opus VII’s notes which — according to both Amouage‘s website and Fragrantica — consist of:

top: Galbanum, Pink Pepper, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Fenugreek
heart: Agarwood Smoke, Patchouli, Ambrox [synthetic amber], Leather, Ambergris
base: Costus Root, Muscone [synthetic musk], Sandalwood, Olibanum [Frankincense], Cypriol [a woody note with earthy and spicy nuances]

Source: herbalveda.co.uk

Source: herbalveda.co.uk

As always with Amouage, understanding what the perfume smells like requires understanding the more unusual ingredients that the house likes to use. In this case, one of the most important would be the Costus Root. In a long article on animalic notes, The Perfume Shrine describes costus root as “reminiscent of unwashed hair, in more intimate places than just head” and says that it is one of the elements for the trademarked perfumer’s base called “Animalis,” produced by Synarome. In a post on Animalis itself, The Perfume Shrine describes costus root as

a plant essence that has an uncanny resemblence to a mix of unwashed human hair, goat smell and dirty socks. […] It’s also part of the mysterious urinous & musky allure of Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent (which indeed features a healthy dose of costus under phenyl acetate paracresol).

Though the Perfume Shrine says that modern perfume restrictions have limited or “axed” the use of costus, it is a huge part of Opus VII on my skin.

Dried fenugreek leaves via Suhana.co.in

Dried fenugreek leaves via Suhana.co.in

Another big element is Fenugreek, a plant whose dried leaves or seeds are often used in Middle Eastern or Indian cuisine. In fact, I have a large bottle of it in my pantry right now. Fenugreek has an extremely difficult scent to describe; if you’ve ever smelled it, you’ll know it right away, but otherwise, it’s a little complicated. Basically, it’s a very green aroma that is simultaneously sweet, herbaceous and extremely pungent. Though Wikipedia says that it’s called Methi in India and is a key component of some Indian dishes, to me it evokes Middle Eastern or Ethiopian food much more. It is a key ingredient in Persian Ghormeh Sabzi which Wikipedia says is considered to be one of Iran’s national dishes. Whatever its uses, fenugreek is one of those ingredients that, after you eat it, will ooze and seep out of your pores for days in a slightly sour, stale smell. As the Perfume Shrine explains,

An opaque, rather bitter smell with a nutty undertone, it traverses the urinary track to scent a person’s urine as well as their sweat and intimate juices. Its seeds’ odour is comparable to thick maple suryp. Fenugreek is featured in many fragrances which have rippled the waters of niche perfumery with pre-eminent examples Sables by Annick Goutal and Eau Noire by Christian Dior (composed by nose Francis Kurkdjian). Everytime I smell them I am reminded of the intense flavour that this spice gives them. [Bold font emphasis added.]

If all this talk of ingredients with sharp, bitter, animalic and/or urinous aromas is giving you pause, well, I’m sorry to say that both notes are key to understanding Opus VII. I could simply mention “fenugreek” and “costus root” all day long to you but, unless you know what that really entails, you won’t be prepared for the complicated, difficult scent that is Opus VII. 

Source: all-hd-wallpapers.com

Source: all-hd-wallpapers.com

The perfume opens on my skin with an immediate burst of oud backed with something lemony that has a strong nuance of urine, along with the darkest of green notes and leather. Woods that are deeply smoky and dark sit atop pungently herbaceous sharp fenugreek with slightly intimate animalic musk, earthy, spicy elements, and sweetly bright, green patchouli. It is a vision of darkness, black and green, the innermost recesses of a forest where a golden jungle cat slithers, slinks and prowls in the shadows before releasing a guttural “rowwwwwwrrrr.” In the footsteps of that opening burst, there are other notes which quickly appear. There is brightly green galbanum that feels almost citric-like in its surprising freshness but which has a dark, liqueured undertone. Pink peppercorns and sharp smoke — black, acrid, and burning like a forest on fire — also join the dance. 

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

Few of the notes besides the smoky oud have a chance of competing against the raw animalism of Opus VII’s opening minutes. If you’ve ever been to the wild cat enclosure of a zoo, you’ll know the smell. And, to detect it here, even in a less concentrated, milder form, is a complete shock to the system. It truly feels like a panther or cheetah’s ferocious growl: urinous, like animal droppings, but also musky with a faint tinge of dirty hair underneath. It’s lemon-tinged and sharply evokes YSL‘s vintage Kouros for me, albeit in a significantly softer, milder, tamer manner in Opus VII’s early stage. I lack the guts to be able to wear Kouros myself, but I absolutely adore it on a man and think it’s an incredibly sexy scent. However, that sharply animalic note — often described by some as resembling “urinal cakes” — makes vintage Kouros a deeply polarizing fragrance. I suspect the same will be true of Opus VII.

