Post by Anne-Marie
A little while ago I did a round-up of print and online reviews of one of the most reviled perfumes on the counter: Givenchy’s Amarige. Now I’d like to share my own views. An astute reader will probably have decided that I would not be going to this much trouble if I hated Amarige, and you are right. I do love it. So THERE!
Amarige by Givenchy 1991
Amarige by Dominique Ropion
Photo Stolen Fragrantica
Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Mandarin, Neroli, Peach, Plum, Rosewood, Violet Heart
Heart: Gardenia, Carnation, Jasmine, Cassia, Mimosa, Orchid, Black locust, Rose, Red berries, Black currant, Tuberose, Ylang-ylang
Base: Amber, Woody notes, Musk, Sandalwood, Tonka bean, Vanilla, Cedar
Firstly, the notes (deep breath):
Top: orange blossom, plum, mandarin, violet, peach, neroli, Brazilian rosewood.
Heart: red berries, mimosa, carnation, black locust, tuberose, blackcurrant, gardenia, casie, orchids, jasmine, ylang ylang, rose.
Base: sandalwood, tonka, amber, musk, vanilla, woody notes, cedar
How does it smell to me? I don’t much bother trying to separate the notes. To me Amarige smells of peaches, white flowers, and sunshine. Yellow is a dominant colour in the marketing and while I don’t dress in yellow, I get my ‘yellow’ from Amarige. It’s a colour – and a scent – of confidence, happiness and optimism.
Amarige’s bottle was designed by Pierre Dinand and inspired by a blouse Hubert de Givenchy had designed in 1952 for his model, muse and some time press agent, Bettina Graziani. High-collared and narrow at the waist, the sleeves of the ‘Bettina blouse’ were deeply ruffled with broderie anglaise, and those ruffles are referenced in the cap on the bottle.
Photo Stolen Pinterest
Tuberose? I compared Amarige with other ‘scoundrels’ (Luca Turin’s word) of the era: Giorgio of Beverly Hills and Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door. The tuberose in those is indeed very and harsh and synthetic, to my nose, whereas in Amarige the tuberose is balanced and blended with other notes, especially that joyful peach.
Too strong? Oh for goodness sake! Just wear less. Nobody is forcing you to spritz Amarige 16 times, are they? What? Your Auntie Sharon did actually spritz it 16 times, back in the 90s? Well good on her. She smelled better than if she had been wearing any amount of Issey Miyake. Yes she did.
Speaking of Issey Miyake, some perfume critics write of the 90s as a time of freshness and restraint in perfume. In the 80s, perfumes were too strong and we all wore too much. In the 90s we detoxed, apparently, on fragrances like Calvin Klein’s CK One and Clinique’s Happy. But no, that’s not quite true. The divas kept coming. Not just Amarige, but Lancome’s Trésor and Poème, Liz Taylor’s White Diamonds, Gucci’s L’Arte di Gucci and Rush, Thierry Mugler’s Angel, YSL’s Yvresse, Hermès’ 24 Faubourg, Dior’s Docle Vita and J’Adore, and Chanel’s Allure.
And yet the clean watery fragrances did sell like crazy, so perhaps the only explanation is that they were bought by people who would otherwise not wear fragrance at all – memories of Auntie Sharon – meaning that the fragrance market overall must have expanded in the 1990s.
I started out with Amarige and have ended up with 90s fruity florals in general.
What do you think? A good era for perfume, the 90s? Or … not?