When I first saw this painting, it shook me up a little to see my pet insecurity captured so effortlessly in the bold strokes of paint on canvas. It speaks to a fear anyone in a relationship has likely known, and is summarized simply: “Am I interchangeable?” Who is under that white suit, and does the lover know— or care?
The philosophy of love aside, it’s frequently assumed that it’s easy to produce an amber fragrance, and that they are, to some degree, interchangeable. I have complained that one reminds me too much of another, or that I would buy this, but it smells too much like that, already in my collection. If you know one
Stormtroooer amber, you know them all. Don’t you?
Spraying Opus VI on skin for the first time is a little like seeing a Stormtrooper remove his helmet to reveal the long glossy hair and full lips… of a woman. There is a dissonance that can’t be reconciled, because, of course, Stormtroopers are men. Well, all but this one.
It’s beautiful immediately— there’s no question about that— but it takes something familiar, and shifts it on such a fundamental level, just slightly, so that I found myself unable to understand it. I approached it with all the assumptions of familiarity of having known many ambers… Okay, let’s try it this way:
you are a woman who has fallen in love with a Stormtrooper. You met, and were instantly drawn to him. He was interesting, smart, charming, funny, and a fantastic lover. Then one day he removes his helmet, and you’re shocked to discover that he is a she. Straight or gay is irrelevant, because it’s just not what you were expecting. You’re stunned: there is dissonance to absorb, to understand.
Perhaps an analogy of coming to terms with sexual identity is a little heavy-handed, I mean, this is a perfume, after all, but when I tell you I spent a week drenched in Opus VI and still couldn’t figure out how to talk about it… Well, this painting came to mind.
Which is appropriate, I think, given the inspiration behind the fragrance. Christopher Chong, Amouage’s talented creative director, follows inspiration where it takes him, and it sometimes takes him to an unusual place: this time it was the movie The Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, which if you’ve seen, you know is beautiful and heart-wrenching. Memories, when they’re attached to love, can be enormously painful, troubling, even crippling.
Opus VI captures the idea by tearing the amber fragrance down it’s center, then suturing it back together with the most delicate silk thread. What remains is beautiful, but that jagged seam reminds us of our own past heartaches. It’s melancholic. But like the memories it’s inspired by, I don’t want to let it go.
The Library Collection has been grossly underrated: Opus VI might be the best in the collection, but will certainly divide perfumistas.
The sixth volume in Amouage’s Library Collection, Opus VI studies the nature of memory and romantic love. Born of the age-old mastery of haute perfumery, this enduring and emotionally resonant fragrance crafted by Amouage Creative Director Christopher Chong was inspired by the power of erasing, destroying and re-inventing unwanted and painful memories. Traditionally used as a healing agent in folk medicine, Amber narrates a story of a tragic love affair, where forgetfulness is one’s only comfort.”
This review was written based on a sample generously provided by Amouage; passionate feelings are my own.
Image used with permission of Nolan Fellows Art.