Despite the sudden shock, I found Opus VII’s opening to be completely mesmerizing, captivating and fascinating. Perhaps much like a scorpion’s victim would watch its slow, ominous walk forward. Opus VII is, on the one hand, exactly like a jungle on fire with its earthy, rooty, dark floor kicked up by panicked animals in full flight, leaving behind leathered, slightly urinous droppings in their wake. On the other hand, it is a deeply woody-leathery fragrance that feels quite smooth, with a savagely sensuous heart at its base and something that seems almost like a velvety floral. Opus VII is such a jungle scent in its opening stage: primal, elemental, ferocious, pungent, fetid, earthy, leathered and sharp — but, also, lushly green in the darkest way possible. Baudelaire would have fully approved of it and would have undoubtedly written a companion piece to Les Fleurs du Mal, entitled perhaps as La Forêt de TerreurI approve, too, in some way that is almost partially terrified. I struggle with galbanum but, here, it’s not the brutal galbanum of Bandit or other famous leather scents. It’s not so green that it might as well be black; instead, it is smooth, spiced, warm and animalic. It’s a leathered, ambered jungle cat’s galbanum, and it actually makes me want to spray on some more. 

Source: Tumblr

Source: Tumblr

Thirty minutes in, Opus VII starts to shift a little. The smokiness that evoked a burning jungle recedes just a hair; the perfume turns slightly more sour and urinous; the pepper notes seem blacker and far less like pink peppercorns; the leather feels darker and muskier; and the subtle spices flicker with a little more fire in the background. Much more importantly, however, the earthy elements intensify. It’s as if the jungle’s humidity hit the blackest soil at the very base of an oud/agarwood tree, turning the earth almost rooty and musky.

Bearded iris via scenicreflections.com

Bearded iris via scenicreflections.com

And, to my surprise, there is a definite impression of iris. A number of bloggers detected it, and they’re right. Though there is no iris or orris root listed in Opus VII, I’m guessing that some combination of the muscone, the earthy-woody cypriol, and the earthy elements of galbanum have created the distinct smell of iris. (Technically, “iris” as a note is impossible to create solely from the flower’s petals; it is replicated by taking rhizomes from the root, and/or often using other notes to lend to an overall impression of the flower’s scent.) I suspect that another thing that helps is ISO E Super.

ISO E Super. Source: Fragrantica

ISO E Super. Source: Fragrantica

Yes, Opus VII starts with a flicker of my most dreaded, hated note on earth: ISO E Super. A flicker that starts to slowly increase in volume until, eventually, it completely ruins the entire fragrance for me. A perfumer once astutely noted that ISO E Super was my “kryptonite” and, sadly, it’s true. For those unfamiliar with the aroma-chemical, you can read my full description of its pros and cons here. In a nutshell, though, it is used most frequently for two reasons: 1) as a super-floralizer which is added to expand and magnify many floral notes, along with their longevity; and 2) to amplify woody notes and add a velvety touch to the base. It seems to be particularly used in fragrances that have vetiver, with Lalique‘s Encre Noire being just one of the many examples. It is also used in a large number of Montale Aoud fragrances, to amplify the wood note to that high-decibel shrieking volume. And it is the sole focus of Geza Schoen’s notorious Molecule 01 fragrance. ISO E Super always smells extremely peppery and, in large doses, has an undertone that is like that of rubbing alcohol, is medicinal, and/or antiseptic. Some people are completely anosmic to the synthetic, while others get searing, vicious headaches from it. It is a constant base in most Ormonde Jayne perfumes, so if you get a headache from those, blame the ISO E Super. I’m not afflicted in that manner, but I cannot stand the smell in large quantities and, my God, it is strong in Opus VII’s second stage.

At the end of the first hour, Opus VII shifts in hue, turning mossily green. Visually, it is no longer the black-green of the jungle’s shadow, seeming almost ebony-like in its darkness. Instead, the perfume now reflects slightly lighter green notes, sweeter, warmer, rounder and backed by amber. The patchouli blooms, feeling as bright as emerald moss, and it helps soften the sharp edges of the urinous leather and the aggressive oud smoke. At the same time, both the iris and the fenugreek note rise in prominence. Though I’m not one to usually rave about iris, here it’s truly lovely and feels like the lushest, most buttery, velvety suede. Creamy and delicate, it has a sturdy woody-rooty undertone that prevents it from feeling gauzy, ethereal and cold. It feels like taupe-brown suede, not grey-white, if that makes any sense. Opus VII starts to turn into warmer, ambered scent where the animalic notes are softened, less sharp, dirty or urinous, the smoke is less aggressive, and the whole thing is more velvety, mossy and earthy.

Source: Sodahead.com

Source: Sodahead.com

Unfortunately, the start of the second hour marks an abrupt right turn in Opus VII’s development. From that fascinating start as olfactory ode to the heart of darkness in a smoky oud forest inhabited by the most powerful of leathery, ambered jungle cats alongside velvety iris and mossy green, the perfume suddenly becomes a fenugreek-oud scent — much like a dark forest through which shines the fluorescent light of ISO E Super. Sure, there are still elements of animalic musk, leather, iris, spices (cardamom, in particular) and amber, but the oud really goes into high gear here. It is always infused with the pungent, herbal fenugreek, the slightly urinous feline musk, and the sharply medicinal, astringent ISO E — and the combination just gets stronger with every minute. By the middle of the third hour, Opus VII is an oud-fenugreek-musk combination above gallons of medicinal, antiseptic ISO E Super. By the end of the fourth hour, it’s predominantly, painfully, and primarily pure ISO E Super and oud, backed by animalic, sour musk over light amber. Honestly, I preferred smelling like a panther just peed on me.

