This year, Amouage‘s annual masculine and feminine duo is called Figment. I’ll take a look at them both today.
Figment Man is an eau de parfum that was created by Annick Menardo and was released around the end of June. First in Fragrance quotes Christopher Chong, Amouage’s Creative Director, as saying: “Figment is an expression of the Bhutan of my imagination. Neither fantasy nor reality, it is an olfactory hologram.” Amouage describes Figment Man as a “luminous sandalwood” fragrance that explores the nuances of a hologram and says the note list consists of:
Top: Lemon, geranium, pink pepper.
Middle: sandalwood, animalic accord, vetiver.
Base: labdanum, guaiac, and earthy accord.
Figment Man opens on my skin with a crisp airy freshness veiled in greenness. It begins with a chilled lemon note and a pinch of sweet, pink peppercorn fruitiness, both of which are imbued with loads of greenness from cool, mineralized moss, wet fougère-like ferns and leaves à la Bracken Man, piquant geranium leafiness, and a woodier, earthier, dry but damp sort of greenness. The lemon note is interesting; Kevin at Now Smell This describes it as “chalky” and that really nails its aroma, but it’s also aerated in a way that conveys brisk, cool air. If Christopher Chong sought to symbolically recreate a Bhutanese mountain from top to bottom, he succeeded in first few minutes because Figment Man conveys, simultaneously, both the aerated crispness of the high-altitude air at the top of the mountain and the damp, wet, earthy, green aroma of the forest floor at its base.
Other notes quickly follow suit. There are waves of aromachemicals that are: dry, peppery, woody, fresh, but also quietly animalic. At the first, the animalic note smells merely like a buzzing, vibrating, peppery civet combined with Animalis, but something resembling costus root soon joins them, wafting the aroma of Kouros-style urinal cakes laced with dark muskiness and a tinge of “wet dog” hair.
Roughly 5-7 minutes in, Figment Man shifts, losing much of its crisp, airy freshness as its focus plummets from the top of a tall mountain to the earthy, animalic, musky, damp and green forest floor at its base. It’s a scent which is redolent of: crushed wet leaves; quietly aromatic, herbal, and dewy green ferns; dry, smoky trees; spicy, earthy, dry patchouli; earthy, woody, mossy, and grassy vetiver; and peppery, dark, animalic musk. A pinch of brisk lemon is splattered on top, but it’s a minor note now because the olfactory focus of the scent has completely changed. There are olfactory echoes of other recent Amouage fragrances, genetic strands of Bracken Man‘s opening fougère greenness and Myths Man‘s earthy dampness. I’m also strongly reminded of Zoologist‘s Bat, minus its bananas and fruited sweetness. If you took Bat’s dark animal cave, then transplanted the wet, green, leafy, mossy, dry, smoky, peppery, earthy, and very synthetic aspects of the aforementioned Amouage fragrances, and added in a big slug of Clearwood patchouli, you’d end up with something much like Figment Man.
Figment is one of those fragrances that changes rapidly and repeatedly in its nuances during its first few hours, but it is always a rather simple bouquet at its core and centered around a handful of main accords. A mere 30-35 minutes in, the patchouli becomes such a major, noticeable presence that I’m surprised it wasn’t specified on the note list instead of merely being subsumed within the generalized “earthy accord” descriptor. It smells a lot like the Clearwood sort on my skin: largely clean, quietly earthy and spicy, but also slightly dry, and faintly woody. Its arrival is followed by sandalwood that is dry and smoky, then a mossy accord that smells partially of vetiver. Together, they swallow up the aromatic geranium and the fougère-like wet ferns. The fruity peppercorns basically disappear, the chalky lemon becomes a thin wisp that floats around the background, but the dark, buzzing animalic musk continues to veil everything.
The patchouli’s growing strength and prominence, the arrival of the woody notes, and the concomitant shift away from the heavily vegetal notes end up having a significant effect. Figment Man no longer evokes the dark, damp forest floor or an animal cave littered with moldering vegetation. Instead, I’m now wafting a rather basic woody-green-patchouli composition which follows the old-school, conventional patchouli template of combining earthy, spicy patchouli with dry, smoky woods and vetiver for a mossy, green element. (See, e.g., Reminiscence‘s Patchouli or Lorenzo Villoresi‘s Patchouli.) The difference here is that Figment Man layers its earthy patchouli and mossy greenness with sandalwood in lieu of cedar, flecks that core bouquet with thin veins of dry, leathery smokiness, then covers it with a layer of dark civet-costus-Animalis musk.
