Perfume Review: Amouage Interlude (Man)

Source: Stock image. footage.shutterstock.com

Source: Stock image. footage.shutterstock.com

Imagine a kaleidoscope where, every time you turn the knob, the plates shift and change. Sometimes, it’s just in the colours and their order: red, yellow, green and black, turning into yellow, green, black and red. Sometimes, the shapes themselves change, creating a whole new vision. And, sometimes, it’s both things, with the overlapping plates changing in both formation and colour.

Source: Vogue.ru

Source: Vogue.ru

That was my experience with Interlude for Men (hereinafter just “Interlude“) from the royal Omani perfume house of Amouage. It’s a triumph of technical mastery with notes put together like the bricks in an Egyptian pyramid, in a vision of intricate, olfactory complexity. Yet, Interlude is also an incredibly changing fragrance that will throw off different colours and shapes like a kaleidoscope. The broad strokes occasionally remain the same, but the details differ each time. 

I tried Interlude twice with two different results, and am currently at the end of a third day, with still further variations in the nuances. Interlude is a perfume that I could test for 30 days in a row and I suspect that I’d have about 10 different, subtle variations, at the very least, during that time. That’s the sign of a spectacularly well-crafted, well-blended fragrance with more intricacies than a Swiss watch, a fragrance that will reveal different facets each time like a perfectly cut diamond. And some of those facets are simply stunning. In fact, I’m not sure what has left a greater impact on me: Interlude’s complex intricacy, or the intriguing, forceful, and often beautiful scent of some of its stages. Yet, for all that, I experienced some rough patches which make me a little uncertain that this brilliant creation is ultimately for me. All of that means that this is going to be a very long review, I’m afraid. Interlude is simply too complex a scent to avoid it.

Interlude Man is an eau de parfum that was created by Pierre Negrin and released in 2012. Fragrantica classifies it as a woody Oriental, and says that Interlude was intended “to evoke an air of disorder while maintaining a sense of balance and tranquility through the inventive use of incense and myrrh.” The Amouage website elaborates on that point a little:

Interlude for Man is a spicy and woody fragrance inspired by chaos and disorder masquerading an interlude moment of harmony in its heart.

Top Notes: Bergamot, Oregano, Pimento Berry Oil.

Heart Notes: Amber, Frankincense, Cistus [Labdanum], Opoponax.

Base Notes: Leather, Agarwood Smoke, Patchouli, Sandalwood.

Opoponax. Source: Basenotes.

Opoponax. Source: Basenotes.

For once, the PR and marketing descriptions are quite accurate. Interlude does have a rather chaotic, difficult, intense, and disordered opening which soon gives way to plush, comforting, gorgeously rich harmony. Part of it stems from the oregano on the list, and part of it has to do with the opoponax. Opoponax is another name for Sweet Myrrh, a resin which has a very honeyed, balsamic, sweet aroma. In that way, it differs from regular myrrh which can be more churchy, cold, soapy, or medicinal. Opoponax runs like an aorta through the heart of Interlude, combining first with the oregano, incense, and pimento in the opening, before later melting into the sandalwood and amber. 

I tested Interlude in full twice, and, for the most part, the openings were largely the same in their broad strokes. There is always an initial blast of sweetness from the honeyed opoponax, mixed with incense smoke and green herbs atop subtle hints of leather and amber. That’s where the similarities end, however, because the notes, their order, their strength, and their feel varied quite a bit in each tests.

FIRST TEST:

In my first test, Interlude opened with honey, caramel, nutty amber, and sweet incense followed quickly by mentholated green notes, touches of camphor, leather, and chili pepper pimento. There is a huge blast of dried green herbs but — thanks to the strength of the pimento berries and the powerfully sweet, balsamic, honeyed opoponax — it feels almost as if the dried leaves have been transformed into something sticky, spicy, and caramelized. In fact, the honeyed nuances of the opoponax are so rich, it really does have the nutty feel of caramel. Underneath, there are subtle leather tones, and an intense, dirty, slightly goaty labdanum.

The overall bouquet is of a very medicinal, dried, green, herbal concoction covered with honeyed caramel, sweet resins, sweet smoke, and dark, warmed, animalic, slightly dirty leather. There is a somewhat dusty feel to the combination, too. The fragrance strongly evokes one of the old, dusty, Asian, herbal, homeopathic medicine shops that I visited in China, mixed perhaps with the dusty parts of an ancient Moroccan souk. The aroma is exactly what I thought Serge LutensAmbre Sultan would be like with its reportedly strong, medicinal, herbal opening. That wasn’t my experience with Ambre Sultan, but it is very much how Interlude starts for me in my first test. Medicinal, herbal amber with sweetness, incense, and a hint of ancient dustiness. The golden amber is stunningly beautiful, though extremely sweet, and it creates a visual kaleidoscope whose shifting colours center on gold, dappled with specks of dark green and fiery, peppery red.

