Credit to Amouage for attempting to reshape the boundaries of what the mainstream expects. There are quite a few ‘aspirational’ brands out there pushing the ‘quality’ button for a bloated price tag but few have the degree of daring that Amouage displays, even though it leads to a few train wrecks.
Myths Man’s opening took me back to Histoire de Parfums oud trilogy (since joined by a fourth offering) – that same sense of ‘Whooaa, what’s this?’ that that trio had triggered sprang fully to life after having lain dormant for quite a while.
The opening volley of ash and smoke is so strong it had me coughing at first try – but, despite that, it was apparent that a full-bodied and properly thought through composition was looming through it. Myths goes for bold brush strokes which somehow combine to form a picture that is not garish in the least but, contradictorily, quite refined.
That ash accord, veering more towards the remains of a cigarette or charcoal rather than joss stick, is so upfront and in your face, it’s as if it is daring you to dislike it – it is present right to the very end. And dislike it I would were it not for the ingenious way it is stitched together with the other notes. First, there is the desolate wail of the chrysanthemum, a chilly and deathlike fragrance, which damps it down a bit before receding into the mix. Then, a strong factory-fresh leather note which accounts for much of the vigour of this creation. But the backbone of this perfume are the resins – smoky, complex labdanum which harmonizes with all the other elements while laying down the Amouage incense marker (a note of tradition in this quite untraditional perfume), and elemi, more high pitched, and with lemony, turpentine accents. For a short while it feels like the latter has been a touch overdone, but my nose adjusts to it quickly. It is curious what the resins do to the rose hidden in the heart, making it come over waxy and embalmed – which fits perfectly with the other elements.
What I find the oddest thing about this perfume is that it appears to create such a sensation of speed with quite funereal elements. For me, the surreal effect being aimed for is successfully carried off – this is serious dreamtime stuff.
If you think, ‘Oh yawn, another smoky, resinous Amouage’, you’d only be partly right. It’s the ‘another’ bit you’d have got wrong – this is a proudly independent creation. And, fortunately (after the nadir of Sunshine Woman), the ingredients smell top-notch.
After about 8 hours the projection drops considerably and we’re left with a more straightforward ash and incense affair.
Perfumers: Karine Vinchon, Dorothée Piot and Daniel Visentin