Lemon chiffon mousse with smoky dryness and woods. I don’t think I’ve ever summed up an Amouage fragrance in one short sentence, but there is a first time for everything. An even shorter synopsis might be “elemi creaminess.” That is the essence of Beloved Man, a wholly unisex fragrance that is quite lovely but extremely simple. In many ways, it feels like the anti-Amouage, or an Amouage for those who normally struggle with the perfume house’s complicated, complex creations.
Beloved Man (hereinafter just “Beloved“) was released in 2013 as either a limited edition or limited distribution eau de parfum that is only available in Amouage boutiques, and a handful of department stores or online vendors. Since the fragrance is no longer listed on Amouage’s own website, it’s hard to know how they describe the scent. The PR copy quoted by First in Fragrance and also summarized by sites like CaFleureBon states:
The special edition Beloved for Men by Amouage is a woody Oriental fragrance with spicy top notes accentuated by an opulent heart of floral notes. Created in Grasse under the guidance of Amouage’s Creative Director Christopher Chong, he explains “that everyone has a remembrance of a loved one and the fragrance is a nod to the 1980 movie “Somewhere in Time” starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. This intimate fragrance with its selection of rich woods and resins in the base enrapture the wearer in a comforting sensation of warmth that these treasured memories bring”.
Beloved was created by Bernard Ellena, though Fragrantica mistakenly credits Alexandra Carlin and Emilie (Bevierre) Coppermann. Regardless, everyone agrees that Beloved’s notes are:
orange, grapefruit, elemi, geranium, jasmine, orris, saffron, cedar wood, guaiac wood, leather, patchouli, musk, and vetiver.
Elemi is a main part of Beloved on my skin, so I’m going to take a minute to go over what it is. According to The Perfume Shrine‘s wonderfully detailed explanation, elemi has a long history. It was used by ancient Egyptians in embalming, and its remnants have been found in sarcophogii. Nowadays, “elemi” apparently refers to the harvested secretions from the Canarium Commune tree in the Phillipines, and its smell can best be summed up as: lemony, clean freshness that is also peppered and smoky. Elemi shares some characteristics with frankincense, but it can also take on a green, piney aroma like that of fresh pine needles. Elemi oil can be deep, clean and citrusy in profile, while the resin version can be peppered, woody, and a little bit spicy. Like the two faces of Janus, Beloved reflects both sides of the elemi coin on my skin.
Beloved opens with a crisp, cool, chilled lemon aroma infused with elemi smokiness, as well as what also smells like actual frankincense. It is followed by a dry, faintly leathered aromachemical, then pepper, a hint of clean soapiness, and the tart, sweet freshness of a grapefruit. There are glimpses of something creamy and warm underneath, as well a hint of sweetness from patchouli. It’s all rather light in feel, and evokes very yellowed, Italianate images, as if Beloved were made for a warm summer’s night in Capri.
As a whole, Beloved’s opening is a mix of opposites: crisp, chilled citruses with warm, creamy sweetness; dark smokiness with light, fresh cleanness; and, later, dryness with almost custardy smooth richness. It takes hardly any time for Beloved’s citruses to lose their crisp, aromatic zestiness and to turn warmer, richer, deeper, as if hanging off a tree in the warm summer sun. The aromachemical tinge departs within minutes, and the leather nuance fades to a blip on the sidelines.
What is left is primarily an extremely creamy citrus scent that is as smooth as custard, but as airy as a mousse. The faintest trace of smokiness from the elemi is diffused throughout, adding a chiaroscuro effect of darkness to dapple the yellow warmth. Beloved never seems like a smoky or incense fragrance, though. That aspect of the elemi is too muffled on my skin; it merely works indirectly from the sidelines to add subtle touches to the wood’s fresher, lemony characteristics.
10 minutes in, Beloved starts to shift. The increasing warmth takes on the faintest trace of saffron and an abstract floralacy. I don’t smell iris, jasmine, or geranium in any individual way, though something vaguely “iris-like” seems strongest. By the same token, there is no vetiver on my skin at all, and the leather never reappeared again after its initial blip. What there is, however, is a nondescript, nebulous woodiness that darts in and out of the creamy lemon mousse in the top notes. There is also the faintest trace of a musky sweetness.
There really isn’t a hell of a lot more to the core essence of Beloved on my skin. There are only variations in the strength of the elemi’s woody, smoky, and dry sides over the course of the next few hours, along with fluctuating degrees of ISO E-like aromachemical pepperiness. As a whole, though, Beloved is a seamless blend of the two faces of elemi, and the fragrance’s main characteristic for a good portion of its opening hours is creaminess. It’s absolutely beautiful in that way, feeling as rich, smooth, and effortless as the silkiest creation from a chef in a restaurant devoted to lemony desserts.
