Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Amouage Epic for Women & Epic for Men: exclusive fragrance preview & review

It's no secret that Amouage, the Omani fim with a cult following, has impressed us with their dense, proudly classical compositions which hark back to an era of intense glamour and calculated style which by now seemed long-forgotten if not for them. As if one entered the Atlantis in Dubai and found out all the water faucets were of solid gold but made to look matte from a distance. After all, we have already lovingly reviewed the utterly gorgeous Jubilation 25 and the appealingly unusual baroque Ubar on these links, so there's no denying it.

The concept of the new Epic duo (in contrast to Ubar it is presented in both declinations, for men and women), explained when we scooped the news, is a fusion coming directly out of the Silk Route, the fabled course from China to the West through the hard desert soils of Arabia. The two new fragrances incorporate traditional Middle-Eastern notes of oud and frankincense, as well as tea and Chinese flowers representative of the Far East, like heroes crossing the steppes in their own personal quest for inward glory. Of the two I was much more swayed into contemplating a big bottle purchase by the magnificence of the feminine and let me explain why.

Amouage Epic for Men recalls an old-fashioned leathery (due to castoreum) fougère, a little reminiscent of Bel Ami or even Jules, with spicy accents and a light oud note throughout which is pleasing to me as the dense mustiness of oud usually leaves me with sensory overload unable to smell anything else. The spices, of the cool type, such as prominent cardamom, mace and nutmeg, along with the tea note, could have escaped from Cartier's Déclaration. But careful: in order to envision those notes in Epic one should picture the former's perfumer, Jean Claude Ellena, having gained a few pounds, accordingly acquiring a taste for heavier molecules and jotting down notes at a smoky oriental den where assistants bring in mysterious batches of eastern ingredients instead of the luminous and diaphanous atmosphere of Cambrais. The musky drydown phase of Epic for Men is sprinkled with incense, but the interplay of animalic with more austere elements stop it short of it being an erotic sense in the Kama Sutra sense of the word, although it possesses sensuality of its own. My man pronounced it "trying a bit too hard perhaps" despite its ~on the whole~ rather light and somber (rather than flamboyant) nature; which I deduce is his equating such scents with overt manifestations of masculinity when there is no need to. Although it is an easy entry into real oud and should have people approach it without fear, I think I prefer the more distinctive Jubilation XXV myself.

Amouage Epic for Women stands a magnificent specimen of artistic triumph for the house, its distinctive marriage of oud and rose perhaps the loveliest espousal of those precious ingredients on the market today.
The sophisticated, otherwordly character of this scent is immediately apparent, with the dark, velvety petals (underscored by complimentary geranium) unfurling into infinity under the gaze of medicinal and shadowy oud/oudh; the latter lending a strangely cool & warm aspect to the composition along with a nutty aftertaste. Greenish and fresher tonalities peek beneath the gauzy gowns like a gust of wind that surprises. This interplay of temperature has been a favoured game since at least the gothic Tubéreuse Criminelle, but it has come out to the fore again with another Lutensian composition we reviewed recently, the just launched Fille en Aiguilles. In Epic for Women the rounder ambery and floral elements underscored by a discreet sweetness conspire to produce an achingly beautiful synergy of brainy and sensuous elements fit for a princess. But its Parthian shot is there are no seductive stakes in the cards and this is a young, pensive woman (or man, who could wear this equally well) with an introspective, contemplative look who can fall hard for legends; "a faithfull heart who makes wishes come true".

Notes for Amouage Epic for Women: Cumin, pink bay, Damascena rose, cinnamon, geranium, jasmine, tea, amber, musk, incense, sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla, guiacwood, orris, aloeswood/oud.
Notes for Amouage Epic for Men:Pink pepper, cumin, cardamom, saffron, mace, nutmeg, myrtle, geranium, myrrh, aloeswood/oud, sandalwood, leather, incense, cedarwood, musk, castoreum

The two flacons for Amouage Epic reflect the well-known design of the brand now interpreted in a luminous imperial green, the colour which is thought to protect from evil in the East, decorated with a Swarovski crystal. The Eau de Parfum is presented in 50ml/1.7oz and 100ml/3.4oz bottles. Soon at select boutiques and now online at the official Amouage site. If nothing else, click to watch the oneiric video of a woman dressed in flowing black gowns (with Japonesque makeup) accompanied by the grand 2nd movement of Beethoven's 7th Symphony.
The talented creative director of Amouage, mr.Christopher Chong informed us that he will be at the Pitti exhibition in Italy in September to answer the queries of perfume enthusiasts and present the new fragrances.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Amouage scents and news
Pic of Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharrif in Lawrence of Arabia via thecia.com.au


  1. Oh, Helg, you've really got me looking forward to trying this. Interesting that you were drawn to the woman's version of Epic, as I find that in most cases with the Amouages, I much, much prefer the women's version -- they just seem more unique then the men's (particularly with Amouage Lyric, where I prefer to smell the women's version on either sex and would go so far to say that Lyric Woman smells exceptional on a guy; I think my husband wears it even better than I do). But I suppose I'm off topic...thanks for the wonderful preview of Epic!

