Earlier this year, Amouage released its Library Collection, a trio of fragrances designed as a "poetic homage to the art of living." Opus III is a floral oriental developed by perfumer Karine Vinchon; according to Amouage, this fragrance "was inspired by the art and science of the creative process, from the darkest moments of frustration, to the brightness of enlightenment and discovery." It includes top notes of mimosa, broom, carnation, nutmeg, and thyme; a heart of violet, jasmine, ylang-ylang, and orange blossom; and base notes of ambrette, musk, papyrus, cedarwood, sandalwood, guaiac wood, benzoin, and vanilla.
Opus III opens with a distinctive note of broom flowers. If you've ever tried Santa Maria Novella Ginestra, a broom soliflore, you'll recognize this scent, something like cut hay and long grass warmed by the sun. If Opus III were visible as color, the dominant shades of its opening and its heart would be the bright, almost sharp yellow of broom blossoms and the buttery shade of mimosa flowers. The mimosa note is slightly honeyed. It picks up some depth from the jasmine and ylang-ylang and some duskiness from the soft wood notes in the base. The nutmeg and frankincense are only faint hints of spice. The dry down, with its benzoin and vanilla notes, brings a powdery almond effect to the final phase of the mimosa; here, the fragrance's "color" shifts into shades of cream and dusty ochre, shot through with threads of gold. Opus III has excellent staying power, and it lasts through an entire workday on my skin.
This elegant fragrance was a surprise for me on two counts. First, mimosa is not usually one of my favorite notes. The only mimosa fragrance I've ever loved is Caron Farnesiana, a sweeter, fruitier interpretation of mimosa with a pastry-like heliotrope note. Opus III is now the second fragrance with mimosa that I truly enjoy wearing. Second, this is the first Amouage composition that hasn't felt too rich, too dramatic, just too big for my personality. It's not really a strong contrast between "dark" and "bright," as promised in the description; I'd describe it as a subtle layering of "shadowy" and "glowing," which appeals to me even more.
The Library Collection's signature bottle is deceptively simple in appearance. In person, the bottle has a matte finish, a satiny texture and a slightly curved shape that allows you to cradle it in your hand like a small, precious book. Of course, all this understated luxury comes at a price. Otherwise, I would have acquired a full-size Opus III for my own fragrance "library" by now.
Amouage Library Collection Opus III sells for $325 for 100 ml Eau de Parfum. For purchasing information, see Amouage under perfume houses.
Note: top image is Eugène Grasset's advertisement for L. Marquet ink [cropped], via Wikimedia Commons.