Amarige by Dominic Ropion for Givenchy 1991


Post by Anne-Marie


For some time I have wanted to tackle a review of Givenchy’s 1991 powerhouse fragrance Amarige but in thinking about Amarige, one of the most divisive fragrances on the counter today, I began browsing not just the online reviews, but some perfume books in my collection. I don’t have an extensive library on perfume but I have a few works, and very interesting they can be, especially the older ones.

So today I thought I would bring you a taste of these diverse published opinions on a fragrance upon which no-one seems to be neutral. Everyone has an opinion on Amarige!

Amarige by Dominic Ropion for Givenchy 1991

A review of reviews

Amarige Givenchy FragranticaPhoto 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

Released in 1991, Amarige is a colossal white floral which somehow missed the memo that the 90s would be the era of clean, simple fragrances.

Jan Moran:
Amarige is a romantic floral creation, youthful and fresh, lightened by sparkling notes of mandarin and neroli, followed by rich white flowers embedded in a sensual musk, wood and vanilla base. A delicately feminine fragrance.
Jan Moran, Fabulous Fragrances: how to select your perfume wardrobe (Crescent House Publishing, 1994)
Fresh? Delicate? Ye Gods and Little Fishes Jan! I know your book came out in 1994 and that the 1980sa were not far behind you, but really! Even then you must have known that Amarige is about as delicate as the water tumbling over the Hoover Dam. Sheesh!

John Oakes:
Sultry is probably the word to describe this strong, elaborate and passionate perfume … Its unconventionality and breeding place it well above the usual shriek and clamour of reckless ‘moderns’. A woman will either fall immediately in love with it or avoid its uncompromising demands. It is a lusciously exotic perfume – mesmerising and sophisticated. It is Givenchy’s most daring adventure.
John Oakes, The New Book of Perfumes (Prion Books, 2000)
Considering that Oakes’ declared favourite perfume is Balmain’s Vent Vert (‘green wind’), which is stratospherically different from Amarige, his review is a masterpiece of diplomacy. I wonder what were the ‘reckless “moderns” ‘ he was thinking of in 2000?

Luca Turin:
This is the review that put Amarige on the map for innocents like me who had until encountering his book had never tried it. Many of us probably recite this one by heart, can’t we? Here we go:
We nearly gave it four stars: the soapy-green tobacco tuberose accord Dominique Ropion designed for Amarige is unmissable, unmistakable, and unforgettable. However, it is also truly loathsome, perceptible even at parts-per-billion levels, and at all times incompatible with others’ enjoyment of food, music, sex and travel. If you are reading this because it’s your darling fragrance, please wear it at home exclusively, and tape the windows shut. LT
Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, Perfumes: the guide (Penguin, 2008)
Equal parts amusing and insulting, like so many Turin-Sanchez reviews. Only one star was actually awarded, meaning I suppose that while he and TS find Amarige technically accomplished, LT personally loathes it. Fair enough.

Barbara Herman:
With a jumble of synthetic-smelling fruit notes that smell as jarring as spandex shorts with headbands and fanny packs now look, Amarige’s predictable progression in a tuberose-sweet floral heart and vanilla/amber woody base makes it hard to separate from its sisters (Cabotine, Giorgio, Animale, etc). … Amarige’s sandalwood and cedar base at least helps redeem it by providing depth and texture to the chemical stew that bubbles at its heart. … It’s hard to imagine this style of sweetness will ever come back into perfume, even ironically.
Barbara Herman, Scent & Subversion: decoding a century of provocative perfume (Lyon Press, 2013)

Photo Stolen Fragrantica

FragranceNet has $28/30ml
My Perfume Samples starts at $2/ml

So, what in 1994 was ‘fresh’ and ‘delicate’ is now a ‘chemical stew’ which should only be worn in privacy among consenting adults. What a difference 20 years makes!

Have you worn Amarige?


15 thoughts on “Amarige by Dominic Ropion for Givenchy 1991

  1. Hey Anne-Marie!
    Amarige. My bottle is this century and a little screechy, yet still I love it. Stuff the mean reviewers, I’m going to triple spritz and paint the town red tomorrow.
    Portia xx


  2. I have only worn it once and it didn’t suit me at all, but I do have a big bottle of Amarige Marriage and wear that one happily. It’s a powerhouse but, when dosed carefully, a warm beauty. Amarige had a cold quality to me, like the inside of a florist’s cold room with a few preservatives added.


    • Funny you should say that. I don’t get a cold quality in Amarige, but normally I’m a chypre lover, so perhaps there is something in Amarige that does not work for you but creates the perfect balance for me. Glad you like Mariage!


  3. Hi Anne-Marie,
    I wore this a lot when it first came out and then, after about a year, couldn’t stand it anymore. A half bottle of it sits down in the perfume storage. Maybe I’ll give it another try. Thanks for bringing this oldie back to mind (I think?).
    Azar – vintage “reckless modern” – xx


    • Ha! Good luck! It’s funny how that can happen. I wore the heck out of YSL Paris until suddenly I hated it. Happened almost overnight too.


    • People like to ‘join in’ what seems to be the prevailing opinion. I blame Luca Turin’s review, not that I quarrel with his right to express an opinion, of course. Glad you like Amarige!


  4. I’m one of those people who finds Amarige absolutely loathsome. Of course, tuberose and I have never gotten along, so any hope that I’d appreciate this scent was misplaced at best. Glad others enjoy it – but pardon me if I back away slowly…


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