Review En Bref: Amouage Opus IX

My Reviews En Bref are for perfumes that — for whatever reason — don’t seem to merit a full, exhaustive discussion. In the case of Opus IX, the newest Library scent from Amouage, the reason is dislike that is slowly replaced by boredom and disinterest.



Opus IX is an eau de parfum that was inspired by the opera, La Traviata, as performed by the great diva, Maria Callas. La Traviata was based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils, called La Dame aux Camelias, which is why Amouage ultimately describes Opus IX as the “soulful interpretation of the camellia flower.” The perfume’s notes are:

Camelia accord, jasmine, black pepper, guaiac, leather, beeswax, vetiver, ambergris, civet

I tried Opus IX a few times on my holiday in Italy, and my reaction to the opening on all 3 occasions was the fervent desire to find the nearest café bathroom and scrub it off. The fragrance opens with a blast of aromachemicals, the first of which is a bizarre, thin, sharp concoction that initially smells like something resembling the disinfectant, rubbing alcohol tonalities of ISO E Super but which rapidly turns into the scent of bug spray mixed with plasticity and waxiness. It has to come from the “Camelia accord,” which I suspect is a fantasy concoction of synthetics since nothing I’ve read in Arctander’s Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin, on Fragrantica, or elsewhere indicates that the camellia flower is an easily extracted material or a common essential oil.

"Yellow Black" by Kelly S. on Fine Art America. (Direct website link embedded within.)

“Yellow Black” by Kelly S. on Fine Art America. (Direct website link embedded within.)

The synthetic trio of bug spray, plasticity, and waxiness lasts for hours on my skin, albeit at various degrees of strength, but it is not the only unpleasant part of the opening. It is accompanied by waves of thin, sheer jasmine that is laced with a slightly smoky, scratchy, synthetic leather note and a faint gasp of equally synthetic, wholly thin civet. The entire bouquet is then lightly splattered with tiny dribbles of caramel sweetness from the ambergris (which also feels synthetic), and then cocooned within a heavy, unbalanced cloud of pepperiness.

It’s all very peculiar. The driving floral note is first and foremost the jasmine, but that strange, synthetic trio of plasticity-waxiness-bug spray is fully intertwined within it. The black pepper seems to come out of nowhere to serve no purpose that I can see intellectually or thematically, and feels like a discordant, unwanted extra who has stomped and pushed their way onto center stage to bellow in a loud baritone at the watery jasmine, lying fainting like the Dame aux Camelias under a blanket of waxy greyness. And, yet, the word that keeps coming to my mind in the first 30 minutes is “disembodied.” Somehow, Opus IX’s opening bouquet is, simultaneously, overly thin and sheer in body (and weight), but loudly abrasive and strong in reach, no doubt from the array of aromachemicals within.

"Duality" by Blacksand459 on (Direct website link embedded within.)

“Duality” by Blacksand459 on (Direct website link embedded within.)

The harsh, discordant, overly peppered, watery melange improves after 15 minutes, though it’s a relative matter. The scratchy leather and tremulous gasp of civet are replaced by an unctuous creaminess coated with soft beeswax. Hints of something dark appear at the edges, a dark green-black akin to foliage around a flower, and they slowly unfurl into fronds of vetiver. The ambergris grows stronger, its caramel-ish sweetness now occasionally taking on a honeyed veneer. Yet, as a whole, Opus IX doesn’t trigger visions of goldenness or warmth. To me, its colour skews to a dirty grey, a velvety cream turned muddy through dark stains.

"Continencia," clay art detail, by Jeannine Marchard. (Direct website link embedded within.)

“Continencia,” by Jeannine Marchard. (Direct website link embedded within.)

The cream is the one and only thing I like in the entire fragrance. That’s it, period. It starts out as just a thin layer, then grows in body and richness over the next 90 minutes, sometimes evoking images of clotted cream, sometimes feeling as thick as velvet or plush suede. It slowly transforms that thin, excessively sheer opening bouquet into something with a bit more substance, one that truly evokes the velvety texture of camellia petals. It’s so genuinely pretty, it results in a moment of (short-lived) appreciation for at least one aspect of the scent on my part.

