If ever there were a flower that symbolized perfume it would be the rose. It continually crosses the boundaries of time as well as culture and today, almost every modern perfume contains at least one aspect of this complex flower that contains more than 300 odorous components. Ancient Egyptians consider the rose to be sacred to the goddess Isis and in the classical world the rose is connected to the goddess of love, Aphrodite or Venus. In medieval Christianity the flower’s five petals symbolize the five wounds of Christ and later becomes associated with the Virgin Mary. Towards the end of the medieval period the rose is already being cultivated for its scent in the Middle East.
As early as the 10th century roses flourish under Persian rule, particularly in the city of Shiraz. During the 15th century Ottoman merchants trade rose through the Balkans and a newly formed town in Bulgaria that would later become known as Kazanlik, literally Turkish for ‘the place of stills.’ These stills are responsible for producing fine rose oil, known as Rose Otto. The essential oil is distilled from the flowers and has a different odour compared with the absolute created by solvent extraction or the traditional French method of enfleurage. Today Bulgaria and Turkey remain the world’s leading producers of quality Rose Otto from Rose Damascena, a hybrid flower that differs from the Rose Centifolia grown in Grasse.
Amouage’s Lyric pays homage to the story of the rose and the wonderful complexities the flower offers a perfumer. In standard Amouage fashion the story is split in two by gender. From Robertet, perfumers Daniel Maurel composed Lyric Woman and Daniel Visentin composed Lyric Man. Both creations fuse a seamless bond between traditional French perfumery and Eastern aesthetics. The idea of a masculine rose has only recently been embraced by the West, even if Middle Eastern men have been wearing rose perfumes, perhaps since the time when roses became a precious commodity on the trade routes all those centuries ago. Surrounded by spices, precious resins and woods, Visentin’s rose is filled with Arabic charm.
Lyric Man begins with the shrill of Rose Otto, sharp and piercing. This is paired with subtle notes of orange blossom, spices and a shade of green galbanum. As the fragrance progresses the hay-like angelica note comes through and the saffron-rose combination becomes more evident. The base of the fragrance is built around sandalwood and vanilla having an almost Samsara-esque effect. This round robust accord is then given jagged edges with resinous frankincense and pine. As the sharper aspects of rose wear down the wearer is left with the warm plush part of the rose commonly associated with rose absolute. Lyric Man is a rose from top to bottom with special effects along the way. These effects have their volume turned down so the focus never deviates from this King of Flowers.
Like many Amouage fragrances, Lyric Man has a time and place. It is grand and opulent and is a statement fragrance. The perfume’s warmth makes it a favourite I like to wear in winter and for mundane times when I crave a bit of beauty to get me through the day. Strength is one of the qualities I have come to expect from any Amouage perfume, and owing to Lyric Man’s shear strength and tenacity, I recommend using it sparingly. A little goes long way.
Frederic Malle Une Rose, Frederic Malle Noir Epices, Le Labo Rose 31, Guerlain Rose Nacree du Desert
Perfumer: Daniel Visentin (Robertet)
Bottle Designer: Bill Trigger
Release Date: 2008
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Woods