Friday, March 25, 2011

Amouage Library Collection Opus V: fragrance review

People have been complaining about the Library Collection in Amouage comparing it to the other symphonic pieces in the house's portfolio and finding the fragrances (Opus I, II, III and IV) leaner and sparser; ultimately non as satisfying. Beside a full Wagnerian orchestra playing a Gesamtkunstwerk, like Gold or Jubilation 25, anyone would be deemed lacking. But further testing of the opera in the Library Collection confirms a theory I had that this is the "niche" sub-brand within the house (which is already niche enough), focusing on specific raw materials or accords and highlighting specific ideas which are themselves treated in a less complex, less dense manner.

They resemble études, rather than orchestral pieces: Indeed Opus I is a study in bigarade and what it does to lush florals. Opus II is a classic (and therefore somewhat predictable) spicy incense. Opus III is a violet étude, exploring both the confectionary aspects and the greener, leafy facets. I can't say I was impressed enough with Opus IV to retain a vivid impression. Opus V however is another one which investigates in more detail the various aspects of one material: iris/orris this time.

If I were to characterise Opus V, I would say it is a woody floral built on the facets of iris with a coda on agarwood. I can't stress enough that if you are to like Opus V, you have to be simpatico to iris, that strange rhizome note that can smell delicately of upturned earth, dusty old papers, boiled carrots and face powder.
Iris fragrances as compositions, run the gamut: from almost non-existent iris wrapped in a woody embrace with mastic accents, such as in Infusion d'Iris by Prada; to true irises taking on funereal melancholy like Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens; to surprising, astounding irises which pair the grey note of iris to the bright note of peach as in legendary Iris Gris by Fath; to calorific, chocolate-laced irises such as Iris Ganache by Guerlain or almond-laced ones such as Iris by Hilde Soliani. Not to mention other fragrances which although not pertaining to be a stand-alone iris, they feature copious amounts of it nevertheless, case of Chanel No.19 or Heure Exquise in point. In short, there's something for anyone in the marketand every niche company has their own. Why? Because "orris butter", the concentrated iris rhizome produced the traditional way, macerated for a long time, three years at least, but modern procedures have cut down that interval in the production, resulting in only three-months maceration time.

Opus V by Amouage opens on a lightly metallic, almost boozy note of silvery iris. It feels like sipping gin & tonic under a crepuscular sky with the uncertain temperatures of an April evening. Not particularly dry nor sweetened by other notes, it stages the scene for its expressive range in the next stage. Soon perfumer Jacques Cavallier flanks the composition with woodier notes, subtle, only slightly bitter (agarwood is mentioned, but I suspect some cedar and Iso-E Super as well), with underpinnings of suede, a soft mantle over delicate shoulders. Although the introduction wasn't sweet, as time passes a small subfacet of sweetness emerges, very mollified, without powdery aspects, just to annul the funereal aspects of iris. Indeed anyone who has been scared off by Iris Silver Mist will find a tamer, more friendly iris in Opus V and one which projects at a lower scale. The progression is seamless and feels natural, without the classical pyramidal structure. The lasting power is satisfactory, although the sillage is much lower than many of the other Amouage fragrances which announce their presence in no uncertain terms. If you were waiting for a typical Amouage, you might be advised to look in the main line of the house, because you won't find it here. Opus V is rather intimate and should be enjoyed in moments of a certain introspection or close quarters at the very least for it to highlight its best qualities.
Even though I find it perfectly pleasing, the inclusion of an iris composition in the line seems rather a compulsive move and for that it leaves me a little apprehensive.

Notes for Amouage Opus V:
Top: Orris absolute, rum
Heart: Orris concrete, rose, jasmine
Base: agarwood, civet, dry wood accord

Opus V will be available for purchase through Amouage and their respective boutiques, as well as online retailers which carry the brand. Amouage have uploaded a very conceptual short film on their site concerning the Library collection (lovely sight). Catch it on the Amouage site.

One deluxe sample sprayer will be given to a lucky reader. Please state in the comments if you like Amouage fragrances, or not, and why. Draw is open till Sunday 27th midnight.

Paining Black Iris by Georgia O'Keefe, 1906.
Disclosure: I was sent an advance sample mini from the company for reviewing purposes.


  1. Anonymous10:24

    I like them but I haven't had opportunity to test all, especially those newer. I own Amouage Dia, that's nice and elegant. Alica - alica@cleis.net

  2. Oh, I like Amouage, Lyric is one of my all-time favorites (I'm really getting on my own nerves saying this over and over again but I just can't help it).
    I'm one of those people who weren't terribly impressed with first 3 Opuses but would love to try this one - iris is one note I love discovering over and over again as it's always different.

