Amouage‘s new Myths for Women was not what I had expected. There was the welcome, happy surprise of carnation as its driving focus, instead of the litany of white florals that have dominated so many of the brand’s recent releases. Red but drenched with greenness, hot but chilly, the carnation was a beautiful note that took me even further off guard with the way its companions — my ultimate green nemeses, violet leaf and galbanum — somehow recreated a passing impression of one of my favourites, hyacinth, from its liquid floralcy to the venomous bitterness of its sap. It’s a brief and wholly impressionistic touch, but I was delighted. Equally unexpected, but far less welcome, was Myths’ persistent dryness and diffuse sheerness, two things which I think characterize the Opus Collection’s aesthetic as opposed to the regular line whose women’s fragrances exemplified oriental opulence and full-bodied richness, or at least they did, once upon a time. As a whole, both Myths, the Women’s and the Men’s (which I’ll cover in the next review) feel like the continuation of Christopher Chong’s style of perfumery, moving Amouage away from its Franco-Arabian and vintage-style roots into something purely Western and modern. How you feel about that will depend on your tastes and expectations.
Myths Woman is an eau de parfum that was inspired by surrealism. Amouage says its notes are:
Narcissus, violet leaves, galbanum, carnation, patchouli, ambergris accord, leather, moss and musk.
Three things strike me about Myths’ opening minutes on my skin. First, the spicy, fiery, quietly peppery carnations are given a refreshing iciness that evokes the arctic floral blast you get upon opening a florist’s refridgerator. Second, the flower’s scent is captured from head to toe. Its petals drip with dewy wetness, while the body is ensconced amidst the leafy greenness of galbanum and violet leaf, oozing a wonderful, sappy bitterness from cuts to its stem, and growing out of wet, black soil.
The third thing that strikes me is merely a passing impression and most noticeable when I apply only a small quantity of fragrance, but it made me sniff my arm again and again with delight. Something about the way the violet leaf and the bitter, quietly spicy galbanum combine with the carnation’s cool, spicy, dewy floralcy ends up indirectly recreating the crystalline liquidity, spiced sweetness, headiness, and venomous green sap of another flower on my skin, hyacinth. To be precise, a carnation-hyacinth mix. I’ve tested Myths Woman a few times, and I’m always amazed by the alchemical transformation or feat, even if it’s more of an impressionistic “hyacinth” and even if it’s a fleeting touch limited to Myth’s first 20-30 minutes. (It lasts longer with a small dosage of scent, but not significantly so.)
Other elements are noticeable as well. Strands of narcissus are sprinkled on top of the bouquet, smelling like dry hay, while rivulets of darkness snake through the base, feeling almost as leathery as they do mossy and earthy. I think there is a good dose of icy, wet chrysanthemum in Myths’ opening as well, even if Amouage does not mention the flower in the official list. Fragrantica does, however. While they sometimes make mistakes and a brand’s official note list should always trump as a general rule, I think Fragrantica is right in this instance; something about Myths’ chilly floralcy harkens to Serge Lutens’ metallic, silvered chrysanthemums in De Profundis.
Myths’s opening changes quickly in its nuances and feel. After roughly 15 minutes, the arctic blast of the florist’s case begins to weaken, turning more moderate as the scent turns a hair warmer, thanks to a trickle of amber rising up from the base. The carnation and chrysanthemum continue to have a refreshing coolness, but they’re now infused with a lick of warmth as well. Around the same time, the narcissus’ strands of hay disappear into the background, then vanish entirely not long after. Taking its place is grey, mineralized lichen that sprouts up in a faintly musty layer atop the loamy, wet, black earth in the base.
Before long, Myths has become a heady mix of warm and cool, red and green, centered on the fiery, spiced sweetness of a carnation draped in folds of velvety, leafy, earthy, leafy, and bitter green. The impressionistic sense of “hyacinth” eventually fades away as the first hour progresses, but rivulets of sappy bitterness continue to snake around the edges, as the galbanum grows in strength. Something about it reminds me of the Evil Queen’s poison in Snow White’s red apple.