Opus VII’s drydown begins at the fifth hour. The perfume is primarily dark, peppered, woody notes headed by oud, followed thereafter by light, synthetic sandalwood (which has suddenly made its first appearance), the endless ISO E Super, a miniscule pinch of spices, and a lot of sour musk over vague, muted amber. In some odd way that I can’t explain, the whole thing feels generalized and somewhat abstract. Opus VII is also a much softer scent now in terms of sillage, becoming very close to the skin where it lingers on for another few hours. At the end, 8.5 hours in, all that really remains is a musky, spiced oud note, though tiny pockets of scent still pop up occasionally on random patches of arm for another few hours. For the most part, however, Opus VII lasted in full form about 8.5 hours on me. Its sillage was much more moderate than some of Amouage’s floral scents, never projecting in tidal waves, though the scent was still extremely powerful within its small cloud a few inches above my skin.

As you can tell, Opus VII was ultimately not for me but I do think many people will be fascinated by its dichotomy, especially men. I think the perfume will be disconcerting for others and, for women used to mainstream fragrances, it will scream “masculine” in a very negative way. Opus VII is a fragrance for people who like very aggressive leathers, ouds, sharp smoke and animalic notes — all in one — as well as those who don’t get raging headaches from ISO E Super.

I think one of the best reviews for Opus VII comes from Lucas at Chemist in a Bottle. In fact, it was Lucas who so kindly and thoughtfully sent me a small sample of the perfume as a surprise gift. In his review, entitled Black Ink, he wrote:

With the first day of sampling Amouage Opus VII I noticed that it is a perfume of two different natures. The “outer” stratum of the scent is a hard shell. The smell is dense and oily with cypriol oil. When I smell it I get a feeling like I could drown in this scent. It’s mysterious and dark suspension, a black ink that covers everything permanently, making it impossible to return to the previous state. In this kettle particles of warm and spicy cardamom float, blended with a resinous smell of galbanum.

In no time the dark tincture smell gets enriched by the aroma of sandalwood. It’s raw, dirty, not smooth but full of splinters that can hurt your hands when you want to touch it and feel the structure of the wood. Neither musk is soft here. In Opus VII musky tones are animalic, wild and untamed which is additionally pronounced by the earthy, almost rotten patchouli. Maybe it’s just my nose (not used to smelling scents like this one) but so far this Amouage is a beasty creature on me.

Once you survive through the “outer” stratum of Amouage Opus VII the different story begins. After the hard shell is broken, the softer core of the scent is revealed. To me it is still dark, but now it’s more gentle and chic like a black silk scarf. Amber creates warm and sensual aura around the wearer and olibanum adds the restrained mineral quality with a slightly salty touch. Of course oud had to find its place in the composition. Luckily it’s not very powerful. Accompannied by the leathery chords it creates this a little bit mischievous smell of tanner workshop. The smell of raw leather, pigments… it’s all in here.

In the rest of the review, which I recommend reading in full, he notes the presence of the iris note and how the final stage of Opus VII on his skin was spicy and dry. He concludes with a very apt warning: “Bear in mind – this is not an easy to wear perfume. In my opinion one has to be really self-confident and needs to have a strong personality to rock it.”

I agree very much with that last part as well as with his overall impressions of the perfume, though the details of our individual experiences with Opus VII differed. For one thing, I detected very little sandalwood on my skin until the very end. For another, Lucas has often noted that oud notes manifest themselves very softly on his skin. My skin, in contrast, amplifies certain base notes, I think, which may explain the vociferous roar of the oud. But we thoroughly unite on the issue of the raw leather and those prominent animalic notes which, as he put it so well, are “untamed” and completely “beasty” — in the full sense of that word. And, despite having perfume tastes at the opposite ends of the perfume spectrum, we both would run away from wearing Opus VII ourselves.

African lion spraying to mark his territory. Photo: Charles G. Summers, Jr. Source: WildImages on Flickr http://www.flickriver.com/photos/wild_images/2236584479/

African lion spraying to mark his territory. Photo: Charles G. Summers, Jr. Source: WildImages on Flickr http://www.flickriver.com/photos/wild_images/2236584479/

Opus VII is a difficult, thorny scent for a variety of reasons, and it is not one which I would recommend to the vast majority of people. Though there are fascinating, intriguing and, at times, mesmerizing parts, at the end of the day, I think it’s a very masculine scent with extremely assertive edges that border on the abrasive. Some of the notes are wildly aggressive but, taken by themselves, they would be manageable. Even a jungle cat peeing on your arm can be handled, in small doses. But Amouage rarely does anything in moderation, and Opus VII is no exception. The combination of difficult, raw, beastly notes at such supersonic volume (and atop such vast lakes of ISO E Super) made much of Opus VII simply unbearable for me. If Opus VII had been a projection beast — which, thankfully, it is not — then it would have been a complete scrubber right off the bat. As it was, I tried it twice and the second time, I gave up after 6.5 hours. The second time round, the animalic notes were so prominent, I felt as if I’d been chained in a wild cat enclosure and been peed on by a vast legion of feral, growly animals who had been fed a steady diet of antiseptic oud. At $325 or €275 a bottle, Opus VII is a very expensive wildlife experience but, if you enjoy the woody heart of darkness, then give it a try.