Model of an old Shanghai medicine shop. Source: arekusu.de http://www.arekusu.de/?p=292

Model of an old, 19th-century, Shanghai medicine shop. Source: arekusu.de http://www.arekusu.de/?p=292

As time passes, the herbal pungency of the oregano feels less dry and medicinal. The camphorated notes vanished within minutes, but even the pungency has been tamed by the honeyed caramel richness. The subtle flickers of ancient dust are similarly overtaken, only now it’s by the warm, slightly animalic musk seeping out of the labdanum. Throughout it all, however, is the gorgeous incense whose smokiness infuses all the other elements and ties them together like glue. It’s sweet from the opoponax, but it’s also dark like frankincense. Fifteen minutes into Interlude’s development, the oud smoke joins the festivities. It never feels like pure, actual oud, but, rather, more like the dry, woody aroma that would ensue if agarwood were burnt. It’s very subtle at first, and limited to a mere flickering, woody shadow in the background, but it’s very pretty. Together, the oud smoke and incense help cut through some of the opoponax’s caramel richness, ensuring that Interlude is perfectly balanced and never so sweet that it verges on the cloying.

In that first test, I applied 4 really big sprays of Interlude but, to my surprise, the sillage wasn’t monstrous. It created the perfect small cloud around me, as golden as a halo. The richness of the caramel-honey was so intense, it feels as though one were swimming in liquid gold flecked with herbs. Again, I’m reminded of how this is what I thought Ambre Sultan would be like, except the latter was sheer, thin and mild on my skin instead. Another perfume comes to mind as well. The way Interlude softens to a dreamy, billowing, intensely rich, golden cloud makes me think of Xerjoff‘s Mamluk. It has some of the same rich sweetness as Interlude, though Mamluk is primarily a gourmand caramel-honey-lemon bouquet, and not a dry caramel-honey-oregano-smoke one. Still, the degree of both perfumes’ opulence and that honeyed caramel accord makes them feel like distant cousins in the same wealthy clan. 

Source: layoutsparks.com

Source: layoutsparks.com

Forty-five minutes in, Interlude starts to shift a little. The leather, dust, and medicinal undertones have largely faded to a muted whisper. Only the sweet musk and the subtle fieriness of the pimento spice remain as supporting players on Interlude’s stage. They stand quietly on the sidelines, watching as, under the spotlights, like a giant Valkyrie out of Wagner’s Ring opus, the darkly green, dried, herbal, smoky, caramel amber sings her heart out. She ends her song around the 90-minute mark, at which time Interlude changes course fully and drastically. The perfume has suddenly become extremely dry and woody. It’s as though the oud smoke and woody notes have pushed the singing, caramel-opoponax Valkyrie off center stage, and taken its place next to the dried, green, herbal and spice mix.

Pimento berries. Source: spiceryshop.com.ua

Pimento berries. Source: spiceryshop.com.ua

Something new has also appeared. There is an unexpected fruitness swirling around Interlude, as if the red pepper pimentos were truly in berry form. Actually, the note feels distinctly like raspberries! It’s quite perplexing. It probably means the patchouli is at play and of the slightly fruited variety; when mixed with the pimento berries, the patchouli must have sweetened them to a fruited, almost syrupy degree. On occasion, the raspberry note balances Interlude’s new smoky aridness and woody flavour, but generally, it feels discordant and out-of-place. It doesn’t help that the musty dust specks have returned, adding yet another strange layer to Interlude’s background notes.

Source: healthysupplies.co.uk

Source: healthysupplies.co.uk

I’m not crazy about the overall combination, truth be told. And I become distinctly less enthused around the 3.75 hour mark when Interlude’s strange raspberry note takes on a somewhat powdered and vanillic feel. A sheer veil of oud lurks right behind it.The herbal notes are now distant figures in the horizon, something for which I’m quite thankful as it would simply be too odd of a combination. The honeyed caramel has similarly retreated. Now, Interlude is primarily a dry, woody, raspberry fragrance. It’s light in weight, gauzy and soft in feel, and hovers just an inch or so above the skin.

Interlude continues to change. By the middle of the fourth hour, the fragrance is primarily a powdered raspberry wood fragrance with oud and incense atop an abstract, vague sweetness. A new element starts to stir in the base: sandalwood. It doesn’t feel like Mysore sandalwood, but it’s extremely pretty with creamy richness that is delicately sweetened and warmed. It blooms with every passing minute until, at the start of the sixth hour, it really dominates the scent, turning Interlude into the harmonious, beautiful, comforting luxury that the PR ad copy talked about. The raspberries are still there to a small extent, but the sandalwood is at the heart of the drydown. It’s infinitely creamy, sweet, rich, and thick, with an almost nutty undertone. The latter may stem, in part, from the labdanum amber with its rich, sweet, honeyed nuances. The two new stars — the amber and the sandalwood — are both infused with oud smoke, creating a layered triptych of creamy woods, smoke, and sweetened amber.

Sandalwood cross-section. Source: http://vk.com/wall172858112_51

Sandalwood cross-section. Source: http://vk.com/wall172858112_51

Interludes remains that way, in this first test, largely until its final moments. The oud smoke fluctuates in strength, sometimes seeming as though it’s about to take over, sometimes sharing the stage with the sandalwood and amber. The raspberry, alas, remains in place. At its very end, Interlude turns into an abstract, woody dryness mixed with a hint of fruity powder. All in all, with 4 large sprays, Interlude lasted a whopping, astronomical 14.75 hours on my voracious, perfume-consuming skin. The sillage was good, though it was less powerful in projection than what I had expected. Still, Interlude was a small, soft, billowing cloud around me for about 3 hours, then shrinking in size to hover just an inch above the skin for another few hours. It became a true skin scent around the end of the seventh hour. Excellent times, all in all, but I did apply a substantial amount.

