A Renaissance Man


– a review of AmouageBeloved Man’

Sometimes, assumptions can be dangerous. Dangerous, because assumptions lead to expectations, expectations are not always fulfilled, and disappointment can be deadly. If I have a credo I try my utmost to live by, it’s that I might as well bite the bullet and expect the unexpected. It’s one way to save what’s left of  my sanity.

This was brought home when I received the hotly anticipated Amouage Beloved Man, anticipated because c’mon, it’s an Amouage!, and hotly since Beloved Woman blew so many of us away last year, yours truly included.

Of all the many things I so adore about the house of Amouage, one of them is the unique way their masculine and feminine perfumes play off and enrich each other – as if they exude two sides of the same eternal stories; The Age of Opulence (Gold), Grand Adventures (Epic), Great Expectations (Jubilation), A Haunting Affair (Memoir), The Memory of Loss (Honour), or even Beautiful Chaos (Interlude).

It could be me and my own warped perspective, it could even be my warped nose for all I know, but every Amouage I’ve ever encountered tells a story to a degree very few other perfumes do, and that’s something else to love about them.

In my own not-so-humble opinion, Amouage creates some of the Best Masculines On Planet Earth. In the (unlikely, if not impossible) event someone walks through my door with the intention to stay a while, he is doomed in more ways than one. To wear an Amouage (or three) is a given. No questions and no quarter. I shall insist. Nicely. If all else fails, I’ll quote the Universal Law of Dividends With Compound Interest.

So what – or who? – is this Beloved Man? Inspired by the 1980 movie ‘Somewhere in Time’ starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, Beloved Man is a bit of a departure from the usual Amouage masculines, less operatic, brighter and more timeless in feel and aura. It starts with elemi on me, all a summer-bright, charming, citrusy burst of light and ‘Hello, there!’ On this woman, it makes a definite statement, a subversive statement to femininity akin to wearing a tux with heels. Slowly – it would be far too obvious to give it all away too soon – the bright beginning fades as floral notes begin to bloom.

Geranium, jasmine and iris, says my note list, but just as in Beloved Woman (also created by Bernard Ellena), they’re seamlessly, flawlessly blended. I could tell you that it begins with geranium and ends with a deliciously dark, grassy, leather-tinged iris, but as it shifts and moves and evolves and involves you through the hours and the day, it grows lusher, woodier and, dare I write it, even a touch melancholy, a surprising twilit twist on a perfume that begins with such a luminous burst of light.

If you somehow expected your usual Amouage rollercoaster ride (or wafts of Wagnerian scope, scale and pitch), you’ll be in for a surprise. Beloved Man is none of that. Instead of rewriting the rule book of machismo with a capital M, it tells its story in a lower, more understated key. The surprises in its depth will find you, not the other way around, like all the most evocative fragrant love stories, the ones we remember the longest and best. Next to Beloved Woman, it tells that other story of definition…no need to conform to a script, only a wish to transcend the rules we write as we go and the yearning we may find – through time and beyond it.

On a humdrum afternoon last week, a friend of mine dropped by. We talked about things old friends will talk about, and in the course of our conversation (I wasn’t about to waste an opportunity with testosterone in the room), out came Beloved Man. He graciously offered his left arm to Art. Up came the Armani sleeve, out came a generous spray to adorn some stellar Norse knotwork. We waited a couple of minutes for the fallout to evaporate. Next came the big surprise. Lo and behold, out of the mouth of this iconoclastic, volatile black metal aficionado, Amouage virgin and notorious thirty-something Lothario came the words:

It smells like me, but better.

Who knows – there might be hope for him yet!

But in the event I were ever to give Beloved Man to an exemplar of same, I think it would suit the kind of man who had nothing in particular to prove, a man who had no doubts about who he was or what he wanted. He has no wish to break or bend rules he doesn’t define himself, no desire to assume another identity or persona. He is, in a phrase, all of a piece. Intriguing, complex, infinitely curious and yet with a smoother, softer and no less masculine edge he isn’t afraid to show to an appreciative audience. A Renaissance man, as iconoclastic as he wants to be and as classic as he always is and also – as surely as he must be…

 A. Beloved. Man.

Some day, I hope to find him. In time – or beyond it.

Notes: Orange, grapefruit, elemi, geranium, jasmine, orris, saffron, cedarwood, gaiac wood, leather, patchouli, vetiver and musk. Longevity and sillage is outstanding (as are all Amouages), but it wears closer.

Amouage Beloved Man was created by perfumer Bernard Ellena in collaboration with Creative Director Christopher Chong.

Available as 100 ml eau de parfum (425$) from Amouage boutiques worldwide as well as Harrods in London, Tsum in Russia, Lane Crawford in Hong Kong and coming in March/April, Bergdorf Goodman in New York.

Disclosure: Sample provided for review by Amouage.

Image of Viggo Mortensen (My definition of a Renaissance polyhistor, used for illustrative purposes) via fansshare. Some rights reserved.