 

DETAILS:
U.S. availability & Stores: Opus VII comes only in a 3.4 oz/100 ml eau de parfum that retails for $325. It is available from Parfums Raffy, the authorized US retailer for Amouage, who offers free domestic shipping and Amouage samples with each order. Parfums Raffy also sells a 2.5 ml sample of Opus VII for $6. Elsewhere, Opus VII is available at Luckyscent and MinNY.
Outside the US: In the UK, Opus VII is not yet available at Les Senteurs which normally carries the full Amouage line. I also don’t see it amongst the Amouage listings at Harrods. However, there is an Amouage boutique in London. In Paris, Opus VII is available via Jovoy for €275 with shipping available throughout the rest of Europe. First in Fragrance usually carries the Amouage line but doesn’t have Opus VII listed on its website for some reason. Of course, the perfume is also available on Amouage’s own website, along with a Library Sampler Set for €50 of the other 6 perfumes in the collection. 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 VII are available at Surrender to Chance starting at $3.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. The site also sells a Sampler Set for the other 6 of the Library line which starts at $19.99 for 1/2 ml vials.
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66 thoughts on “Perfume Review – Amouage Opus VII: The Heart of Animal Darkness

  1. Sounds quite intriguing, if not a little…much. I’ve never tried Kouros, but have long been curious about it. I may have to give this a try one of these days. Not sure it will be for me due to my trouble with oud, but still. Even if it’s not a winner for you, it’s nice to get a challenging scent every now and then, no?

    • Kouros actually seems a lot LESS challenging to me given the full development of Opus VII. God, Kouros was a good perfume! As for Opus VII, hm. It is certainly different than much that is on the market nowadays, I will say that!

  2. I won a sample of this in a giveaway on a fragrance group and from what I was hearing about it, for me to actually try it would be in the league of a triple dog dare. So of course I did. Unsurprisingly the opening and middle were intense for me but perhaps surprisingly, I liked what it settled into on me; pink peppercorn, smoke, and leather. Will I want a full bottle? No. I live in too warm a climate to warrant it and am too much of a ‘ho to ever use it up. But will I wear it again when the mood strikes and the air is full of wood smoke and a small chill here? Definitely.

  3. I really think I would like this one! Your review really put the picture with the sensations and smells you were describing. I had to pull out my sample of Eau Noir and smell it again. That smell I am so intrigued with and love and can never describe except as a food smell from my childhood must be the Fenugreek. Only there was never any Fenugreek in my childhood!
    I had an ah ha moment when you talked about “Urinal Cakes”. I have often noted that our bathroom at work smells like Kouros or some such animalic perfume and everyone at work thinks I am nuts. Thanks for reminding me that the nose knows! Wonderful review!

    • I’m so glad I could help, especially with the fenugreek. I wonder what you smelled in childhood that replicated that scent? As for the story of your mens’ room at work and the Kouros, I had a huge chuckle. The nose always knows! 😀 If you end up trying Opus VII, let me know what you think. 🙂

  4. For what it’s worth, the bottle actually looks really dark green to me instead of black but that could of course be my screen resolution. I think I will just stick to the cat pictures and forget about the ‘fume! By the way, Bergdorfs actually carries Amouage in-store.

    Great review!

    • No, it’s not just you or your screen resolution. I think it looks completely dark-forest green, too! But Amouage’s press release as quoted by CFB calls it “black,” so who am I to argue with Amouage’s own description? LOL. As for the perfume, good choice in staying away. This would not suit your tastes. And if both your Scent Twin (or one of them) and I (who is at the opposite end of the spectrum) had difficulty with this, then Opus VII would not be for you. In fact, the panther pee part would probably replace that You Know What Note as your worst experience yet. *grin*

        • BTW, thank you for the excellent tip that Bergdorf’s now carries Amouage! I didn’t see the brand on the store’s website when I checked a while back, and not even when I checked this morning, but I will make sure to note it in the Details section in the future that Amouage is carried in-store. Thank you!

      • Does it? I think it looks totally black, but I think the weird matte finish may be causing it to look very dark green (especially on some screens, as colors manifest themselves very differently depending on the screen).

        • I read someone comment elsewhere that they had seen the bottles in person and that it was dark green. I have no idea why Amouage would consider it to be black, but you may well be right about the impact of that quasi-frosted finish!

    • Have you tried it, Jordan? Would you buy it? As for Zola, it’s actually interesting. He had quite a reaction to Opus VII — and normally, he pretty much ignores 90% of what I wear. With Opus VII, he gave my arm a sniff, actually kinda jerked his head back and looked at me, then gave another hesitant sniff and just seemed to pause. I could see him trying to process what he was smelling, and why it was on ME. *grin* At the end though, he just move away and sat at the far end of the bed. I don’t think he very much approved. 😉 😛

  5. When I worked at the shelter I had to clean the cat room sometimes. We did neuter all the cats but when they first came in they were usually intact. Male un-neutered cat pee is a whole new realm of skank. I can’t say I enjoyed smelling like it when I was done cleaning. I had no idea at the time I was such a fragrant trendsetter. It was wonderful reading but I don’t think this one is for me.

    • “Fragrant trendsetter”….. LOL!! As for Opus VII, well, I honestly can’t see it being your cup of tea. Though, it certainly is a tenacious smell, I’ll give it that! Do you know that my attempts to scrub it off the 2nd time around required: scrubbing with soap; a full hot shower; 3 more scrubbing attempts with soap because I was STILL wafting ISO E Super; then attempts at removal with baby oil; then makeup remover; then dish-washing liquid; and, finally, pure Tide. By the end of it, I was quite irate. 😉 😛

  6. Lovely to see your review of Opus VII. I’m happy a sample arrived safely. That’s too bad that those untamed animalic notes, oud and iso e-super ruined this perfume for you. I think that if this perfume was without those few notes you’d be totally in love with it. Am I right?

