Amouage Lyric Woman : Perfume Review

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Amouage makes perfumes that are Arabian corollaries to how perfumes used to be made in the US up until the post-World War II era.  By this I mean assertive, statement-making perfumes with incisive notes. Amouage Lyric Woman (2008) is a blueprint rose chypre for this type of perfume, using Middle Eastern motifs on a classical framework.

Lyric Woman is composed around a central floral scheme of rose, jasmine, and ylang-ylang.  The particular rose used in Lyric Woman is not a Western-type dewy or jammy rose but one that has smoky elements, as if rose were a herbal, rather than a floral, component. This rose is scattered all over Lyric Woman, its dried petals offering a textural counterpoint to rich, rubbery ylang-ylang and honeyed jasmine.

The first whiff of Lyric Woman is a surprise—perfumes don’t smell like this any longer, and Lyric Woman’s notes surround in a rush of spices (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom) and citrus with bitterness from geranium leaf. From this one might assume that Lyric Woman is dizzying and that its effect might be nuclear.  Instead, within a quarter hour it has dried down to skin-scent level, acquiring an interesting leather note along the way, so that it smells as if someone has tipped grilled flowers into a kidskin glove.

Frankincense plays an important role in the drydown of Lyric  Woman.  The note alternates between sweetness and smokiness, with notes of lemon, orange, and pine, plus dusty resin. This section of the perfume is where you will smell the shift from a spiced floral perfume to a musky animalic one, adding earthy mosses and vetiver to complete the leathery effect.  It sounds and is complex, but the treatment is so soft and the sillage so gentle that one must press one’s nose to wrist in order to get the full idea.

As a general rule, I haven’t been able to appreciate the rose chypre category. Rose chypres seem to project anxiety onto my skin and I don’t feel right wearing them. So complex is Lyric Woman that at first I wasn’t fully convinced of its chypre status; lemony cardamom is a favorite note of mine and I noticed a good deal of it immediately, along with the silky jasmine and dried rose. This made Lyric Woman seem initially like a floral fragrance.  The animalic note, quietly hot, teased and then disappeared, only to reappear as the leather in the base. By the time the base appeared, the sillage had become so quiet that I did not feel the usual scratch of moss.

It reminded me a bit of Hermes Rouge in its juxtaposition of the bitter with the sweet.  The spice of the opening gets retracted, as does the rose, leaving a fadeout of jasmine against the deep brown frankincense and sandalwood.  I was hooked, unfortunately. I will try as cordially as possible to say that there is a price point at which my interest stops and Amouage has reached it with their luxury items. However, this is a four-star fragrance and one which I will continue to seek out in decant or sample form, eking out pleasure drop by drop.

Amouage Lyric Woman includes the notes of bergamot, spicy cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, rose, angelica, jasmine, ylang-ylang, geranium, orris, oakmoss, musk, wood, patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, vanilla, tonka bean, and frankincense.

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48 Comments

  • JennyJo: There’s a coincidence, I bought some Amouage samples yesterday, among which Lyric. I wore it last night and again today, it is so unusual, old-wordly rich, but also very gentle. Your review captures it perfectly I think. I must admit I’m smitten. And so is my husband with his Epic sample. *sigh*

    Oh dear. September 17, 2012 at 8:06am Reply

    • Suzanna: My response, JennyJo, is “Oh, dear.” While I am thrilled that you have been enthralled by Lyric Woman, I see you are joining me in that province of sticker shock. I didn’t want to like Lyric Woman at all, given the cost. It’s similar to admiring a house or a car that one could not approach financially–thought of that way, the desire abates (somewhat). September 17, 2012 at 10:50am Reply

      • JennyJo: The price of one Amouage will buy me two Chanel Exclusifs – almost. And there are several Chanel E’s on my list…

        I may just settle for a sample now and then. 🙂 September 17, 2012 at 12:29pm Reply

  • Lucas: Great review Suzanna! I’ve never tried Lyric Woman but Lyric Man is one of my favourite rose perfume. It’s right behind my rose number 1 which is the newly released Rose Anonyme from Atelier Cologne. September 17, 2012 at 8:32am Reply

    • Suzanna: Lucas, I wish you hadn’t mentioned that new Atelier. Now I will have to go buy a sample! What do you like about it? September 17, 2012 at 10:52am Reply

      • Lucas: I like the whole concept but rose in it is like no other I tried. As I’ve written in my review at my Chemist in the Bottle it is a rose of hundret faces. It smells like bouquet made of fresh red roses, old, almost dying “black” roses. Everything sprinkled with few drops of rose water and with an additional touch of dry rose petals of potpourri style.