  3. I've tested a few.. It's so lush & "gorgeous" that I rarely have the right opportunity to wear it in public)
    But the IRIS..it sounds exiting!

  4. The combination of the words iris and Amouage has me on the edge of my seat in anticipation. I love Amouage Memoir and Lyric (okay and Epic as well), but did not care so much for the Library Collection so far. Maybe this will remedy that?
    Thank you for the draw, dear E. I would love to win this!

  5. dleep15:48

    I have loved the two Amouage fragrances that I have tried (Jubilation 25 and Lyric). I would love to be in your drawing. Thank you.

  6. Thus far, I have not been overly impressed with the Library Collection. I smell quality, but just not my style. Right now, I am fast wearing out my sample of Ubar and wanting it badly.

  7. I haven't had the opportunity to sample any Amouage fragrances, and, while I realize Opus V is not typical of the house, I would love to give it a try! I love the plushness and melancholy that iris lends to fragrances, so this sounds like something I'd like.

  8. BARBARA O16:18

    Never tried it but would like to try.

  9. I've never had the opportunity to test Amouage, but would love to try.

    For me the Library Collection seems to be their 'French' or 'Western perfumery' line, whereas the main house has a focus on 'Eastern perfumery for the western market.'

  10. Anonymous17:09

    Another reader yet to try Amouage's Library Collection: the notes for Opus V appeal greatly.

    I enjoyed the clever animation in the film although there was part of me that was anxious about damage being done to the book's pages! I love books.

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

  11. Anonymous18:16

    I Love Memoir Woman. Today I wear Jubilation 25 and enjoy every note of it.
    I like Amouage fragrances for their personality.

    Opus V sounds great. This is a must try as I love the iris note/ flower.


  12. Eva S18:18

    I've never tried any scents from Amouage (I've never come across them in Sweden) but I would love to try this. I only have one iris scent so far-Iris Ukiyoé, which I really enjoy. A woody and not so sweeet scent sounds like something that would suit me.
    Thanks for the draw,
    Eva S (Sweden)

  13. I'm afraid I've never experienced any Amouage fragrances, but I'd love the opportunity. Many thanks for the draw!

  14. Another one who has never tried any Amouage fragrance. So far, there is no place to find them in Spain.
    But I have always wanted to smell one of them, and Opus V seems to be right up my alley, because it happens that I love iris and woods :)

    Thanks for the draw!

  15. Oh! I was reading this and thinking "this one sounds right up my friend's alley, I need to point it to her attention". better yet -- I can WIN it and send her my vial after I try it of course!

    I think I love Amouage fragrances. I truly loved Gold, it was love at first sniff. I am afraid to use up sample vial because I will have to buy it then. But I do think of it often. I liked Lyric Woman, but I did not find it as something to love. But again, this time with no apprehension, I keep coming back to sample vial and enjoying it. I was swept off my feet by Memoir Woman -- it tells me a story of my college tears, but this is not a story I always want to revisit (you should feel free to run your imagination out of gas here). But I am not giving up my sample vial because I do want to revisit these years, dive in them and maybe become forever free.

    I tried and did not like Opus II, but I have the other opuses to try on my list. Would love to try V and will certainly share it with my friend who, I know, will love it. Every single thing about it sounds right up her alley. Thanks for the draw. Fortuna cannot be predicted, of course, but I am hopeful.

  16. Patrick20:19

    Amouage is one of my favorite houses. I own big bottles of Gold Man, Epic Man, Ubar, Jubilation Women, Lyric Women, Homage Attar, and Opus IV. These scents are opulent, rich, long lasting, and take one on an olifactory roller coaster ride throughout wearing. No solinote, linear progressions. Hence, I am dying to test Opus V. Iris is one of my favorites, too. Thanks for the drawing,
    Patrick, pegrysan@yahoo.com

  17. I too am an Amouage fan & have several. I find that I like Opus IV the more I wear it with - never thought I would enjoy cumin! Am looking forward to trying Opus V

  18. I don't dare like Amouage since they are soo expensive. I just can't justify it (I also have the ability to not like men who I really do like because they are not otherwise suitable - pretty neat trick, huh?) But, I have allowed myself to test several and they are indeed lovely.