It’s a pity the rest of Opus IX isn’t as interesting or appealing. After 30 minutes, the black pepper starts slowly to slink to the sidelines while the amber’s caramel sweetness vanishes, replaced by an amorphous, faceless woodiness that seeps up from the base. The vetiver grows stronger, and smells equally woody. Around the same time, a strange sourness appears at the edges. I think it stems from the mix of civet with the bug spray plasticity of the “camellia accord.” Whatever the source, I’m not a fan, but at least the unbalanced blast of pepper is slowly disappearing.

"Love Letter Viii" by Jai Johnson on Fine Art America. (Website link embedded within.)

“Love Letter Viii” by Jai Johnson on Fine Art America. (Website link embedded within.)

At the end of the first hour and the start of the second, Opus IX has turned into a jasmine scent that is an obvious relative of Opus VIII. The vetiver and amorphous woodiness weave around the jasmine, turning it drier and more unisex in a way that is feels thematically identical to Opus VIII’s yin-yang, black-white contrasts. As the scent turns drier and woodier, the thickness of the cream thins out and weakens. The grey waxiness retreats, replaced by a thin sheen of sweet powderiness, though it doesn’t smell like tonka or a vanillic benzoin.

By the 3rd hour, Opus IX is a simple jasmine floral whose underlying layer of creaminess is contrasted by amorphous woody dryness, before the whole thing is dusted with sweet powderiness. It remains that way for a few hours without major change to its central core, except for a gradual erosion of the creaminess and a growing shapelessness of the notes. That’s particularly true of the jasmine which is starting to feel utterly disembodied, as though it were a translucent abstraction of “jasmine” rather than a solid, concrete entity.

"Rorschach Bean" by Alex L'aventurier on

“Rorschach Bean” by Alex L’aventurier on

The end of the 5th hour ushers in Opus IX’s long drydown. There are now occasional flickers of lightly smoky leather at the edges, but they feel similarly abstract, mere shadows of symbolic, nebulous darkness. The even more overtly synthetic civet is evident primarily as a sharp sourness that sometimes feels acidic and only rarely hints at being animalic. In the corners, that waxy plasticity-bug spray accord lurks sans cesse. It’s no longer accompanied by the enjoyable “clotted cream” velvetiness; that dried up long ago in the face of the endless woody dryness. The whole thing drones on and on, another terribly boring and banal woody floral jasmine laced with dark and dry facets, until it finally fades away many hours lately as a vaguely floral blur with powderiness.

Opus IX had very good longevity and average projection, but sillage that was initially very strong before it eventually turned more moderate after several hours. Using 2 very large smears equal to 2 sprays from a bottle, Opus IX opened with roughly 3 inches of projection but a bit more than half a foot of sillage. After 90 minutes, the projection was about 2 inches; the scent trail about 4 inches. At the start of the 4th hour, the projection dropped to less than an inch. Opus IX turned into a skin scent on me roughly 5.75 hours into its development, though it was still easy to detect up close without enormous effort for quite a while. All in all, it lasted just a bit over 12 hours. As a side note, I’ve tested Opus IX using quantities both less and more than the equivalent of 2 sprays from a bottle; in all cases, the longevity is above 11 hours on my skin. I must emphasize that my skin not only retains heavily synthetic scents for longer than most, but also amplifies their bouquet. That said, on Fragrantica, Opus IX get top marks for longevity and good scores for sillage.

Opus IX has generally received positive reviews, though there are some exceptions. I don’t provide in-depth comparative analysis and quotes in my Reviews en Bref, but I’ll give you links for you to see what others have to say. On Fragrantica, the majority of posters seem to love it, using words like “beautiful,” or “intriguing,” though a few call it merely “nice” and seem more lukewarm. On Basenotes, people who have tried it are significantly less enthused and many are quite negative. One wrote: “It sucks. Very feminine and run of the mill smelling. A big disappointment.” A second tried to “stomach it” as long as he could before he “scrubbed madly” because it found it smelt like “a grandmothers-closet-mothball bomb with some waxy stickiness.” A third wrote it was “nothing special,” and felt watery weak.

