Every so often I sample a fragrance that has been wildly praised, and I wonder, What’s the big deal? I try it again, maybe this time applied more lightly or more heavily. I spritz it in the morning and last thing at night. I second guess myself. After all, I tell myself, whatever the fragrance might be, Victoria at Bois de Jasmin or Denyse at Grain de Musc or pretty much every MakeupAlley reviewer loved it. What’s wrong with me?
This is what I ran into with Amouage Fate Woman. In Saudi Arabia Style.com, Luca Turin deemed it a “celestial oriental” and awarded it five stars for “masterpiece.” I adore Turin’s reviews. I respect his experience and discernment, and I love his writing. But I’m not going to lie to you. My response after finishing my sample spray vial is that Fate Woman is — well — fine, but really not my thing.
Perfumer Dorothée Piot developed Fate Woman. Amouage calls the fragrance a chypre oriental with a “rich floral heart intensified by a dark and destructive accord resonating with the tumultuous unknown.” Its top notes include bergamot, cinnamon, chili and pepper; its heart includes rose, narcissus, jasmine, frankincense and labdanum; and its base notes include vanilla bean, frankincense, benzoin, castoreum, patchouli, oakmoss and leather. Don’t those notes sound irresistible?
At first, Fate Woman is a sweet but lovely floral emphasizing narcissus. Any chili or cinnamon is subtly blended enough not to be distinct, but the perfume is warm. Rose dampens the narcissus in a way that gives it body, and something green and stemmy keeps Fate from being cloying.
Playing in the background is a hint of powder. Here’s where Fate can take one of two paths. Sometimes, Fate’s powder may start out pleasant, but before long it grows into the Big Hot Powder Monster. Seriously. Now, I’m no powder sissy. I can squirt on Lorenzo Villoresi Alamut with abandon and go to bed with a smile on my face. I drained my vial of Lorenzo Villoresi Teint de Neige in one go. But Fate can feel like a few stems of narcissus floating on a burning pyre of saccharine powder. Buried underneath that powder is a sour hint of Amouage’s signature incense.
Other times I’ve worn it, Fate is bearably powdery and sweet, and its incense and cedar hum beneath it in a companionable balance. At those times, Fate’s assertive character might sing on the right person. I’m simply not that person. I don’t have the presence to power over Fate’s insistence to the point where you could accept me without being smacked over the head with my perfume first.
I do like narcissus, and sometimes I crave powder. For those times, I want the much less expensive (yet also top-rated by Luca Turin) Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’Une Fête’s gorgeous round, green perfume. When I want the crafty juxtaposition of white flowers and incense, I’d rather go more edgy with the cathedral-cum-artist’s studio scent of Daphne Guinness + Comme des Garçons Daphne.
In any case, a spritz of Fate Woman leaves a film, letting me know that the fragrance is thick and serious. It endures an entire day. When I spray it on in the evening, then cross it with a hot bath a few hours later, a delicious layer of sandalwood persists.
What about you? Do you secretly loathe — or feel resolutely ho-hum — about any uniformly lauded fragrances? Please confess. I won’t judge.
Amouage Fate Woman Eau de Parfum is available in 50 ml ($310) and 100 ml ($375) bottles. (As with most Amouage fragrances, if you love it, the 100 ml is the best buy by far.) For information on where to buy it, see Amouage under Perfume Houses.