Perfume Review: Amouage Lyric Woman

I first read a review of Lyric Woman over at Now Smell This. It was Angela’s review, and a lovely, singing review it is. I immediately ordered a sample from Aedes de Venustas. It sent me into transports of joy. I had to have some. I managed to join a bottle split, and now Lyric graces the most stellar of my days.

Lyric Woman, released in 2008, is described as an oriental floral. The list of notes, according to Fragrantica:

Top: bergamot, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, saffron

Heart: rose, angelica, jasmine, ylang-ylang, geranium, orris root

Base: oakmoss, musk, woody notes, patchouli, vetiver, tonka bean, sandalwood, incense.

Right up top, I do get a small burst of citrus, followed by a spicy melange that seems to me dominated by cardamom and saffron. This is beautifully blended and refreshing, not the Christmasy spiced-cider thing that it could have been. After that, the rose comes up, and it’s that beautiful deep rich rose note that rests on a base of woods, the kind of thing I think of as being a Middle-Eastern sort of rose, translucent and seamless. If you’re looking for the same rose as in Perfumers’ Workshop Tea Rose, or in Stella, here, you won’t find it: it doesn’t smell like that rose. If I sniff very hard I can pick out the ylang-ylang, and the iris, but mostly it’s rose rose rose, with a dry, smooth frankincense and sandalwood. Eventually, the rich vanilla-cream of tonka bean surfaces, but always with that dry, almost-smoky frankincense – which, in Lyric, lacks the astringent, lime-pine character it often has in other scents. (Mind you, I frequently like that characteristic of frankincense, but it would detract from the silken rose-petal quality of Lyric.)

In the Perfumes: The Guide review of Amouage Homage, Luca Turin states that Omani frankincense is “the best and most expensive stuff around.” Clearly Amouage has access to really top-notch materials, because there isn’t a whiff of cheapness about Lyric at all. It smells solid, rich, elegant, with plenty of body but no fluff. Its eyes are deep and mysterious; they promise but do not flirt. The entire effect of the scent is that of rose petals and spices smoldering on a wood fire, an intoxicating waft. LT mentions an “overripe, plangent fruity note” that I never get, and I’m wondering what he smells that I don’t, because I’m typically disturbed by overripe fruit (as in Badgley Mischka, Diorella, and Calyx).

I have sometimes seen Lyric Woman compared to Caron Parfum Sacre, and on the surface I understand why. Both are opulent and rich and romantic, and share some points of congruence: that beautiful woody rose, the spices, the woods and incense and vanilla/tonka bean. However, to me, Parfum Sacre is much more focused on woods and vanilla under the rose, while Lyric’s rose and incense hold hands. Lyric is far dryer, austere yet sumptuous; Parfum Sacre always strikes me as being as maternal as it is sensual. Parfum Sacre sings to me in rounder, softer, comforting tones, while Lyric is dramatic and demanding of my attention. Parfum Sacre, to me, shifts from stage to stage in its development, from lemon-pepper to pepper-rose to rose-incense-wood to incense-wood-vanilla. Lyric smells not linear, but consistent throughout. I can smell spices and rose and incense all the way through, with only the bergamot and tonka bean dancing onto and off the stage. I love both scents, very much, but for different reasons.

Another spicy-rose-incense scent is the dramatic Chanel Coco. However, I have never liked Coco, due to the Youth-Dew accord in its backbone. I was also disappointed in Tauer Incense Rose, which based on the notes should have been something I loved. It just wasn’t, for some reason. Several of the Tauer scents do that citrus-incense-spice combination, and it’s very pleasant, but it doesn’t move me.

Lyric glows for me like a dark jewel, like a faceted garnet holding wine-red flashes in its heart. It has the weight and elegance and sheen of heavy satin. It is noble and lofty and graceful, and I think of it as the dark-eyed beauty I often wished to be, when I was growing up with freckles and skinned knees.