Many bloggers seem to really like Opus IX, though I find some of them have rather mixed feelings when you read their reviews closely. The Candy Perfume Boy calls it   “flamboyant” and “a thoroughly enjoyable fragrance to wear.” Persolaise talks about Opus IX’s romantic soul, but only after describing it as: “a weirdly woody, animalic floral… [that] makes no attempt to present a naturalistic demeanour. In fact, it makes a virtue of its synthetic composition, putting together a bewildering array of lab-made materials to make a statement that is unabashedly abstract.” The Non-Blonde grew to really enjoy Opus IX, but says it took a few months of “conflicting emotions.” She writes that it has the “potential to also be a stunningly beautiful perfume, depending on skin chemistry (and perhaps one’s imagination).” At the same time, she said she understood precisely why The Black Narcissus found Opus IX to be “troubling” and “disturbing.” His review states, “We are in the realm of melancholically dense, pepper-downed camellias,” and he comments that “the scent smells quite wrong on me, like a puttyish, grey jasmine clay.”

For me, nothing about Opus IX is luxurious, grandly operatic, evocative of Maria Callas, distinctive, or remotely compelling. The only thing it continuously made me think of was Opus VIII, because they both present jasmine with a black-white, yin-yang duality, though Opus IX blasts you with synthetics in a way that Opus VIII did not. Putting the issue of the aromachemicals aside, Opus IX is simply not interesting to me and I’ve seen this “jasmine contrasted with dark or dry facets” many times before, including from Amouage itself.

That led me to wonder, just how many jasmine or white floral scents is Christopher Chong going to throw at us, almost in a row? Opus VIII was followed by Journey Woman and now Opus IX. On my skin, they were all largely jasmine-centric fragrances with a creamy side that is contrasted with dark elements and/or dry woodiness. Even Sunshine (Woman) fits the model if you view it as yet another white floral bouquet (that also includes jasmine) whose blurry floralcy is infused with dark notes and woodiness. Sunshine certainly resembled Opus IX in terms of having a heavily chemical character and a generic profile. Is this the new Amouage style, obviously synthetic fragrances matched by rising prices but without their previous distinctiveness and originality? At these prices, particularly the higher ones for the Opus/Library line and the new Midnight Flower Collection, I expect something compelling, different, and luxuriously high quality — not another exhausted variation on a commonplace theme. (And I really don’t expect lab chemicals to be the most notable, distinctive trait in that scent.)

To be clear, I don’t think Opus IX is a hideous or terrible scent, despite its unpleasant sides. I’ve smelt far worse things. Opus IX is simply mediocre, tired, and dreadfully boring.

Cost & Availability: Opus IX is an eau de parfum that comes in two sizes. There is a 50 ml bottle for £180. I’ve only seen that on the Amouage website. The 100 ml bottle costs $355, £255, and €320. In the U.S.: OsswaldNYC, Luckyscent, and Twisted Lily have Opus IX in the 100 ml size, and sell samples. Outside the U.S.: you can order it directly from Amouage. Choose your location at the top of the page to find the price for your region. Elsewhere, you can find Opus IX at First in Fragrance, Jovoy, ParfuMaria, other Amouage niche retailers, and all the high-end department stores that typically carry Amouage or the Opus line. Samples: A number of the sites above sell samples. Surrender to Chance does not have Opus IX at this time.

23 thoughts on “Review En Bref: Amouage Opus IX

  1. Oh dear, that sounds rather dreadful! I have not liked most of the Amouage Opus fragrances I have sniffed so this one follows the pattern. Too bad, it might be nice to find a fragrance that actually smells like a real camelia, but then they don’t really have much of a scent, they are pretty waxy and green. Probably something perfumers should stay away from in general. Thanks for another great review.

    • I don’t think real camellias have much scent, either, Ricky. I definitely think that most “camellia” notes in perfumery are fantasy accords. Fragrantica pretty much says the same thing as well.

  2. I said “yes! Kafka nailed it perfectly” the way you described it. I can attest to its longevity since I smelled it for the entire day before showering it away. More synthetics, like the civet I smelled. Is there a Sunshine for men? I loved Interlude, I think Epic (not positive) and definitely Jubilation XXV, but lately I’ve been reading about dismal reformulations, now with syntheticity everywhere so I always have my eyes out for the reviews for input on what or what not to bother with.
    Kafka, one thing I’ve noticed since you’ve come back home is that your calibre of writing has been notched up even more, particularly your descriptions of perfumes like Salome and this one. 🙂 Excellent review. Thanks.

