That Place Within – Review: Amouage Honour Woman

Amouage releases a new perfume duo – Honour Woman and Man. I had the good fortune of receiving samples from the company early.

As usual, I got it all wrong beforehand. From reading the notes and this review on Ca Fleure Bon, I was wary of the Woman’s version (you know that white florals and I do not go together well, although I have some that work for me by now) and eager for the Men’s scent. Of course it is the other way round. When will I learn that notes list are a lovely thing once you have the thing right under your nose? Reading it before I have the juice in my hands, does not help me obviously. But enough babble, you are all waiting for the review, aren’t you?

One more thing, before we start – look at that bottle, people! Thankfully what is inside is just as beautiful, or more so, than what is outside. (And should you not like the bottle, smell it anyway, the perfume is gorgeous, bottle or not.) No more distractions now, I promise!

Honour Woman was created by Alexandra Carlin and Violaine Collas and lists notes of pepper, rhubarb leaves, coriander, jasmine, tuberose, gardenia, lily of the valley, carnation, vetiver, frankincense, amber, opoponax and leather.

Honour Woman is astounding for me, because not only is it beautiful, but it surprised me in many ways. I usually find white florals to be loud, overpowering and often screechy, soapy and unsubtle to the max. Judging from that notes list, knowing the maximalist approach of more is more that Amouage is known (and loved, I might add) for, I expected to be hit over the head and kicked in the stomach with a single spray.

Not so. Not so at all. Honour Woman is, if not really subtle, then refined, elegant, soft-spoken, tender almost and incredibly beautiful. This is what high quality materials smell like. Amouage perfumes are worth every cent, because from top to toe, or rather juice to outer packaging everything is luxurious, top of the tier quality.

Quality you can smell. And so can others. I receive compliments left and right when I am wearing Honour Woman. The sillage is there, but if I don’t over apply - two sprays will do nicely, it is not too much, I am very sensitive to wafting, I want to stay under the radar, not draw attention to myself through perfume, I wear perfume for the people rather closer to me.

Honour Woman starts out green and interestingly fresh, like the smell inside a florists shop, the coriander lends a spicy facet, but only very softly. Soon the flowers make their entrance, first it is the green lightness of lily of the valley that I smell, but soon jasmine and gardenia join in, I hardly detect tuberose (a good thing as far as I am concerned) and they last for hours, softly singing with a pure and clear voice. It is the voice of a solo soprano in a church choir, rather than a voluptuous opera diva haunted by her own vibrato.

Slowly the white florals give way to a warm and comforting as well as comfortable base of soft amber and incense, with a hint of vetiver that serves to keep the memory of the green facet alive.

Never have I smelled a white floral so lovely and heartbreakingly tender. The inspiration to this fragrance was the opera Madame Butterfly, and as Christopher Chong, creative director of the house, stated in his interview on Ca Fleure Bon “Honour is about the elements of love, betrayal and reconciliation.”

I find this beautiful idea incredibly well executed in the perfume. There is no loudness, no diva-esque flamboyance, no no-holds-barred floral dominance. Instead Honour Woman captures the duality of love and pain, the two sides of the medal that always pairs tears and laughter, sadness and joy, tragedy and lust for life.

Honour Woman has the power to carry me away, as this review bears witness, to a place of sublime tenderness, to the fragile place of balance between the extremes of our emotional spectrum, where the knowledge that life and death are forever closely bound together, to the center of our being, of our soul.

Honour Woman reaches me in that place, it comforts me and strengthens me. I feel more me, more my true self, I don’t feel the need to be something for somebody.

Honour Woman honours the woman I am. We are a perfect match.

Image source: Amouage bottle via Ca Fleure Bon, “Youth mourning” by Sir George Clausen (1852-1944)
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40 Responses to That Place Within – Review: Amouage Honour Woman

  1. Sandra says:

    As I love Amouage perfumes I was anxious what their next release would be. What a beautiful review. I cannot wait to try it. Hopefully it will be available in Vienna soon.

