Sometimes it’s tempting to compare perfume to music. For instance, Chanel No. 22 smells like singing aldehydes and white flowers with a whispering contralto of sandalwood, vetiver, and incense. Guerlain L’Heure Bleue smells melodic and moody like a Fauré tone poem. Balenciaga named a whole series of its perfumes after forms of music and rhythm: Prélude, Quadrille, and Rumba. And let’s not even get started on Valentino Rock ‘n Rose. Amouage counted on the natural sympathy between scent and music when it named its latest fragrance “Lyric”.
Amouage describes Lyric Woman (there’s also a Lyric Man) as a fragrance in a “lyric-spinto” voice. A lyric-spinto soprano sings with the lightness of a lyric soprano, but with a slightly darker timbre. Smelling the two-octave spread of Lyric, I understand the comparison. Lyric is the sort of perfume that you can stand inside and experience the spread of its notes from a high register of bright bergamot, geranium, and expansive spicy and alcoholic warmth over a heart of whipped cream, roses, cardamom, and cinnamon, to a humming bass of wood, gentle frankincense, and vanilla. Lyric feels as balanced as a concerto, but without too sad a second movement.
Daniel Maurel is the nose behind Lyric Woman. From the scant information I could gather on the internet, he also created Shu Uemura in 1998 and Shu Uemura Fleur de Rose this year. According to the Amouage website, Lyric has top notes of bergamot, spicy cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger; a heart of rose, angelica, jasmine, ylang ylang, geranium, and orris; and a base of oakmoss, musk, wood, patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, vanilla, tonka bean, and frankincense. Lyric has good lasting power and my “around the house” cardigan still holds on to its warm, cardamom-drenched smell after a few days’ trial run.
Amouage’s packaging for Lyric makes a lot of Lyric’s rose and proclaims it “deep, smoky, and intense” while featuring “notes of rose in a mysterious and entirely unprecedented fashion.” The cardstock folder for the sample I have is blood red with the images of black roses. But if I passed my Lyric-drenched wrist under your nose right now, you would smell the frankincense, spices, and cream, but rose might not be the first note that comes to mind. As for whether or not Lyric is “entirely unprecedented”, I think of Tauer Perfumes Incense Rosé, which is not as creamy and warm as Lyric, but to me is its kissing cousin for sure.
I see Lyric less as music than as the tactile experience of scarlet red silk velvet covered by geranium and cardamom chiffon, dug out of an oak chest long forgotten in the attic. It is the sort of fragrance that would make a good signature scent: it is rich and striking enough to be a brilliant evening scent but, worn judiciously, would work during the day, too. With its bright top, spicy, floral heart, and creamy, woody base it spans the seasons except for the hottest days of summer. It feels lush and original, but not overly edgy. Wearing Lyric, you stand apart, but not too much so. In short, it’s a modern classic.
Amouage Lyric Woman is available in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum; for buying information, see the listing for Amouage under Perfume Houses. As of this writing, most US retailers have it for pre-order only (to ship in early October), but it is in stock at Four Seasons.