SECOND AND THIRD TESTS:

Given the amount that I initially applied, and the characteristic complexity of Amouage’s fragrances, I decided to test Interlude a second time. This time I used half the amount, about 2 good sprays, and I was surprised to have a very different outcome. Now, Interlude was primarily a fruited, but dry, woody scent with a lot of incense smoke.

Photo: Nicole Resseguie-Snyder, "Cracked Moon," on Flickr. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Photo: Nicole Resseguie-Snyder, “Cracked Moon,” on Flickr. (Website link embedded within photo.)

In my second test, Interlude opened with honeyed herbs that had a harshly medicinal, camphorated edge mixed in with leather. The latter feels raw, uncured, rough, harsh, and very dirty. The oregano smells concentrated, and somewhat off-putting. It’s simultaneously like the dried variety, like a massive bunch of the fresh kind, and a third sort where both forms of oregano have been burnt to an acrid, smoky edge. Interlude evokes more than ever an old Chinese spice, herbalist medicine shop that is lightly covered by the dust of ages. This time, however, some of those herbs have been set on fire and mixed with sharp frankincense smoke. A sweet but animalic muskiness adds to the pugnacious mix which is joined, within a matter of mere minutes, by the raspberry note. It feels like both the concentrated, dried fruit, and the candied variety infused with sugar, but never like fresh raspberries. The honeyed myrrh is very subtle this time around, taking a back seat to the other notes, and adding just a hint of sweet caramel. Fifteen minutes in, the oud appears as well, feeling a little like agarwood as well as its smoke.

I’ll spare you the hour-by-hour fluctuations, but the bottom line this time around is that Interlude has an extremely different focus for its first 7 hours. The primary bouquet is of fruited, raspberry woods covered by a thick veil of sharp, black frankincense smoke with oud and some peppered spicy notes. The powerful oregano accord with its varied nuances remains for a good portion of the first two hours, until it eventually fades away. I don’t mind it, but I can’t stand it in conjunction with that fruited, raspberry note. Actually, to be precise, I can’t stand the raspberries. Not one bit, and especially not when they take on a vanillic, powdered characteristic.

Starting at the middle of the eighth hour, Interlude shifts into the gorgeous, glorious sandalwood stage that I loved so much the first time around. The infinitely creamy, slightly spiced woods are supplemented by cozy, comforting, rich amber, along with smoke and the merest hint of aged leather doused in a fine layer of caramel. It’s truly beautiful, and quite addictive to sniff. Flickers of dry oud smoke and, unfortunately, raspberries dance around the edges, but they are subtle. Nine and a half hours in, Interlude is all toasty, nutty, sweet, sandalwood with caramel and hints of smoke. By its very end, 12.5 hours from Interlude’s start with just 2 sprays, the perfume is nebulous, amorphous sweetness with a hint of some vague, lightly powdered fruitness mixed in.

I’m actually writing this review towards the end of my third test of the fragrance in as many days, and there is a third version of Interlude that has emerged. As you can tell, the layers in Interlude show themselves very differently upon each wearing. The overall brush strokes this time around are not wholly the same, though the fragrance begins with the same herbal notes as in all the other tests. The nature of the oregano falls somewhere between the opening of the first two times, but, unfortunately for me, the raspberry is as heavy from the start as it was during the second test.

Source: 123rf.com photos.

Source: 123rf.com photos.

This third time, however, the frankincense has truly dominated everything else, even the oregano, and it is incredibly powerful. Its sharpness and strength call to mind one of the Chinese Buddhist temples that I saw in Beijing during a religious festival, where incense smoke billowed out from seemingly every nook and cranny. In the third test, the leather seems significantly more noticeable, too, right from the start, but the oud is much more insubstantial than it was the second time around. And, as a whole, this 3rd version of Interlude bears very little resemblance to the first version. At best, you could say it’s like a combination of Test 1 and Test 2 (particularly since the bloody raspberry is there again), except that comparison wouldn’t be wholly accurate given the intensity of the incense.

OVERALL:

Source: footage.shutterstock.com

Source: footage.shutterstock.com

In short, Interlude is a bit of a kaleidoscope where all the gears shift and change depending on wearing. Both the strength and the order of Interlude’s notes vary in the perfume’s first seven or eight hours, such that the primary focus seems different each time. On me, depending on test, Interlude was primarily a herbal-caramel amber scent, then a dry fruited-woody-oud one, and finally, an incense smoke one subtly backed by leather. All the remaining, additional elements or nuances varied each time in terms of strength and when they appeared. Yet, in each test, the final stage was always that gorgeous “harmony” period of sandalwood, amber and sweetness. And it’s truly beautiful.

A few other things about Interlude. I personally think this is a fragrance that smells better from afar sometimes than sniffed up close, at least during the first stage. Some people loved the overall scent that was wafting from me one night from a distance but, when I gave them my arm to sniff Interlude up close, they wrinkled their nose. I suspect it’s the pungency of the oregano, or perhaps it’s the combination of the oregano with the incense. Another thing to pay heed to is the strength of the fragrance. On Fragrantica, commentator after commentator talks about how Interlude is positively “nuclear” in its forcefulness, both in terms of sillage and longevity. On a few people, the fragrance can last up to 24 hours; one person said they could detect the aroma wafting just from the bottle alone on the other side of the room.

