Amouage creative director Christopher Chong aimed for something truly great with his two latest fragrances — Memoir Man and Memoir Woman: “to unlock the unfathomable mysteries that reside within human nature.” Well! It’s certainly not the usual perfume goal of “we aim to move 2 million units during the first twelve months of our launch.” In the Amouage “Memoir” PR brew, there’s mention of Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du mal, a “Black Swan” (Memoir Woman), and absinth (perhaps quaffed as much as used as an ingredient during the Memoir creative process?)
Memoir Man, described as a leather-woody-fougère fragrance, contains notes of wormwood/absinth, basil, mint, frankincense, rose, lavender, vetiver, sandalwood, guaiac wood, amber, vanilla, musk, oakmoss, leather and tobacco; it was developed by perfumer Karine Vinchon who I “met” a few weeks ago as I sampled her L'Artisan Coeur de Vétiver Sacré .
Memoir Man begins with a slightly musty, yet creamy, wormwood scent mixed with ‘cool’ mint. As the herbal opening develops, I also detect some sheer leather and a hint of lavender mixed with rose (always a pleasant combination to me). Then, Memoir Man begins to “solidify” and morph into wood. First, there’s milky sandalwood, then balmy guaiac. A wonderful vanilla-tobacco-musk accord combines with the wood notes in Memoir Man’s base to produce a beautiful, but quickly disappearing, aroma I can only describe as deep, dark and vivid. Within a half-hour of application, Memoir Man settles down to a long-lasting, frankincense-rich, slightly smoky, dry (ashy) wood accord, and I believe your opinion of this accord will determine your opinion of Memoir Man.
To me, Memoir Man does not match its Amouage “storyline” — I get no sense of the “underworld,” “sorrow,” “damnation” or “anguish”…unless one imagines getting unduly upset about the fire going out in the grate (that persistent, haunting, smoky wood accord). I do detect some “poetry” in Memoir Man; not the “decadent” poetry of Baudelaire, but the poetry of something simpler, solid, and touchable. During Memoir Man’s early development on my skin, I’m reminded of two things: walking in the aromatic forests of the Pacific Northwest, and watching, years ago, a Haida artist carve a totem pole from a huge, fragrant cedar log…not bad experiences for a perfume to conjure.
Amouage Memoir Man is available in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum ($225-260). For buying information, see the listing for Amouage under Perfume Houses.