Amoureuse, one of the first scents released by the niche house founded by DelRae Roth, is intended to evoke the scent of the blooms of the Victorian box tree, hallmark of the city of San Francisco. It was composed by Michel Roudnitska and DelRae Roth.
“Amoureuse” means “she who loves” in French, and is frequently recommended as a wedding or romantic scent. It’s a white floral that seems to engender powerful feelings – people either dislike it strongly, or they just loooove it. I don’t know why, exactly, it took me so long to get hold of a sample of Amoureuse, and once I obtained one, why it took me so long to actually test it. Most perfume blog reviews tended to the positive. Frequently, European reviewers mentioned blooming linden trees; San Franciscans said the fragrance was just what it was meant to copy, the blossoming Victorian box tree (Pittosporum undulatum). I’ve never smelled either.
I suppose I might have been put off a bit by Tania Sanchez’ review in Perfumes: The Guide, in which she comments that it struck her originally as “deliciously heady, dizzying, dense green – a sensation like falling asleep under a tree in summer, overcome by damp heat,” (a description I just love, by the way), but that eventually she gave her bottle away because, as she says, “this combination of powerful greens plus syrupy white florals and cardamom is just too much to wear at any time, anywhere.” If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you already know that I have no great love for big sillage; if anything, that’s a drawback for me.
Nevertheless, spring came and the time seemed right to test Amoureuse. I wore it one day a few weeks ago. Once the opening had subsided a bit, and the white florals swimming in honey and spice began to come up, I realized: I’ve smelled this before. I’ve smelled this practically every spring of my life.
What Amoureuse smells like to me is the flowers of the black locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia). It’s a humble tree – around these parts it tends to grow wild, on roadsides and in vacant lots, and many people regard it as a “trash tree.” My husband and father-in-law have a fondness for it, because black locust posts make excellent fences – the wood is very hard on its own and stands up well to being placed in the ground. However, all parts of the tree (flowers, leaves, seed pods, and bark) are poisonous to humans. I do wonder if Victorian box and black locust are somehow related, but I don’t have the horticultural knowledge to even postulate.
The first time I really noticed the smell of black locust blossoms, I was visiting my grandmother’s farmhouse. My grandmother was showing me her garden phlox and peonies. I pointed: “What’s that tree? It smells so wonderful.” She shook her head, laughing. “Oh, honey, that’s nothin’ but an ol’ black locust tree. They grow ever’where.”
Just last week I went to pick up my daughter from track practice at the high school. I had the windows down and was concentrating on the song on the radio, when the car was suddenly full of the scent of spicy lilies. I hit the brakes and pulled over. Where were they? A sweet floral smell that strong, surely I’d be able to see the blooms… ah. A large stand of black locust trees was growing wild on each side of the road. No wonder the fragrance was almost overwhelming.
Notes for Amoureuse: Tangerine, cardamom, melon, pepper, honey, tuberose, jasmine, ginger lily, sandalwood, moss, musk.
Amoureuse does open with an intense, mouthwatering note of tangerine, supplemented with the juiciness of crushed leaves. Then the cardamom and floral notes appear – lots of jasmine and lily, with honey and tuberose pouring on the sweetness, and the fragrance is reminiscent of the headiness of black locust. It stays this way for about three hours on me, before gradually subsiding into a warm, elegant sandalwood-moss drydown that reminds me of a friendlier Ivoire de Balmain. The experience is beautiful start to finish, and lasts a good long time on me. One drop will get me a four-hour ride. Three drops gets me seven hours and radiates somewhat beyond the edge of my three-foot-diameter sillage limit.
I don’t find Amoureuse particularly loud or overwhelming. That may be because I’m dabbing it from a sample vial – but honestly, decanting and dabbing is not an unreasonable solution if it’s too big when sprayed. It’s a beautiful scent, well worth owning. I’m seeking a decant, myself. I’d consider a bottle, but I doubt I’d use it up, given that it’s so concentrated, and a very little bit lasts well.
Other reviews worth considering: The Left Coast Nose, Robin at Now Smell This, Bois de Jasmin, Marina at Perfume-Smellin’ Things, Aromascope, Legerdenez, Olfactarama (brief), Brian at I Smell Therefore I Am (brief).
Image of Amoureuse bottle from Fragrantica. Images of Pittosporum undulata and Robinia pseudoacacia from Wikipedia. Image of multiple trees is Black locust trees at Bret and Phifer’s from Vicky TGAW at Flickr.