As Myths Woman develops, a different impression takes hold. In all four of Amouage’s last releases, beginning with Sunshine Woman, I’ve noticed a sort of olfactory dark eclipse that sweeps over the core bouquet as the perfumes develop. Sometimes it’s peppery; sometimes it’s leathery or smoky; once in a while, it’s dry woodiness tinged with smoke; and frequently, it’s some combination of several of the above. Even Opus VIII back in 2014 had an interplay of darkness and dryness juxtaposed against its bright white flowers, albeit to a far lesser extent than Sunshine Woman where the movement of an eclipse was an official, explicit inspiration. In my opinion, the eclipse sweeps over Myths Woman and Man, too.
In Myths Woman, the darkness appears in the second stage, starting roughly 1.5 hours into the fragrance’s development. In essence, Myths pivots from a dewy, chilly, spicy, green floral to a dry, smoky, and mostly leather-laced green floral. The change becomes particularly noticeably at the start of the 3rd hour when the carnation turns diffuse and sheer, a mere vapor that curls around a new core of increasingly parched leather atop a base of mossy, earthy, and leafy greenness. By the 4th hour, the carnation-chrysanthemum accord actually recedes to the background, leaving only a peppery floral spiciness trailing behind it, as the violet leaf takes its place beside the leather.
To me, Myths Woman feels surprisingly masculine in its middle stages, more so than I have ever encountered or previously recall for one of its “women’s” fragrances. The way it’s sharp, parched, peppery, and smoky reminds me of the very dry character of some of the Opus Collection as opposed to the lush, dense, and powerhouse aesthetic of the early women’s Amouages in the regular line. (How I miss those days.)
In fact, something about the mix of smoky leather with greenness and spiciness reminds faintly me of parts of Fahrenheit, Dior’s men’s cologne. To be clear, I’m not saying the fragrances are identical, and it’s not a huge, overwhelming resemblance, merely a tenuous thought. Myths is not intensely balsamic, ambered, woody, warm, and rich like (vintage) Fahrenheit was when I wore or smelt it back in the early 1990s. Instead, it’s a sheer, surprisingly soft vapor, one that skews predominantly green and excessively dry, neither of which are things that I associate with Fahrenheit. I think of spicy, rubbery, diesel leather above all else, enveloped in a golden-red haze of amber and spice, and I never think of its violet leaf greenness. Be that as it may, it must have left a subconscious mark because the Dior fragrance came to mind a few times during Myth’s violet leaf-leather middle stage, even if it was merely a passing suggestion.
Regardless, all thought of Fahrenheit disappears when Myths’ 3rd stage begins at the start of the 7th hour. Essentially, the notes realign in order, prominence, and strength, as Myths’ floral core slowly reasserts itself over the darkness. The carnation begins to crawl from the background towards the center stage, while the leather becomes a minor wisp at the sidelines, leaving only a trail of dry smoke behind it to bind the violet leaf. The result is a dry, spicy, peppery floral bouquet with a quiet carnation identity, laced with a sharp, violet leaf greenness and a smidgen of leathery smoke, all lying atop a faintly mossy, vaguely earthy base. It’s still more of the dry, smoky Opus twist on florals, and still a predominantly green scent, but the eclipse has passed.
What fascinates me about Myths Woman is how it eventually cycles back to its opening bouquet, give or take a few nuances, during its drydown. Somewhere around the 10th or 11th hour, depending on test and how much fragrance I apply, Myths Woman begins to morph back into a cool, fiery carnation scent surrounded by soft green leaves, and licked with ambered warmth. A new element provides the finishing touch, a clean but slightly benzoin-ish powderiness. The carnation bouquet is an unexpected 180 reversal, although far softer than it was at the start and, eventually, significantly more ambered, too. In fact, the amber emerges more and more during the second half of the drydown, first blurring the edges of the green floral, then swallowing it entirely. By the time the 13th hour rolls around, Myths Woman has become a lightly powdered, petal-soft haze of ambered warmth etched with thin ribbons of spicy, peppery carnation. Those ribbons slowly grow thinner, shrink, and finally, turn a mere whisper, leaving Myths as nothing more than spicy, lightly powdered goldenness with only a hint of something floral about it. It’s lovely, and incredibly long-lasting.