  7. Sounds a lot like a manly fragrance, and I, like most girls, would never wear one personally. I do love dark musky scents, even my first perfume had a lot of musk in it and I do love woody strong notes as well, I even love some very unusual scents like gasoline for example, everyone thinks it´s weird that I like the smell of gasoline, but I do, I also like the way leather smells. However the fact that this perfume smells like Urine put me off entirely, that alone would make me run away from it and from anyone wearing it 😛 .

    • You know, there are quite a few women who enjoy that gasoline or diesel scent in fragrances. (Serge Lutens has a slight twist on it by combining it with tubereuse and mentholated notes at the start of his Tubereuse Criminelle). As for the very animalic urinous note, some people like it too. But in conjunction with all the other stuff….. well, I don’t think this is a perfume for everyone. It’s certainly not for me! LOL.

  8. The sample I received from a Facebook Fragrance Friend sat unopened in my hand while I read this review. At moments of your descriptions, I was almost gagging. Here is why…When I was a young Psychiatric Nurse in Tucson, we decided to take our higher functioning patients on a field trip to the Zoo. One of our elderly patients, was in a wheelchair to make the trip easier for her. I was pushing her. When we approached the beautiful Lion’s cage, we were all in awe, watching him pace back and forth. Some of the patients started to move closer to the cage and the light glinting off of my patient’s wheelchair caught the lion’s eye, he turned and sprayed us with all his might. Of course everyone but my patient and I escaped the spray because she had inadvertently locked one of the wheels. We got hosed. We became immediately ill. So as you were talking about cats and urine, I just could not bring myself to open my little sample. It still sits there on the kitchen counter taunting me. Maybe tomorrow…..

    • Oh.My.GOD! That story. That story!!!! Crikey, I’m almost at a loss for words. On the one hand, it’s completely epic and something to tell the kids. But, on the other, OMG! You poor, poor thing!

      As for Opus VII, animalic notes can manifest themselves differently on people depending on skin chemistry so maybe it won’t be like wildlife jungle pee on your skin. It may just be a little skanky perhaps instead? Then again, Lucas who has very different perfume tastes and interpretations of notes also called it raw, untamed and totally beastly, so I think you’ll probably find it unpleasant no matter how its particular manifestations turn out. You’ve got me dying of curiosity now, though, to see how it turns out on you. Whenever you summon up the courage to try it, let me know! Bonne Chance et courage, ma belle!

      • I braved Opus VI this morning instead, as I had gotten them both at the same time. It was so ridiculously strong!!! I couldn’t get my wrist far enough away from my nose. I think those chemistry experiments to make and amber with out using amber (ambranum, Z11) are just so wrong, and on me very unpleasant. I do like a scent with sillage, but NOT THAT MUCH SILLAGE! So tomorrow, I will brave the V11. And a funny part of that story, is that my husband of 35 years was just my boyfriend at the time. I convinced him to come on the field trip to be an extra set of eyes and helping hands. We can both laugh about it now. And he ran like hell, didn’t get a drop on him.

        • Was the labdanum of Opus VI goaty on you at all? I know you love labdanum, as do I, but something about its manifestation in Opus VI really turned me off — and that never happened before Opus VI. I think I’m probably the only perfume blogger in the world who was unimpressed and unenthusiastic about the scent. If you get the chance, perhaps you can comment about it in greater detail in the Opus VI thread so that others who may stumble upon the post in future months/years can learn from your experience.

          As for the Opus VII, I’m dying to know what you think of that one and of the animalic notes in particular! And, though your lion story is truly jaw-dropping, it really IS something legendary and epic in its own way. LOL.

          • Okay..I put the Opus VII on about an hour ago. My nose just is not capable of detecting all the individual notes in your description. I tried to smell the dirty hair/pee smell but all I get is this super green crushed vegetable smell. And I don’t hate it. I would never wear it, because it is not super appealing, but I don’t recoil in horror the way I thought I would. I find it interesting and curious. Kafka, we are so lucky to have you sniffing and telling, because I certainly would not understand this fragrance as well without your guidance.

          • YAY, no panther pee!! I’m so glad you tried it and survived without trauma! 😉 😀 It sounds like the urinous part was mild to nonexistent on you, while the galbanum and fenugreek were much more dominant. What did you think of the oud part? I’m assuming you didn’t get a lot of ISO E Super or that you’re anosmic to it from your description, so that’s another plus, too! 🙂

          • I guess I could not smell or it did not register the pee element. At the end of my dog walk it was still crunchy green vegetables but starting to move towards softer woody. I re applied and went to the gym. It never got too weird, but by the end of the workout all I could smell was the oud. I have yet to meet an oud I like. But at the same time I tested (for my 3rd time) Oliver Durbano’s Heliotrope, which I fall more in love with each time I wear it. I think I will order a 5ml decant of the latter, cause it is true love.