    • I remember you saying you disliked Opus 9. I think you wrote that there was something harsh in it that really bothered your nose? Well, there are a few choices for the responsible party. lol. 😉 Yes, Sunshine has just come out in a Men’s version. About 2 weeks ago, I think. I’m not rushing out to try it after my experience with the Women’s version. Honestly, I thought Sunshine Woman was WORSE than Opus 9, and that’s saying something.

  3. Absolutely K. I wish Amouage would ditch the addiction to jasmine and pepper – I lost interest after I sniffed both those at the top. So fed up of both notes in the Library and main men’s line. We need a return to the glory days.

    • Heheheh, come sit next to me in the Grumpy Corner, Jane. 😛 We can bemoan the new releases and talk about the old Amouage. (And the attars, the glorious, glorious discontinued attars.)

  4. nice review kafka.. for your information this is my 2nd purchase of opus9.. but for hot weather not last as your country may be a cold enviroment. i lov it but need to double spray to boost the projection.

    • I know you’ve had issues with the longevity of a number of Amouages, Myra, especially post-reformulation for the older releases. I can definitely see your Malaysian climate eating up something like Opus IX.

      • its true my dear kafka.. malaysia hot climax eat my perfume hehehee… so what the most longevity and silage perfume on you? could you share here with me.. the most longlast from amouage either attar , main collectin or library collection..

        • I’d be happy to name a few things that last on me, Myra, but I really don’t think it will *automatically* mean they’ll last on you. Your weather is pretty extreme, and while I live in a very humid place, too, I also spend a lot of time in cold air-conditioning. Plus, skin chemistry differs. That said, the Amouage Attars always last the longest on me. First and foremost, Tribute — which I know you love as much as I do. Homage, Al Mas, and a few others also have very good longevity. None of attars project a lot on me, though.

          In terms of other brands, I’ve gotten huge longevity out of Rania J’s Ambre Loup, a scent I love. It’s a tobacco-amber that lasted almost 20 hours on me. I also get very good longevity from a number of Slumberhouse fragrances, as they are all essentially extraits or concentrated parfums. Kiste is a super tobacco with honey, henna, black tea, grilled peaches, and a touch of incense. You may like that one or perhaps, if you like sweet fragrances, Slumberhouse’s Pear+Olive which is a very gourmand fragrance with some fruity and lightly floral aspects. It’s extremely unusual, and not quite like anything I’ve ever tried before.

          Another fragrance with monster longevity on my skin was LM Parfums’ Epine Mortelle, an extrait or pure parfum centered on roses but with a dark, green, and herbal twist at the start. That doesn’t have a lot of sillage, but it lasted more than 20 hours. All extraits will be soft in terms of projection or sillage because they have less alcohol than a regular EDP, so they will cling closer to the skin. I think you might love LM Parfums’ Sensual Orchid, a lush, opulent floral oriental that I think is an EDP, not an extrait. But it won’t have monster projection. The first 2 hours are good on me in terms of sillage, but the brand’s style is to have softer scents after the opening hours. Still, Sensual Orchid is one of my favorite floral-orientals, and wholly addictive to me.

          Have you tried anything from SHL 777/ Stephane Humbert Lucas 777? It’s a very high-end, luxurious line which skews very Middle Eastern in style, and it’s a big hit with those who loved the original Amouage style and who live in areas like the UAE, Qatar, etc.. I don’t think you’ll find monster, killer sillage at all, but I think the scent profiles, notes, and style might impress you a lot. I certainly prefer the brand to anything put out by Amouage lately, and think SHL 777 is far better quality, too. I hope that helps, Myra.

          • sound intresting kafka i should find and try all perfume that u sugest… did u know kafka and paskale.. here i want to share tips… yesterday i try aply amouage asrar attar and layer amouage epic women and i also try mix badr al badour attar with epic women.. it help boost the longevity and sillage on epic women. i like it so much.. longevity is insane than you wearing epic alone.. hope it will help for amouage lovers here.. by the way kafka paskale or anyone here i will give my wasap numb its more esier if we want to discuse about perfume i can respond imediately by my cell phone.. here my number [Ed: phone number deleted for privacy and safety reasons]. tq so much kafka for advised

