Aaahhh-marige! My precious! Full disclosure before beginning this “review” of Givenchy’s Amarige – I cannot and nor will I even pretend to be a neutral observer when it comes to this now classic opulent white floral powerhouse. Amarige is the first grown-up French perfume I’ve ever really “worn.” There’s a difference between a tween applying (usually over-applying) a nice perfume and the moment you become mature and confident in yourself enough to truly inhabit a grown-up woman’s perfume. I discovered this somewhere around age 19, around that age of maturity. It became my first signature fragrance and remains the only perfume I’ve ever truly loved. So it will be difficult for me to keep this write-up brief. To that end I’ll rely on reviews from other sites and will try (my best) to distill the key points.
First, understand Amarige is one of those fragrances that tends to illicit strong opinions even among perfume aficionados. Remember that scene in Pretty Woman where Richard Gere’s character is explaining to Julia Roberts’ character the strong reactions people have when they first experience the opera? He says, “People’s reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic; they either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.” Amarige is like that. I loved it immediately. Some people will hate it at first whiff. Most perfume lovers who don’t love Amarige can appreciate its craftsmanship, the expert blending and nuanced layering of so many notes even if they could never wear it. I understand that because that’s exactly how I feel about Opium and Shalimar.
Next point – Like all perfumes, Amarige will not smell the same on everyone. It will react uniquely with each person’s unique chemistry and may smell differently on the same person at different times of the year or during various hormonal shifts. This reaction is especially common with super powerful floral notes like tuberose and gardenia as well warm, heady dry-down notes like musk, amber and sandalwood.
Amarige is an anagram of the French word for marriage (mariage), and it’s meant to capture the moment of pure blissful emotion of love at first sight. Created by master French perfumer, Dominique Ropion, this now classic opulent white floral was first released a quarter century ago, in 1991. Givenchy called its newly launched fragrance “Feminine. Ethereal. Beautiful.” Today, Amarige is described by some as “the heart of femininity with soft, sweet notes that are truly radiant” and by others as “a strong white floral-oriental fragrance that is sensual, youthful and timeless.” Amarige combines mimosa with citrus fruits, soft florals, precious woods and vanilla.
Category: Classic French / Floral-Oriental
Notes: The top notes are composed of fresh fruit including peaches, plums, oranges, and mandarin. The floral heart, very intense and luscious, is created of mimosa, orange flowers, tuberose, gardenia and violet along with a hint of black currant. The warm woody base is composed of musk, sandalwood, vanilla, amber, Tonka bean, rose and acacia woods and cedar.
Sillage: Amarige may accurately be described as both extremely feminine and extremely powerful. It can be overpowering, especially if you tend to be heavy-handed with the atomizer. Well crafted perfumes tend to unfold throughout the day, the middle and heart notes effusing gracefully as your body temperature increases. For some, the release of those middle notes can be intoxicating. Despite my devotion to Amarige, I’m careful to avoid it during hot or humid days. Several years ago, Givenchy released Amarige Ice (no longer available), which was essentially a lighter version meant for folks who find it difficult to wear this during warm weather. I find it easier to just save this sillage monster until temperatures dip below 75˚ Fahrenheit.
Longevity: Reading the list of notes in this fragrance you may expect relatively short lifespan on this one, especially since Givenchy almost exclusively sells only EDT version of Amarige. Don’t let the plethora of fruit notes fool you. Amarige has excellent longevity, particularly when sprayed on or near clothing or other fabrics. This is tenacious stuff, with a longevity befitting a high-end, high quality fragrance. The lingering scent is particularly lovely on fabric and clothing.
My Impression and Experience: On first spray I get a hit of juicy peach and some orange that quickly transitions into orange blossoms mixed with gardenia and tuberose. I get hints of plum but not much because the fruits disperse so quickly that it’s tough for me to differentiate peach from plum. Some sites also state Amarige’s top notes include hints of melon. I’d like to state for the record that I cannot find melon anywhere in this one. The floral notes continue to dominate for several hours but I never find the tuberose overpowering or overwhelming. On me, the mimosa in Amarige never takes a turn toward that unwashed (dirty) note that can become unpleasant. The scent remains warm and enveloping; sensual but not dirty. The scent is always available and never evaporates which is gratifying, particularly in this generation of short-lived citrus vanillas. It’s strong without suffocating despite its largely floral heart. It is always charming; always pretty and eternally feminine.
Bottle: The Amarige bottle was designed by Pierre Dinand, taking as its inspiration the ruffled sleeves of the “Bettina blouse” Hubert de Givenchy created for another muse, model Bettina Graziella.
Price and Where to Buy:
Amarige is available at most major department stores in the USA (Belk, Dillards, Macy’s Saks, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom’s etc.). ULTA and Sephora stores also carry most Givenchy fragrances. Interestingly, Sephora and Givenchy beauty (including Givenchy’s Fragrance House) are owned by the same parent conglomerate, LVMH. In recent years, Amarige has become available at lower price points from discount chains (Walmart etc.) and drugstores. Unfortunately, the quality of the EDTs sold at these stores is not the same as the bottles sold at department stores and cosmetics retailers. I recommend saving your money and purchasing a more expensive bottle for best quality and most reliable perfume experience.
Brand History: Hubert de Givenchy grew to prominence as an haute couture fashion designer in the 1950s and 1960, making a name for himself primarily as the signature designer for his muse Audrey Hepburn. His work was prominently displayed throughout each one of Ms. Hepburn’s movies. One need only watch such glamorous films as Sabrina, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Charade to see the extraordinary results of this collaboration. In 1957, Givenchy created L’Interdit EDT as a tribute to Audrey. The same year the fashion house released Le De Givenchy and other successful fragrances followed. Givenchy Beauty is owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH. Read more about LVMH beauty and fashion houses here.
Read more about Amarige and Givenchy Beauty here.
Read the full Fragrantica Summary and Reviews here.
Wisdom for the Day:
The Lord spoke to Moses: “Take for yourself the finest spices: 12½ pounds of liquid myrrh, 6¼ pounds of fragrant cinnamon, 6¼ pounds of fragrant cane, 12½ pounds of cassia, and one gallon of olive oil. Prepare from these a holy anointing oil, a scented blend, the work of a perfumer; it will be holy anointing oil…“Tell the People: This will be My holy anointing oil throughout your generations. It must not be used for ordinary anointing on a person’s body, and you must not make anything like it using its formula. It is holy, and it must be holy to you.” ~Exodus 30:22-25, 31-32 (NIV)
Read more here.