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