As the days shuffle us along more than halfway of the year, I found that there was a hidden longing for something more than just waiting for the next day to arrive. The feeling was akin to nostalgia tinged with the burning desire for something new as if either could provide a breakthrough for the soul.
Perhaps that feeling was what was inflamed by the revamped Library Collection revealed this summer by the House of Amouage. The Library Collection is an homage to the knowledge and stories pressed within time by mankind. It is here, Amouage places some of their most experimental fragrances, branching from their traditional Oman roots into portraying not just a beautiful combination of scents but bringing about an immersive world that leaves room for exploration and questioning.
Unexpectedly, upon trying these experiences for myself, I was reminded of an old love. One that had grown dusted from time untouched yet still desired to be embraced. Raised on a diet of classical literature, folklore, and romantic adventures, my youth was coupled closely with that of my local library. Not as marvelous or as gilded as many seen across the globe, my library supplemented my curiosity and idealistic self across many many years. I can imagine many New Yorkers who grew up here before the internet existed in every home could probably say the same where their own local library gave them a sense of community, security and safety while they traversed new frontiers and dived into deeper knowledge within the pages of a book.
This collection centers around four key unisex fragrances that I would rather call “momentary scents” for each one introduced to me a scenic visual transcendent of time. For all of these fragrances, I wanted to go in blind to get an honest experience inspired by the piece itself without any expectations other than from its name. Each fragrance will be talked about in the same way: the name of fragrance, my experience and lastly listing the notes of the fragrance. While each person may achieve a different story from the mere mingling of scent and skin, by sharing my individualistic experience I hope I can help convey the craftsmanship and care behind the artwork.
1. Opus V | Woods Symphony
Created in 2011 by renowned perfumer Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud, Woods Symphony’s namesake sounds like your typical earthy fragrance. A fan of earthy fragrances myself, I had naively assumed my own future of indulging in rich loamy soil and lush greenery prior to even trying it on. Perhaps this is what led me to be so unprepared for my experience with this fragrance.
My journey into these woods began with trees made of plastic, red metallic fruit, and someone humming a tune in the distance while brewing tea accompanied by the sound of scratching discordant instruments.
Within my boldness, I found the uncanniness jarring against the old tales of woods I was familiar with and perhaps this is the honest description of how it feels to be brought up in times of analog before just turning into the digital age. My books are now made of 0s and 1s, my tales are told with AI voices.
However, is this a bad thing?
Woods Symphony was actually the sensual envisionment on how humans would live with machines. Earthy and mechanized bits interplay as the notes linger on the skin, and while the initial setback still occurs, the interaction itself is the thesis that nature and machines can coincide with humans being the true landscape and landscaper of the future.
While Woods Symphony did not bring me the comfort of traditional lush arboraceous scents, it did bring me hope that I cannot know what harmony will look like because most likely it’ll surprise me.
2. Opus VII | Reckless Leather
Reckless Leather was created in 2013 by the two perfumers Alberto Morillas and Pierre Négrin. While some may stop at describing it as a mere collaboration, after trying this fragrance on for myself I wholly feel it echoes more of the passionate spirit and what two like minded souls can create together.
Upon first trying out this fragrance I was surprised by the clarity of the visual my mind conjured up. I was in a convertible, roof down, with tan leather seats enveloping me. To my right is all in one – a stranger, a lover and a friend. The vehicle speeds down an empty road partially shadowed by woods running alongside our path.
Each time I breathed into this scent, I found myself getting lost within the sweet musk glazed by warm spiced hues. It is a deeply sensual scent that can only be described as running your hands through dark hair highlighted by starlight strands of gray, and breathing deeply into the freedom and danger of love on the road.
This fragrance was concepted around the seductive qualities of knowledge, suggesting that more so than physical sexuality, sapiosexuality exists on a more powerful and all encompassing existential plane.
It feels both frightening and freeing to indulge in this fragrance and reminds me of the desire of a wild lover who constantly encourages you into new exciting experiences. The vulnerability of living in the wild vastness of the world and all it contains is quieted by sharing that moment with another, knowing you are safe within the knowledge of their years.
The roles here can float in any direction, which is why I felt that it is perfect that a notation on the seduction of knowledge was created by two individuals, as what else but a perfect match can illustrate the power of true connection.
This fragrance is very bold and not for everyone, but if you choose to wear it, it is unforgettable.