  9. Very fascinating review, Kafka. Halfway through it, I thought, Yes – another Amouage that sounds exactly like my kind of thing! Because I like both costus and fenugreek, I like a bit of a urine note (if not too strong), and I wear some extremely masculine fragrances (like Yatagan, for instance) rather enjoyably.

    Then, when I read of the overdose of Iso E Super and the blast of oud, both of them together, I’m not so sure. (And reading Tora’s story above – yikes! Do I really want a wild cat smell? Not like that!) 😀

    But seeing as how I’ve liked all of the Opus perfumes with the exception of Opus II (the lavender one), I have a feeling I’d get on with this one too. Your review definitely makes me want to seek out a sample to find out.

    • I’m going to be so curious to see how it plays out on your skin, Suzanne! As for the ISO E Super, are you another one who struggles with the note? If so, I’m incredibly relieved that I’m not the only one. Sometimes, I get the feeling that I’m all out there alone in my reaction to the note and I’m sure people wonder why I keep going on about it. (If only it wasn’t in half the bloody perfumes these days! Or if they gave some warning on the notes so I could avoid the damn thing!) Anyway, I have a number of friends who can’t smell it at all, then others who get terrible headaches from it but who don’t seem to come across it often. It’s a relief to find someone else who not only can smell it but who also doesn’t like it!

      • Hmm, I’m not sure if my answer will make any sense to you, as I’m trying to figure it out myself. I certainly don’t struggle with Iso E Super – and supposedly Lalique Encre Noire has lots of it, and I like that fragrance (don’t own it, but have enjoyed sampling). But there is something that is unsatsifying about IES – the way it goes only so far in its development, and hangs at a certain point but doesn’t evolve further. While I think it’s what makes Opus VI interesting to me (assuming it’s in there, I’m thinking the Iso E Super is what accounts for the amber base of VI coming off as hollow and dessicated to the point of weightlessness), it’s not what I want to smell repeatedly. I think that the base of Opus V and Opus VI smell quite similar in many regards, and now reading your review of Opus VII, it sounds like it too might be a riff on the same base. So for me, I suppose it’s more of an issue of repetition. I’ve enjoyed the bone-dry, dessicated-wood Opus scents, but let’s move on now please.

        • It does make sense, Suzanne. But I don’t think ISO E Super manifests itself on your skin the way it does on mine. (You lucky thing!) To me, it is always rubbing alcohol disinfectant. What I smelled in Opus VI wasn’t ISO E but the Ambroxan and, in particular, the Z. I think it’s the Z which created that almost dessicated, bone-dry feel in the woods at the base of Opus VI. At least, on my skin. As for Encre Noire, it certainly has a ton of ISO E Super. About 45% or so, if I remember the stats correctly.

          Okay, I just looked up my post on ISO E Super and these are the numbers for the ones with the most:
          1 Molecule 01 (escentric molecules, 2005) 100%
          2 Perles de Lalique (Lalique, 2007) 80%
          3 PoivreSamarcande (Herme`s, 2004) 71%
          4 Escentric 01 (escentric molecules, 2005) 65%
          5 Terre d’Hermes (Hermes, 2006) 55%
          6 Incense Kyoto (comme des garcons, 2002) 55%
          7 Incense Jaisalmer (comme des garcons, 2002) 51%
          8 Fierce for Men (Abercrombie & Fitch, 2002) 48%
          9 Kenzo Air (Kenzo, 2003) 48%
          10 Encre noire (Lalique, 2006) 45%
          https://akafkaesquelife.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/perfumes-iso-e-super-antiseptic-horror-aphrodisiac-pheromone-or-nothingness/

          It’s an old list and I would put a number of other fragrances on that Top 10 Highest list too, like Ormonde Jayne’s Montabaco which probably has WAYYYY over the 50 percentile. Le Labo fragrances seem to have quite a bit of ISO E Super as well, but O/J perfumes take the cake, hands down. Anyway, back to Opus VII, I think you should definitely try it, esp. as ISO E Super show itself differently on you. Plus, Tora tried it and didn’t smell Lion Pee but something vegetal, so perhaps you’d be spared some of the more problematic notes as well! 🙂

          • Oh, I will surely try it — and knowing me, I will probably end up loving it. 😀

            Thanks for pointing me to your fascinating article on Iso E Super. Most of those fragrances I haven’t tried, but seeing as I’m fine with Encre Noir, Dior New Look 1947 and Ormonde Woman, I definitely don’t have a problem with it. But interestingly, I found most of the OJ scents didn’t have enough base for me to get on well with them. I don’t know how to explain it, but I do think that ISO E Super sort of gives the base an almost-finished-but-not-quite finished character for me. An arrested development, or muffled development. Or maybe I’m crazy. Perhaps what I’ll do is start investigating some of these perfumes in the list above and see what I can determine for myself.

  10. Wow…what a wild ride. I’m not sure if this one would strike my fancy, but the expansive development makes me interested in checking it out. I love a urinous note and am really curious about the costos root. Although, I found Opus VI to be a huge disappointment and am not in a hurry to check out the others in the line. You and the ISO E Super…we must separate you two!

