It's no secret to readers of my blog that I am a fan of Amouage. I think I've made that quite clear! I first had a brief sniff of Memoir Man back in September, when I visited the Amouage Boutique in Knightsbridge, and even then, I suspected that Memoir marked a stylistic departure for the line. Having now acquired and tried samples of both the men's and women's fragrance, I can indeed state that in my opinion this is definitely a departure. I could see it coming already with the Library scents. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. After all, one can't expect the house to churn out one frankincense-dominant fragrance after another for ever, can one?
Starting with Memoir Woman, pictured top left, I was surprised by the intensely fruity opening and what I thought was a hefty dose of aldehydes, which gives this quite a feminine fizz and twist. For some reason Memoir Woman reminds me of another fragrance that I just can't place! As it progresses, it stays quite sweet and fruity, but is joined by what I can only describe as a tobacco note, of all things. Memoir Woman is described as a chypre, but at this point it is nothing of the sort. As it moves into the dry down, the fragrance becomes slightly powdery, and subtle woods and spice join in, with a little incense and cedar. While I don't mind this, I have to admit that Memoir Woman is not blowing me away like others in the feminine range have. Thinking about it now, I think it reminds me a little of Feminite du Bois by Serge Lutens. It has that fruity/plum/cedar vibe, at least on my skin. For the record, the notes from Luckyscent include absinthe, mandarin orange, pink pepper, wormwood, clove, incense, jasmine, rose, white flowers, musk, labdanum, oakmoss, styrax and leather. I'll leave it to you to decide my ability at detecting notes and styles!
Memoir Man opens quite nondescript really. It's muted to me. I get a little anise and wormwood, but nothing outstanding, pungent, or weird, unlike the effect of the use of this note in Caron's Yatagan, for example. As the top fades, a woodiness comes to the fore that smells quite similar to the cedar and sandalwood accords in Let Me Play The Lion and 10 Corso Como. I suspect this might involve a hefty dose of iso-e super. The heart becomes a lot more interesting as the woods are joined by an incense note and subtle smoke and spices, which combine wonderfully with the creamy sandalwood. It is not an intense frankincense note, whch Amouage often deploys in its men's fragrances, but rather more subtle. Nice! The rest of the development is in the same vein, with a nice mix of incense and woods. Memoir Man strikes me as fairly quiet and contemplative, not the two words I would usually use in describing an Amouage perfume! Underpinning all these notes is a slight greenness that fades in and out, a bit like vetiver, but not strong at all. Perhaps this is the wormwood/absinthe accord. The notes from luckyscent include basil, mint, frankincense, lavender, rose, oakmoss, leather, tobacco, absinthe, wormwood, sandalwood, guaiacwood, vanilla and amber. Again, I clearly seem to be totally off the mark with identifying these notes.
So, in summary, a departure for Amouage, that in my opinion works quite well in the case of Memoir Man, but falls a bit flat with Memoir Woman. Of course, that is just my opinion. Neither of these is particularly groundbreaking and I have to say that while I will spend more time trying to get to know these a bit better, I feel ever so slightly let down and I believe Amouage can do better. However, at least they are trying a few different things and aren't sticking to a tried-and-tested-formula, which is more than I can say for some perfume houses.
Image credit - luckyscent.com