Reflection Pour Femme and Reflection Pour Homme are the latest creations by Amouage, a perfume house well-known for its image of luxury and the exceptional quality of their products. The Amouage perfumes seem to consistently offer a certain idea of polished cosmopolitan urbane and classic luxury but contrasted at the same time with the slightly unruly naturalness stemming from the sense of excess found in the opulence of their fragrance compositions. Luxury as an ideal of quality of life and luxury as lived experience are adequately expressed together, not one feeling lagging behind the other as can happen sometimes (See Fleur du Mâle).
The fragrances made by Amouage offer a very sophisticated style yet also seem very close to the natural world, the latter aspect to the point where one is ready to ascribe an aromatherapeutic value to them. The scents add not just an element of olfactory beauty during one's day, as other perfumes do, but at night, they reveal an unknown nocturnal influence in their capacity to make one dream the most harmonious dreams. In this manner, they seem to unconsciously promote a sense of peace as they balance out one's oniric universe (frankincense?)......
Reflection Pour Femme was composed by Maurice Roucel, the famed author of Rochas Tocade, Hermès 24, Faubourg, Guerlain L'Instant and Insolence, Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur, Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, Donna Karan Be Delicious, to name a few. The notes are described as: "Water violet, purple freesia, and tropical green leaves in the top notes, sit above cool white flowers such as magnolia and jasmine in the heart. Warmth is injected in the base notes with the use of amber, cedarwood and sandalwood." The character of the composition makes one think of one other perfume, Crown Perfumery Alpine Lily, a discontinued fragrance with a slightly unusual aqueous floral bouquet.
Reflection Pour Femme is a luminous light floral aquatic composition with a half-hidden lush core where the initial effects of transparency and freshness give way to a more intoxicating feeling. The scent starts with light fruity-floral notes then becomes greener before moving into an indolic heart. The greenness of the tropical green leaves has the delicate nuance of the scent of small fresh green bananas to my nose. Magnolia and jasmine are cited for the heart. The heart conjures up also the images of the well-formed little white bells of the lily of the valley and a very fresh green and white tuberose. It is very dewey evoking well the succulence of fresh waxy immaculate petals, their frosty coolness, as well as the mounting of sap in the stems and flowers in the inviting chillness of a cool morning during the springtime.
The composition has a quiet peacefulness about it which is adequately symbolized by the image of a calm lake in the advertisement. At the same time, the scent suggests that this may be just the surface of things or one aspect of them.The quiescent lake that has been conjured up in our mind seems to take on bluish but also purplish hues as the violet flower suffuses the mental picture of a still plane of water with its presence. There are some innocent, child-like tart fruity accents. The white flowers that unfold in the heart have a natural vibrancy to themselves as the flowers seem to make the light and the air quiver around their assembled bouquet. They never fade away completely, managing to keep their crispness, finesse and relief throughout the development of the scent, offering almost a 3-D dimension.
The perfume is fresh but also sensual and slightly narcotic, evoking the sultry evening nights spent on a terrace in a tropical country where the atmosphere grows heavier with natural scents and the electricity of an upcoming storm.
Reflection for Men feels quite different from the women's version of the perfume, although both develop along an idea of freshness and use similar warm base notes. Despite the stress put on the kinship of the base notes by Amouage, their treatments are quite distinct and the dry downs differ in that the women's version is cleaner, muskier, and the men's version woodier and more powdery. While Reflection for Women plays on ideas of innocence, transparency, coolness, and hidden sensuality, the men's scent is warmer, spicier, more frankly and overtly sensual. Like other men's perfumes from Amouage, the masculine character of the scent has feminine nuances to it - as we would interpret them to be in the Western context, I think - in this case the powdery notes and floral notes are a little bit more prominent than in a typical mainstream masculine scent. Having said that, I would say that just in terms of powderiness and floralcy, it evokes a much-toned down version of Lalique Pour Homme.
Reflection Pour Homme was created by nose Lucas Sieuzac. It is described as "A sophisticated, fresh and spicy fragrance, conjuring images of high summer by the sea. Red pepper berries, rosemary and bitter orange leaves provide wonderfully warm and fragrant top notes, whilst the floral heart contains notes of orris, jasmine, and neroli. [...] the spicy freshness of this fragrance is balanced by warm rounded notes of cedarwood, sandalwood, patchouli and vetyver in the base."
The fragrance in the very first instants offers a classic fresh aromatic cologne outburst and then prolongs further its opening on a soft herbaceous top note that is slightly fruity followed by a warm powdery heart. The main impressions are floral, leathery, and powdery to my nose, making me think furtively of Cuir Mauresque by Serge Lutens for a few seconds. The sweetness of the neroli is quite perceptible and feels a little bit gourmand. I am irresistibly reminded of fragrant leather skin such as can be found in the Middle East. The leathery sensation may be derived from the orris which can offer a very suave "peau de chamois" effect thanks to its suede-like olfactory texture. The softer "feminine" notes of the scent are balanced out by more astringent peppery and aromatic ones. The drydown mixes both impressions producing a delicately scented antique-feeling powder as if you had suddenly happened on an 18th century box of wig powder lost at the back of a closet on an ancient country family's estate. The drydown develops a delicious fruity-woody note that conjures up the vision of yet another piece of antique furniture, a cabinet made of subtly scented wood with a bundle of letters kept in one of its secret drawers. The cedarwood is wonderfully refined and brings me back in memory to the fragrant boat-houses made of cedarwood on a lake in Srinagar, Kashmir.
The gorgeous flacons are made by Asprey of London. The women's flacon is shaped after the dome of the Ruwi mosque in Muscat and the men's flacon is inspired by the traditional ceremonial dagger worn by Omani men, the Khanjar. The flacons have a nice heft to them, are made of crystal, and plated with sterling silver.
Read our interview with Christopher Chong, the Creative Director of Amouage.