Tag Archives: Christopher Chong

Neon Dazzle, Amouage Imitation Duet

I’m too young to attest it and I don’t live in the US but apparently New York City life of 1970’s was as vivid as a kaleidoscope and as bright as blinding neon lights. They say that the city smelled of plastic, vinyl and leather. To me it sounds like a mix of something exciting and appalling. Creative direction given by Amouage‘s Christopher Chong is his personal narrative that takes us to Studio 54 and to downtown NYC. ‘Life imitates art’ is the slogan that fronts this new duet. Even though I don’t consider Amouage as ‘my’ brand I was curious to smell Imitation and discover what it has to offer.

imitation-woman

As soon as I spray Imitation Woman on my wrist I am bedazzled by brightness and intensity of this composition. Right from the start I can clearly smell a delicious blackcurrant. The juiciness and gentle tartness combined in it make my mouth water in an instant. Unfortunately just a few whiffs later it becomes incredibly sweet, with that sugar syrupy effect that makes my teeth tremble in their gums. It just becomes a fruity, lolipop-like dollop. Appearance of ylang-ylang makes the perfume more creamy, lactonic and introduces a floral vibe of tropical places. Licorice is a provider of even more sweetness in Imitation Woman but it’s of more rooty, darker and chewier kind. It takes up to one hour before the sickly sweetness dissipates enough to make the perfume more enjoyable.

Further into its development, Imitation Woman gains an aldehydic facet – it’s somewhat oily and fatty, adding more space to the scent and making it less dense than it was at the beginning. At some point an orchestra of flowers takes over. A sultry and vibrant rose seems to be dominating on my skin. In its surroundings there is also a bit of a heady jasmine and rich orange blossom. Both of these flower notes present their valor in elegant way. Amouage fragrance probably couldn’t do without frankincense so of course you’ll find it in the new duet as well. It’s pretty well veiled – it’s ylang that hides it especially well, so don’t expect a lot of smokiness. Base of sandalwood and patchouli is substantive and balsamic, giving a solid foundation to this neon fruity & floral concoction.

imitation-man

Imitation Man provides a completely different dimension of experience compared to its feminine counterpart. It’s actually pretty hard to believe that they are a duet. Masculine version of Amouage Imitation begins with a dry nutmeg accord that reminds me of the scent of parchment. It’s been paired with black pepper that enriches the composition with a metallic edge and toned down yet vibrant spiciness and warmth. After a few minutes iris enters and steals all the spotlight. It’s a brilliant smell of orris root – its earthy, buttery and creamy facets entwine with each other in some sort of abstract performance that is out of this world. When the perfume dissipates some pleasant & powdery tonalties also start to reach my nose. Iris is a true piece of art. in this fragrance.

After some time there’s a gradual transition from iris to leather. This change happens seamlessly and I find this leather to be soft and plushy. At least for a while, until castoreum appears. With its arrival Imitation Man becomes slightly animalic but it’s still polite and well-behaved. Just slightly more grungy and dirty than without it. Later on the aroma of violet appears; somewhat watery-floral, somewhat candied. It’s this small feminine element of the fragrance that makes a difference. Rose adds more bright color to the new Amouage. My feeling is that this perfume belongs more to the darker side. Combination of myrrh and vetiver make drydown smell resinous, balsamic and woody. None of them is dominating. The whole creation is mysterious and has a dusky character.

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I may not like the word ‘imitation’ as a perfume name as it just doesn’t sound good in my ears (makes me think of fake) but I have to admit the new Amouage proposal, especially Imitation Man is the first fragrance in years that I really like from this Oman based perfume house. And the feminine one is also good if you can survive its almost ‘nuclear’ sweetness in the opening. Both fragrances have great longevity, Woman version is quite loud while Man one is more quiet. Imitation Man and Imitation Woman were created by perfumers Leslie Girard and Pierre Negrin respectively.

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Dragons and amulets, Amouage Journey duet

Most of you probably remember that the launch of Fate duet in 2013 marked the end of the story that was being told by Amouage for a couple of years. Both the men and the women went through different stages of their life and finally they met with their desity, with their fate. That story is now over. What happens when one tale reaches its finale? Yes, you’re right – a new narration begins. This year, this very season the luxurious Oman-based house introduces a new tale – Journey.

Amouage Journey Men and Journey Woman offer us an olfactive journey, both in terms of geography and timeline. We’re heading to the far east and we need to move back in time. The inspiration for this new perfume duet lies somewhere on the streets of Shanghai from 1920s. Chinese origins of new Amouages are accentuated by an oriental character of both compositions and also by the colors used for the bottles, which are absolutely not accidental.

