A Filigreed Drop of Bright

– a review of Amouage The Library Collection – Opus VI

Say that fabled word – amber – and a whole slew of associations come to mind. Those plush, sensuous, ornate magic carpet rides into some equally legend golden sunset of complex, heady perfumes, all the many Occidental dreams contained within the word ‘oriental’, every single one of them adding up to the name of a color, a category, a gemstone and a reverie. Amber in perfume conjures up words like animalic, leathery, sweet, smooth, heady, take-no-prisoners opulent. It can be a Beethoven scented symphony, or an elegant Chopin sonata. We know those notes so well, so well…but love those familiar fragrant phrases no less.

Once upon a time not so long ago, it was one of the two base accords in perfume that made me run for the hills screaming. Amber was far too obvious for my pseudo-intellectual green-chypre tastes, too animalic and possibly too hot to handle, too. There were secrets in those scents I simply wasn’t tall enough or pretty enough or just woman enough to handle, so I stayed well away and well within my comfort zone. I wasn’t an amber woman. Never. Ever.

Yet revolutions happen and perspectives change. My own seismic shift occurred when a small sample of a ground-breaking amber found its way into my hands, onto my skin and under my nose, and in one sniff, that stubborn continent of personal inclination whirled and eddied and changed forever. I started at the very apotheosis of amber, and if I were going to cross that line into amber love, then by golly, it had better be worth it!

Famous last words.

Here I am with still another amber, yet another subterranean seismic shift.

This amber is an Amouage.

Amouage, with all its storied heritage and maximalist approach to perfume, is a house that often slays me in ways both great and small.

No one, but no one, wraps such astonishing frankincense around such story-telling genies, and every Amouage I’ve ever met has always told a story. Even this one, even now, even as I wrestle with these words, Opus VI wants me to shift into narrative mode and tell another fragrant tale of filigree and fable, of moment and futurity, a story of a most unusual, unnerving amber.

Do you think you know something of ambers, do you have certain expectations of what an Amouage amber might be? Are you painting an olfactory image in your mind as you read, of all that word contains and adding the prerequisite five hundred percent?

If you’re anything like me, you are. As you are, that djinn in the bottle jumps up and down with unconcealed glee, anticipating the delicious moment it will subvert every expectation you have.

Opus VI is not your usual amber. If ambers are usually silk-smooth concoctions that wrap around your skin in a velvet touch, then you are in for a surprise.

It begins with a suggestion of the same green and bitter facet fans of Serge Lutens’ Ambre Sultan might recognize, with a detectable bay leaf burst and a spicy jolt to the nose, and veiled behind it intimations of that well-beloved amber glow on the far distant horizon. But half the thrill of any journey lies not in arriving but enjoying the ride.

As I do, as I wonder where I’ll be taken along the way, a thick, glorious ribbon of incense weaves around me like a cat on stealthy feet and blooms. There is no other way to describe it and no way to precisely describe its effects except to say that if I owned a fainting couch, I’d need it in 3…2…1…

But the journey isn’t over and my own perilous downfall is just beginning. As I’m taken through the shifting scenery that exudes from my skin, the djinn decides to undo me even further.

Nothing like the ambers you know and love, nothing like that well-beloved sweet caress of benzoin or tolu, but a different, woodier, spikier creature that takes all amber clichés and slants them in a different direction and puts them on a darker, moodier path. My nose tells me patchouli and sandalwood, something that reminds me of rich, bittersweet chocolate and something I can’t quite pinpoint but who cares when my axis has shifted and my continents have realigned?

There is nothing I can do and nowhere left to go except to laugh at my own pretentious attempts to nail this perfume to the floor of my words if it slays me. That djinn hides a story it wants me to find, but this is no tale of Sheherazade, no travel back in time, this is very much here and totally now, a thoroughly modern reinvention of what is often such a hackneyed phrase, but Opus VI is no cliché.

It has taken what should be obvious and made it new. It has surprised me and delighted me with that half-hidden veil of amber, glimpsed behind a wooden screen, and filigreed a future full of possibilities upon a huge surprise it took me no time at all to fall so very hard for in all those fatal, fragrant ways.

I have tried and very much liked the opera of volumes I through V. But the number VI did me in, changed my perspectives and possibly even me as well.

Love will do that. Especially when it takes you by surprise, as surely Opus VI did when it filigreed all my future possibilities and wrapped them…in an amber.