Figment Man continues to change in its focus and emphasis in the hours that follow. Roughly 90 minutes in, it grows smokier, woodier, drier, more leathery, and significantly more synthetic. I should note that I found its opening to be pretty synthetic in and of itself; it made my ears ring and made me dizzy during the first 40 minutes whenever I smelled my arm up close. Yet, Figment gets even drier and feels even more overtly synthetic at the 90-minute mark. There is less patchouli, less earthiness, and significantly more sandalwood and leathery darkness. Guaiac arrives on the scene, adding in wood smoke. There is only a minor touch of greenness buried within the patchouli-wood bouquet, and only occasional whispers of lemony urinal cakes at its edges.
Roughly 2.5 hours in, Figment Man enters its long heart phase. It’s basically a simple scent that is focused predominantly on slightly powdery sandalwood, thinly layered with earthy patchouli. Veins of grassy vetiver, chalky lemon, blackened leather, and guaiac wood smoke run through it. There is a suggestion of something musky lurking in the background, but it’s more of an abstract aura than a clearly delineated Animalis, civet, or costus note on my skin and it’s certainly not a prominent note. By the end of the 3rd hour and start of the 4th, Figment is a simple, extremely hazy, and rather boring bouquet of sandalwood smudged with chalky lemon and quasi-vetiver-ish grassy greenness, and bearing quiet undertones of earthiness, spiciness, and the merest whisper of civet musk.
Figment Man remains this way for hours without any change until the 8th hour when the patchouli returns for a short interval. At that point, Figment becomes a woody-patch fragrance with a pinch of lemon, a hint of greenness, and a light veil of powderiness lying atop it. The patchouli departs when the second half of the drydown begins in the middle of the 10th hour, leaving behind only a powdery sandalwood. In its final hours, all that’s left of Figment Man is a lightly powdered woodiness.
Figment Man had fair projection, initially big sillage, and very good longevity. With several big smears equal to 2 good sprays from an actual bottle on a single patch of forearm, the fragrance opened with about 4 to 5 inches of projection and sillage that extended about 8 inches. The numbers dropped a bit after 90 minutes. By the end of the 3rd hour, however, the projection hovered above the skin, and the sillage was discreet unless I moved my arm. Figment Man turned into a skin scent on me 6.75 to 7 hours in. In total, it lasted just under 15 hours.
I have mixed feelings about Figment Man. I like the general vibe of the opening bouquet in the first 30 minutes when I smell it from afar, particularly the warm darkness of the animalic musk juxtaposed against the cave-like damp earthiness, and mossy, vegetal greenness, but I don’t enjoy the actual aroma of the materials used to create much of that bouquet. As I said, the synthetics made me feel dizzy and my ears ring. Later, when the patchouli took over, I rather liked Figment Man, but that’s entirely due to the fact that I’m a hardcore Patch Head. Be that as it may, I was surprised by how quickly the bouquet lost its nuances and note delineation, as well as by how quickly it dissolved into something more generic in feel, like an old-school, classical patch composition.
Figment Man’s subsequent stages did little for me. I wasn’t keen when the fragrance turned woodier and more leathery at the 90-minute mark. Plus, if I wanted to spend $300 on a dry, spicy, smoky, leather-woody fragrance imbued with dark, animalic musk, I wouldn’t buy such a synthetic one as this. I’d either buy one of the Areej Le Doré ouds with their genuine sandalwood and animalic agarwood (Oud Zen is alas now sold out, but there is always Oud Picante), or I would spend a bit more and buy one of Ensar Oud‘s oils or Feel Oud‘s oils, all of which last forever with only a small application. I was equally unmoved by the mundane simplicity of Figment Man’s long sandalwood or patchouli-woody-sandalwood stages later on. Frankly, I thought both were quite boring.
Judging by the mixed reviews which Figment Man receives, I think it will probably be a Love It/Hate It fragrance. You can read different opinions on Fragrantica and also in a Basenotes discussion thread starting on page 4. In the latter, some people absolutely adore Figment. One chap, however, said it smelled like chlorine on him (comment #136 on page 5), as though he “was headed for the swimming pool, walking through damp grass.” Another poor soul (“Dullah” in comment #137) described Figment Man as “a chemically sterile greenhouse/garden center” and a “weed/gasoline/pesticide bomb” with a drydown of “wet potting soil, wet leaves, chlorine, and pesticide.” I feel for him; his experience sounds ghastly.
In short, even if you’re a fan of Amouage’s men’s line, I don’t think this is a fragrance to blindly buy. Please test first.
Figment Woman is an eau de parfum that was created by perfumers Dorothée Piot and Karine Vinchon-Spehner and was released around the end of June. Amouage describes it as an “opulent tuberose” fragrance that looks into the illusory world of grandeur and evokes the poetic beauty of floral embroidery. It says the note list consists of:
Sichaun pepper, saffron, gardenia, tuberose, jasmine sambac, orange blossom, lisylang [a type of clean ylang ylang], cassia, orris, papyrus, patchouli, incense.
