Reviews often begin with some insightful, interesting, witty, or encapsulating sentence, but I can’t think of anything to start a discussion of Amouage‘s Myths for Men, perhaps because the scent leaves me feeling too apathetic to summarize it or to be eloquent. So I’ll just get straight to the basics. It’s an eau de parfum, it was inspired by surrealism, and its notes, according to Amouage, are:
Chrysanthemum, orris, rum, rose, vetiver, elemi, labdanum, ashes and leather.
Myths opens on my skin with a bouquet of chrysanthemum flowers coated with elemi, framed by green vetiver leaves, sprinkled with a few drops of rum and rose, then placed upon a bed of ashes. The elemi smells of dried tree sap with its characteristic odor of lemons, while the chrysanthemum is initially cool, watery, and quietly earthy. But its floralcy changes character within mere minutes, turning musty, smelling almost like earthy, dusty marigolds, or as though the flowers were dying. I find it to be a strange, confusing, almost disconcerting juxtaposition next to the sharp, intensely lemony aroma of the elemi, its yellow brightness so much the opposite of death and decay. Chrysanthemum is a flower that sometimes has funereal associations, particularly in France where it is actually a central part of La Toussaint, All Saints Day, when people buy it to take to cemeteries to honour the dead. While I’d previously never viewed chrysanthemums as “The Flower of Death,” here, in Myths Man, there is a unsettling funereal sense of decay, must, and fustiness about the bouquet, one that is further accentuated by the powerful ashes in Myths’ base.
Other notes add to the sense of earthen decay as well. The vetiver that smudges the chrysanthemum is rooty and laden with dampness. There is also the fleeting, elusive impression of musty lichen mosses and a sappy, green bitterness, as well as a stronger, more enduring touch of dusty earth derived from patchouli. None of those are on the note list but something in the opening of Myths Man feels like a nod to Myths Woman and parts of its base. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more to the note list than what we’ve been told because spicy, smoky patchouli (or some strong recreation thereof) becomes a core aspect of Myths’ drydown on my skin (which is the sole reason why I like it).
Despite the thin thematic thread connecting the two Myths in their earliest moments, and despite the shared chrysanthemum note, they’re extremely different scents. Myths Man doesn’t open with a clarion call of overwhelming floralcy but immensely lemony, dry woods enveloped in ashes and the musty dust of floral decay. Its core character as it develops is even further apart. To me, Myths Man is a woody fragrance above all else, from start to finish, reflecting different, sometimes incidental facers at various points, but it’s always some form of woodiness infused with smoke.
Even in the opening, every one of the top notes is imbued with woodiness on my skin, followed shortly thereafter by smokiness and dryness as well. As noted earlier, a few drops of rum are sprinkled on the chrysanthemums, but the note doesn’t smell rich, deeply liqueured, or like cognac-macerated fruits. Instead, it’s dry, woody, and thin in character, exactly like the rose. The latter is an insubstantial wisp that initially weaves around the edges and then, 10 minutes in, retreats to the background. Taking its place is a touch of caramel-scented sweetness, but it never comes across as anything properly, clearly ambered or warm. Myths is far too dry on me for that. Plus, other notes quickly overshadow and swallow it up. 15 minutes in, the iris appears, smelling rooty, damp, fusty, almost moldy, and with an undertone of wet, chewed-up cardboard. It’s followed by wave upon wave of wood-smoke, some of which smells excessively and synthetically arid. There is: charred guaiac; cade’s barbecue and campfire logs; birch and its tarry leather; and what I’d swear is cypriol (nagarmotha) with its dry, smoky, leathery, faux “oud,” and tobacco-ish facets.
The cumulative effect fundamentally changes Myths’ focus from what it had been a mere 15 or 20 minutes before. Gone is the lemon-drenched, elemi-chrysanthemum bouquet framed by vetiver. Now, it’s primarily a blend of smoky woods and smoky, slightly rubbery, slightly industrial-smelling, tarry leather, streaked with rooty vetiver, rooty (and moldy) iris, and a lick of caramelish amber at its edges, then placed atop a base of decaying, vegetal, green-flecked earthiness, before the whole thing is cocooned in a cloud of ashes, dust, mustiness, fustiness, and dead chrysanthemums. I can’t say I’m keen on it. Any of it.
I’m equally unenthused by the way Myths develops. When the first hour draws to a close and the second begins, many of the non-woody notes blur together, subsumed in an amorphous haze. It’s difficult to pull out the elemi, the vetiver, the amber, the iris, or the chrysanthemums. Glimmers pop out, but I find they tend to smell of their side-effects or by-products, if that makes any sense, rather than a distinct, clearly delineated, solid note of, say, chrysanthemums. The only thing that’s clear to me is that the rum and rose have completely vanished, while the core bouquet seems dominated mostly by birch tar leather, barbecue campfire cade, wood ash, and blackened wood smoke. As the latter grows stronger and increasingly raspy, the dry-sweet balance of the first hour ends, and Myths heads fully into bone-dry territory that is far too overtly synthetic for my tastes.
