One day, I was coming out of the Book Centre and he was coming out – both of us with our respective friends, and both of us in our Catholic school uniforms. As we passed each other, our eyes met, and I swear to God, we both turned full circle to take a good long look at each other.
I had never before done anything so brazen in my life. We both walked backwards to keep staring at each other as our respective groups pulled apart, and if a movie crew had been there to catch the moment, it would have gone down in history as the most romantic moment in my shabby little life. I was 16.
Back at our respective schools after lunch – boys and girls attend separate schools in Ireland – we both busied ourselves with the business of asking around. Who is this person? What do we know of their people? Their pedigree?
The intelligence on him came quickly back – nobody to bother about. I had a certain amount of capital to expend, being reasonably attractive, popular, and brainy, whereas he was an unknown quantity, and certainly not popular.
Didn’t matter – I had to have him. It also didn't matter that it ended badly, two years down the line. I will never forget the romance of that moment. The first and only time I've ever fallen in love on the spot.
Amouage Opus III gives me a similar feeling. I don’t know how it happened, but there’s been a coup de foudre. Our eyes met and I did a full twirl on my heels. So I now send out feelers into the community – is this a worthy one? The early reports are not encouraging. Nice, they say, but save your money. You can do better.
If I were to distill a whole Internet’s worth of reviews of Opus III into two phrases, it would be “overly complex” and “nothing special or notice worthy.” I don’t argue those points – in many ways, Opus III is both overly complex and not at all groundbreaking or original. But – and it’s a big but – it has a lilting, slow-moving beauty to it that spins my heart off like a leaf on an eddy. It’s like being at a crazy party and discovering at the last minute that it’s really the big, silent farmer in the corner that you want to go home with. Opus III has a solid heft that makes me want to curl up inside it.
Reducing it to a category, I’d say that Opus III is a massive violet floriental. But as others have pointed out, the combination of notes is so complex that it’s hard to pick out individual notes. The best I can do is point to the various phases that the fragrance moves through, managed through a series of small, barely perceptible shifts and transitions.
Violet is the moving force here and is present in each permutation. First, we have the violet-hay-earth opening, where the bitter, dirt-covered hay of broom is balanced out by a wet, candied violet accord that comes off like Apres L’Ondee on steroids.
Welling up behind this dewy, bittersweet opening is a bank of mimosa flowers with their fluffy yellow, bitter almond scent. When the mimosa meets the violet, the fragrance shifts from wet hay-violets to a dusty pollen note that makes one think of the yellow dust that covers your fingers when you crumple a buttercup or some other cheerful yellow wildflower.
There is also a dusty heliotrope note here that makes me think of Farnesiana or L’Heure Bleue, but this lacks almost completely the fruity and pastry-like tones of those fragrances. There is a similar weight here, though, like a piece of blue velvet folded over many times.
A tiny accord is hidden here and I catch glimpses of it only sometimes – a dove-grey iris note that colludes with the violets to produce a faint (very faint!) cosmetic undertone. Not exactly lipstick, not exactly powder, but something a little bit frilly.
Under the earth-hay violets and the meadow-pollen violets and the iris-violets, there is another violet combination brewing, and it turns out to be the definitive one – violets and ylang. Ylang introduces a fruity, plasticky edge with a banana-like note to the mix, and when it merges with the violet note, its creamy banana custard voluptuousness becomes corrupted with a strange boot polish note. Could be tar, could be nail polish remover like some reviews mention – I don’t know. But it is a little strange, and more than a little addicting. It’s what draws me back to my sample time and time again, like a druggie.
The spicy orange blossom and jasmine are secondary players here, but they too form their own little pairing with the violets, and add a slight indolic languor to the violets’ dewy, childlike presentation.
Opus III winds up in familiar Amouage territory – a daub of frankincense, dry woods, amber – and while the base is not wildly new or exciting, what it does do is provide a dry, un-sweet landing for the rich floral combinations swirling around the violets. The base is what makes Opus III perfectly unisex, and takes it further away from the two fragrances to which Opus III is most commonly compared, namely L’Heure Bleue and Insolence EDP, which are far more obviously feminine.
Having mentioned the Guerlains, I must mention that I find Opus III to be far more satisfying than either of those fragrances, and more beautiful. I love the rich, earthy hay of the broom, the yellow pollen feel from the mimosa, and the unctuous creamy ylang. It combines – to my nose – the best of L’Heure Bleue, Samsara, and Insolence, and cuts away the fat and the excess fruitiness of those scents.
Opus III smells wholly natural and of this earth – and although it lasts a long time, is longevity is due to a certain richness and heft of fragrance oils rather than muscular woody synthetics. It wears on the skin like a rich, comfortable old velvet cloak.
I rather love it – can you tell? This fragrance moves me. But like any coup de foudre, I’m suspicious of the strength of my feelings. Practically everyone notes that Opus III is not an unusual or extraordinary fragrance in any way. Does that mean that my tastes are pedestrian? Am I a bit of a pleb? Well, probably, and more than just a bit. I can’t quite bring myself to care, though. I want to wear this, and so by God I will.
Hey Opus III! Yeah, you, the hefty farmer with the big red face in the corner! Get your coat – you’ve pulled! Let’s hope this doesn’t end too badly. My judgment in these matters is famously terrible.