Figment Woman is an impressionistic, deconstructed white floral on my skin, but its specifics, the prominence of its secondary or tertiary notes, and its development varied depending on how much I applied. I’ll try to quickly describe both versions.
With several generous, large smears amounting to more than 1 good spray from a bottle (let’s call it one and a half), Figment Woman opened on my skin with a sheer, thin aura of impressionistic tuberose, deconstructed, then put back together with creamy gardenia, clean musk, and ylang ylang that is wispy, slightly vanillic, very clean, and very synthetic. The bouquet is veined with bitter sappy greenness and splattered with a crisp, cold lemony freshness, then placed atop an extremely scratchy, rough, throat-tickling base. My guess is that the latter stems from the papyrus (or perhaps the papyrus combined with the incense) because, in the past, whenever I’ve encountered papyrus in a composition, it has taken on a dry, abrasive roughness on my skin.
Here, it’s no different, although, for some reason, its coarseness continuously reminds me of metallic steel wool. Specifically, Brillo or SOS kitchen wool, cleaning pads. It’s a jarring touch in what is otherwise a clean, fresh, almost dewy, green-white floralcy, almost as though the Brillo’s coarse wool had been placed right smack in the middle of a bowl of white petals.
Figment Woman changes mostly in the order, prominence, and nuance of its notes. Roughly 30 minutes in, it loses its lemony crispness and the white musk grows in strength, taking on a laundry cleanness that reminds me of Bounce dryer sheets. Roughly 1.75 hours in, the notes dissolve into an amorphous abstraction of white flowers, laundry cleanness, and rough papyrus scratchiness, thinly veined with woodiness, greenness, vanillic sweetness, and a hint of dusty smokiness. The flowers are gauzy, Ellena-style watercolours that are generically gardenia-ish and tuberose-ish, tied together with ribbons of something vaguely suggestive of clean, synthetic ylang ylang.
By the time the end of the 3rd hour and the start of the 4th hour, Figment Woman is simply a sweet, scratchy, and abstract white floral with clean white musk and a phantom whisper of greenness. That’s it. If Dior ever made a flanker to its Pure Poison where it deconstructed its flowers and infused them with rasping synthetics and a suggestion of greenness, it would probably smell similar to this. I’m someone who would be happy with death by tuberose (let me die in a giant vat of it!), but nothing about the flower here or, more importantly, the larger bouquet as a whole strikes me as being interesting, complex, lush, or remotely memorable. It’s the sort of thing which, if I smelled it on a passerby at a party, would initially strike me as pretty (solely because of the creamy gardenia which is genuinely lovely in the first 20 minutes) but which I’d completely forget about moments after walking away.
Part of the problem is that Figment Woman is a hyper-conceptualized presentation of white flowers, all painted in overly simplistic and hazy, Jean-Claude Ellena-style broad brush strokes, but its superficial feminine prettiness dissolves into such a shapeless, characterless, minimalistic morass that, after 2.5 hours, it feels merely like another wan, anemic, bloodless, and wholly generic department store designer fragrance whose only noticeable stand-out is that it contains different (and more unpleasant) synthetics than the usual, typical laundry freshness and cleanness. I certainly wouldn’t describe any of it as “opulent,” neither in the aroma of its individual notes nor in its cumulative weight and feel. Actually, to me, Figment Woman feels more like a strong eau de toilette in terms of its body than an “opulent” eau de parfum. It only feels like an “opulent” “eau de parfum” if we’re using Ellena standards.
Figment Woman is not only a simplistic blurry haze on my skin but also extremely linear. As I’ve often said, there is nothing wrong with either simplicity or linearity if you like the notes in question. Here, Brillo Pad white florals with laundry cleanness does nothing for me, especially not for 7 hours straight.
Figment Woman only changes when its drydown begins late in the 7th hour. It’s simply an abstract, fluffy, slightly lemony-fresh, vaguely iris-like, clean floralcy with an underlying scratchy, synthetic, bristly wool texture. I guess the lemon is a side effect of frankincense and the fluffiness comes from the iris, but the specifics are extremely difficult to ascertain because the whole thing is a whisper as well as a blur. There is something scented on my skin, but it’s just … there, an anonymous, anodyne accumulation of something. Figment Woman remains that way until it finally dies away.
With a quantity equal to roughly 1.5 sprays, this version of Figment Woman had fair projection, initially average sillage, and good longevity. It opened with about 3 inches of projection, and the scent trail extended about 5 inches. It became a skin scent at the end of 5 hours, and lasted just under 11 hours.