As a whole, Interlude Man seems to be one of men’s favorite Amouage scents and a cult hit. The majority of reviews on Basenotes and Fragrantica are overwhelmingly positive. On Basenotes, out of 23 reviews, 48% (or 11 commentators) give it the full 5 stars, with 9% giving it 4 stars. However, 26% give it 3, and 17% (or 4 people) give it 1 star. Interestingly, one of those raving 5-star reviews comes from a person who was wholly unimpressed by Interlude when he dabbed it on, but who fell head over heels for the fragrance when it was sprayed. It makes sense to me because I think this is a very complicated scent, and both the act of spraying and the quantity can impact Interlude’s character. The 4 Basenotes posters who hated the fragrance and rated it one star seemed to have sharply different reasons for doing so. For one, Interlude had too much of a “kitchen spice” accord, while another found it to be extremely cloying. A third found Interlude to be all amber mixed with a synthetic oud, and, thus, to be “seriously over-priced.” In contrast, the fourth found Interlude to be mainly sour fruit in aroma:

SOUR! Not a slight animalic or medicinal note but sour like ramming tamarind paste up my nostrils. This continued for hours without the slightest of evolution. Definitely not dry woods or incense or leather or even astringent bergamot. It was soggy wet rotten fruit for hours.

Over on Fragrantica, the reviews are even more positive in number than they are at Basenotes. The majority view is best summed up by the chap who described Interlude as a “fantastic, in-your-face spice/incense MONSTER that grabs you by the neck and throws your face into it’s scent full-throttle.” To my relief, one person detected the raspberry note, another thought it was strawberry, and a third picked up the Ambre Sultan resemblance, writing “Reminds me Ambre Sultan by Lutens, but with less spicy notes and more incense.” Perhaps my favorite assessment came from “kochy7058” who found Interlude to be an initially harsh scent that was redeemed by its drydown, but whose overall  “testosterone” forcefulness made it suited only for bosses in upper management. To be specific, “Gordon Gecko,” Michael Douglas’ ruthless corporate raider from the movie Wall Street. It’s hilarious, but it really does fit. Interlude is like a battleship and a boss, steamrolling its way through most things with the arrogant confidence of supreme dominance.

However, I think the negative reviews of Interlude can be quite instructive on how that forcefulness, mixed with Interlude’s harsh opening, can make the fragrance go terribly wrong on some people. To wit:

  • This reeks of an old, dusty attic with an odd “something smells sweet and sticky in the corner” odor. [¶] I have a sample of this and have to say that it’s absolutely horrid. [¶] This stuff is like napalm. It sticks to you and tortures you and no matter what you do, you can’t wash it off or scrape it off your body.
  • I like it, but it cause dizziness seriously! maybe it is the insence.
  • I’m not really liking this as the “kitchen spice accord” really overwhelms everthing else. And it smells like something that should be on a pizza or put into a curry. And its something I do not want to smell like.
  •  it is a different story when it is sprayed out of a bottle. It dried down to a very harsh, herbal mess mixed with body odor and I literally had to convince myself that it smelled “good.” [¶] The final straw was when I had a friend over to my place. He sniffed the air a couple times and gave a repulsed look. “Something smells like fucking ass.” I blamed it on my dog farting, and excused myself to the bathroom and scrubbed it off. I sold the bottle 3 days later.

Oh dear. “Napalm,” dusty attics, pizza toppings, and herbal body aroma. Clearly, how Interlude manifests itself on your skin will depend not only on chemistry, but also, on how your brain processes the chaotic, odd, harsh, sometimes discordant opening. The oregano, in particular, seems to be an insurmountable obstacle for some. My own varied experiences with the fragrance should underscore the obvious fact that Interlude is a fragrance that you need to test a number of times. Quantity, method of application (i.e., spraying versus dabbing), and the perfume’s innate complexity mean you can have slightly different results each time.

For me, personally, Interlude is a lovely scent, but I’m not driven wild with madness for two reasons. First, I hated that damn raspberry note. Second, I don’t trust which version I will get from one day to the next. I didn’t mind the oregano opening, and I enjoyed it when combined with the opoponax’s honeyed caramel, especially once the more bitter, medicinal nuances faded away about twenty minutes in. The second time around, it was very different, and wasn’t so appealing. Plus, the raspberry — especially when powdered and vanillic — was far from my personal cup of tea. I wasn’t too crazy about the rawness of the leather in the opening moments of one test, either. At all times, however, I absolutely adored the sandalwood stage at the end. 

Despite the difficult bits, whenever I would catch wafts of Interlude in the air a few hours in, I always thought it to be truly lovely. There was something mysterious about its intriguingly different complexities when smelt from afar, and something smolderingly intoxicating about the overall bouquet. I would absolutely wear Interlude if a bottle accidentally fell into my lap, though I would probably make sure that I sprayed on enough to get the honeyed caramel/Ambre Sultan version, and I would try not to smell it up close until at least a few hours had passed. It is a scent that I think is really spectacular on a technical level, but I’m not sure I like — or trust — Interlude enough to ever contemplate spending so much money buying it.