Disclosure: A sample was provided for review by Amouage.

Opus VI of the Library Collection was created by Amouage Creative Director Christopher Chong in collaboration with Dora Arnaud and Pierre Negrin.

For the review I wish I could have written, may I recommend the incomparable Persolaise.

Amouage Opus VI will soon be available from the Amouage website, Les Senteurs, Luckyscent & First In Fragrance.

18 thoughts on “A Filigreed Drop of Bright

  1. Mmm. There was no doubt I was going to try this one, but now I’m even more eager. Bounce bounce bounce … bring it on!

    Cannot wait.

    Thank you for a lovely review!

    1. Hello, Unseen, and what a pleasure to see you! As you assuredly know, I write on the premise that Your Mileage May Vary. Then again, it’s worth a try. Go ahead. You know you want to! 😉

  2. What can I say? Having read your review, I feel good: I’m so new to amber perfumes that I have no expectations whatsoever, they might be anything on a very wide scale and I still might like them. Moreover, I’m still to try Amouage that I dislike. I might not love and covet them all but I like and appreciate each creation. So I look forward to trying Opus VI. “like a cat on stealthy feet” – love the image 🙂

  3. Genius. I am talking about you AND Christopher Chong. Can’t wait to sniff this one. Thanks for yet another moving review! xoxo

    1. Jen, if not for the fact that I’m just shy of face-planting on my keyboard after 3 1/2 hours sleep and some highly disturbing dreams…:D…I’d be floating on air! Christopher is indeed a genius, and does things and goes places no one else goes or does…and although I’m no genius, his ideas take me and my words places I never even knew I wanted or needed to go. Ah, but I am so grateful that I did! 😉

      You’re in for a treat! Just sayin’! 🙂

  4. I adore Amber and this review has me dying to take the journey on the wings of this Amouage amber! Thanks so much. I wait with baited breath!

    Gloria xoxo Thanks.

  5. Thanks very much indeed for the touching gesture of linking to my blog, but may I say that I think you HAVE written the review you should have written! It’s great to see how much you enjoyed the scent.

    By the way, I wish we all linked to each other more often. It doesn’t make sense that we don’t.

  6. Persolaise – as for the link – you’re welcome. I thought that since this is such a white-hot stop press item and not many reviews are out yet that I know of, readers might want your own flawless take.

    Maybe this IS the review I should have written, but some day, I should write that story down, too, just for kicks!

    I’m going to try to make a point of linking to other blogs more often – and that will usually mean yours, too! Those who waft the words should spread the words about each other, I think! That makes all the sense – and all the scents! – in the world! 😉

  7. Amouage … it’s the perfume house that most consistently slays this perfume lover, that’s for certain. I think that when my checkbook is in the free and clear, I’ll be purchasing Amouage Opus I, as it’s just so me, but I can’t wait to try this one, too, Tarleisio. Thanks for the wonderful review, you sweet temptress!

    1. Suzanne, something I’ve noticed in the course of my…fragrant adventures?…is that once you familiarize yourself with a house’s aesthetic vocabulary – and they all have one, or at least, the best ones do! – is you tend to have certain expectations for new releases. This is a most dangerous thing, since it takes away that element of surprise. Amouage does indeed have its own vernacular, but I have to say it – it hasn’t lost that element of surprise, either! And Scent Twin, let me tell you…was I ever… surprised! I had nothing to go on except the perfume itself and my own nose. And to follow where it took me, as it certainly did! 🙂 Temptation is a perilous thing…as you know! 😉

  8. I have read nothing but knock out good reports of this one, though the opening worries me a bit – I don’t care for Ambre Sultan one bit.

    I think Opus VI simply has to be tried though – it sounds like nothing short of a transcendental experience!

    1. Well, Vanessa..knowing something about your tastes in perfume, I’m not sure how you’d feel about this one, since it shares quite a bit of that whole “take-no-prisoners-and-leave-no-one-standing” philosophy of most Amouages. But try it I do believe you must – it was certainly transcendental to me and not a few others, too! I haven’t often encountered a perfume that had such a hold on my imagination it was ALL I wanted to wear! 😉

  9. We sampled Opus VI today and we felt we had to review it today too. We also think we need to get a bottle ASAP. Maybe not today, but perhaps in a few days.
    Pity we only have budget for one Amouage this time. We’ll toss the coin between Epic and Opus VI

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