Amouage fragrances often contain a labyrinth of meaning and Amouage’s latest offering, Figment Man is no different. If anything they are becoming more cryptic with each consecutive launch. While the Main Collection’s “First Cycle” was marvellous, the fragrances shared a close relationship or common thread and Amouage developed a reputation for a particular style. I imagine this became limiting for the brand’s Creative Director, Christopher Chong. In this “Second Cycle,” Chong seems intent on contradicting any assumptions of what an Amouage fragrance should be as he moves away from the first cycle’s key themes of frankincense, exotic woods, spices and opulent flowers. Of course, the quality of the natural raw materials is all still there but the fragrances in this current cycle smell less ostentatious. They also feel worldlier and less attuned to fragrance trends in the Middle East, a target market for many luxury fragrance houses.
In sticking with the tradition of the Main Collection, there is a men and women’s Figment fragrance. Figment Woman is a solar white floral and an extroverted fragrance where as Figment Man feels a little bit more mysterious but it’s certainly no introvert. Figment Man explores Chong’s enduring fascination with Bhutan, the ‘Land of Happiness’. Chong is also a consummate opera pundit and it’s almost a given that every Amouage fragrance shares some relevance with opera. Like an operatic dream sequence, Figment Man contains elements of the surreal. Amouage describe the fragrance as a hologram, “awakening the imagination of the unknown.”
I feel as though Figment Man begins where Amouage’s Bracken Man (2016) finished. There is the same earthy, nature-centric tonality. This fougere effect feels safe and familiar then as the fragrance evolves; the entire thing unfolds into something of an enigma. Figment Man opens with lemon that is green and slightly unripe. The peel fizzes with an effervescence that is so fine, the bubbles form delicate olfactory foam. Pink pepper increases lemon’s fizz as well as adding freshness and spice. A camphor note pervades the fragrance and reads like clean mountain air inhaled at high altitude. Geranium’s metallic facet makes an appearance along with a soft crystalline rosiness that adds a floral touch to Figment Man’s heart. Here is where things go a little bit Twin Peaks. There is a wet earth note that pulls against the effervescent top notes. It is the scent of petrichor, the scent in air after rainfall following a dry period or geosmin (literally earth smell in Greek), an organic flavour and odour compound perhaps best understood by inhaling the scent of freshly cut beetroot. This odour shifts between the scent of wet earth and animalic ambergris and is a big contributor to the olfactory make-up of Figment Man. Another interesting element is the “animalic accord.” It’s layered over the top of the earthy accord and smells sweet, slightly honey-like and it has a classical nuance. One of the famous and widely used perfume bases from the mid to late 20th century was Animalis, created by Synarome, a raw material producer in the fragrance industry. This base is found in many classic men fragrances. It smells a little old fashioned now and I don’t know if perfumer Annick Menardo used it in her formula for Figment Man; I’m sure all the major perfume houses have their own in-house bases that can mimic the effect of Animalis. In any case, this classical reference is another springboard that allows the mind to wander Figment Man’s labyrinth of olfactory corridors. Whether intentional or not, the fragrance settles down to a more palatable sandalwood and vetiver base supported by musk. Figment Man may not be to everyone’s liking and it’s probably not the first fragrance I would recommend to someone who is new to niche fragrances. To people who are looking for a fragrance that offers some olfactory challenges, this could be your Shangri La.
Olfactive direction: Christopher Chong
Perfumer: Annick Menardo (Firmenich)
Release Date: 2017
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Mossy woods
Notes: Pink pepper, geranium, lemon, animalic note, sandalwood, vetiver, earthy notes, guaiac wood, cistus labdanum
Australian stockist: www.agencedeparfum.com.au