At the end of the day, perhaps the best way to describe Interlude is, indeed, that original Amouage PR copy about chaos and disorder as a prelude to beautiful harmony. The issue for you will be how well you manage with that first stage…. 

DETAILS:
Cost, Availability, & Sales: Interlude Man in an eau de parfum that comes in two sizes: a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle that retails for $240 or €180, or a 3.4 oz/100 ml eau de parfum that costs $290 or €220. You can buy Interlude in both sizes directly from Amouage. However, Interlude Man in discounted online at a few sites. The small 1.7 oz size is on sale at Beauty Encounter for a discounted price of $210 instead of $240. There is free domestic shipping (with international shipping for a fee). You can find Interlude Man discounted in both sizes at OnlineShoppingX for $216.60 and $261.73, depending on size, with free global shipping. I don’t know how long these special discount prices will last. I should add that I’ve ordered from BeautyEncounter in the past with no problem, as have many of my friends, and they are a very reputable dealer. Universal Perfumes, which I think is a Middle Eastern perfume retailer, sells the large 100 ml bottle of Interlude Man on sale for $249.99 instead of $290.
In the U.S.: the authorized Amouage dealer is Parfums Raffy which sells Interlude Man for a sale price right now of $225 or $275, depending on size. There is free domestic shipping and free Amouage samples with order. Luckyscent carries both sizes of Interlude Man. The larger size of Interlude Man can also be purchased online at MinNYAedes, or Parfum1.
Outside the US: In Canada, The Perfume Shoppe offers the 100 ml size of Interlude Man, along with sample sets and more. There is free worldwide shipping, I think. The perfume is priced below retail at $275 for 100 ml, despite the fact the CAD prices are usually higher, so you may want to drop them an email to inquire. In the UK, Harrods carries Amouage, but I don’t see Interlude Man listed on their website. It is, however, available at Les Senteurs where it costs £145 or £175, depending on size, along with samples for purchase. There is also an Amouage boutique in London. In France, Interlude Man is available in the large size for €196 from Premiere Avenue, or from Jovoy in Paris for €215. In Germany, Interlude Man is available at First in Fragrance where it costs €185 or €255 (depending on size) with free shipping within the EU and shipping elsewhere for a fee. In Italy, with worldwide shipping, Interlude Man is carried at Essenza Nobile for €185 or €255, along with a sample for sale. In Australia, Interlude Man is available at Libertine for AUD$326 for the large size. For other countries, the Amouage website has a “Store Finder” which should, hopefully, help you find the perfume somewhere close to you.
Samples: You can buy samples of Interlude Man from Surrender to Chance where prices start at $3.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. The site also sells a Sampler Set for 7 Amouage men’s fragrances, including Interlude Man, which starts at $22.99 for 1/2 ml vials.
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48 thoughts on “Perfume Review: Amouage Interlude (Man)

  1. A shapeshifter indeed. I am sure that there was a haystacked meadow but I cannot find it everytime. Now I think that must have been the oregano. There is hours of entertainment with Interlude Man and more pivots than a table in Excel. Thanks for your trip with this.

  2. Beautiful review dear Kafka!
    Interlude Man was one of the first perfume reviews I wrote at Chemist in the Bottle so I’m sure that it lacks some passion, writing skills (those came with time and still improve, I hope) and olfactory analysis I’m better at nowadays.

    When I read your comment at fb I just knew exactly which perfume are you talking about.

  3. The oregano in this tends to get incredibly harsh and unpleasant on me. I’m going to try it when the weather cools down a bit and see if it tones down a bit. I thought I’d love this one but so far not yet.

    • Given how much this perfume can vary, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if heat/humidity were just one more thing responsible for some changes! As I told Jordan up above, Interlude has more personalities than Sybil. Let’s hope one of those personalities works better for you in the Fall. 🙂

  4. Ahh…another excellent review. Amazing what you pick up from this fragrance. I have a full (small) bottle that I purchased after extensive testing from a Luckyscent sample – where I got berry, incense, and sweet amber in about equal proportions.

    Spraying from the bottle pretty much achieved the same scent results but with very different emphasis and timings – much more incense and smoke with agarwood wafting in and out of my scent cloud. I gave it one large spray on an evening out and got hours of incense and smoke like a small volcano – and I was good with that as It was a perfect drinking companion in a little bubba bar in Dallas.

    I will definitely give Interlude two to three sprays (at home) and see if I get the marvelous ‘test one’ effect you describe. I have to admit that I was ambivalent about spending so much money on Interlude, but since I didn’t have even one Amouage – the lovely blue glass of Interlude’s bottle was as seductive as the scent.

    Since trying Interlude and nine other Amouage fragrances, the only one that I would spring the bucks for besides Interlude is Fate Woman which I thought was extraordinary and captivating. (And your review of Fate Woman persuaded me to acquire that sample!)

    Hadn’t made the Ambre Sultan connection (which I love), but will look for it! Interlude feels like an exotic location to me – and meets my expectation of traveling on the Orient Express to get there…smoke, whistle and all!

