|Briar Rose (Illustration Arthur Rackham)|
Middle Eastern perfumers mastered the art of the rose perfume back in the mists of time while Europeans were still strangers to the notion of bathing, never mind perfumery. What can I say in the Northern European's defense? It was too cold to bathe until central heating was brought to us by the Romans! Eastern perfumery was originally about religious ritual and perfumed smoke was used to scent clothes rather than skin, even now many Arabian people will scent clothes and hair alone.
As far as flowers in perfumery go, I can't think of a flower that has such myriad perfumery moods. Roses in the wild or on the stem smell, well, rosy - with variations on a similar theme. But in perfumery it's far from simple. I love the scent of real roses, in particular the scent of Zephirine Drouhin - an astonishingly rich-scented deep pink rose. I also love the scent of Rose Otto (rose extract) from the Bulgarian Rose (otherwise known as Damascena or Centifolia) whose aroma varies from Turkish Delight-like to wine-like and boozy. But of this last variety I've only ever really experienced it in perfumery, also Turkish Delight and rose-flavoured ice-cream from my local Indian grocers! The Tea Rose is one most UK noses will be familiar with - they're almost lemon or apple-scented and originated in the snowy mountains of China, hence their affinity with the cooler UK climate.
When I heard the name 'Epic Woman', I suppose I cynically imagined Amouage's idea of an epic female to be a pampered lady dripping with diamonds and fur, reclining in the back of her chauffeur-driven car. (Amouage are a high-end perfumery company based in Oman). Luxury for the sake of status alone is pretty repugnant, but Amouage give their carefully selected perfumers an unrestricted budget when it comes to perfume materials, so it would be pretty depressing if they came up with a dud.
Epic has everything, as though on its travels it's picked up every beautiful impression then woven it into the most evocative, exotic and perfectly blended incense ever. In this case the concept of 'Epic' conjures a woman of legend - a poet, warrior, artist and traveller as well as your standard beautiful princess, though the purity of this perfume conjures up Priestess more than Princess
The drydown at first reminded me of the sweet ash left after burning high quality rose incense, and I had to wear this a few evenings to notice its other more subtle facets. I found myself sniffing around for the source of a milky/creamy, sweet incense quality that was drifting around my nose and realised it was Epic. I think it's due to the rose-dominant floral blend, iris-root (orris) and high quality vanilla.
Epic starts with a rich incense/rose/oud, slightly medicinal (Frankincense) and with an intensity that initially reminds me of Portrait of a Lady. But into its heart it becomes far softer and more, well, elegant than PoaL and it veers more to the feminine side. (having said that, on a male friend it retained its medicinal facets into the dry-down, whereas it became softer on my skin)
Epic is probably the most balanced perfume I've ever tried. At the moment I have a small decant, but a full bottle, at about the same price as a decent pair of boots, is worth the price I think!