I tested Figment Woman with a larger fragrance application, several heavy, broad, generous smears amounting to more than what you’d get from 2 sprays from a bottle, so let’s call it 2.5, approximately. With that amount, Figment Woman demonstrated different nuances, although its core essence was fundamentally the same. The fragrance opened with a slew of flowers — orange blossom, gardenia, jasmine, a drop of mimosa, and a hint of nominally tuberose-ish green sap — all coated in buttery saffron, then lightly splattered with a few drops of spicy Sichuan pepper. The bouquet rests atop a woody base dominated by patchouli which is softly earthy, woody, and lightly tinged by papyrus woody roughness.
It’s nice, nuanced, and layered, but it doesn’t last. A mere 5 minutes in, the flowers turn abstract and hazy and Figment Woman dissolves into a simple sweet, diaphanous, and airy floral whiteness imbued with a soft touch of buttery, warm spiciness. Tinges of greenness and woodiness run through the bouquet, but nothing is clear. In fact, the only clear, distinct, well-defined flower is the gardenia. To my surprise, even with this larger quantity, the fragrance feels like a strong eau de toilette on my skin, not an “opulent” eau de parfum.
Figment continues to rapidly morph. Roughly 10 minutes in, a layer of soapiness seeps over the flowers, either from the frankincense or the orange blossom. It feels as though there is a separate white musk element as well, because my arm is beginning to exude a laundry-like cleanness that reminds me a lot of Bounce dryer sheets. Roughly 15-20 minutes in, the buttery saffron and Sichuan pepper fade away, becoming elusive ghostly whispers deep in the background.
By the 30-minute mark, Figment has dissolved into a minimalistic, impressionistic, Ellena-style blur of green-white floralcy which is centered primarily on gardenia with subsumed layers of deconstructed, vaguely “tuberose”-ish, sappy floral greenness and cleanness which is simultaneously soapy and like laundry musk. Thin veins of spiciness, dry woodiness, and sweetness run deep below the flowers, but they’re noticeable only if I smell my arm up close and concentrated. From afar, there is merely green-white floralcy and soapy cleanness.
Figment Woman remains that way for quite a while, changing only in its nuances. The fragrance becomes soapier and soapier as the first hour draws to a close. It must be the incense because Omani frankincense essential oil turns quite soapy on my sink. The papyrus quietly grows in strength, too, adding more and more scratchy roughness to the base. Roughly 1.75 hours in, Figment Woman is painfully soapy, wholly abstract and rather insipid white floral bouquet where a vaguely gardenia-like note is layered with Bounce laundry detergent musk, wisps of dry, smoky woodiness, and an occasional, passing suggestion of something nebulously tuberose-ish. As “big” white florals go, this one has as much personality and presence as the wan, browbeaten, wallflower governesses in 19th-century novels.
Figment Woman remains that way for a tediously long period of time, shifting course only in the 10th hour. At that point, the incense and papyrus become as central as the abstract, anemic flowers. The incense is no longer just soapy but, now, also wafts a dry, slightly woody dustiness, like the remnants of an incense stick. The papyrus is back to evoking thoughts of Brillo or SOS steel wool pads. The end result is a soapy, dusty white floral with an underlying texture of creaminess juxtaposed next to a synthetic, coarse wool scratchiness. Figment Woman remains that way until its final hours when all that’s left is a soapy, slightly dusty, slightly floral cleanness.
With the larger scent application, Figment Woman’s projection, sillage, and longevity numbers were naturally higher. The fragrance opened with about 4 inches of projection and a scent trail that extended about 7 to 8 inches. To my surprise, though, the scent seemed to run out of steam after four hours and Figment became a skin scent at the end of the 5th hour, just like it did with the smaller amount. Also to my surprise, it didn’t last significantly longer. In total, it lasted just short of 13.25 hours.
On Fragrantica, Figment Woman receives mixed reviews. Actually, I would describe the majority of comments as ambivalent or disappointed. I also noticed that the “Dislike” votes outnumbers the “Like” and “Love” ones. I’ll let you read the reviews for yourself if you’re interested as I’ve already spent far too much time on a fragrance which bored me into numbness and whose tendentious, puling insipidness is leavened only by synthetic unpleasantness.
Bottom line: thumbs down from me. If you want a deconstructed tuberose with green, woody, dark and/or clean notes, Naomi Goodsir‘s new Nuit de Bakelite is, in my opinion, more interesting, more affordable, and better quality.
Details/Links: $315, €335, €290, or £245 for 100 ml EDP; Amouage, Luckyscent, Osswald NYC, Canada’s Etiket, Selfridges, First in Fragrance, Essenza Nobile, Neos1911 (€290), ParfuMaria (€290), David Jones, and SCT.