Top: Pink Pepper, Galbanum, Nutmeg, Fenugreek, Cardamom
Heart: Oud, Ambroxan, Leather, Ambergris, Patchouli
Base: Costus, Muscone, Frankincense, Cypriol, Sandalwood
3. Opus XII | Rose Incense
Opux XII Rose Incense created by Bruno Jovanovic, was inspired by the underlying story behind Citizen Kane. The concept centralized here is that only childhood memories are real. A bold statement in the face of a collection based on the word for a place containing meticulously recorded information, as it suggests that everything you come to know pales in comparison to a child’s mental recording of their experiences.
Jovanovic is placing the power back in the child, as when we are children we form what is our core and through the years look to external houses of knowledge, such as books or people, to validate our internal pillars.
I found Rose Incense to be quite beguiling. It provided me with the initial painting of fresh rose petals on a bed of incense. The fragrance felt quite playful amongst the Damascus Rose with the vanilla and woody bases.
To me, this fragrance felt like an individual in their first and final form, neither one denying the other its sovereignty. In a way, our child selves become our true creators, leading the way in our choices and experiences which then form the memories we receive then accept before we turn to dust.
In this fragrance, I saw the visage of an old woman decorated in black lace and deep red brocade. Her eyes lined with deep kohl liner looked beside her where a small girl was dancing. She smiled upon who she knew to be her child self.
Rose Incense becomes the delicate embrace of recognition from yourself as an experienced being, that your child self is the true internal knowledge leader whose memories outline the tracing we follow for the rest of our lives.
4. Opus XIII | Silver Oud
The last fragrance of the core Library Collection is Opus XIII Silver Oud. Created by Cécile Zarokian, Silver Oud was formed out of the desire to develop an oud fragrance unique to the Amouage collection as well as tell the decadent story of the French novel Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black) by 19th century writer Stendhal.
It feels almost necessary to mention the relevancy in the timing of this fragrance. During a time of worldly unrest, where we can see the further divide between who has the resources and who doesn’t, it’s intriguing that a luxury independent fragrance guides us through the telling of a man determined to climb the social ladder. The story takes place during the Bourbon Revolution, after the French Revolution had done its damage and society was attempting to rebuild itself. During this time of peace, we see the transformation of an intellectual individual utilizing their own desires and passions to navigate through the higher tresses of society only to be felled by their own means.
Silver Oud in its complexity follows the tale in its three acts labeled as Confusion, Passion and Destruction.
Upon that first application of the fragrance, It felt like I was wading in and out of a memory. Notes sidled in slowly, as if I was awakening upon grounds covered chaotically in flowers and wood chips.
Following it came green medicinal, herbaceous offerings. A wave of spice shouted noisily and I felt pulled through a maze-like marketplace, passing by sellers of trinkets and tapestries. Carpets, tea sets, and hidden glimmering wares rushed by me until I felt gently placed upon a seat made from animal hide.
In this final act, I felt like I was sitting in a dimly lit room with only a candle as a source of light. Once the candle was done, darkness filled the room and the dream was over, leaving me with smoke and a sultry char.
As the fragrance slowly merged within my skin, it felt almost jarring to be present. To have such a moment happen over just a few seconds, forced me to pause to collect my thoughts.
It really is a feat to transform one medium to another. We see it happen a lot from books to movies but rarely do we see a translation between mediums based on different senses. Silver Oud is a beautiful transformative scent that acts as a spiritual facilitator, carrying the mind through the potential dark paths of humanity and bringing it back to your corporal form while it imprints an invisible mark on your skin.
There is beauty in being able to sensually experience what decadence can feel like. We witness people just like the main character, and also within ourselves, individuals trying to climb out of wherever they are and being led by passions to the point of self destruction. It is not an easy transformation, but some lessons while dark are what is needed to bring clarity on how you choose to live your life.
In the current times of change and restlessness, Silver Oud allows us all a dramatic pause, bringing a new understanding upon what our own transformation process looks like and what beautiful destruction awaits.
I am deeply enthralled with all of the core fragrances in the Library Collection. Amouage holds its quality high and pushes the boundaries of what a scent on your skin can hold. Memories, journeys, seductive invitations and hidden mysteries, this collection is truly artwork that after I had experienced it I had felt changed. This beloved indie perfumery has captured my breath in a way that all fragrances beyond this point will have to hold up to the imprint of its sillage. While these are my own thoughts, opinions and experiences, I invite others to their own quiet communion with the fragrances of the Library Collection and what knowledge it has to offer.
Amouage offers a travel set for the curious mind and full sizes for the bold.