    • LOL at the “little bubba bar in Dallas.” Heh. I also laughed at how you would ensure that you were at home if you gave it a few more sprays. *grin* Yes, it may not be advisable to go to work with 3 sprays of Interlude, let alone more. 😉 I was interested to see that you picked up berries when you dabbed it on. Do you remember what kind? (I’d like *someone* to smell raspberry besides just me!) I’m not surprised that spraying, instead of dabbing, led to different facets of the fragrance being emphasized at different times! Let me know what happens if you really go to town with the spraying and give it a good going. I’m curious to see what version of Interlude will show up! 🙂

      BTW, I’m so glad to hear my review of Fate Woman persuaded you to get a sample, and even more glad to hear you really love the scent!

      • Hi Kafka – retried Interlude Sunday – only two sprays – working my way up to 4!!!
        The berries that I get are like Le Labo Baie Rose – so looking that up it’s Pimento Berries – not sure about that, though. Only familiar with Pimento cheese…
        Got lots of incense smoke after getting ‘the berries’ and that was about it. Don’t recall even getting to the nice amber base. Yeah, the bubba bar was a suggestion by friends to see a Rolling Stones tribute band. Kind of eerie – bubba biker bar – which is cool until the band played ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ which always brings back Altamont memories – and Interlude’s smokiness went well with the scene. 🙂 I was the only one old enough to even have heard of Altamont. Enough said.

        • It sounds like Interlude is primarily a question of smoke on you in varying degrees with some pepper berries. Your skin may prevent you from ever getting the amber if your skin chemistry doesn’t amplify basenotes or sweetness. Mine tends to bring out the bottom notes, while some people’s skin can do the same for the top notes. Interlude has the smoke throughout, but you may have to give up on the amber if you still don’t get any with 3-4 sprays. But, you love how it does play on your skin, so it’s all good! 🙂

          As for the biker bar, it sounds like a somewhat dodgy dive, but quite cool. I knew some Hells Angels once, and they were actually very nice chaps under that tough exterior. 🙂

  5. I’m so glad you enjoyed the journey of this one. It was my first Amouage FB purchase and probably still my favorite of the line. Your detailed analysis makes me want to rush out and put it on again to see if I get that raspberry note. I haven’t worn it in awhile but, for sure, it is the smoky frankincense that I love the most. My family has a wood burning stove that they use all winter and this scent always reminds me of that. Can’t wait for more Amouage reviews but, I am sure you need a break after this one! Oh, and if you are feeling brave layer this one with Tribute Attar for the pinnacle of smokiness!

    • I would love to see if you get the raspberry (or any berry) note in Interlude. I thought I was mad the first time, but it showed up on each successive test, too, so clearly my skin does *something* with the patchouli and pimento berries. As for the journey with Interlude, I have to admit, I was quite exhausted by the end of Day 3 with Version 3, and thought to myself that if I didn’t stop here and now, I could be testing Interlude for the next month! *grin* It’s a brilliantly done perfume!

      • I’m not Dubaiscents and she would definitely know better than I, but I would suggest only a few drops spread out thinly. LOL! It’s rarely adviseable to put on more of the Amouage attars.

  6. Great review Kafka! I hope you are getting some well deserved rest now!! I had to go to my box of oriental samples and rummage through, because I was sure I had been given a sample from a client. and Yay, there it was. It is so much fun for me to wear what you are reviewing. I love how I can follow the progress you describe, in real life. It makes my Sunday morning so fun! This Interlude Man is quite strong. I mostly get caramel and herbs, with hardly any incense at all. The opening was quite odd and not very pleasant, now 20 minutes in I am enjoying it. We shall see what happens next as I am taking Bella for a walk in 100 degree heat with at least 80% humidity.

    • Oh now you’ve done it!!! I just kept smelling this wonderful inviting scent all morning and I realized over and over again that it was me! I just applied about 3/4 of my 1 ml sample and I am in love! I keep smelling licorice! Is that weird? Oh boy, here I go again, another decant on my wish list……

      • I’m SO glad, Tora! It’s one of those scents that — for me — may not smell so great close-up (especially at first in the initial stage), but when you catch wafts of it on the air, you think “Wow, that’s good!” I’m not surprised that your nose smells licorice; it must be the combination of the dark resins with all that serious incense smoke. Plus, as my experience demonstrates, Interlude can have many, many faces. Who knows WHAT will show up, depending on day! LOL. So, how was the oregano on you?

        • You know, I pretty much hate oregano. Don’t use it in my cooking and won’t use it in aromatherapy even though it is a strong antibacterial when taken orally. But here, I don’t really identify that I smell oregano. Is that the mentholated blast in the opening? I really just get a pleasant herb smell. I will probably get a decant when I have un grounded myself from perfume purchases, and then I will see if I can detect it. Kind of glad I can’t with my small sample which is now all gone!

    • Aha, caramel! You must have put on a lot. Yes, the opening is quite an experience and, depending on what version shows up, can be rather discordant. But what a drydown later on. Spectacular!

  7. I think no one in his/her sane mind could dislike Interlude Man. I love offering my sample for friends to sniff and then seeign how they swoon at the coffee, leather and amber melange.
    Do you wear it, dear Kafka?

    xoxo

    Caro

    • Oh, coffee, leather and amber sounds stunningly gorgeous, Caro! Alas, it’s not quite that for me. In fact, I’m not quite sure Interlude is any ONE thing on me, as this review showed. LOL. If it were a little less of a shape-shifter and if it didn’t have that raspberry note on me each and every time, I’d definitely be tempted. Interlude’s drydown is truly gorgeous, and I loved every bit of it. The opening stages on me — or, rather, 2 out of the 3 variations of it — were a little more difficult.