        I’m buying a bottle of it this week. September 17, 2012 at 10:56am Reply

        • Suzanna: Sounds like something I will def. want to try! Thanks! September 17, 2012 at 11:48am Reply

  • Nancy: I became a fan of the Amouage Library Collection while in a shop in Paris this past July. Opus I is my fav! September 17, 2012 at 9:10am Reply

    • Suzanna: Nancy, I haven’t really investigated this line because of the price, but I will take your rec about Opus 1 and give that a try, too (I can see a sample order in the offing…) September 17, 2012 at 10:53am Reply

  • Ari: The Unseen Censer just sent me a sample of this! “Lemony cardamon”?? Up to the top of the to-try list it goes! Thank you for the review, Suzanna! Although I have to say, I’m not sure if I’ve ever encountered a rose chypre. Could you possibly give me some examples? September 17, 2012 at 9:32am Reply

    • Elisa: Some examples: Knowing, Agent Provocateur, l’Arte di Gucci

      I love rose chypres! September 17, 2012 at 10:42am Reply

      • OperaFan: Or a much cheaper alternative to L’AdG is Ungaro’s Diva. And while we’re at it, Paloma Picasso…. 🙂 September 17, 2012 at 10:51am Reply

      • mals86: (Waves at Elisa! then waves at Ari!)

        More rose chypres I like: Ungaro Diva, FM Portrait of a Lady, Teo Cabanel Oha, Pd’E Eau Suave, Armani Prive Rose Alexandrie, MFK Lumiere Noire (yeah, yeah, I know FK himself is kind of a jerk, but let me be truthful here and say this thing is really gorgeous). September 17, 2012 at 10:55am Reply

        • Elisa: Agreed! I recently tried Lumiere Noire in a little shop in Aspen and was blown away. It’s the closest thing I’ve smelled to L’Arte di Gucci that’s in production. I haven’t tried the Armani though.

          OperaFan: Do you think the rose note is stronger in Paloma Picasso EDP? I have a bottle of the EDT and I get mostly jasmine from it (on a super-mossy base) September 17, 2012 at 7:12pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I see the gang is weighing in here, so to that I will add Lutens Rose de Nuit as a textbook example. I’m sure more will follow as the discussion grows. September 17, 2012 at 10:54am Reply

    • Suzanna: Ari, I hope the discussion is helping you to understand what a rose chypre is. Some of them are very easy to access, like the Lauders. September 17, 2012 at 11:51am Reply

    • Daisy: Tauer has a Rose Chyprée! September 18, 2012 at 12:26pm Reply

  • OperaFan: I haven’t tried any of the more recent Amouage. I got “lost” somewhere in the Library, but well before that series came out, I fell in love with Lyric, Gold, and J25.

    Lyric is very smooth, isn’t it? I would have guessed J25 to have oakmoss before I ever find it in Lyric. It’s one of the perfumes where I can literally “feel” the velvet, or the heavy silk.

    In terms of opera, this would be my Tosca scent, but I’m considering wearing it to hear Renee Fleming sing Desdemona in Otello at the Metropolitan Opera next month. This or Coco (the latter being Venice-inspired). September 17, 2012 at 10:49am Reply

    • Suzanna: OperaFan, for such an event I would wear Lyric, but that’s just me. Coco is more ubiquitous and Lyric rare; and it isn’t everyday that one can hear such a magnificent Desdemona. Both are wonderful choices, though! September 17, 2012 at 10:56am Reply

  • mals86: Love Lyric Woman, of which I only have a decant and dole it out for special occasions.