It takes less than an hour for Beloved to lose every distinct, clearly delineated trace of something other than lemon mousse with dry, woody smokiness. The abstract floral element vanishes, and the saffron turns into a vague suggestion of something vaguely spicy that hovers at the edges. Beloved’s sillage drops 75 minutes in. It had opened with moderate projection, but the fragrance now hovers 2 inches, at best, above the skin. It feels very gauzy, though simultaneously, very creamy and smooth. The sillage becomes increasingly discreet, while the perfume itself grows more subtle, abstract and hazy in its notes. I’m very impressed by how beautifully balanced it is. For a mousse-y, lemon cream trifle, it has a wonderful balance of dryness and woodiness that prevent Beloved from ever verging on a gourmand or dessert scent. And don’t mistake me, it isn’t one by any means, but the creaminess is terrific.
By the end of the third hour, Beloved is basically locked into its profile for the remainder of its lifespan: creamy woodiness that is infused with dryness, muted hints of smokiness, and something vaguely citrusy in nature. The ISO E Super peppered touch is speckled throughout, but it is subtle and primarily in the background. As a whole, Beloved feels almost more like a texture than a set of notes, as the latter are mostly amorphous, blurry, and hard to pick out. The fragrance is wispy, light, and a total skin scent by this point as well, though you can detect it easily for another 6 hours if you smell it up close. Beloved lingers on as a gauzy, discreet whisper until it finally dies away as a hint of dry creaminess. All in all, Beloved lasted 12.75 hours on my skin.
As I’ll discuss shortly, I don’t think my experience with Beloved Man was representative or the norm, beyond the basic commonality of citruses and woodiness. I haven’t seen anyone else describe the scent as citric creaminess, but I can only tell you how it was on my skin. Lest it was not clear by now, I really liked the lemon chiffon aspect of Beloved. As a whole, I find the perfume to be a well-balanced, easy, uncomplicated fragrance that is very enjoyable as a tame, extremely safe, very basic, approachable Amouage. I also think it is thoroughly and completely unisex.
In fact, the way Beloved Man was on my skin reminded me of Amouage‘s beautiful Ubar for Women, a fragrance that had an equally beautiful lemon custard facet to it. Ubar is a stunner that is much more complex, nuanced, floral, and rich (not to mention nuclear in projection), but Beloved Man felt like a riff on one of Ubar’s prettiest features. In essence, a drier, woodier, smokier, simpler and lighter version of Ubar’s lemon custard. I see no reason at all why women who prefer woodier scents couldn’t wear Beloved. In all cases, Beloved would work really well as a discrete fragrance that is practical and versatile for every day use. You could wear it to the office, but it also feels like an elegant, rich take on citruses that is suited for the summer.
Yet, for all that, Beloved is also linear, simplistic, and lacking much flair or ooomph. And it really needs some profound distinctiveness for the price that Amouage is asking. As a “special edition” or limited-edition fragrance, Beloved seems to have the retail cost of $425. That is a lot of money for an unobtrusive citrus scent with some smoke and woodiness! You might argue that it is an Amouage, but the problem is that Beloved seems like an anti-Amouage to a large extent. Yes, its simplicity has some definite benefits in terms of ease and versatility, but do you want to pay $425 or €340 for it? I wouldn’t.
Speaking of price, it seems to vary all over the place. I’ve never encountered a fragrance where each retailer seems to set a different figure on the same bottle. It’s not listed on the Amouage website at this time, so I have no idea what price they once gave for it. CaFleureBon mentions $425, but I’ve also read $450 and one Fragrantica commentator (probably hyperbolically) said $500. I’ve found Beloved selling for $360 in the U.S., and as low as £265 or €320 in Europe, but I repeat again: woody, citrus mousse!
As you may gather, I’m quite torn on Beloved. If I’m to be honest, it was rather disappointing for an Amouage. It has little to do with the price, but with the fact that I expect more from them. If Beloved were issued by Maison Francis Kurkdjian as a counterbalance to his tendency to create very commercial, safe, often fresh and clean scents (with the fantastic, rich, opulent Absolue Pour Le Soir as being the lone exception to the rule), then I would undoubtedly praise Beloved. It would still be simplistic, safe, and lacking much flair, but, generally speaking, I no longer expect much more than that from MFK.
However, I do expect something different from Amouage which I think is one of the best, most innovative, interesting perfume houses around. Its creations stand out and are admired because they’re complicated, complex, nuanced, and different. Should one judge Beloved in a vacuum, or by the standard of the house? Well, perhaps by both, but I suppose it depends on price as well, which brings us back full circle to that $425. I find it mind-boggling, simply mind-boggling.