  19. I absolutely adore Amouage perfumes, as evidenced by the number that I've written about on my blog. I've been slightly underwhelmed by the more recent ones though, particularly Opus IV and Memoir, but overall, the line has always smelled resolutely luxurious to me.

    I don't think Amouage have ventured much (if at all) along the iris path so would be curious to experience their take of the note.


  20. I love anything Amouage. I have Dia, Lyric, & Ubar. My fave in the Opus collection was III. I am curious, excited, to see what Amouage has done with Iris in this fragrance!!!!

  21. I would absolutely love to try this fragrance, as I love iris, and it sounds like an iris I could appreciate.
    I do like Amouage fragrances, as far as I have sampled (which isn't very far yet) ... I really enjoyed Epic. Like a ton. I secretly want a bottle quite badly, but I can't even think that thought or my universe will implode, and I won't be able to buy enough food to feed myself.
    I would like to sample more of the main line, and try some of the Opus fragrances. Because while I really do appreciate the full-on masterpiece, it's never something that I could wear everyday, or casually.

  22. I like many of the Amouage's creations. Not all of those I wouldn't mind wearing I will end up buying since the price limits my commitment to only those I absolutely love (e.g. Ubar, Lyric) but I enjoyed sampling of many others and still might consider buying decants or mini bottles of several.

  23. london20:01

    I like Epic Woman and wish I had a decant and like Lyric Woman and own a bottle that I regret. I also like Jubilation XXV. But somehow none of them are me. They wear me not the other way round. I like the fact that this one sounds a bit more subtle.

  24. I've never tried any of Amouages Library scents. I'm hoarding my Gold, Jubilation 25, and Ubar (all for women) like it's going out of style. Needless to say I am curious.

  25. classflirt@etsy00:23

    do i like amouage...? hmmmm. what i've smelled impresses and somewhat overwhelms me but i haven't whiffed enough to make an across the board declaration. however, i LOVE iris and so much want to try this. one thing i do believe is that amouage does whatever it does very, very well so i'm certain that this one will be perfect. yes, please enter me in the draw. this is probably the first draw i'm desperate to win!

  26. Gisela10:24

    I love my Amouage Gold and my husband's Jubilation. Epic Woman is stunning but makes my throat scratchy, which is better for my wallet!

  27. I like (and own) a few of the Amouage fragrances. Favorites include: Jubilation 25, Dia, Gold, Epic Woman, Tribute Attar and Homage Attar. So far, I am not crazy about the Library Collection, with IV being my least favorite. But V sounds lovely and I would very much like to try it.

  28. Anonymous15:52

    Love Amouage - own a discounted bottle of Jubilation 25, a solid of Dia and a decant of Homage Attar. Haven't tested these Opuses thoroughly yet but found Opus I interesting. I adore iris (from L'AP Iris Pallida and Legendary Fragrances Iris Gris recreation to AG Heure Exquise) and would love to sample this one! Thanks for the lovely review and for organizing the sample draw, nozknoz

  29. I like Amouage and would love to be in the drawing. The only bottle I own is Dia Man, and it's one of my top 10. I find Jubilation XXV more interesting than lovable. I do have a bit of an iris obsession, since MPG's Iris Blue Gris.

  30. I am less familiar with the Library fragrances but have enjoyed the other offerings from Amouage for their lush richness. Sadly, they are soooooo expensive. Some day I hope to buy my favorite, Lyric Woman.
    Thanks for the draw.

  31. I never had too much chance to sample the Amouage stuff and I must admit that all that 'we're oh-so-posh' air is rather dissuading. From what I've tried, the fragrances are of the sort that if I got them for my birthday, I'd pour them into a visually tolerable decanter and be happy but I wouldn't spend my money on them.

    Obviously, I'm happily waiting to be proven wrong:D

  32. I have not tested many either, but Jubilation 25 is among the most sophistcated and interesting scents I have tried; I absolutely love it! Have also tried Gold, Dia and some others, but none in the Opus-line,without being tempted to own these. As I like iris, I would very much like to try this one!

  33. Starscent06:17

    Amouage scents are fascinating and awesome to smell but uncomfortable to wear - like carrying around a major work of art all day, heavy frame and all. I hope the new iris scent is beautifiul and interesting, without being unwearable as a perfume.

  34. Rum and orris give Opus V a scent of soil. The agarwood, also subterranean, resonates in this juice like from a "woofer". elena, you are right about it not being comparable to the rest of the line - this one is so special!!

  35. coel08:26

    i have tried five, own one,jubilation 25. memoire ...divinely thought-provoking, is one of the highest on my list...for the next time.


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