    I do very well with rose chypres, but have never thought of Lyric as being one – the moss is not pronounced on me, and I get more dry woods and incense plus a little teeny bit of vanilla under those spicy roses. It is, I think, a very contemplative fragrance, and I like to wear it to classical-music concerts. September 17, 2012 at 10:50am Reply

    • Suzanna: mals86, I do not do well at all with rose chypres, and the mellowness of LW is precisely why I can wear it successfully. I think I will have to order a decant, and it will become one of those perfumes that I don’t wear so much as I dole out drop by drop, in the evenings, for personal pleasure and not to scent the world. September 17, 2012 at 10:57am Reply

  • rosarita: Thanks as always for the spot on review, Susanna. I don’t seek out a lot of scents to try because even a decant is out of my price range, so why do it? Lots of affordable scents to love out there. However, a fabulous perfumeista send me a small decant of Lyric Woman in a swap package and I just love it. I wore it the other day and a small spritz applied in the evening was still going strong mid morning of the next day. Tauer Une Rose Chypree is another one that I wasn’t going to try, then someone sent me a sample and, whoa, I love that one too. Lasts forever on skin. Maybe I’ll shell out for decants one of these days. September 17, 2012 at 12:39pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Rosarita, you’ve stated exactly how I feel about this fragrance, or any other like it.

      Interesting how we fell for this one-I think it’s disarming, gorgeous, subtle. A decant is a must! September 17, 2012 at 1:17pm Reply

    • solanace: That’s how I feel about the price point, too. But at least Amouage will deliver the real deal, so even if we stick with samples and decants, we’ll have juices which are complex, interesting, made of the highest grade ingredients, with perfect longevity, etc. I crave a bottle of Gold, which I think is worth the entire Chanel Les Exclusifs line. September 18, 2012 at 4:58am Reply

  • silverdust: Suzanna, do you think U.S. based perfume companies will ever get back to the “pre WWII era” of perfumery?

    Here’s hoping that Lyric makes such a splashy debut that domestic perfumers are inspired to return to the genre! September 17, 2012 at 3:23pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Silverdust, I doubt it. Fruity patchoulis, the spawn of Angel, and clean musks have had a grip on the market for a long, long time and other than niche or upscale brands I do not see this changing. For instance, look at Coco Noir, which is a “rarefiled” version of the trend.

      I am not sure that the mass market is ready for a return to that type of perfumery. Also, another thing to consider is that some components are not longer available, like real oakmoss or civet. One could not, for instance, make Jicky again. September 17, 2012 at 4:02pm Reply

  • Ariadne: I adore rose, chypre, aldehydes, and spices. I never seem to wander elsewhere.
    Right now I am smitten with the rose interpretations by Juliette has a Gun Lady Vengeance & Citizen Queen. I wore Ungaro Diva in gallons in the ’80’s. I think I will covet Amouage Lyric Woman too, yes? September 17, 2012 at 6:17pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Yes, you will! Go for it! September 17, 2012 at 6:31pm Reply

    • mals86: Oh, I love Citizen Queen! Rrrrowr. Very musky on me. September 17, 2012 at 8:14pm Reply

  • Ariadne: What could have bumped this to a 5 star rating? September 17, 2012 at 6:43pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Ariadne, I took a point off for price. It is out of my realistic reach and I imagine that of many of the gang here. While I understand the ultra-exclusive market (I worked in it for years), I am writing a perfume review where I am taking the price into account for what I imagine to be the majority of readers. The perfume itself is pretty darn flawless. September 17, 2012 at 8:29pm Reply

      • solanace: Ditto. But I can’t help thinking that “French perfume” was something expensive for the women in my family as I grew up, something we cherished, something we could not buy many bottles of. I’ve been only buying samples and decants for a while now, but I suppose I’d rather have one bottle of Amouage (and isn’t that red bottle something) than twenty heartless little things of the likes of the current Diors, the reformulated Jolie Madame, the ocean and air inspired blue caloney-ozonic stuff… September 18, 2012 at 5:08am Reply

        • Suzanna: That’s another way of looking at it, solanace, and probably one I’d have subscribed to before striking out in so many different directions. There’s a place in my library for both Amouage and ozone, definitely. September 18, 2012 at 8:14am Reply

      • OperaFan: Suzanna – Don’t mind if I chime in my 2 cents about this, but if for no other reason than the high price that keeps your rating of Lyric from going all the way to the 5-star level, then I would ask you to reconsider. I am by no means arguing that $275-315 US is reasonable for a perfume [I, for one certainly can’t afford it], but all the same if a creation is worthy of a classic, then shouldn’t it deserve a place as one?
        It is, of course, my personal opinion and you and Victoria will and should use your own discretion. 🙂 September 18, 2012 at 12:55pm Reply