More to the point, I find it uninteresting, unremarkable, and boring. There are a lot of fragrances centered on leathery woods with smoke, and the addition of musty or rooty elements (whether iris or vetiver) isn’t enough to make Myths stand out, particularly not when they’re so indeterminate and amorphous. To me, it feels as though there were 15 minutes of top notes, 30-45 minutes of a middle layer, and then Myths skipped directly to its base. The woods may have various nuances like smokiness, leatheriness, dryness, woody roots, earthiness, or even an occasional, fleeting BBQ meat aspect, but they’re variations on the same woody theme and mere nuances. Plus, many of them don’t last. At the 90-minute mark, Myths devolves even further as all lingering traces of rootiness, ashes, earthiness, greenness, nebulous caramel-scented amber, and decayed, musty flowers disappear, leaving nothing more than smoky, leathery, blackened woods.
The accord seems to sit there on my skin, existing, just… there, a mere base presented as a full fragrance. That’s probably may be why I thought of Le Labo whenever I got to this point in my tests, as I wondered “Now what? Is this all there is?” It’s not the sort of question I would have ever asked when testing an Amouage fragrance of old. They abounded with complexity, layers of richness, and often a shape-shifting character as well. (See, e.g., Interlude Man.)
Thankfully, Myths improves, although it takes about 4 hours for the scent to turn into something more appealing — simple though it continues to be — and it’s due entirely to the ameliorating, harmonizing effects of the orris. The first hint of what is to come appears roughly 2 hours into Myths’ evolution, when the orris begins to expand, adding a breath of woody floralcy and a sliver of creaminess in the background. It’s elusive at first, but slowly, incrementally, inch by inch, the orris takes on a suede-like quality that works nicely with the dry, roughened leather, in addition to softening the raspiness of the wood-smoke. The result isn’t an iris woody fragrance so much as it’s a smoky, leathery cade woods infused with the thinnest sliver of vaguely suede-like creaminess.
By the time Myths’ next phase begins at the start of the 5th hour, the orris has fully transformed the scent, taming the unremitting, preternaturally synthetic dryness in the wood-smoke and leather, and resulting in a bouquet that finally feels balanced with equal parts smoke, leather, moderately singed woods, orris suede, dryness, and a lick of minimally sweetened, ambered warmth. It’s nice, although it’s so soft that it almost verges on a skin scent at the 4.25 hour mark and I have to bring my nose right onto my arm to detect it. If I don’t, there is only a thin vapor of woody smoke that extends a bare millimeter or two in the air around my arm.
My favourite part of Myths is the drydown which I find to be genuinely lovely, and it’s solely because the fragrance drops much of what came before and turns into a deeply resinous, spicy, smoky, woody bouquet that basically smells identical to patchouli on my skin. In fact, I’m convinced there is actual patchouli in Myths Man just like there is in Myths Woman. (The latter’s note list similarly omits a noticeable element; to wit, in that case, chrysanthemum.) But even if the “patchouli” impression is a mere olfactory mirror and by-product of the other notes, it’s so overwhelming to me that I’m just going to write as though it were actually a part of the scent.
The bottom line is that Myths’ drydown is wonderful, thanks to a red-gold profusion of richly spiced, woody patchouli layered with quietly smoky resins and labdanum amber. It’s a mix whose overall feel or aesthetic has little in common with any of Myth’s earlier stages other than the mere existence of woodiness and a residual streak of smoke. (If you sensed a silent “Thank God” in there, you wouldn’t be mistaken.) It all starts to take shape in the 6th hour when a series of new elements arrive on the scene: cinnamony resins (Tolu balsam?) and benzoin slathered over a heaping layer of equally spicy, but also woody and quietly smoky patchouli. Rich labdanum amber follows suit, feeling cut with an additional dose of benzoin as well. Together, they lay siege to the wood-smoke, leathery woods, and soft orris suede, initially lapping at their edges, but growing stronger and stronger as time passes, particularly the patchouli.
By the middle of the 8th hour, it feels as though 70% of Myths’ bouquet consists of spicy, quietly smoky, woody patchouli, with the remainder consisting of a hazy blend of spicy resins, singed woods, minimally sweetened labdanum amber, and a touch of creamy plushness. Once in a while, the patchouli emits a whisper of booziness in the background, but there is nothing green, camphorous, oily, earthy, dirty, dusty, or musty about it, and certainly nothing evoking 1970s headshop hippies. It’s a clean, very smooth, modern patchouli instead, given richness and depth from the accompanying notes.
