Amouage, the highly-respected house founded in the early 80s by a member of the Omani royal family. Occupying two large rooms, the shop showcases all of the firm's fragrances in their various forms, as well as the full range of the attars, bath products and scented candles. The decor emphasises modern sensibilities, but there are sufficient classical touches to add the required sense of Middle Eastern wealth. Upon a Persian carpet stands a large, round wooden table holding crystal bowls and delicate vases. A glass chandelier casts tiny circles of rainbow lights on the jade green wallpaper with its glimmering gold patterns. A complex floral scent fills the air, speaking of lands miles away from the crowds at Hyde Park.
When I visited, the staff were quick to point out that the scaffolding will soon be gone, after which they proceeded, with impeccable professionalism, to entice me with one heady concoction after another. Of particular interest was the new Library Collection of three scents, currently exclusive to the boutique. A full review may follow on Persolaise in due course, but for now suffice it to say these are intricate, intriguing creations which combine the ancient with the modern in characteristically opulent fashion.
Generally speaking, employees at UK shops find it difficult to be formal without projecting an air of stuffiness. Thankfully, the people at Amouage pitched their approach perfectly, which is why I felt sufficiently comfortable to make one good-natured complaint. "Surely," I said, "a brand new shop representing a company owned by an Arabian royal family should greet its customers with a cup of coffee and a few dates." Apologies were forthcoming, together with an explanation that last Friday's opening constituted a sort of 'soft launch': the official unveiling won't take place for several weeks.
The Amouage brand is currently trying to develop itself as an international name for a widening range of luxury goods - a Middle Eastern Hermès, perhaps? - which explained the rather incongruous presence of leather purses, wallets and handbags. But these couldn't detract from the real stars: the heavy, seductive bottles with their mixes of the finest frankincense, oud and rose, which will no doubt succeed in tempting many passersby to walk through the welcoming doorway.
[The new Amouage boutique is at 14 Lowndes Street, London.]