Scentbird, Inc., New York, NY 10001
Honour Woman description
What can you say about a perfume whose inspiration is the tragic heroine Cio Cio San, from the opera Madame Butterfly? Amouage’s Honour Woman is that perfume, and it honors its namesake heroine in stunning olfactory fashion. Honour Woman mirrors Cio Cio San’s first blush of love, through her exhilaration of being married to her American husband, and finally to much different emotional terrain by the end of its time on the skin.
Honour Woman is a beautifully demure white floral, that starts with a mouth-watering green rhubarb note in the top notes. There’s also dashes of crisp black pepper and coriander to create a tangy, bright and spicy opening that occupies your attention just long enough for the baroque white swan sculpture in the heart to sail into view. The rhubarb note is sheer joy, bubbling up at the start of this perfume with unexpected abandon – a scented memento of falling in love for the first time.
But Honour Woman soon morphs (like a green caterpillar into a butterfly) into a majestic white floral composition with jasmine, gardenia, lily, tuberose and carnation all soaring out of the center of this perfume. The gardenia, jasmine and tuberose are the main attractions, but each note is content to share its edges with its neighbor, rather than trying to dominate the heart in their usual diva-like fashion.
The bouquet of blended florals is beautifully done - these are some of the strongest and most forceful white floral notes, and here they instead choose to subtly show their individuality.
The lily and carnation offer a light, carefree contrast to the heavier, more sensual notes, and the heart of this fragrance might be a scent symbol for Cio Cio San’s love of marriage and having someone to share her life with, as the light carnation and lily marry so well with the majestic gardenia, jasmine and tuberose.
Honour Woman’s third act is a resinous, spicy bookend to the high-flying florals that came before. Frankincense, opoponax, amber and vetiver all add shades of sweet smoke and nose-crinkling spice at the end of this perfume’s time on stage.
There’s a clever change in texture also between the heart and the base in Honour Woman – the airy, soaring lightness of the floral heart falls under the shade of an earthier, grounded and dark denouement. The resin and spices are the black shadow trailing behind Madame Butterfly’s gown as she realizes the loss of her husband and child to another woman.
All theatrical symbolism aside, you don’t have to be an opera fanatic to appreciate this perfume, and its intriguing meditation on light and darkness. Honour Woman is a gorgeously blended white floral with an unexpected opening note, and expertly balanced tonal changes as it dries down. This is perfume-making at its finest, and an experience that’s worth staying for until the very end of its performance.