Some of the more recent Amouage fragrances for women — Memoir, Epic, and to some extent Lyric — are built like battleships. They’re weighty and loaded with moving parts. Amouage Interlude joins the fleet. The trick in this type of fragrance is that as its intricate machinery clicks and whirrs through its gears, dozens of potentially disparate notes need to engage and dissipate in combinations that evolve artfully.
In my opinion, Interlude Woman grinds its gears before it hits cruising speed, while Interlude Man with its simpler, more familiar construction, sails full steam ahead. (You’ll be glad to know this concludes the painful simile part of the review.)
Amouage defines Interlude Woman as a floral chypre. It includes top notes of bergamot, grapefruit, ginger and tagete; heart notes of frankincense, rose absolute, orange blossom, helichrysum, jasmine and opoponax; and base notes of vanilla, benzoin, amber, sandalwood, agarwood, oakmoss, leather, tonka bean, musk and “animalic.”
Interlude Woman is an opaque, autumnal perfume that doesn’t suggest “floral chypre” at first sniff. Neither does it evoke (to me, at least) the “interlude moment of unity and sentiment” Amouage’s beautifully printed marketing materials claim.
Interlude Woman opens with an unexpected bright green, almost peppermint-tinged, citrus burst. Before long, the warm curry-maple syrup scent of helichrysum wafts beneath, then overtakes, the green opening and hums along to form the fragrance’s spine as long as Interlude Woman lasts on skin.
Here’s where I think Interlude Woman fails. Just as the fragrance hurtles into its heart, a clash of notes stinking something like freshly manufactured synthetic patent leather arises, and for twenty minutes you smell like the manager of your local Payless discount shoe store.
But power through the plastic bit, and Interlude relaxes into a velvety and balanced (but still big) blend of earthy coffee; warm, carnal helichrysum; buzzy jasmine and orange flower; and dried green herbs. Interlude becomes comfortable and easy. Further along, I swear I smell cardamom and absinthe. The fragrance eventually sweetens a touch and retreats to the skin. Unlike many fragrances with leather, the leather in Interlude Woman whispers through at least four hours of the fragrance’s six hours of life on my skin.
Amouage calls Interlude Man a “spicy and woody fragrance.” Despite PR pap about chaos, harmony, disorder, etc, Interlude Man is well-mannered and lush. It includes top notes of bergamot, oregano and pimento berry oil; heart notes of amber, frankincense, cistus and opoponax; and base notes of leather, agarwood smoke, patchouli and sandalwood.
Interlude man is a variation on the wood-amber-smoke-leather-tobacco fragrance that calls up smoking jackets, wood-paneled libraries, and cut crystal tumblers of Scotch. McGraw by Tim McGraw is a good drugstore example and Parfums MDCI Invasion Barbare a more upscale one.
Amouage’s version in Interlude Man reminds me of delicious, sweet, creamy coffee soaked into pure sandalwood and luminous cedar. It’s not terribly original, but neither is crème caramel or meet-cute love stories, and I bet we’ll never get tired of either of those. It lasts a good eight hours on my skin.
One more thing — Interlude Man leaves out the lavender and other “manly” fougère notes that might scare some women away from trying it. I bet it finds a solid audience among women who weren’t smitten with Interlude Woman but love a warm, woody, ambery scent.
Amouage Interlude Woman Eau de Parfum was developed by perfumer Karine Vinchon Spehner; it is $250 for 50 ml and $290 for 100 ml (making the 100 ml bottle the way to go if you truly love the fragrance). Amourage Interlude Man Eau de Parfum was developed by perfumer Pierre Negrin; it is $225 for 50 ml and $275 for 100 ml. For information on where to buy Amouage Interlude, see Amouage under Perfume Houses.