Myths Woman has great longevity on my skin, but it’s surprisingly sheer and soft for an Amouage fragrance, in my opinion. Using several wide smears equal to 2 good sprays from a bottle, the fragrance typically opens with about 4 inches of projection and about 6 inches of sillage. The scent feels sheer, lightweight, and thin in body at first, a sort of strong weightlessness. While Myths Woman does deepen and grow richer at the start of the 2nd hour, it’s a relative thing. The projection and scent trail certainly drop quite fast, becoming 2 inches and roughly 3-4 inches, respectively, after 90 minutes. Roughly 2.5 hours into its development, the sillage lies close to the skin, perhaps 2 inches at most, while the projection is between 1 and 0.5 inches. After 4 hours, Myths Woman hovers just above the skin, not quite a skin scent, but almost. It turns into an actual skin scent 5 hours into its development, although the fragrance is easy to detect if I bring my nose close to my arm. By the 9th hour, I was actually surprised the fragrance was still there, but it hangs on with astonishing tenacity, even if I had to work to detect it. In total, Myths Woman typically lasts 15-17 hours with the equivalent of 2 sprays, but only 12-14 hours with only one. I think it’s one of those scents with a deceptively long tail-end, but such discreetness or softness after the first half that it’s not readily apparent.
Early reviews for Myths are ambivalent or mixed. On Fragrantica, only two people have tried it and written about it at this time, and neither one is enthusiastic. One calls it a “strange” fragrance with “discordant” notes dominated by greenness. The drydown was powdery, and the fragrance lay close to the skin. The second poster, “Myra83,” had a similar experience, describing Myths as a combination of Amouage’s Ciel Women with the greenness of Opus VII, before it took on the light, fresh, powdery, cleanness of Dia Men. What she was most negative about was Myths’ softness, calling it the “lightest” scent for the price, and suggesting that you wear it if you wanted an undetectable fragrance. She wrote that Myths became a skin scent on her after two hours.
On Myth Woman’s official Basenotes entry page, the sole review there at the time is ambivalent, but it is the most detailed of the lot. “Gimmegreen” writes, in large part:
A cool, dark, damp shade where bitter, humid greens proliferate over a rich, peaty soil riven with mycelial rhizomes. Buttery, dense (but obscure) floral notes hang heavy in the air. This is the opening of Myths Woman, a perfume which seems to be seeking to unite swamp vegetation with hints of the decay upon which it grows.
With time the dry moss note in the base becomes more pronounced and the composition becomes airier. This is a cool, green floral chypre but with a bold counterpart of soil and decay. I enjoy such things, but I suspect many will not. I do not, however, enjoy them enough to justify the price, which would require mad love.
Ultimately Myths Woman’s final destination after about 6 hours is just a bed of dry moss with the odd mushroom thrown in for good measure, not terribly exciting. It’s a boring fizzle of a deep drydown and it lasts for hours. Still, if you like perfumes like Oriza’s Chypre-Mousse, this one is worth a try. [Emphasis to perfume name added by me.]
Other than the longevity we both experienced, Myths was obviously quite different on me, and, yet, I understand a lot of what he wrote and I think the perfume is constructed in such a way that, depending on a person’s individual skin chemistry, things could go either way, either like my version or his. Take his comments about the opening where he was struck by a sense of “bitter, humid greens,” peaty earth and vegetation. Those elements were weaker on me, but they definitely exist to some degree. It’s the same thing with his view of Myths as a “cool, green floral chypre but with a bold counterpart of soil and decay.” I experienced a cool, green leather-floral instead of a chypre during the middle stage, with smoke in lieu of “decay,” but I think Myths could easily go either way on people, depending on skin chemistry, because of the copious amounts of violet leaf greenness, bitter galbanum, oakmoss, and earthiness (via the patchouli). When you take Myths as a whole, from start to finish, those green elements are ultimately far stronger, more dominant, and more persistent than the dry, smoky leather I experienced during the “eclipse” of the middle stage. It’s something to keep in mind if my description of the latter turned you off, and if you prefer chyprish scents to leathery florals.
Myths Woman is not my personal cup of tea, but I think it has some enjoyable bits. I didn’t loathe it like I did the two Sunshines or Opus IX, I think it’s a more interesting scent in comparison, and it definitely feels niche in style. Admittedly, my fondness for carnation (and chrysanthemum) plays a role in some of those assessments because neither one is as common as white florals. Having said that, I far prefer Amouage’s old or original style of perfumery. Christopher Chong continues to head in a very different direction. So, for me, the best Amouage of recent years remains 2013’s gorgeous Fate Woman, and I’ll pass on Myths Woman, but you should try it for yourself if you love carnation, green florals, green floral leathers, or green leather-chypres.