The other day the Husband and I fumigated Union County, NJ with our sillage as we went antiquing wearing Dior Gris Montaigne (him) and Amouage Opus IX (me). Nothing could stand in our way. I think it was the first time since starting to wear Opus IX a couple of months ago that I fully got it and felt more joy than conflicting emotions at the way the perfume soared and wafted through aisles of art deco, mid-century modern and Victorian items, piles of dusty debris from the past ripe for the picking. It felt right at home at the cavernous warehouse.
Opus IX needs its space. Amouage creative director Christopher Chong cites opera singer Maria Callas in La Traviata as his inspiration. This is supposed to be a diva clad in red velvet, and leather, adorned with a red camellia; someone ready to take center stage. The story of La Traviata is based on Alexander Dumas novel 'La Dame Aux Camélias', which for me will forever be embodied by Greta Garbo and white camellias (yes, I know that Sara Bernhardt was there before, but my Camille is Garbo, forever and ever). This is a whole different story. Louder, more passionate, and in the end more tragic.
But Opus IX is not all indoles, jasmine, growling animals and civet. One of the risks of sharing a perfume wardrobe and samples with another person is discovering that your partner smells a lot better in something you're desperately trying to befriend. Smelling Opus IX on the husband is a completely different experience. Gone are the dramatic shenanigans and loud scenes that spill into the street and give gossip fodder for years to come. Instead, here are sparkling florals over an incredibly noble and expensive ambergris.
I admit that up until a couple of years ago I didn't pay much attention to the existence of red camellias. Then I saw a Chanel line of red clutches of wallets embossed with them, making me perfectly willing to sell my soul for all eternity for one. The Japanese charm of these glorious flowers is also expressed in the perfume. There's a burst of sunny florals (probably not really camellias as those are more or less scentless) that demand attention and admiration like the best of the divas. The rich and thick jasmine is unmistakable. I didn't even know they could still make such bold and indolic jasmine perfumes that drips and melts into a honeyed base without losing foot (or sillage). On the husband the peppery woods are more apparent and much better behave- he smells of good perfume while I'm just steeped in a big pot of debauchery. I get more of what the Black Narcissus found disturbing and troubling in his review last week, while Opus IX has the potential to also be a stunningly beautiful perfume, depending on skin chemistry (and perhaps one's imagination).
Notes: camelia, jasmine, black pepper, guaiac wood, leather, beeswax, vetiver, ambergris, and civet.
Amouage Opus IX ($355, 100ml eau de parfum) is available from Osswald NYC, Luckyscent, and the other usual suspects who stock Amouage. The product for this review was sent directly from Amouage.
Maria Callas by Henry Kroener, 1956
Camellia Blossoms by Irving R. Wiled, 1889
Camellia at Ueno Shimotera in the Eastern Capital by Utagawa Hiroshige II (Shigenobu), 1866