We expect a lot from prestige names and high price tags. There are so many excellent perfumes that duck under the $100 mark; a $300 perfume should be able to accomplish something truly above and beyond. Under creative director Christopher Chong, Amouage managed to rationalize the cost of their creations with highly rich, clever compositions that consistently wow upon first sniff. Even the line’s most similar creations – the balsamic masculine classics Epic, Interlude, and Journey – have enough personality to establish different niches in a collection.
But because much of Amouage’s hype has been generated by male fragcomm members, their equally excellent – and often more creative – feminine perfumes have been overlooked. Fate Woman remains my all-time favorite perfume, and almost everything I’ve smelled from the line ranges from thoroughly engaging to downright gorgeous. This week, I’ve chosen to focus on Memoir Woman. It just might be the best fragrance the brand has ever released.
Memoir Woman notes:
Mandarin, Cardamom, Absinth, Pink Pepper, Pepper, Clove Bud, Opulent White Blossoms, Rose, Jasmine, Precious Dark Wood, Frankincense, Styrax, Oakmoss, Castoreum, Leather, Labdanum, Fenugreek, Musk
More than any other perfume I’ve smelled, Memoir Woman feels intoxicating. A warm core of florals and smooth woods, a smattering of sharp herbs, and an elegant yet dirty animalic base form a simultaneously challenging and irresistible fragrance. In many compositions, a buzzword note like absinthe would either veer toward undetectable or ham-fisted; here, absinthe grants a delightful green (pun intended) edge to the perfume. The styrax and castoreum are similarly present and beautifully-handled, resulting in a sultry base that rides the line between alluring and repulsive. And I mean repulsive in the best way – an intimidating beauty that scares people away before drawing them back in.
As its name would imply, Memoir ages very gracefully as it dries down. The herbal topnotes fade to a faint dusty sweetness that settle over the perfume’s core; it’s reminiscent of Tuscan Leather’s gradual transformation to a smoky vanilla scent. Over the course of the wear, Memoir shifts from provocateur to auteur, shedding its dissonant elements for a focused, yet distinctive center. Here, the cardamom and clove shine atop a bed of incense. The remains of the perfume’s distinctive absinthe and indolic jasmine notes prevent the composition from ever fading into bland pleasantry. It’s the sort of art you can really appreciate for hours on end.
Memoir Woman will not be a perfume for everyone, and it will also not be a perfume for every day. Its green edge and unabashedly animalic base will certainly confound some passersby. However, if you find yourself struck by the perfume’s convictions, you’re likely to be in conversation with it for years to come. It’s truly a magic potion of sorts. In the right moments, it blows away everything else on the shelf.
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The Fandomentals “Fragdomentals” team base our reviews off of fragrances that we have personally, independently sourced. Any reviews based off of house-provided materials will be explicitly stated.
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