By KUPLUTHAI PUNGKANON
SETTING OUT TO bring a new sensibility to the wonderful world of perfume, world class brands Amouage and Heretic Parfum have both opted for the unconventional with their latest fragrances.
Creative director of Amouage, Christopher Chong, recently introduced the fifth chapter in the second cycle of the Amouage narrative “Portrayal”, describing it as a reflection of a man or woman’s unique authenticity.
“When I came to Amouage in 2007, I proposed the concept of linear storytelling, with each perfume part of a chapter of the grand story because to me perfume is about human emotions. So each perfume is related to the one before and the one after in a continuous narrative,” says Chong who, despite having no formal training in the industry, made a triumphant debut with “Jubilation 25” for women and “Jubilation XXV” for men.
Founded by His Highness Sayyid Hamad bin Hamoud al bu Said at the request of the Sultan of Oman in the early 1980s, Amouage is today a brand of international repute catering to the niche luxury market. It draws inspiration from its birthplace, infusing reference points from a rich and colourful heritage and working with internationally recognised perfumers in Grasse in the South of France to create an original and evocatively fragrant experience.
The new Portrayal embodies a freedom of rebellion that can be compared to London’s Roaring 1920s and New York’s grooving 1980s.
“Portrayal by Amouage is derived from my childhood love of science fiction films –time travel and wormholes. If I could travel back in time, I would head straight for London in the ‘Roaring 20s’, an era that was all about creativity, rebellion, and naughtiness. A second wormhole would take me to the 1980s to dance with Madonna in New York. It’s about arrogance, lace, pearls, Coco Chanel’s loose jersey, and women starting to smoke in public. That’s why I incorporate tobacco as one of the notes,” he continues.
Portrayal Man has a woody and leather aroma that exudes an air of audacity. “I wanted to create social freedom for the Amouage man as people in 1920s were much more gender fluid. I open this perfume in a very unconventional way, I use violet leaves to create freshness with an earthy tone to it. It represents a fresh beginning, exploration, then goes into vetiver for depth. One of the final key notes comes from an ingredient called cade, a kind of juniper that grows in the Mediterranean which brings to mind leather when used on its own. But if you blend it carefully, it has a kind of smooth softness and smokiness. At the same time, masculinity can be more floral too, which is why violet is the sweetness of this perfume on the top, countered by classical vetiver for a dry woody smell.”
At the heart of Portrayal Woman is a smoky yet sweet melange created by the fusion of Craven A Tobacco with a dusting of vanilla. Brought together with jasmine at its top and balsamic at its base, it is given an undertone of sensuality with tuberose.
“Women in the 1920s and 1980s were extremely feminine and with very strong voices, so I open the perfume notes with jasmine and an undertone of tuberose because jasmine is very endurance and difficult to control. The tobacco calms the floral sense while vanilla adds the sweetness and balsamic the freshness,” he explains.
“The brand’s heritage is underlined in the bottle caps, with that for the man’s fragrance inspired by the khanjar, the traditional dagger of Oman while the cap of the woman’s perfume draws on the Palace Ruwi Mosque in Muscat. Amouage’s signature glass crystal bottles come in an iridescent pearl finish adorned with a blue Swarovski crystal while the elegant art deco boxes are a delicate dusty blue.”
Sansiri, Thailand’s luxury real-estate developer, also relies on unconventional scents to add another level of tasteful and aesthetic living to its properties, joining up with premium US brand Heretic Parfum for the Sansiri Luxury Collection x Heretic Parfum by Douglas Little, a collection of home fragrances and candles.
Little, a Hollywood celebrity and perfumer who founded Heretic 2015, was in Bangkok recently to launch the collection at the Monument Sukhumvit 55.
“For the Luxury Collection, I wanted to create something that is playful and provokes curiosity, something that reflects the beautiful materials we use here. I chose to interpret those ideas working with fig notes but playing not with fruit but with the fig leaves and fig stem. The fragrance is very green and sophisticated but also playful. When you first smell it, it really makes you think. It’s clean, fresh and inviting,” says Little, who uses only organic ingredients and essential oils blended in non-GMO grape and sugarcane alcohol. Heretic believes that nature is sexy, erotic, and wildly provocative and has created a collection of gender-neutral fragrances. He has also collaborated with Goop founder, Gwyneth Paltrow, and burlesque actress Dita von Teese on an incredibly sexy collection.
The Luxury Collection is made with 100-per-cent natural ingredients and essential oils. Rose De Mai and Damask Rose are blended with kaffir lime leaf, yuzu orange and pink pepper, with juicy apricot for a hint of sweetness.
“Working with natural ingredients has homeopathic and Ayurvedic benefits, so by introducing these natural materials into the home environment, mental and physical health also benefit. Citrus is known to create happiness while other ingredients inject a sense of calm and comfort,” he continues.
“Today’s new generation is really interested in wellness and that’s exciting. When I was young, my dad used to wear a very specific fragrance known as Old Spice but I’ve never wanted to wear that fragrance, even though I like it, and it’s fine. I don’t want to wear what my dad wore. This young generation is also looking for new alternatives like, for example, lavender. They know lavender but they want it to be more exciting.”
“My brand and is about showcasing the new version of these materials. I also don’t believe in creating fragrance for men and women. Nature is the great teacher and it is both male and female. And we have both masculine and feminine within us. Take a rose, it is so sexy. It is so warm and woody and provocative, that to me is masculine and feminine, it can be worn by either.
“When I was young, I had very bad Attention Deficit Disorder and my mother, who’s an artist gardener, would take me to the garden with her, pinch the plants so that they gave off their scent, and teach me the names of the plants. If I could remember by the name of the plant and the fragrance, she would give me a quarter. Immediately I focused because I wanted the money but the experience stuck with me and I became obsessed with fragrance. To this day, I remember the specific scent of a geranium. We moved to classical music and she would ask me to tell her all the instruments I could hear. By the time I was nine, I was playing cello, flute and violin, and on the weekend, I was attending flower-arranging classes. I want to bring these same qualities to Siri House and its luxury property collection, I want it to feel very chic, luxurious, and contemporary with a certain playfulness,” Little says.
- Amouage is available at its boutique at Siam Paragon and EmQuartier.
- The Sansiri Luxury Collection x Heretic Parfum collection is being used at The Monument Thong Lor, 98 Wireless, Baan Sansiri and Khun by Yoo, and will also be |available at Siri House in Dempsey Hill, Singapore and Soi Somkid, Bangkok.