      • I’m sorry to hear your experience was less than perfect…or maybe it’s a good thing, so that you don’t need to invest in it. I think Interlude Man is one of Amouage’s most solid masculine offerings.

    • That is exactly how Interlude Man is on me too! Coffee, leather (so much wonderful leather), and amber. I get smoke thrown in there too. Both Interlude Man and Woman wear really well on me. I have a 30ml bottle of Woman, which is harder to love but I am happy to have it. I prefer Man though. It’s like the best parts of Woman without having to muscle through the weird coffee-dusted kiwi fruit salad . . .

      But I really love them both. If the budget allowed, I would happily own the duo,

  8. Sounds like a teasing, tantalizing, intriguing fragrance that never settles for closure… I’ve got to try this one! Hope I get the raspberry note; I liked the touch of framboise in Ramon Monegal Impossible Iris and would love to compare.

    I haven’t had much luck with Amouage fragrances to date. Jubilation XXV worked well for me, but their feminines tend to collapse like a house of cards on my difficult skin. And the price point is a serious reality check.

    • Well, it does settle for closure in the sense that it always has that same stunningly beautiful, creamy, rich sandalwood phase at the end, but, as the rest of it, Jordan said it best when he called Interlude a “shape shifter.” It really is — for me at least. That adds to its intriguing character, no doubt, but it makes it harder for me to trust what is going to pop up on my skin.

      Tell me more about the Amouage female scents collapsing on your skin. Do you mean that they die out quickly, that they turn nebulous and abstract quickly, both, or something else? As for the price point, I agree for the most part except we here in the States are lucky to have the discount vendors. There are some $300 large bottles of Amouage that can be bought for about $150 or so, which is a pretty fantastic deal!

      BTW, I really liked Jubilation XXV but, if I remember my review correctly, I don’t think it lasted more than 5-and-something hours on me. 😦 And the opening definitely reminded me of Hermès’ Elixir de Merveilles, which I love! Mmmmm, Jubilation XXV…. such a fantastic smell. I only wish it lasted on my skin.

      • Just to be sure about what I remembered (it’s not like I’m obsessive or anything, ha) I dug out my samples of Jubilation 25 and Lyric Woman this afternoon and re-tried them.

        I noticed right away that each fragrance seemed to have an element that was missing or distorted on my skin. Jubilation 25 started out with a blast of aldehydic rose-jasmine, turned wispily soapy, and then wandered off completely – it had vanished by the one-hour-fifteen-minute mark. The middle and base notes simply weren’t there.

        Lyric Woman began with an overripe-fruit note and then for a brief time (ten or fifteen minutes) that note was paired with a rich, slightly blurry frankincense. At this point, however, that accord tipped over into a generic and very raspy powderiness that got more and more intense (and unpleasant) for about ninety minutes. It died down to a skin scent and is currently puttering along in that mode.

        My guess is that Amouage uses certain ingredients in its feminines (something in the tonka/benzoin family?) that triggers my wonky skin chemistry and/or anosmia.

        I don’t seem to have these issues with Amouage’s masculines. I didn’t particularly like Lyric Man, but that was an aesthetic judgment – the fragrance didn’t seem out-of-balance or wonky on my skin, it just wasn’t my favorite thing.

        [sigh] Guess I’ll have to start thinking of my aggravating epidermis as a Wallet Protection Device.

        • Really fascinating. Thank you, Stina, for taking the time to explain. (It also helps me to get a better sense of how perfumes work on you and what notes may go funky.) But WOW that Jubilation 25 vanished within 75 minutes. WOW and yikes! It must be partially the anosmia, but there is also other stuff going on in the fragrance, like the cumin, so I think you wouldn’t be anosmic to everything. It must be a simple question of your skin just eating it up like mad, in conjunction with the base issues. Hm, now I’m intrigued about why the Men’s fragrances work out, since some of their base (frankincense, resins, amber) is often similar. Either way, it does seem as though your skin is intentionally trying to save you a lot of money. LOL! 😀

  9. This sounds endlessly interesting, but not for me, really. I’ll have to give it a try, though. While I can appreciate complexity, I think I prefer something that smells reliably the same way on a day-to-day basis. Thanks for the lovely review!

    • Yeah, it’s the trustworthiness issue for me, too. I wouldn’t be sure what version would show up on me, given how it can reflect different notes and strokes. Shapeshifters are very, very cool — intellectually — but Interlude is perhaps a wee bit too complex. Still, I would have loved it even WITH that, if it weren’t for that damn raspberry note and some of the sharpness that Interlude can take on. If it had been the coffee, leather, amber that some of the blog commentators have gotten, or even if it were the herbal-caramel that I experienced the first time around WITHOUT raspberry, I would be dying to own Interlude. You can’t imagine how beautiful that drydown phase is, and it appears consistently throughout.

  10. What can I say? I’m glad I’m not insane: as I tested Interlude Man on three different occasions I got three different results. I do not analyze what I smell the way you do, so for me it usually comes down to love/like/ok/hate (well, with more gradations but the idea is like that); unique vs. reminds me of other perfumes and if it brings up any memories or associations. And with Interlude Man I went through different grades between love-hate.

