As quite a few people have pointed out recently, Amouage seems to be churning out fragrances. Certainly in the last nine months they've released about seven new ones, including the recent Memoir Man and Woman. It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Amouage and any review of their products leaves me feeling slightly apprehensive, in case I am blinded by bias and not impartial. The Library Collection appears to have received a mixed reception. If anything, it seems to have been a lukewarm-ish response, with a few that have loved these, and those that think the house standards are slipping. Well, I don't. Admittedly I haven't tried Opus I or III yet, but Opus II, the one meant to be the most masculine in the collection, certainly meets with my approval. I read that it is a reinterpretation of a fougere, which perhaps it is. I don't claim to be an expert, but I didn't perceive it much as a fougere. I thought it is predominantly an exercise in incense, a highly sophisticated one.
The notes include lavender, absinthe, pepper, pink bay (pink pepper?), jasmine, rose, cinnamon, cardamom, cedar, patchouli, amber, musk and incense. The opening for me is a light, yet strangely intense mix of pepper and citrus, and quite spicy. I don't detect lavender in its stereotypical form, or much absinthe. I'm always a little confused by absinthe anyway. It's derived from wormwood, which is a principal opening note in Yatagan, by Caron, but it is definitely not presented in that fashion here. The incense makes its presence felt almost immediately after the top notes fade, which is no surprise, given Amouage's inclination for using this note, and very nice it is too. The spiciness is balanced by a subtle, almost fruity sweetness that emerges, lightly floral but not overpowering. I take this to be mostly rose, with a little jasmine, but no man need feel uncomfortable with the use of these florals in this case. Underpinning all this is a dry and light pepperiness that I think is pink pepper, but masterfully presented. The use of pink pepper has become so indicative of men's perfumery but it smells so good in Opus II. It is almost bracing, combining with the slightly lemony facets of incense and the subtle sweetness of rose to create a wonderful heart accord. To my mind this is the most impressive phase of development in Opus II. As it moves into the dry down, the woodier elements of the scent slowly emerge and mingle to create a solid, if somewhat conservative ending to a lovely fragrance. The base smells good, and Amouage is no stranger to the combination of cedar, musk and patchouli, used in a number of their fragrances. Dia Man and Reflection Man spring to mind, but to me Opus II borrows some of those elements without simply rehashing it verbatim.
I've read reviews describing Opus II as smelling like a barbershop, which is the usual impression created by a classical fougere, I think. However, I don't personally detect this at all and at no point did I think Opus II was a bog-standard fougere. Although it is quite masculine, I don't think it is obviously so and I can't see why a woman couldn't wear this with absolute confidence. I think Opus II is sufficiently different to its predecessors to warrant and deserve being part of the Amouage lineup and I for one am very impressed with it.
Image credit - luckyscent.com