    • Did you really find Opus VI to be a huge disappointment? I’m actually glad to hear that because, when I wrote my review, I felt like the only perfume blogger in the world who didn’t like it. EVERYONE seems to adore Opus VI, and I felt like quite the freak. I still do, actually, given how much praise I hear for Opus VI as the best amber ever. Meh. Not to me. As for the ISO E Super, do you detect it? If so, how does it appear on your skin? The ISO E issue is another thing that often makes me feel like I’m the only one in the world who smells it since I rarely hear people talk about it. 😦

      • Ugggh… I hated Opus VI. It first went sour on me, then it became full metallics. It really was a scrubber. As for the ISO E Super…I’m just hating it for you. I don’t know if I could detect an ISO E Super smell at all if it hit me.

  11. Oh boy. Panther pee? Costus? Fenugreek? The mere thought of that combination makes me queasy. The costus especially. Strangely more than the panther pee. Do I dare to try this on my skin? I might need a drink first.

    • Well, the costus turned to animalic pee on me, so they were one and the same. No unwashed, dirty hair, but urinous notes. I actually didn’t mind it at first and, had it not been for the huge ISO E & Oud combination, I would have really enjoyed that slight edge to the greenness of the start. I really would have! But, on Tora, she didn’t detect any animalic urine, so you may be quite safe. Plus, you adore ISO E Super, so I think there is a good chance that you’d love Opus VII!

  12. Sorry for the late comment – I am behind on my blog reading! I put on my sample of Opus VII before reading this review so I could compare our thoughts. It really amazes me how different a perfume will seem to people based on skin chemistry / sense of smell, etc. I don’t get any of the cat pee at all and nothing really overwhelmingly animalic or musky. I get lots and lots of green and smokiness (but not oud) mixed with a nice leather (maybe a slightly animalic leather) and the dry down becomes a nice soft amber with sandalwood similar to Opus VI in some ways.

    It makes complete sense why I get such a different sense of this than you do though. Firstly, ISO E doesn’t seem to bother me at all (thank goodness with all the scents that seem to use it!) and my skin seems to tame all the really strong animalic musks out there so, why not this one?

    I have tried this one a few times and put it on again today because I need to figure out what I want to buy to have Mr. Chong sign the box while he is in town next week 🙂 It is either one of the new Fates or this and right now I am strongly leaning towards this one but, I need to give Fate (both the man and woman) a fair try still. Both the Fates can’t compare to the complexity and uniqueness of this one. I hope you will review Fate as well, since I love reading your thoughts (even if we don’t always agree)! I can bring you samples when I come to Houston in August….

    Oh, and I have seen the bottle quite a bit and it is definitely black not green but, it has a lot of gold fleck over it which, to me makes it seem almost bronze when you look closely. The photos I see on the web definitely don’t give a good sense of it.

    • How wonderful of you to share all this helpful information and to describe how it was on your skin, Dubaiscents. Opus VII sounds *lovely* on you! And you explained really well why there would be such differences. My skin definitely doesn’t mute or suppress heavy base notes like animalics or oud. (I wish it would suppress some ouds! LOL.) And I hugely envy you your complete indifference to ISO E Super! Also, thanks for the heads-up on the bottle and its colour.

      So, onto the most important thing: Christopher Chong being in town next week! Regardless of which bottle you end up falling for, how exciting to have a signed box! It must be a hard decision but, if it’s of any help, you come to the States at least once a year and the non-Opus line seems quite highly discounted via online sellers here. I’m sure Fate will be the same, this time next year when you stop by, and you could always get it then. The Opus line, however, seems much more unique, original, exclusive and distinct; it’s also never discounted. Since Amouage is generally cheaper there, why not get the Opus VII now (and signed), then hold off for the Fate later when it’s out and discounted?

      Of course, I haven’t tried Fate, so perhaps it’s amazing enough to be tempting right this very minute! 🙂 In which case, good luck in trying to weigh the balance between the two. LOL. 😉 Thank you for your very generous offer to bring me samples when you come in August. It’s enormously kind of you. I’m hoping to get my hands on some before then though, if only not to be behind the times for the blog, but I’ll let you know. It’s a very sweet and incredibly thoughtful offer!! xoxox

      • It is funny that you mention the discounters, I was thinking along these same lines. I know you can get almost all of the Amouage (except the Attars only sold in the Middle East) from the online discounters now (or on sale at the regular stores like MiN) and even though most of the scents are cheaper here to start with the discount in the US would put Opus VII at a lower price over there…. My consolation is that the SA at the store I go to here (one of the three in town!) are absolutely wonderful about giving me samples and letting me know about events (such as the above mentioned Fate and Mr. Chong’s visit) so, I don’t feel so bad about spending a little extra for the service I receive.

        I am sure you will be able to get Fate before August but, if not please let me know and I will bring some over (or any other ones you want to sample). I am happy to help because I love reading your take on these scents, I always learn something from your posts!

  13. MinNY had Amouage Opus VII and it is a big resounding NO for me. The first (and ONLY) whiff on cardboard blotter was GOATY – NO. Just NO. BLECH. On the other hand, my partner in crime….

    The bottle IS black with a frosted/matte textural finish — kind of like tumbled glass that had been colored black.

    • Goaty???! I’m not sure if that is better or worse than urinous notes (or, as I like to put it in this particular case, panther pee). LOL. I almost wish you’d put it on skin to have the full level and range of the notes, but then I’m a little bit of a sadist who likes to share my trauma…. 😉 ;P I told you that this would be an absolute NO for you, and I’m not surprised that turned out to be the case.