  2. Such a lovely review! When I first read the notes of Honour Woman, I thought to myself, “okay, if they just took out the jasmine, gardenia and lily of the valley, we’d be good”. I’ve just received samples of Honour Woman and Honour Man, and while I’m expecting to like Honour Man, I’m keeping an open mind about both. I don’t let a notes list scare me anymore, because you just never know until juice meets skin.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I am so curious to hear your take, Carrie! I thought I would prefer Man too, but I don’t at all, it is way to harshly masculine for my tastes. The way Christopher was talking I expected to be blown out of my shoes with Woman too, but it is not loud at all, thank goodness! ;)

  3. loungeboy says:

    Your words just amped up my anticipation for testing HONOUR by ten fold. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Persolaise says:

    Thanks for this review. I’m glad you enjoyed it, but I suspect my review – when/if I publish it – will be somewhat different. I love your choice of illustration, by the way.

    • Olfactoria says:

      That is why many different voices are very helpful when trying to assess a perfume through mere words. :)
      Thank you!

      • Persolaise says:

        I know what you’re saying – and I agree with you – but I’ve also been worrying more and more about the whole issue of subjectivity vs objectivity in criticism.

        What makes a perfume great? When a sufficient number of *subjective* critics/wearers express the *subjective* view that it’s great? If so, what’s the magic number? How many thumbs up do you need? Perhaps we should have a series of inter-blog posts about this…?

        • Olfactoria says:

          There is no such thing as objectivity, at all. We are human. The only option to objectively state anything is gas chromatography. ;) But one has to differentiate a little of course – materials can be of high or low quality, the technical aspect of a composition can be analyzed, but beauty is and forever will be in the eye of the beholder in every discipline of art. The Amouage is of high quality, no doubt. Whether it is great, well only time will tell. It is great to me, and whether that number rises we can only speculate.

          I am up for an inter-blog coordinated post on the issue. :)

  5. angie Cox says:

    So that’s saving again ! I love the bottle too Birgit .

  6. Gisela says:

    Wow, you make it sounding even more stunning and lovely than I anticipated from reading about it at Ca Fleure Bon – can’t wait to sniff it now!

  7. Jane says:

    Cannot wait for this to come to Canada….it sounds like heaven in a bottle…

  8. *jen says:

    Waaaahhhh! I can’t afford all of these Amouages! I loved this review, darn you. This sounds gorgeous.

  9. Tara says:

    Wow! You have such deep felt reactions to perfume, B and you are able to put that into words which I do admire.

    Sounds drop dead gorgeous and so much more than a typical white floral. I haven’t found the Amouage for me yet (could this be the one?) but I do admire the top quality materials used. The sillage and longevity you mention from just two sprays bears this out too. Will definitely seek this out.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Those reactions, I guess that is why I love perfume so much and why I want to write about it, it sets something in motion in me that gets me writing. :)
      You will have access first, they launch in Lowndes Street soon, the 16th if I am not mistaken. Did you ever go to the Amouage boutique? It is such a beautiful store!

  10. Tarleisio says:

    Oh, those fatal, lethal Amouages will be the death of me…or my credit rating, I’m not sure which! You know, darling B, of my mad infatuation with this line and what these perfumes tend to do to my head, so I am…breathless with anticipation! ;)

    This was a review even more beautiful than the bottle, and that bottle is…stunning! Which means…

    That the anticipation WILL kill me! :)

  11. Undina says:

    This is the first time in a long run when reading your positive review of a perfume hasn’t created an intensive jolt of desire to run and try it… but only because I’ve been doing that cat-like pre-pounce wiggling since I’ve read about this perfume at Ca Fleure Bon.
    Love the review.

  12. dee says:

    If there’s an Amouage for everyone, I think that “mine” is Memoir (Opus IV being a runner up), but based on your reaction to Honour, I think that there might be Two Amouage’s for everyone ;)

    Can’t wait to try it! And the Man version…

  13. Flora says:

    Oh, you just about KILLED me with this review, how lovely your description is and how lovely this perfume must be!

  14. Lovely review Birgit. I too do not get on well with most white florals but you have made me very hopeful for this one. The only element that worries me slightly is the gardenia – it’s a dealbreaker for me in a scent. How prominent is it ?

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hi, Hilary!
      I don’t find the gardenia prominent, the floral bouquet is very well blended and refined, no one note is vying for the spotlight. It is a very good perfume for non-white floral lovers. ;)
      I look forward to hear your opinion once you’ve tried it.
      Btw, your comment was the 5000th on my blog, thank you – no price though. :D

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  20. Fenella says:

    I live in Muscat, Oman and have used many of the Amouage range, Honour lives up to your excellent review.

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