    One more thing...I know that Jub25 is your favorite Amouage, but if you had to choose between the other two--Ubar and Epic Woman--which one would you rather have in your wardrobe?

  2. Alexandra18:44

    Sounds great, both men and woman version. I especially like to see castoreum and leather on the list (like in old and forgotten Juvena Nitchevo)

  3. Epic for Women "brainy and sensuous"? My 2 favorite flavors! I'm game!

  4. OMG--I really should swear off reading your reviews of anything from Amouage. They induce intense longing! Epic for Women is definitely going on my must-sniff list.

  5. Flora21:29

    Uh Oh. I am now officially in real trouble -Amouage is doing a rose and oud perfume?! SQUEEEEE!!!!

  6. S,

    you're most welcome and one thing I always say is if a man suits a perfume, they should wear it no matter what. Your husband must smell delicious!

    Hmm, interesting question!! I believe Epic Woman would be a contestant for a full bottle over Ubar; it's a perfect rose-oud with an interesting background of incense and muted notes which has really talked to me. And imagine: I am not the rose type at all!

  7. A,

    it does look great on paper, but it's also great on skin.

    Talk to me about the Juvena Nitchevo, please!!

  8. Katie,

    I think you will like it a lot, it's very distinctive and it has that duality which is at the heart of many truly great perfumes. I prefer it the Montale oud combinations with rose.

    Hope you review it yourself in your witty style soon!!

  9. M,

    for once (he!) I am not going to discourage you from seeking this pricey thing out. If I had a bottle of Epic myself I'd be sending off samples right and left for people to sample it, but alas I do not (yet), so for the time being it will have to be my word. But LOL, it's sniff-worthy to be sure. I think you'll like it a LOT!

  10. F,

    yeah, I know. Ain't life grand! When one's wishing the familiar drugstore brand will do something really earth-shattering for a change, there comes the shiekh and he has the treasures on Arabia on a gold-gilded horse at some mythical place where you have to jump hoops to get it (translation: work our @ss off to amass the money to buy it! LOL)

    Do try to sniff, it's very good. Mr.Christopher Chong knows a thing or two about creative direction!

  11. Rappleyea22:35

    Wonderful review as always. I have yet to try a rose and oud fragrance and your pronouncement that this one is the loveliest of the genre is high praise indeed!

    I'm not much of a bottle person, but that emerald bottle got me the first time you ran the pic! I imagine a decant would be expensive enough let alone a full bottle!

  12. Anonymous22:47

    Thank you all for the kind words about Epic for woman. I am grateful to three wonderful noses who transformed my vision into reality -thank you Cecile Zarokian, Daniel Maurel and Angeline Leporini.

    Christopher Chong

  13. Alexandra11:38

    Juvena Nitchevo was leather chypre. I don`t know if you`ve tried Lapidus Creation, that one is fruity chypre. In Creation there is a strong fruit note at start, but very quickly moss is taking control and balancing the sweetness. Nitchevo is similar in a way, but there is no fruit at all, just strong animalic leather + moss (that mossy part is same like in Creation). Opening is pure perfection, animalic leather, and very strong, but unfortunately it fades away and becomes much weaker after 10min. It was available only in splash bottles and now is impossible to find, and I mean really impossible, not *very expensive* impossible. Still, because of that quick loss of strenght I`m not utterly desperate about not owning it, but that opening was pure perfection.

  14. D,

    thanks my dear for the kind words, much appreciated.
    The emerald shade is breath-taking, I have a thing for emeralds (and a collection to match) and it caught my eye from the very first as well. But the scent is what sealed the deal, very distinctive. I am aching at the high prices, but what can we do...quality does fetch $$ very often.

  15. Mr.Chong,

    thank you so much for the additional info and please note I am adding them to the body of the review. As always a great coup, wishing you much success with it!

  16. A,

    aha! Thanks for all the info. Leather chypre is a special category of scents, they often can be sublime, so my interest is piqued naturally. I think I'd like it! Let's see if a collector of Juvena Nitchevo takes pity on me and sends me a little to find out how it smells ;-)

  17. Very truely said Katie "Amouage is the heart of many truly great perfumes"....

  18. Did she? :-)

    I wish you wouldn't advertise for free like that. Maybe mail me directly?

  19. Interesting post! I love amouage perfumes but they are so expensive! But this new one... Epic, i received a test monster... but what a smell... GREAT!

  20. Thanks for this review. I have just tried Epic for women and am saving money for a big bottle. The fragrances from this house are so
    subtle and refreshing that I have lost my enthusiasm for other houses. Searching around for others is now a part of my past.


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