(Yikes. It’s been so long since I did a full fragrance review that I can’t even remember the last time. That’s embarrassing.)
I finally got around to testing Amouage Fate Woman. It’s now been more than five years since this one hit the market, garnering praise from Luca Turin and Kafkaesque, and I’m just now giving it a sniff. (Probably because on occasion, I have violently differing opinions from those two respected fragophiles.)
I still have mixed feelings about Amouage fragrances. They’re all rich and complex, which is awfully nice in these days when department store frags seem one-dimensional. But they’re expensive. And given that they’re so strongly art-directed and tend to have strong characters, you really have to appreciate the concept. My feeling on them is, if you make the choice to buy an Amouage, you’d durn well better wear the thing, or you’ve wasted your cash. Generally, too, the lasting power tends to be good, and I put that down to quality materials in adequate concentration — which is important to me, given the twice-aforementioned high price point.
I’ve enjoyed several of them without feeling the urge to buy: Jubilation XXV (the men’s version), Bracken Woman, Myths Woman, Dia Woman. I do own a cherished decant of Lyric Woman from 2010, before they amped the ylang-ylang and muted the rose in it. But Gold Woman was seriously filthy on me. And I hated both Epic Woman (sour ashes) and Jubilation 25, the women’s version (curdled fruit, as most fruity chypres go on me). Beloved Woman was a greasy powder-monster, Honour Woman had this weird brackish pondwater thing (Bertrand Duchaufour’s favorite vetiver, I’m pretty sure) that ruined the pretty florals, and Interlude Woman was simply a hot mess. I thought the chemical flatness of Sunshine Woman had to be a joke. Frankly, Interlude and Sunshine put me off trying another Amouage for a couple of years, and I have never managed to get my nose on any of the Library/Opus series.
Memoir Woman blew my mind for a good couple of weeks before I fell in love with it; it took me four years of scraping by on tiny decants before I found a tester bottle and snapped that sucker up. I still adore the stuff, though I admit it is oddball and definitely not to everyone’s taste. I don’t wear it often, though, because the weather has to be cold enough or it will smother me. I mean, c’mon, a leather-herbal Big White Floral? Freaky, and a monster in summer. Plus, the thang has beastly sillage and you can smell me coming around the corner. But I lurve it when the weather is right, and in our current low-30sF temps, I’ve been craving it like nobody’s business.
Ahem. Back to Fate Woman . . . I bought my sample so long ago that I discovered I’d actually purchased two samples from different decant services: one splash 1ml vial, and one 2ml spray. Last week I decided to combine them, and in doing so, managed to spill a bit on the top of my (paper-and-cardboard) Hatbox of Current Rotation. It beaded up, and I wiped up the excess with a tissue, leaving the tissue on the dresser before going on to something else I wanted to wear. But ever since, I keep entering my bedroom and getting whiffs of something deliciously old-skool perfumery: rich florals, plus resinous woods and, as the French might say, un peu de gousset (a hint of gusset, because so many classic perfumes smell a bit naughty).
Fragrantica classifies Fate Woman as Oriental Chypre Floral and describes it as a “spicy floral.” I’ve already said that it comes across to me as a floral on a rich, retro base, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone given its gigantic notes list: bergamot, chili, cinnamon, pepper, rose, jasmine, daffodil, incense, labdanum, vanilla, patchouli, benzoin, leather, oakmoss.
Angela at Now Smell This was underimpressed, mentioning that on her, Fate Woman was primarily a narcissus floral with an overwhelmingly powdery cast. I don’t get huge powder out of Fate W at all, especially on paper (that tissue I blotted the spill with is still sitting on the dresser, radiating boudoir smells). I also don’t get the oakmoss/chypre angle. It’s a tiny bit spicy, but mostly a rich incense-floral on my skin, faintly dirty with castoreum and narcissus. It has moderate sillage and lasts for several hours on my scent-eating skin. Quite nice stuff. I’ve really been enjoying the waft of that tissue on my dresser.
Am I impressed? Do I want to buy it? Nope. If a bottle fell out of the sky, I’d probably sell it. But then, I’m not much of an oriental-chypre fan; it’s just not my style. And then, too, I think it seems very 1950s-elegant-dressing-table to me. If I wanted a fragrance like that, I could pick up something considerably cheaper on eBay. It’s good; it’s not to my taste.