Every year my final post is of things I hope to see for the following year. On the last day of 2020 I hoped for more collaborations between my favorite perfume creative directors and perfumers. I even called out one by name asking for Amouage creative director Renaud Salmon and perfumer Cécile Zarokian to make a next-level gourmand. At the time I wrote that I couldn’t have defined what that looks like. Amouage Material helps find some clarity upon it.
Right after I posted I was told to stay tuned. A couple months later I would be told that my dream team was working on a perfume focused on vanilla. This sounded promising. Like what I was asking for. When I received Material, I was told one of the inspirations was the song “Material Girl” by Madonna. I was thinking about a line from the song “if they can’t raise my interest”.
Which leads to what did I mean by a next-level gourmand. The way I perceive this style of perfume is it has been focused on the edible scents in overdose. It is the youngest of the perfume styles, so it is still defining all the boundaries. What I want is someone to go to the other extreme. Use recognizably sweet and savory notes not as a focus but as an equal. I have often tossed the name “foodie floral” in my head. Material is not that. It is along the same concept executed with more nuance than I could have expected.
Material is one of a pair of new Amouage perfumes to feature Madagascar vanilla absolute. M. Salmon encouraged Mme Zarokian to find what was within this source and display it. She has been one of a few perfumers who has been in the lead on re-thinking gourmand fragrances. This was an opportunity to take another step forward. To achieve this she uses no other discrete food-based note. Instead she adds to the vanilla other ingredients which form a fascinating kaleidoscopic version of this ingredient.
The vanilla absolute is the axis for the rest of this to spin upon. It is present right from the start. There is a leather aspect which verges on boozy which comes through in the very first minute or so. Right after I get what I might have desired as osmanthus creates that “foodie floral” concept. The apricot finds the vanilla to form a creamy fruit dessert while the leather of both vanilla and osmanthus create a new harmony. This is an amazing accord while it lasts. It moves forward on twin sets of resins, balsamic and incense. This adds a tendril of subtle smoke along with a warmth. This is a classic kind of deep resinous heart that this brand is known for. It moves towards an earthy animalic finish as oud and patchouli provide that. The vanilla inserts itself to find the sweet of patchouli and the smoky resinous heart of oud.
Material has 24-hour plus longevity and average sillage.
I’ve spent the last month asking myself if this is that next-level gourmand I asked for. My answer is I think so. I’m going to need some other perfumers and brands to take a chance on venturing away from the tried and true to be sure. As a marker until that happens, I believe it is next-level.
I am also reminded of a different song as it relates to what I thought I wanted back on New Year’s Eve. The Rolling Stones tell me “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. The second half of that lyric applies to how I feel about Material, “you just might find you get what you need”.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Amouage.