Amusingly enough, a commentator on Fragrantica has a preemptive response to my criticisms, presumably because he has heard numerous other people saying the same thing. “Johnnybr0801” argues:
The more I use it, the more I love it!! 🙂 Don’t hate this because of the “lack of uniqueness” or simply because of the price tag! Yes, it is overpriced, as this is a limited edition! I don’t say that this automatically validates the price tag , however I have to tell that whenever I smell an Amouage frag, I always feel like I would pay whatever price they ask for!
Not because Im a fan of the house, but the quality, the creative process, the ingredients, etc. Everything speaks value here! I think they are one of the only houses with a clear concept what they want, and what they want to tell with their fragrances. No bullshit here. You get what you paid for. Period.
This little pricy bastard meant to light up those moments in your life when you feel like you wanna remember forever for that moment. It could be a date, a girl, a man, whatever. It still can be an everyday scent, but I feel like in heaven wearing this every time I put on! This is true ART!!!
Well, I’m a fan of the house, too, and I agree that its fragrances are of superior quality, but that doesn’t mean that Beloved is a specific case of “true ART!!!” Blind worship is not my thing, and I don’t do it for any perfume brand. I simply cannot fathom what he’s experiencing with Beloved that makes him think it is unique enough to light up his life or to remember a special occasion forever. All the more power to him, though.
What was interesting in reading the largely critical reviews on Fragrantica was seeing the different ways Beloved can manifest itself on one’s skin. To wit:
- This is a light fragrance that smells a bit like baby powder when applied but man o man have I receive so many compliments in just the two times I’ve worn it this far. It also lasts a while on my skin but does not seem to project that far.
- At the start I’m smelling the grapefruit and geranium then
I’m mainly picking up a soft sweet powdery peppery spice with jasmine, musk with a hint of leather. [¶] I don’t know what to make of this scent as all the notes seem to come at you all at once.
- its the sweatest [sweetest?] and softest manly smell you ever can wear, deep mix and hard to describe, you cant describe it as spicy or woody, or even floral, its nicely mixed to a level where nothing truely dominate.
- a gentleman perfume for men, with burst of citrus smells, then woodsy pencil shaving smell[.]
Though Beloved has some admirers, most assessments are quite disparaging. One person wrote that Beloved was “a concoction of nothingness not worth its price.” Another said: Beloved is “[u]nworthy of the Amouage name, tested it twice and found it so unremarkable and forgettable[.]” A handful find Beloved to be so “generic” that they couldn’t even be bothered to describe what they smelled, while many others compare it to a whole slew of commercial, department store fragrances. There are several statements to the effect of, “Oh man this is somehow what Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million tries to be.” Other perfumes mentioned are: original, vintage Gucci Homme; Dior Homme Sport 2012; and Escada‘s Casual Friday.
The blogger, Persolaise, brings up elements of other fragrances as well in a review that calls Beloved “less than spectacular”:
It’s not often I’m relieved to discover that a perfume is less than spectacular. I’ve got so many ‘must buy’ Amouages on my list, that … perversely, I am grateful that Beloved Man won’t tempt me to part with my cash. When compared to last year’s Beloved Woman – a far-reaching chypre composed by Bernard Ellena – it feels like something of a let-down. But taken on its own terms, it’s a solid, competent, ambery-wood masculine.
Fans of Guerlain‘s Heritage and Cartier‘s Declaration will recognise several elements of those scents here, but Beloved Man adds an ‘exotic’ twist, mainly through the use of pepper (always warm; never sneeze-inducing) and a strange, grapefruit-inflected, melting plastic note, not unlike that displayed by Interlude Woman. In combination with cardamom, the aforementioned amber and a disappointingly prominent dose of abrasive wood materials, this curious facet unsettles the wearer and diminishes the romantic effect implied by the scent’s name. But it settles down before too long and makes room for an innocuous, musky drydown. [Emphasis and bolding of names added by me.]
As you can see, his synthetic woody blend is quite different from my own experience. In fact, I seem to be the only one who had an elemi-centric cocktail of mousse-y citruses with smoke and dry woodiness.
Yet, regardless of the different manifestations of Beloved — from baby powder to sweet floral woodiness, leathered woods, or “grapefruit-inflected melting plastic” with “abrasive woods” — there seems to be a common theme in many of these assessments: disappointment. (I’ve even seen “disappointing” as a headline on a YouTube vlog review!) I think it boils down to two things: Beloved feels like quite the anti-Amouage; and it’s bloody expensive for such simplicity. I expect more than just high-quality from Amouage, especially for $425. Beloved’s citrus-woody mousse falls short of the mark, alas.