The latest release from luxury fragrance house Amouage is Beloved, a tribute to the "elegance and complexity of the modern woman" (in general) and the classic sophistication of women who shop at Bergdorf Goodman in New York (in particular). Beloved was developed for Amouage by perfumer Bernard Ellena and includes top notes of jasmine, purple rose, lavender, clary sage, clove bud, chamomile, and cardamom; heart notes of ylang-ylang, violet, everlasting [immortelle], cistus, benzoin, olibanum, and patchouli; and base notes of cedarwood, sandalwood, castoreum, civet, leather, musk, vanilla, maltol, and amber.
Although I always enjoy shopping for fragrance and cosmetics at Bergdorf Goodman, I'm probably not the quintessential "Bergdorf woman," however you may picture her. On the other hand, I do have a longstanding personal and sentimental connection to the place: my great-grandfather and great-aunt both worked at Bergdorf Goodman, as a tailor and couture seamstress, respectively. My love for spending time in New York department stores is apparently a product of nature as well as nurture. Can I, as a not-so-glamorous customer at Bergdorf and a mostly-modern woman, enjoy Beloved? I certainly can.
Overall, I'd describe Beloved as a powdery floral-oriental and as a contemporary fragrance that feels "vintage" in style and quality. Its introductory phase smells slightly herbaceous, with the clary sage waving a quick greeting before the composition moves ahead into its flowery and spicy-resiny stages. The floral heart is a little bit sweet and a little bit slinky, with a dose of dusty-sweet jasmine and some sharper ylang-ylang beneath it. Beloved later reveals an animalic swirl of civet and castoreum (their synthetic equivalents, at least!) and a hint of leather, the sort of notes that rarely appear in today's feminine fragrances, while still remaining womanly. Hours after application, the fragrance feels much softer than than it did at the outset, leaving an accord of ambery and resinous notes clinging to the skin. (At one point I forgot what I was wearing and thought I was smelling my nearly-finished Diptyque Oliban candle, which was sitting across the room; it's fragrant even when unlit.) The entire composition unfolds very gradually, almost as though it were being played or projected in slow-motion.
Beloved reminds me — particularly in its later phases — of a vintage perfume, but I'm not sure whether I'm thinking of a particular perfume or just a broader style of vintage fragrance. Something about Beloved's powder-dusted jasmine-and-civet blend brings Bal à Versailles to mind. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find my sample of Bal à Versailles for a quick comparison; in any case, Beloved is probably not quite as heavy and sultry as that 1960s classic.
Beloved has excellent longevity, and its lingering traces on a scarf or jacket cuff smell wonderful the next day. It's somewhat grander and more dramatic than Opus III, my favorite Amouage fragrance, so I wouldn't be able to wear it as often as I wear Opus III, but I still find it easier to carry off than Jubilation 25, for example, or Ubar. (Of course, your tastes — and lifestyle — may vary from mine!)
Lastly, don't let the pink packaging mislead you: there is nothing bubbly or girlish about Beloved. It's opulent and confident. It's a foreign film, not a sitcom; a historical novel with many characters, not a self-help guide to finding the right man. It's a fragrance for formal evenings out, romantic evenings in, or perhaps just a purposeful stride down Fifth Avenue to do some shopping at your favorite upscale department store.
Amouage Beloved is available as 100 ml Eau de Parfum ($430). It will be sold at Bergdorf Goodman, Harrods, Tsum, and Amouage boutiques.