Ciel Man by Amouage (2003)

One of the most unusual Amouage scents I’ve ever tried, and overall also one of the most unusual fragrances I’ve ever sniffed in general. The uncommon nature of Ciel lies to me in its very complex texture made of, say, several thin layers perfectly matching one onto another, which I would have never thought that could blend so perfectly together considering them singularly. It’s basically an amazing sharp symphony played around several nuances of green, peach and white. A lot of inspirations come into play here, from a herbal-mineral masculine fougère (Guy Laroche Horizon anyone?) to a slightly creamy-green sort of Gucci Envy for Women type of blend, connected by an old-school, extremely sophisticated Chanel-esque soapy-fruity axe of white flowers – jasmine, mostly – and peachy notes, all framed within a gentle yet very crisp “barbershop” layout of lavender, sandalwood and vetiver. Basically a sort of bizarre “feminine fougère”, so to speak, as it smells clearly rooted into the classic family of green/barbershop fougères but throwing in a bold “feminine” aura of floral and fruity-powdery notes, and most of all, a very peculiar – and again, more on the feminine side – substance: very breezy, clean, sharp, transparent, almost “crunchy” in its crisp leafiness, at once graceful and silky. I’m not that into gender categorizations but one can really see this isn’t exactly a range of “macho” features – and I fear this is why many men seem disappointed by Ciel.

So overall, something completely different from most of other Amouage offerings for men. No opulence, no somber incense-resinous sumptuosity, actually the complete opposite: Ciel Man, surely aptly named to this extent, is all played on a very clean heart palette of pastel colours which are all about floral silkiness, faint greenness, gentle fruitiness, sharp cleanliness, somehow feeling kind of “formal” and almost aseptic (oddly in a good way, a “calming” and soothing sort of asepticness). As I said there is indeed a subtle green-barbershop fougère vibe though, a sort of very discreet frame made of “mineral” herbs, light vetiver, soapy sandalwood and spices, perfectly acting as the manlier counterpart to the breezy feminine heart of Ciel. But still it’s probably more leaning towards the “floral-green-clean delicate stuff”. The drydown leaves most of the stage to the woody-spicy notes, so as time passes Ciel becomes more and more “masculine”, dry and woody, with a whiff of smoke too, still with a decided green-white mood.

The quality is more than remarkable to any extent for me, both of the creativity and of the materials, as I smell a lot of notes and nuances with an astounding clarity and richness – which is one of the things I love the most in the nicest Amouage scents, their intricate yet very clear texture, something only top-notch quality materials can allow you to build. It’s all consistent and harmonic, and yet perfectly “separate”, allowing you to dive into the composition and smell the notes with a heart-melting clarity and deepness. Overall an unusual, crisp green-azure unisex gem with some hidden darker nuances which I’d really recommend to any fragrance fan, at least for a try. Many seem to mistake it cleanliness and apparent light breeziness for dullness, while it’s actually an incredibly creative, complex and interesting blend for me (or I maybe wrong, of course). It could, and maybe should be a bit more powerful, but I appreciate its discreet yet long-lasting presence on skin.


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