Amarige by Dominique Ropion for Givenchy 1991


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


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

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.

Amarige Givenchy Bettina Blouse PinterestPhoto 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.

Photo Stolen Fragrantica

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

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?

12 thoughts on “Amarige by Dominique Ropion for Givenchy 1991

  1. I love some of the classic ’80s powerhouses, and have a drawerful of precious vintage Opium, but there are few perfumes from the 90s that I will wear at all. To my nose, they lack the gorgeous element.
    I don’t care for Amarige just because it doesn’t smell that good on me, but I love what you said about it supplying a yellow element. I wish I could smell it on you. I do like its flanker, Mariage. Do you ever wear that one?


    • Hi, no, I was late to the whole Amarige phenomenon, so I missed all the flankers etc and I never see them in the retail shops in my area. But Mariage is easy to pick up online, so I really must. If it’s too sweet it won’t be for me though.

      So glad you stocked up on that Opium. That one will never be the same. I feel so sorry for people who have lost their great fragrance love.


  2. I haven’t brought Amarige up from storage yet, Anne-Marie. Thanks for reminding me. I loved it so – at one point – and it is worth another try. I think of the 90s as great perfume years when many ground breaking fragrances were first introduced. Remember Bvlgari Black? Parfume Sacre? Angel? Premier Figuier? The list goes on. One of my not so ground breaking 90s favs is and was the very watery L’Eau de Monteil
    Azar xx


    • I remember your lovely post invoking your memories of L’Eau de Monteil! (Just saw a bottle on eBay for $249 USD. Sheesh!)

      You are right – the 90s was a very complex time in perfumery. It’s too simplistic to suggest that everyone was rejecting the 80s powerhouse scents in favour of clean watery fragrances. It was the era that saw the emergence, for better or worse, of the fruity floral – and they were hugely successful as we know. And then there were truly daring fragrances like Angel and Black (love Black!), and the growing success of niche: L’Artisan, Lutens, Goutal … All of this happening at the same time!

      I missed a lot of it because in the 90s I was getting married, buying a house, having children. Too busy and too cash-strapped to worry about perfume. I did buy Pleasures when it came out in 1995. Wore the heck out of it.


  3. I have been looking through my boxes trying to find my bottle of Amarige since last week but I can’t seem to locate it. As soon as I stop looking it will show up and I’ll come back to your post and respritz, promise.
    Portia xx


  4. I owned a bottle of Amarige sometime in the middle or late 90s. Amarige was strictly for parties for me, had to be applied lightly. I never cared for Opium, and a friend wore the Giorgio, so I did not want to buy that (I remember I found it very posh). I myself had mainly been wearing Quartz and different types of cologne-like scents before I turned to Fidji, Tuscany per donna (I think that was the name?) and not least:Joop! Didn’t quit the light scents completely, during summer I used Eau de Patou, at that time reasonably priced.

    What I liked about Amarige was the way it wafted around the wearer and the warm basse notes. I always like orange blossom, too. I tried a sample of Amarige a year ago and I swear it must have been reformulated, it seemed more fruity and less floral. It was less genuine somehow, a bit thin. So like many other perfumes from the 80s and 90s, not a candidate on my wish list for full bottles. Still, I don’t see why so many perfumes from the 80s and 90s have such a bad reputation. I tend to gravitate toward classics or niche, but even classic French perfumes get reformulated, so it is a good thing I haven’t got a true signature scent.


  5. There is certainly a fruity element there, yes. Very luscious but not too sweet. And perfumers of those days knew how to create a beautiful sillage didn’t they! I love that about Amarige, tho’ I stop at two spritzes, one of them under my clothes.

    You are right about signature scents – they are a risk nowadays. Even the fragrance companies (Chanel is an exception) don’t seem to expect or encourage you to adopt a signature. As soon as you buy a fragrance and start to live with it, up pops a flanker, and another and another. I’m looking at you Estee Lauder.


  6. I love this post Anne-Marie! And I think you’re spot-on about an expanding perfume market in the 1990’s. For every hundred watery, melony bottles of dreck marketed for the new, non-perfume demographic, there were probably ten real beauties also launched.
    Just off the top of my head I’m thinking of one of my all-time favourites: Caron’s Parfum Sacre. And there was Dune, and YSL’s In Love again (which should have pleased both sectors, but didn’t)and Kenzo’s Jungle Elephant – but I’ve never, ever sniffed Amarige. Now, after reading your post, I most certainly will!


    • Oh good! I hope you like it, and many thanks for your comment!

      I’d forgotten about Jungle Elephant. Goes to show that in the 90s there WAS an appetite for interesting and original fragrances. That said, an awful lot of White Diamonds got sold too. And it’s still a top seller today, so I hear.


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