Verdi’s opera La Traviata (the ‘fallen woman’) based on ‘La Dame Aux Camélias’, a novel by Alexandre Dumas, tells the story of a courtesan who dies in the usual, melodramatic style (of a broken heart and tuberculosis), and this new perfume by Amouage, part of the Library Collection, is laced with dark, peppered emotion.
Ostensibly based on the fresh red scent of the camellia – flowers that to my knowledge don’t actually have much scent (although the flower oil, perfumed, is used traditionally by sumo wrestlers, who preeningly douse their long, top-knotted hair in the stuff as they hulk by in kimono, reeking beautifully of flowers), this is also a floral with a kick and obsessive undertones.
A pulsating heart of grey amber, civet and beeswax – rich, decadent, though suffused with a peculiarly over dose of black pepper that contrasts uneasily with a thick, indolic Egyptian jasmine sewn unwiltingly into a tender and fresh camellia accord in the top accord, this is a strong and unwavering scent, superficially light and quavering, but in reality deep; morose.
There is something feral here. Noble, effusive, but disturbing, and I’m not quite sure what I make of it (it feels somehow under-detailed). We are in the realm of melancholically dense, pepper-downed camellias, a category of scent I have never come across before, and the scent smells quite wrong on me, like a puttyish, grey jasmine clay. My skin eats up the flowers, drowning in their strange, haunted saliva, but there is nevertheless something compelling about this perfume, in its contrast between pale pinks and grey, its clinging lack of optimism, that I can envisage being quite beautifully perturbing and troubling on more pale, delicate skin.