        • *grin* Now, imagine that actually ON your skin — and for hours and hours at that. Then imagine me with my hatred for ISO E Super. Do you see me curled up into a foetal ball of trauma? Because I was. And the sad thing is, the animlic notes were actually the least of it….

          • I eliminate perfumes based on what I smell on a paper blotter (or from the open vial or atomizer). This would not have been allowed to touch skin (:::: shudder ::::). You have a stronger tolerance for pain than me so truly kudos to you for giving perfume-wimps ample warning about stink bombs.

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  18. Amouage Opus 7 is one of the best perfumes i have ever smelled! There are some perfumes that you enjoy wearing, there are rare cases where your perfume says-” Hey, you gotta be as good as i am, otherwise why you wearing me?!” Opus 7 is such a perfume! It is just fantastic. If there is life out there in space and all creatures would have a perfume tournament, Opus 7 would be one of those few perfumes to be chosen for a Galaxy Perfume tournament as a Scent from Earth.
    I really really love it to bits! It is challenging, but once you harness that power, Opus 7 would give you the feel of power, might, and mystery. I have been using niche perfumery for more then 15 years and i find Opus 7 to be a true piece of perfumery art! I have some really expensive and beautiful perfumes, and when wearing them i enjoy them. When i wear Opus 7 i don’t only enjoy it, i feel that this is how i smell, i feel its my own smell, as if its not a perfume but myself! Simply terrific!

    • Awwww, that’s true perfume love right there! How wonderful. I’m so glad you’ve found a fragrance that works so well for you and that makes you feel so terrific! Rock on. 🙂

      • I would not say that Opus 7 makes me feel terrific. It complements me! It suits me 😉 I love challenging perfumes since im strong and curious, but i love my scent to be gentle as well, since i have emotions and feelings. I’m not a fan of amouage house, but i give myself a chance to meet a wonder by any means ;))))
        Loved your review Kafka!

        • How interesting that you’re not a fan of Amouage, but love this one. It’s true, it is extremely challenging. For me, it was a little too much so, in part because of how I struggle with ISO E Super. But I do love animalic scents. Listen, if you’re ever interested in trying something with a similar sort of feel — just the feel and mood, mind you — you should look up my reviews for the new Masque Milano/Masque Fragranze Montecristo and, also, LM Parfums’ Hard Leather. They’re not similar to Opus 7 in terms of notes, except in terms of animalic skank, though Montecristo has that feral costus-like note in spades. Still, they could be very distant relatives in the same family, and if you love fragrances that are strong, different, and opulent, you may enjoy these two as well.

          The way you write and feel about Opus 7 is how I feel about Hard Leather. So, believe me, I understand what you mean about something complementing, representing the inner you, and suiting you like a glove. 🙂

          • I don’t get any animalic notes in Opus 7! All i get is cut grass smell. Very green and natural. I get woodiness and i get smokiness and gentle leather. That’s it! I guess if you would smell Opus 7 from my skin, you would feel it differently 😉
            I know LM Hard Leather and Montecristo. I like second one but Hard Leather… very generic to my nose. Reminded me of a CD Leather Oud. I don’t like Oud note. Even though Opus 7 has it i don’t feel it that i feel it in Hard Leather or in Leather oud.
            Here are my favorites:
            MDCI Invasion Barbare
            MDCI Chypre Palatin
            Amouage Opus7
            Andy Touer Rose Incense
            Roja Dove Fetish extrait (better version of Puredistance M)
            Olivier Durbano Rock Crystal
            I think this list covers all seasons and moods 😉

          • Grassy…. my word, we must have very different skin chemistry! Especially if you don’t get a lot of oud in Opus VII, and NO animalic notes at all! I wonder if you’re anosmic to musk, as that is the main category of notes that most people tend to be anosmic to. Given what you say Opus VII, as well as Hard Leather, there is a chance. Intriguing thought.

            As for the Dior Leather Oud, I wasn’t overly enamoured by it either, though for different reasons. And I prefer Puredistance M to Fetish Extrait, perhaps because the latter became TOO dirty and sweaty on my skin. (See, the animalics issue crops up again. lol) The difference in notes that our skins manifest and/or that our noses smell may be why I feel differently about Hard Leather than you. But personal tastes undoubtedly play a part as well.

            I haven’t tried all the ones on your list, but I do love Chypre Palatin passionately. 🙂

  19. I love Puredistance M, but after beautiful opening i always got metallic note that was so unbearable for me. I was upset but when i met Fetish i was more then happy ;))) Roja Dove, the creator of M, would never do something worse for his own house ;))) I read your review on Fetish and i must say many people prefer M over Fetish. That was the case with me, for a couple of days ;)))) Later on i got it. Only Fetish, real leather chypre ;)))

    • You know, I’m thoroughly enjoying this. It’s always fun to compare one’s experiences with different perfumes in this way. It encapsulates a little of what I was hoping for with the blog and comment discussions, that feeling of being at a cocktail party and passing around perfume experiences or passions like hors d’oeuvres. 🙂 I had to smile at how you said Roja Dove “would never do something worse for his own house.” I’m very happy that you found an alternative to M, and I’m sure you smell fantastic wearing Fetish.

  20. After all, I am a fantastic man! 😉 Now i subscribed for your reviews Kafkaesque, hope there will will be more reviews to discuss 😉
    From Moscow with Love 😉

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