            Love from MALAYSIA 😉

          • So kind of you to share your number, Myra, but I don’t think that is safe for you if I leave it up in your comment. You don’t know who will see it or how they may use it. So I will leave the number up for a day or so for Paskale to note it down if she wishes to discuss perfume with you further on WhatsApp, then I’ll edit your comment to remove it. I wouldn’t want you to be contacted or bothered by someone else, and I’d prefer to protect your privacy from any random weirdos that may stumble by, particularly as the blog gets a LOT of spam and I wouldn’t want spammers to contact you on the app. 🙂

        • Great question Myra, and thanks for such a detailed response Kafka. I’m expecting a sampler set of all of Slumberhouse after reading your reviews on some a few weeks ago. Looking forward to Kiste.

  5. The return to work has been crazy…. In a good way. So I have yet to finish Parts5 on of your series….its on my iPad. Hopefully this long weekend curled up in a lounge chair on the balcony. From the comments, I know the calibre remains high throughout. Amouage. Name of the lady spa by the ocean near where I grew up. Means ‘Waves’. I finally tried Ubar and Lyric for women. Disappointments both. Too strong and headache inducing. Is that you ISO-E? I don’t know but I wouldn’t jump on another sample anytime soon. I know some people swear by some of the scents in the line, but I think the aesthetic may simply not be for me.

    • I hope work eases up soon and becomes less hectic, Paskale. As for Amouage, I think you’re right in finding that the fragrances typically tend to be much stronger than what you personally enjoy, since you like soft, discreet projection and sillage. Well, money saved, right? 🙂

  6. After sampling the finest natural essences and raw materials at Salaams i assume that there might be more of these “En Bref” reviews.

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  9. Hello +thank you, just discovered you while searching reviews on LÉrbolario-Assenzio and Vetiver…lost my way..and had a good read here. I don’t agree with you on OPUSIX ( and VII) because although I find it, like you, very synthetical, it’s the answer to my search for a resistent leather/animalic. I wrote about it on and there are not many lovers overthere, I assure you, although it’s slowly increasing IMO. I made also the comparison there with Arpege, since this one shares the same identical ‘camelia’ and chemical, I call it my OPUSIX-Light..I had to get aquinted to them, it took me months and suddenly the ‘rubber-plastic’ turned to something really nice to me. I have enormous difficulties at smelling anything leathery at all in modern scents, while some others rave about this note, so for me it was a challenge to find something and with OPUSIX I went from total hate to complete love ( at proper time) in a few months. I think it has to do with the new chemicals I had to get used to. There’s one big difference with Arpege , this one is still changing after these 6months I have it..and it’s becoming weaker and weaker, I’m totally sure about it, it’s the most unstable scent I know, this goes for the modern one with no flowers and pure chemics but also for the vintage ones..Arpege has NEVER been stable, so at least they stay true to this characteristic, see for more deatails my reviews overthere if interested.
    I also must say I don’t agree with your description of OPUS VII, this was my ” signature” for work last summer because I ‘needed’a good green and fell in love with it. I don’t get at all ANY animalistic in it, to me it’s a great GREEN like the 70s western ones, very longlasting, fresh but with depth as if it had oakmoss in it, combined with SOME typical Amouage-smokyness, the blend is very easy-going and airy and evokes nothing dark or pantherlike in me..just to show how different we all are ( although I have, like you, a skin that eats up EVERYTHING ) so while reading ( and I enjoyed it very much, you write well ) I was thinking in amazement how someone could possibly see all this animalistic darkness and dualty…for me none…
    I like to add that my 3 all time favourites are : Shocking ( edition EDC 70s ) Opium( EDT 70-80s ) and Diorella ( parfum 80-90 ) and it’s hard to find another ‘natural, easy’ civet like Shocking, what struck me in OPUSIX was the honey, that I also love in Shocking ( they don’t share resemblence but functions )and that works like hot acid-drops combined with the civet or the chemics in the case of OPUSIX. I believe it’s a reference already for future ‘modern-animalics’ and that it’s just not yet ‘understood’ by many people ( I repeat also on fragrantica, I tried there to give her good attention, but really only a few are interested, and the favourite OPUS there remains I think OPUS 1, which I find totally generic, sweet and boring, no need for that IMO….
    Thank you so much, I’ll continue reading you now that I found you..ciao.

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