From the very first whiff of Amouage Journey Men I’m treated to a heady and strong dose of leather. It’s dark and intensive, slowly losing its pungency during the next couple of minutes. Shortly it is followed by the aroma of cypriol (nagarmotha) which adds the dense scent of something oily, mineral and abstract. From the moment of application this perfume also has the warm and a bit sharp aroma of spices: cardamom and pepper. Come to think of it, the opening reminds me intensively of Opus VII but Journey is much more polite and not as beasty as the 7th Library Collection tome.

When the opening stage dissipates a little bit the fragrance begins to change and it becomes less and less similar to Opus VII. I can smell the juniper berries that create the aromatic environment around the wearer. Along with this note goes a little bit cold and metallic sensation that is so-so to my liking. On the other hand I totally adore the incense accord prepared for Journey Men. It’s smoky and it’s a tad dark but it’s not very heavy, there’s definitely some airyness to it. To me it feels spiritual, contemplative. What I also like about this part is that it smells warm and cold at the same time. Colder when combined with juniper, warmer when paired with pepper.

Continuing the journey of discovering Amouage Journey Men I start to detect the tobacco accord after a few hours. And it’s gorgeous. It’s smoked, aromatic, kind of making me think of a pipe tobacco. There’s some specific hay-like nuance behind this note which is especially to my liking. The drydown comes in after around 6 hours and it’s very warm. The tenderness of tonka bean is coupled with more leather (this time a softer kind) and there’s also a bunch of ambrox crystals dissolved in the composition. They create the enveloping, slightly sweet and vanillic aura that hovers above the skin. In my case, the perfume melted with the skin at some point – I felt so good in it!

The presence of Amouage Journey Woman reveals on my skin with a basket full of ripe apricots. They effuse a fruity and juicy aroma which is also a little bit powdery in my opinion. You can smell the orange-colored pulp and the soft and fuzzy peel. This accord stands out for around 20-30 minutes and them the jasmine tea note becomes more and more prominent. It grows stronger, emanating the mild aroma of tea, green tea I suppose. You can also smell the tannins coming from the warm brew. The opening aspect of the perfume is additionally highlighted with osmanthus. I always associated it with apricots and tea smell . Here it just adds the oomph to these two notes.

After 2-3 hours the fragrance evolves. It goes from a moderate warmth and spiciness of nutmeg and cardamom to more glamorous and perfectly styled flowers. Jasmine sambac doesn’t smell of indol in Journey Woman. It’s not beasty but more reserved, shy – not exactly. White flowers bouquet gains a little bit of yellow color thanks to mimosa. It adds the aspect of a wild flowers pollen and it also serves a dose of powdery sensations to my nose. As the time flies the composition becomes more tender. There’s a woody aspect of cedarwood but it’s muted by a velvety, bit sweet molecules of honey. It covers the wood with a shiny, golden layer, preventing it to veer to the sweaty territory.

Many hours and a few rearrangements later the base notes of the composition are revealed. To me the pipe tobacco accord in Amouage Journey Woman doesn’t smell like tobacco. Yes, I smell something a little bit smoky but my skin gives it more resinous context. That I can’t explain. Saffron entwines with vanilla to create a vortex of warm, tender, brightly spicy and creamy sweet flavors. I didn’t smell much cypriol (good!) and musk I found to be also creamy, lactonic and with a hint of animalic qualities that never become dominating.

Fragrances in Amouage Journey duet were created by Pierre Negrin and Alberto Morillas with a creative advisory of Amouage’s Creative Director – Christopher Chong. So far it is not known if the perfumers worket together on both scents or if they worked separately, each on one fragrance. Both fragrances are eau de parfum concentrated, they will be available in June in sizes of 50ml and 100ml. Bottles are golden on the sides and crimson on the front with brand’s name and logo – these colors are traditional in Chinese cultulre. The box is golden with cromson rings and white rectangles.

Honesty time. I like both Journey Men and Journey Womanbut I’m not in love with them. Judging just by the notes I was expecting to like the female version more (again!) but after sampling them it turns out that the men interpretation is much more to my liking (can you imagine?) Journey Men started strong, then became quiet and after 8 hours it was completely gone. Journey Woman had a moderate sillage for most of the time, this one lasted 2 hours longer on me than the male equivalent. You go try it yourself, I’m thinking my skin wasn’t made for the Arabic-style perfumery…

[note] Preview samples of two new scents were provided by Amouage and Christopher Chong.

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