        • Suzanna: OperaFan, perfume rating is all subjective. Is this the best perfume I’ve ever smelled, and one I cannot live without? No. I love it and think it’s grand, but I am not scurrying to buy a decant of it. But that’s just me. September 18, 2012 at 2:10pm Reply

        • Victoria: The five star ratings are for fragrances that you want to pay that kind of ridiculous money for. For instance, for me, Gold is worth every single penny. It’s beautiful from all angles, and it moves me. The five star fragrances are the ones that give “the butterflies in the stomach” sensation. But as Suzanna says, it’s all more of a shorthand and is subjective. We try to stick to the same criteria though, to make sure that all of our ratings are the same across the board. September 18, 2012 at 3:19pm Reply

          • OperaFan: Completely understand and – to set the record straight – neither was it my intention to push for the extra star as much as to understand your true assessment of the fragrance.
            I recall you had given Homage 5 stars, and the cost of that one well-exceeds the price for Lyric. Of course, not having tried Homage, for all I know that one may very well blow Lyric out of the water completely.
            My bigger concern was that you might be denying the perfume the extra star just because of the cost (and that was taking Suzanna’s initial response at face value). I know this issue gets brought up a lot…. September 18, 2012 at 5:22pm Reply

            • OperaFan: BTW – in referring to “you” I meant BdJ in general since it was Victoria who reviewed Homage. 🙂 September 18, 2012 at 5:24pm Reply

            • Victoria: Homage Attar is four stars, while Gold is five!

              As for the assessment, you can always click on each star group to see the explanation (at the very bottom of the review, there are links to the rankings, perfumers, notes, and other vital stats. 🙂
              http://boisdejasmin.com/rating/5-stars
              http://boisdejasmin.com/rating/4-stars
              etc. September 18, 2012 at 5:35pm Reply

              • OperaFan: Well, then – so much for my great memory! Nevermind…. 🙂 September 19, 2012 at 9:03am Reply

  • Gina: I never liked rose-dominant fragrances until I met Lyric. I think it is the most beautiful of all my loves.
    About rose chypres, I’m curious if anyone has tried CSP Aouda? I bought it unsniffed and was expecting rose oud, which it is, but was not expecting a snappy chypre, which it also seems to be. Something in it reminds me of Lyric, but I can’t pin it down. I would appreciate feedback from anyone who has tried it. September 17, 2012 at 11:46pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I haven’t tried it, but your reference adds another dimension to this conversation, and another fragrance for Lyric-loving people to try! September 17, 2012 at 11:52pm Reply

  • Daisy: Out of all Amouage fragrances that I have tried, I am sad to report that Lyric and me were not meant to be!

    But I can imagine that it smells beautiful on other people.

    I am currently obsessed with their Tribute Attar, which is ridiculously expensive ($355 for 12 ml), but delicious-y incense-y. It is my current win-the-lottery fantasy bottle! September 18, 2012 at 12:29pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Daisy, I had my eye on that one, and a jasmine as well. September 18, 2012 at 2:11pm Reply

  • Ariadne: I ordered a sample of Lyric yesterday. Can’t wait to try it out!!! Thank you for explaining about the ratings and how this one fits. September 18, 2012 at 7:21pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I hope you enjoy your sample, Ariadne! September 18, 2012 at 8:45pm Reply

  • Alicia: While I wait for my sample of Lyric, I remember a friend of my mother, who wore a rose chypre, a perfume of the flappers: Crepe de Chine, by Millot, which I loved as a child. I believe that it has been discontinued, but I will never forget it. Like Proust’s madeleine its memory brings me to years far gone. I love rose in everything, including rosewater, with which I spray my linens. By the way, Amouage Gold is worth its weight in gold. June 28, 2013 at 5:03am Reply

  • Alicia: Oh, Yes, I love Lyric. Very much. It is a unique rose chypre. It might be that I learned to love rose chypres because a beloved aunt of mine used to wear a lovely one, although very different from Lyric, Millot’s Crepe de Chine, now discontinued. But Crepe de Chine’s is a Western Rose. My favorite rose perfume, not a chypre i believe, is Guerlain’s Nahema, and for the day Rochas, Tocade, both French roses. Lyric’s is an oriental blossom, rich in spices and incense. No rose has ever smelled like this, but in a poet’s dream. July 7, 2013 at 5:06pm Reply

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