And that’s really it for Myths’ drydown. As the hours pass, there is nothing more than wonderfully cozy, soft, sometimes plush, woody, spicy, and ambered goldenness. It coats the skin like a wisp, imperceptible unless I put my nose right on my arm but hanging on nonetheless. In total, Myths consistently lasted over 10 hours on my skin, typically 14-15 hours with several smears equal to 2 sprays from a bottle, but between 10.5 and 11.5 hours with the equivalent of 1 spray.
Myths’ projection and sillage tended towards the softer side on my skin. Using several smears equal to 2 good sprays, the fragrance typically opened with 2.5 to 3 inches of projection, and about 5-6 inches of sillage. It felt very lightweight, soft, thin in body, though strong in scent up close. After 90 minutes, the projection was 1 to 1.5 inches, while the sillage was dropped to about 3 inches, at best. About 2.75 hours, Myths hovered about 0.5 inches in projection, and the sillage was close to the body unless I moved my arms. As noted earlier, it almost verged a skin scent after 4.25 hours, and I had to put my nose right on my arm to detect anything beyond the tiny trail of wood smoke or smoky woods that extended a mere millimeter or so. It became a true skin scent on me after 5.5 hours, but it definitely clung on tenaciously. One thing I should add is that Myths feels like one of those fragrances where the sillage would be greater if you applied a lot, particularly via spray since aerosolisation adds to a fragrance’s reach. Synthetics can have a similar effect at a larger dosage, and the wood-smoke, ashes, and woody-leather dryness definitely bear a synthetic feel or quality to them at times.
Myths Man has received mixed reviews thus far. On Fragrantica, comments are all over the place and people’s experiences share commonalities only in the smallest of details. For example: several people experienced leatheriness; two people thought the opening skewed purple (purple ash or purple flowers); two people mentioned ashes in general (either woody, incense-like, or cigarette-like); and, finally, two people thought Myths had similarities to Dior Homme. If I squint, I can see the latter connection, at least for a brief time during the third hour because of the iris-woody accord. I’ll let you read the reviews for yourself if you’re interested. I’ll move on, though I want to first thank “Originaldeftom” for making me laugh at his summation of Myths in the final line of his review: “Truly confusing and mystifying.”
On Myths’ Basenotes page, there is only one review at the time of this posting, and it is a positive one from “GimmeGreen.” It’s nicely detailed but long, so I’ll share the key descriptions and let you read the rest for yourself later:
The opening volley of ash and smoke is so strong it had me coughing at first try – but, despite that, it was apparent that a full-bodied and properly thought through composition was looming through it. Myths goes for bold brush strokes which somehow combine to form a picture that is not garish in the least but, contradictorily, quite refined.
That ash accord, veering more towards the remains of a cigarette or charcoal rather than joss stick, is so upfront and in your face, it’s as if it is daring you to dislike it – it is present right to the very end. And dislike it I would were it not for the ingenious way it is stitched together with the other notes.
[¶] First, there is the desolate wail of the chrysanthemum, a chilly and deathlike fragrance, which damps it down a bit before receding into the mix. Then, a strong factory-fresh leather note which accounts for much of the vigour of this creation. But the backbone of this perfume are the resins – smoky, complex labdanum which harmonizes with all the other elements while laying down the Amouage incense marker (a note of tradition in this quite untraditional perfume), and elemi, more high pitched, and with lemony, turpentine accents. For a short while it feels like the latter has been a touch overdone, but my nose adjusts to it quickly. […][¶]
What I find the oddest thing about this perfume is that it appears to create such a sensation of speed with quite funereal elements. […][¶] After about 8 hours the projection drops considerably and we’re left with a more straightforward ash and incense affair.
The “desolate wail of the chrysanthemum” made me smile but I fully agree with him about the “funereal” aspect of Myths’ opening, and it’s one of the things that I think may be off-putting to some people, particularly in conjunction with prominence of the ashes. While the latter didn’t last as long on me as it did on him, at least as actual ashes, its arguably related aspect of wood smoke certainly did. To me, that was the “high pitched” part of Myths, not the elemi, and I didn’t enjoy how it much it dried out the woods and the leather, but I’m sure skin chemistry plays a role in all this.
At the end of the day, I thought Myths was okay. It had pluses and minuses. It’s a better scent than Amouage’s last men’s fragrance, Sunshine Man, with its bizarre, strangely neon, candied aromatics. And I loved Myth’s drydown with its wonderful “patchouli” and resinous goldenness. On the other hand, I’d rather not think of death, funerals, and moldering decay when wearing a fragrance, even if the thoughts are limited to the opening hour. I wear perfume to be uplifted, not depressed. But I really don’t want to think of death when wearing something that costs $265/€220 for the smallest size. It’s one of the many reasons why Myths is a pass for me.
You may well have completely different associations, though, so if you love woody or woody-leather fragrances, you should try Myths for yourself.