With the launch of Lyric, the latest fragrance from luxury perfume brand Amouage at Voisins Department Store this month, we felt it would be a great time to learn more about the work of the perfume house and in particular that of its creative director, Christopher Chong.
Lyric Woman and Lyric Man are the latest creations of the music-inspired narrative that started with the launch of Amouage?s Jubilation last year.
Regarding the latest Amouage releases, Lyric Woman and Lyric Man, we asked creative director, Christopher Chong, what were his sources of inspiration?
?Lyric Woman is a deliciously dramatic fragrance for women, inspired by the poetic beauty of that most iconic of fragrance notes ? the rose.?
Chong explains, ?Beyond the transient beauty and purity of Lyric lingers a poignant song without beginning or end. During the creative process I found inspiration in the beauty and drama of lyric-spinto voice. From this, the story of Lyric Woman was born: a fragile beauty with a rare, other-worldly talent and her quest for perfection and immortality. Through this story, we are reminded that there is a subliminal beauty in every imperfection.
The fragrance has a complex and sophisticated structure, in which deep, smoky rose takes center-stage in the heart, complimented by dry, floral notes of geranium, jasmine and orris. The spiciness of cinnamon, cardamom and ginger in the top notes lifts the fragrance, while depth is provided by frankincense and wood notes in the base. In its structure, Lyric is a floral fragrance, but one that introduces dark intensity and modernity not normally associated with this genre – a perfect illustration of femininity, strength and passion.
Lyric Man, a deep, hypnotic scent for men explores the darker side of the rose. Its powerful elegance is achieved through the use of the traditionally feminine ingredient of rose, artfully combined with the warm masculinity of woods, ginger and frankincense.
I worked to develop a dark and musical fragrance that evokes the sombre sound of eternity and recounts the myth of a beautiful young woman and a powerful, mysterious man who seeks to immortalize the beauty of her voice.
Lyric Man opens with the freshness of bergamot and lime, that quickly reveal complex middle notes of saffron, angelica, orange blossom and nutmeg, governed by a heart of smoky unusual rose. Base notes of pine, sandalwood and frankincense lend a depth and seriousness to the fragrance, combined with the warmth and dryness of vanilla and musk.?
What were your sources of inspiration for your latest creations? ?To celebrate Amouage?s 25th anniversary, I began this journey with a new vision of a continuing story as each new fragrance is created. Lyric marks the second fragrance in the Amouage story, which will reflect upon the wonderful Arabian tradition of storytelling
When one talks about the creation of perfumes today, a lot of focus is put on perfumers. A debate has arisen recently around the question of authorship in perfumery with different conclusions in Holland and France. Yet at the same time it is quite obvious that perfumery appears more and more to be the result of sophisticated teamwork akin to the level of collective effort found in the making of a movie, from designing the perfume, to composing it, blending it, to packaging it and marketing it etc. What is exactly the role of a creative director in that enterprise, at least in the way that you see it?
?As Creative Director of Amouage, my role is part creative and part executive. On the creative level, I come up with the mood, story and inspiration in the brief. This brief will be sent to several noses. I prefer not to know which nose created which scent at the initial stage because I prefer to select the scent that best matches the brief rather than selecting a famous nose.
At the smelling sessions I would shortlist a few scents and start to articulate in details my requirements, such as increasing or reducing the amount of some ingredients. Then, I would take this with me and test them on myself and live with these scents for some time. I am a strong believer that fragrances have to be smelled on skin. It is an art form that requires time to mature and to develop. All this takes at least one year to complete. On the executive level, I make joint decisions with the CEO on matters concerning package designs, marketing and production. Also, I work closely with the sales team because I believe customer feedback is vital in creating unique and wearable fragrances.?
It is striking to see how the discourse around perfume wearing in the Middle East puts emphasis on the inner life. Amouage is no exception. Why do you think there is this propensity to evoke the moral life?
?Perfume-wearing in the Middle East has a lot to do with spiritual cleansing. It is also about respect for the self and others that we co-exist in harmony in this world. It?s interesting that in religious ceremonies as well perfume (incense) is used to cleanse and purify the space.?
I have noticed that the Amouage fragrances have a soothing, calming effect. Has this characteristic been brought to your attention before? Is it due to the high proportion of natural ingredients that you use? Has silver frankincense any particular properties?
?The mission of all Amouage fragrances is to spare no expense in creating the best wearable scents. Oman produces the best Silver Frankincense in Dohfa. Silver Frankincense contains special properties that are both calming and soothing. It?s widely used in traditional Omani healing medicine and is highly prized.
It has always been considered the very best quality of frankincense available in the world. The Queen of Sheba took silver frankincense from Dhofar to King Soloman way back in the Old Testament days. Legend has it that the frankincense taken to the baby Jesus by the Magi also came from Dhofar.?
What is your next project? You mentioned that you were going to create oil-based perfumes.
?In addition to our main perfume line, we have recently introduced two new collections. The Home Collection includes six new fragrances in candle and room spray forms. The Bath & Body Collection contains soap, shower gel, body lotion, body cream and hand cream.
As for oil-based perfumes (also known as attars), this has always been a strong Omani heritage and tradition. Amouage has been doing this since 1983 and distributions have been mainly in the Middle-East and Harrods. One of my objectives for Amouage is to make this more accessible to the West and to bridge the cultural differences of the West and the Middle- East. Most recently, I created an attar called Homage to celebrate our 25th anniversary, which is available at Harrods. Homage is a heady floral dominated by Rose Taifi, the finest quality rose oil extracted from the petals of the rose, which is famed throughout the Gulf region for its rich and romantic fragrance. The ingredients in Homage are exceptionally concentrated, so much that an entire field of roses is used to extract enough oil to fill each tiny bottle. A small drop is applied to the pulse points and the extraordinary, multifaceted fragrance will develop over many hours.
Another project that I have started is creating a ?Boutique Collection?. This collection will be opulent and adventurous. The nature of this is to explore the philosophy of human emotions and express it through scents. We plan to launch this sometime in 2009.?
Lyric Woman and Lyric Man are now available exclusively in the Channel Islands at Voisins Department Store.
Please bring this ad to Voisins Perfumery Department in the Beauty Hall to collect your free sample of Lyric by Amouage. One sample per customer while stocks last.