Silver and Black


– a review and a story of Amouage ‘Memoir Man’

Sometimes, we choose what to remember. I tried for so long to forget you, forget that last time, that last day, the day you walked away and walked out of my life.

Somehow, I succeeded so well, I nearly convinced myself of that ultimate lie, your parting words, the ones you knew would hurt me most of all:

You and me, baby…we never happened.”

I can still see myself as I was that day, frozen to the steps, looking back over my shoulder at you as you just walked on and didn’t look back, not then, not ever. I remember coming home in a white-hot fury, packing away every reminder of you I could find, vacuum sealing every memory, every word in some padlocked part of my mind until finally, that lie was true. We never happened, baby, and only my ashes remained, as cold and gray as the wind and sky that day you walked away.

Until today. The day I found that beautiful black and silver bottle, half-full of that haunting, provocative scent, the one you always wore and liked so much, you bought me its counterpart, Woman, sparkling like some willful, black secret in the dark behind it, and in that heady, perfumed cocoon that set us apart from the rest of the world, we were both of us blinding dark and dazzling light, heavy and heated as molten lead and lighter than air, every love and all the passion every man and every woman ever felt and ever lived.

I had to sit down, to sink to the carpet in a swoon when I sprayed the air with your scent, as it blew that padlock in my mind to pieces and everything, everything poured out, memory and madness, magic and the music that played that night I saw you across a crowded room and caught you staring back.

That bittersweet opening kick of herb and darkest green, mint and absinth took me there in a single sniff, a room full of posturing and pretense, beautiful people talking beautiful things. I was never one of them, I was the wormwood, the outsider in the mix, brought in to add a little offbeat color, a spicy-green counterpoint of my own. So I thought as I stood apart, so I felt until something made me look up to where you stood. In the eternity between one heartbeat and the next, my world fell apart, the room fell away, I walked away from all my old life and all I knew…toward you.

Remember how we stood, not saying a word in a room full of words? Remember how we simply breathed each other’s reality in, how you wrapped me in that breathless aura of incense and lavender bouncing back and forth? Now incense with all its sacred air, next lavender with its earthy, dark secrets, and peeking behind like a promise, a silky black-red ribbon of rose, a hint of things to come, sensations I never knew and sights I never saw except with you.

“Let’s go”, you said that night, and so we walked off into our tempestuous future, wrapped in that cocoon of endless light and blazing dark. Laughing debates at 4 AM and books we read and things we did and places we went, everywhere wrapped in that invisible cloak of all lovers throughout all time, and what happened underneath that perfumed aura of light and deepening dark, no one knew and no one guessed.

I knew…I knew I needed you to take me there, I knew your need to go there, even when you raged, even when all the world never understood you, even when that fury included me, pushing all your red-alert buttons.

It was part of the thrill, part of our mutual electric charge, that challenge we kept throwing in each other’s face like a gauntlet, that tension that broke plates and smashed boundaries and ripped our pretenses apart.

All the sandalwood, all the vetiver, the amber, the musk and oakmoss, the vanilla and tobacco…all the potent, drydown promise of you could not, would not make me submit. I would not give you the upper hand, not give you the submission you craved, not give you anything but the one thing not even you dared demand. You knew what it would cost you, you knew what it would mean, you knew that if you and I took our story there, there could be no turning back. You were a man nothing could frighten, but the finality of that mutual surrender scared you, spooked you so badly you could only walk away because it was the only conclusion we could draw, the only place we had left to go.

Instead of that electric heat, all I felt was burning cold. The perfumed cocoon was ripped away and I stood shivering in the wind, trembling at your fury, shaking like the winter trees at your final, parting words, hissed between clenched teeth and flung into the wind the instant before you walked away.

So I thought and so I sat for most of an afternoon on my floor, holding these two black and silver beauties in my hands, telling me what I had wanted so badly to forget and obliterate, the haunting scented history of you and me, of the man unlike any, of that story I always knew and always will…

I can breathe us in any time I choose, feel your aura wrapped around me like a cloak in these two peerless bottles that read ‘Memoir Man’ and ‘Memoir Woman’.

You and me, baby…we happened.

Notes for Amouage ‘Memoir Man’:
Top: Absinth, wormwood, basil, mint
Middle: Rose, frankincense, lavender absolute
Base notes: Sandalwood, vetiver, gaiac wood, amber, vanilla, musk, oakmoss, light blonde tobacco

Disclosure: Sample provided by Amouage for review.

‘Memoir Man’ is available at Luckyscent, First in Fragrance, Alla Violetta Boutique, Les Senteurs and from the Amouage website.

Image: missyatieya.blogspot.com

For The Man who inspired it.

15 thoughts on “Silver and Black

  1. I'm really speechless at the moment. You have described, in pristine detail, that one man, every woman has in her past…there's always one.

    This is why perfume, and our sense of smell is so powerful.

  2. Carrie…I have to say it, and I've tried so many different things this past winter and spring that I know this doesn't happen often…Memoir in either version is…haunting! There is no other word, unless it would be…haunted. it was such a rollercoaster ride in a bottle. I tried to stay away, and I couldn't. I tried to think about other things, and I couldn't. I tried to write about both of them…and couldn't do that, either! 😉

    Instead, I wrote the ghosts down, and this was the story they told.

  3. Absinthe…you're absolutely right! Nothing can evoke or indeed invoke memory like smell or perfume…and for a perfume such as this one…this was the story it told.

    What I loved most was the way both Memoir Woman and Man were like two sides of the same conceptual coin, two sides of a love story – a love story like this one. All I had to do was to wear it, sit still, and let it tell its story…

  4. Tarleisio, your story left me feeling as if I'd been turned inside out. Like commenter AbsintheDragonfly said, every woman has had a man like this in her past. You describe him in a way that makes one ache, both in good and bad ways. In other words, very well done!

  5. Suzanne, it was never my intention to turn you inside out! On the other hand, how many times has that happened in a perfume review?

    As you and Absinthe said…there's always one…

  6. Muse, of all my Amouage story reviews, this and 'The Courtesan, the Conjuror and the Cynic' are my own favorites, this one for being so powerful, and the other simply because that's how it all started, and just as 'Silver and Black', it just…came. Sometimes, they do, but mostly…not.

    Here's a kisss right back at you for that comment!

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