    • It seems that we’ve both made each other feel less insane lately, first with Tom Ford’s Plum Japonais and now with Interlude Man. I’m glad to know you experienced three different versions on three different days, too. It makes me feel better when others seem to have one — and only one — version of Interlude pop up on their skin. Their versions are invariably lovely, whether it is coffee/leather/amber or sultry, smoky incense. You and I, unfortunately, don’t seem to have been quite so lucky. You know, for all that we think we’re so dissimilar in our perfume tastes and experiences, I think these last few days from your statistical breakdown on your blog to these last two perfumes show that we’re much more alike than we both may have thought. 🙂 🙂 Can you describe a little the versions of Interlude that you hated?

  11. Very interesting to read your review of this one, Kafka, and to learn of the three different ways it came across to you on your separate tests. It’s such a busy fragrance that I can definitely see how it would do this: “kaleidoscopic” seems a really good descriptor for Interlude Man. As for my own experience, it differs from yours in one aspect – I get a very upfront hit of oud and lots and lots of wood mixed in with the other facets (and no raspberry, or any kind of berry, thankfully), but even so, many of your descriptions resonate with me. I find it one of those cacophonous perfumes that shouldn’t work, but somehow manage to charm and intrigue. There are at least three Amouage perfumes that come across that way to me … I sort of think of it as an Amouage quality: harmony arrived at through dissonance.

    • Interesting, Suzanne. I love hearing how Interlude manifests itself on each person, as it seems to have more personalities than Sybil. I don’t think all Amouage’s have “harmony arrived at through dissonance” as a theme or signature, but this one certainly did. It’s brilliantly done, and whirls away like a Swiss timepiece, but I think I would prefer to have a little more stability in terms of what shows up on my skin. I have to say, I don’t really see Interlude Man as being a very Suzanne kind of scent. Do you think it is?

      • No, certainly not all of the Amouages have the harmony-through-dissonance theme, just three of them really strike me that way: Interlude Man, Memoir Woman and Amouage Opus IV. Or maybe four: my favorite Amouage (the one most everyone hates) Opus I strikes me as that way, so I kind of think of this as one of the aesthetics that Amouage does particularly well, though by no means its signature.

        As to your very interesting question, I’d have to say that you are right in the sense that I can’t see myself purchasing Interlude Man … but I would really enjoy the occasional romp with it. Meet it in the hayloft once every three or four months, maybe. 😉

  12. I thought Interlude Woman was odd until I tried Interlude Man. This one is going to take a few more tries for me to get a handle on it. Up close it is very harsh at first. It isn’t the oregano. If I back off several inches the fragrance blends much better and is quite beautiful. Amouage is anything but boring.

    • I definitely agree that Interlude smells lovely from afar — at least in terms of the opening stage. Whenever I would detect a waft in the air around me, it was always beautiful. But up close, in the early stage, it could be much more temperamental. At least, in two of my 3 tests. What’s harsh to your nose if it’s not the oregano? The smoke? Smoke and leather?

      • Good question. I am having a really hard time pinning it down. I look through the listed notes and none of them fits what I am smelling, although I don’t know what pimento berry smells like, I doubt it is that. It is somewhat smoky, maybe mixed with incense and has a medicinal piny plant feel to it somewhat like the black hemlock of OJ Woman. It is probably what you are describing as mentholated and camphorous. It is only when my nose is up close though. Back off a few inches and it all melds together beautifully and is not harsh in the least. It is a beautiful fragrance.

        • I think I’ve figured it out. Have you smelled Oak sap? A few years back me and my brother in law were kind of maple syrup crazed and we were tapping as many Maple trees as we could find. In his over-enthusiasm, he tapped an oak by mistake. He insists he didn’t, but he did. And I noticed the smoky smell as soon as I collected the sap, but when he poured them all together and boiled them down it was SMOKY and spoiled his entire batch. And this smoky is the same type. So I think it is just the variety of oud used in Interlude, it has that mentholated camphorous smokiness to it. I have some pretty smoky strong oud oils which by themselves are just overwhelming, but I think Amouage blended it so well that it becomes so beautiful and different just a few inches away, even though up close it is just tooooo much. It is those odd ingredients which make the masterpieces don’t they? By themselves they would be terrible, but the master perfumers know how to use them to make a work of art.

          • I’m afraid I haven’t smelled Oak Sap, but now I do! I also think your brother-in-law sounds very cool. lol. I think it’s interesting what you’ve pinpointed with regard to the Amouage, and the scent that you detect. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if you were right about the variety of oud being part of the issue, though obviously the forceful frankincense is an additional contributing factor. I definitely agree that Interlude is better from afar, except for that drydown which I think is glorious smelled up close, too! So, all in all, do you think you’re going to succumb to a bottle of Interlude?

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  15. Something smells like fucking ass?!?!What tha… smells like an ass or like anal sex? LoL
    For me Interlude is an easy wearing scent. Beautiful, rich. Top class!

    • Hey, I didn’t say that. It was one person’s experience as stated on Fragrantica. Not my words, not my experience. But perhaps there is a certain musky quality to Interlude that might go wrong on some people’s skin, in conjunction with the herbal or spice elements. Who knows. I’m glad you enjoy it. I definitely agree that it’s a complex, intriguing, rich scent.

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