Friday, 18 September 2015

Persolaise Review: Sunshine Man from Amouage (Pierre Negrin & Fabrice Pellegrin; 2015)

Ah, dear old lavender. When it's misused - as it so often is - it's a whopping clanger of a cliche, plunging a composition into the depths of the generic, be that 'generic fresh', 'generic man' or, dare I say it, 'generic old lady'. But when it's handled by experts, it is the scent equivalent of light, pushing aside all dejection like a hand parting a curtain on a vivid Sunday morning, filling a room with dawn optimism. It's safe to assume that Amouage's Creative Director, Christopher Chong, agrees with my view on the material, as he has chosen to give it prominence in a scent called, appropriately enough, Sunshine. Assembled by Pierre Negrin and Fabrice Pellegrin, the perfume takes Provence's most tourist-friendly export, attaches it to the burnt, maple syrup stickiness of immortelle (shades of Dior's Eau Noire), places it over solid woods and sprinkles the lot with more pepper than I've seen used in a fragrance for many a year. The result is an irrepressibly joyful, modern fougère, and - with its spicy-sweet core - one of the most interesting olfactory statements on 21st century masculinity since Dominique Ropion's Geranium Pour Monsieur for Frederic Malle. A luminous, life-affirming delight!

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Amouage in 2015]



  1. Amouage have always been expensive but, at £255 for the 100ml, this is ball-breakingly expensive. Do you think this juice justifies the big price jump from say Jubilation XXV or even the Library collection?

    1. Walt, thanks for stopping by and for bringing this up.

      The whole issue of price is becoming increasingly contentious and difficult.

      Let me try to keep my response simple.

      Does Sunshine Man smell 'better' than some of the other fragrances at the £200+ mark? In my view: yes, it does.

      As I type these words, I'm testing a scent which retails at almost £500. Does it smell 'better' or 'more expensive' than Sunshine Man? No, I don't think it does... which is not to say it's a poor scent.

      Does Sunshine Man smell 'better' than Jubilation XXV or some of the Library scent? Again, in my view, no, it doesn't.

      Should Sunshine Man be priced at £255? Well, that depends on who's answering the question. I am not privy to Amouage's operational strategies, but I'm sure they've observed that several so-called luxury brands have started hiking up their prices by substantial factors. Look at how much Lutens are charging for their new 'exclusive' extraits. Look at Malle's price for his oud scent. Look at Clive Christian, Xerjoff, Kilian et al. I suspect that, as a brand, Amouage absolutely do not want to be seen as inferior to some of those other fragrance houses, so in a way, they're *obliged* to raise their prices, even if they're not necessarily spending more on their perfume juices.

      Final question. Would I spend £255 on 100 ml of Sunshine Man? No, but then I've never spent that much money on a perfume. Mind you, that doesn't necessarily mean I think the scent isn't 'worth' it. The whole issue of how much we should/shouldn't spend on the things we do/don't buy is very personal.

      As a critic, I find the area of the price of a perfume extremely problematic. At times, I feel I ought to make a comment on it (as in the case of Lutens' L'Incendiaire, for instance). At other times, I feel it's more appropriate to focus on the scent itself. But I confess the issue is becoming increasingly tricky to deal with.

      Phew! That was a long-winded answer to your question. I hope it helps.

      I'd love to know your own thoughts.

  2. Thanks a lot for taking the trouble to give such an extensive and well-considered response.

    I haven't had a chance to try Sunshine Man yet but am keen to do so; particularly after your enthusiastic endorsement. I really love lavender as a raw ingredient and have many childhood memories tied up with it. But I haven't yet found a lavender fragrance that really hits the mark. It's my fragrance grail...

    I'm also finding perfume pricing increasingly problematic. As niche is going mainstream it feels that the brands are cynically cashing in. And I'm troubled by the "people will pay it so why not charge it?" or "if it isn't exorbitant people will think it's not top tier" mentalities that you describe.

    I own a lot of the Malle line and have never felt that any of the ones I have are overpriced (although I'd never consider paying what they charge for The Night and clearly few outside Dubai would or they would have also launched it more widely). But with Amouage (of which I have a couple) I think their pricing was already on the cusp. I'd need to have found the grail to pay £255 for Sunshine Man and be convinced that the raw ingredients it contains are incrementally more expensive than those in their fragrances that go for £30 to £75 less a bottle. It's not just a question of how much you love the scent but also one of whether you feel you've been bilked.


    1. Hi Walt,

      I'm afraid most brands are encouraged to follow the 'if the price isn't high, people will think the product is sub-standard' mentality. Was it Jean-Claude Ellena who said that the way to make a perfume luxurious is to increase its price?

      I think ultimately all this comes down to personal choice. Who knows: you might smell Sunshine Man and think it's worth every single one of those two hundred and fifty-five pounds.

      Let me know if you do! :-)


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