Complexity is the primary characteristic I find in Opus III. The opening is aldehydic, green, neutral, warm, and spicy. It lasts well and provides a fine sillage. My difficulty with it is that it’s not very interesting… But it is complex – I could easily get lost in its maze.
The heart is floral. The only note that I can clearly pick out is violet, the rest of the floral notes are lost on me, which for me makes the heart accord not very interesting. The base is a neutral / wood / sweet platform with the aldehydic violet still fliting about. Again, complex but dull.
I don’t know what happened to Amouage with these Opus fragrances – they seem entirely out of character from Amouage’s usual offerings.
A luxuriant (initially radiant-aldehydic-spicy) mélange of heliotrope, floral dust/pollen (mimosa in primis, violet and than Jasmine), spicy ylang-ylang, orange blossoms, powdery woods, tonka beans and rich (resinous) amber. The general "dust" is spicy-powdery-wet (cloves, cinnamon with a fluidy-liquid sparkling undertone) at the beginning and finally honeyed-resinous (may be due to a touch of honey, rich amber, frankincense). Amouage Opus III is an opulent (not utterly original but well crafted) florioriental (powdery-resinous) chypre with a sticky-velvety dry down. The floral-oriental way (each one of the following juices with its peculiarities) has been already traced by glorious beasts of the far/recent past (Caron Nuit de Noel, Chanel Cuir de Russie, Etro Heliotrope, Boucheron, Penhaligon's Cornubia, Guerlain Chamade, Mona di Orio Carnation, Amouage Jubilation for Women, Dior Addict etc.). Anyway while a notable part of the flori-oriental around tends to evolve towards "a floral bright whiteness" properly powdery-radiant, rosey or balmy-soapy (and initially also dealing with this fragrance somebody could catch this misleading feeling), actually Opus III tends to a more "yellow" (initially fluidy and than) resinous-honeyed (vaguely incensey) and kaleidoscopic allure, "swimming" in the middle between the unworthy Chanel Allure (thankfully just slightly along the first ten minutes), Kingdom Alexander McQueen (this one more "sweaty" and dirty but not far from Opus III), CK Secret Obsession (the latter more leaning over the rose-tuberose duo), Bvlgari Jasmine Noir (but Opus III plays in a far more powdery-resinous and dense way), Guerlain L'Heure Bleue (just a touch of its honeyed-resinous grandeur) and Dior Dune (but the Amouage's one finally performing in a more resinous, honeyed and warm way). At the beginning I detect that sort of quickly fading "earthy licorice-like" undertone which (as mixed with the almondy-honeyed accord of heliotrope/jasmine absolute) connects me immediately with the less articulated (but more balanced) Bvlgari Jasmine Noir. Unfortunately the final evolution tends too much towards a sort of overly rich resinous floral soapiness (honeyed due mimosa/jasmine pollen and may be properly honey flanking amber-vanilla and a touch of incense) that works well at distance but is probably "too much" when your nose brushes the layered skin (probably rich amber, incense, benzoin, precious woods and honey overly charge the oriental dry down). Anyway we can't deny the rich sensual glamour of this hyper warm but multifaceted fragrance (with an impressive sillage).
a big aldehydic burst that quickly goes away for me...then I get a spicy/flowery/woody accord with a momentary smell of wet paint...but I thought it smelled pretty good...has a dry, resiny feel...flower scented wood...because of the aldehyde/flower mix get a slight association to the Golds...get more of the sweet white flower kind of smell...I can see myself enjoying wearing this...a dry woody/sand/resin feel...decent projection...I don't find it to be overly flowery IMHO...Smells of quality and exquisite blending...agree with comments in other reviews that have called this gorgeous, complex, comforting, classy...rich and luxurious smelling...just the lightest touch of incense as it dries down...
IMHO decant to FBW
Spicy/Sweet Woody Floriental
This third in the Amouage Library Series opens with a blast of sharp, soapy/waxy aldehydes worthy to stand beside White Linen or Chanel No. 22. Opus III bears further resemblance to the Chanel in that it’s other dominant ingredient turns out to be frankincense. Among the key differences: No. 22 has more citrus up top than Opus III, and the Amouage backs its frankincense and aldehydes with jasmine and violet where the Chanel offers mostly rose.
Opus III hovers for a few hours on its cloud of incense, violet, and aldehydes, throwing off ample sillage all the while. During the third hour or so, some soft, woody notes, particularly sandalwood and cedar, detach themselves from the frankincense, while the aldehydes retreat ever so slightly. As a result the olfactory texture shifts slightly toward a more rounded and less aggressively “perfumey” style. Over the ensuing hours the woody base notes grow more and more prominent, until the floral notes and aldehydes finally disperse altogether, leaving a soft, powdery drydown of incense, sandalwood, and ambrette musk.
Opus III avoids the sense of imbalance that mars Andy Tauer’s equally aldehyde-laden Orange Star, but I can’t say I find it all that compelling or original a composition. Nor does it speak so clearly of quality as to merit its super-premium pricing. I now stand disappointed with the Library Series as a whole, and must wonder if Amouage can maintain the standard it reestablished with Jubilation XXV, Jubilation 25, Homage, Tribute, and Lyric Man and Woman under the Gatling-gun pace of this past year’s releases.