Other reviews: Angela at NST. Marina at PST. Abigail at ISTIA. Patty at Perfume Posse (brief). Donna at PST. The Non-Blonde. Suzanne of Eiderdown Press. Chandler Burr at the NY Times. Another Perfume Blog.  And Tarleisio at Scent Less Sensibilities gives us a Lyric-inspired story that knocks my socks off (go read it – if you don’t know Lyric yet, you will after you read, and if you do know Lyric, you’ll be moved).

Image of Lyric Man and Woman from Fragrantica.  Image of Black Baccara rose from Heirloom Roses. Image of polished garnets from Flickr.


12 thoughts on “Perfume Review: Amouage Lyric Woman”

  1. I love when other people find fragrances that rock their world!
    For me however Lyric is a fragrance to approach with caution. First because of the fig. Once I noticed the overripe fig fruit hiding under the rose petals it ruined the resiny-rose effect that I find so compelling in this Amouage.
    Then there are those very cheap, screeching, jarring white musks that Amouage uses in several fragrances. I hate them! I suppose that many people are anosmic to this stuff, which unfortunately haunts every other niche release involving pretty florals, and smells HUGE…. 🙁
    To conclude, I love what I call the “resiny” quality of Lyric, but not the rest…I suppose I am an epic fail when it comes to rose fragrances….But I love the real flower, if that counts! 😉

    1. I wish Lyric worked for you… and I never get that fruity/fig note, ever! I may be anosmic to the Amouage musk, at least in Lyric, because I don’t smell any. But I know what you mean about that one note that just killllllls you that pops up out of nowhere and ruins things. (For me, that is often patchouli. bleargh.)

  2. Your review really nailed it. 🙂
    I always like reading reviews of Lyric as it’s one of my all time favorites (and the reason why I now love roses in perfumes).
    It is also one of the most elegantly, smolderingly seductive perfumes I ever smelled (and I still don’t have more than 2 large samples I keep for special occasions).

  3. I also love this perfume. For now I will be using my several samples but one day it will be at least a decant. It is very beautiful and I feel great wearing it.
    I enjoy reading good reviews for perfumes I love. Thank you.

  4. Wonderful review, Mals! Thank you for the link, and I quite agree with you: Lyric is complex, but at the same time austere — there is a tautness to it — such that I can’t really see a comparison to the very full-bodied Parfum Sacre. (Amouage Epic woman actually smells closer to Parfum Sacre than Lyric does, in my opinion.)

    The smooth and gentle incense puts such a beautiful finish on Lyric…mmm.

    1. “Taut” – Suzanne, that’s very apt! It does have the effect of pulling my spine up straight.

      I’m always amazed at how fragrances with similar notes can often smell so, so different. (I have a sample of Epic… somewhere… must find and try. I think I received it in the height of summer and put it away for “later.” Now, it’s “later.”)

  5. It is funny how many perfumes I really like (Epic, Ta’if) are compared to Parfum Sacre which I did not like at all, when I tried it..I got it in a swap years ago, and it smelled thin and vanillic and gave me a head-ache..:( I was just beginning to like rose then, so maybe I wasn’t ready for this perfume- so I will do myself a favor, find my sample and sniff it again…:)

    When I received my decant of Epic and sniffed it- it suddenly took on a rose-vanilla quality that I did not love (similar to Parfum Sacre. BK Rose Aoud does that on my skin sometimes too). However, on subsequent wearings it went back to the gorgeous incense-y rose that I love..It is a tricky balance for me with these notes, though. I must try Lyric on my skin. As I told you earlier, when I smelled it on paper, it smelled a little soapy but all the reviews, including yours, just make my mouth water..:)

    1. L, I have yet to try Epic and BK Rose Aoud. And I liked Ta’if for a long time, and then overdosed on it one day and found that I could not stomach it again. Swapped away my decant. Parfum Sacre had to grow on me over several wearings, but I love, love it! I like Tocade, too, if we’re talking rose-vanilla, but sometimes it can go a little smoky on me.

      I don’t ever get soap out of Lyric, but have never tried it on paper (I rarely do that anyway, and especially not with an expensive sample!).

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