📷 Christopher Chong, creative director of Amouage for 12 years, has announced that he will be leaving the company, having resigned on May 1st, 2019.
Building a strong relationship with a brand and its intended audience is usually the better half of a successful journey into perfumery; one's characteristic style of direction is unmistakable for those who have grown to love it. Christopher Chong, creative director of Amouage for 12 years, has announced that he will be leaving the company, having resigned on May 1st, 2019. It has left us with a sense of awe at what those 12 years have meant to us, during this successful journey.
His successful debut was in creating Jubilation 25 for women and Jubilation XXV for men in 2007, despite no formal training in the luxury fragrance industry. This set the tone for all future launches, and today, Chong has become a highly respected protagonist who is known for defying convention and for pushing artistic boundaries. Over the past 12 years, he has steered Amouage on a creative path to global success, and he achieved this by entirely reshaping the olfactory identity of the brand.
It was with a sense of genuine joy I had learned back in 2009 through an interview he gave to a colleague in Italian, that Mr. Chong was a fan of my own personal blog of fragrant and artistic musings, PerfumeShrine.com. At the time, I knew Jubilation 25 for women (composed by Lucas Sieuzac under Chong's directives) intimately, being the proud owner of a bottle (which has dwindled to well-loved dregs by now), and I had in fact claimed, "My tumultuous love affair with chypres has always been like flipping through the pages of an old family album; grudgingly recognising familiar features reflected on my own visage and looking quizzically yet with admiration on fashions past. Jubilation 25 by Amouage comes as the crowning glory of an introspection in sepia, ascertaining its place as one of my core favourites ever since its launch."
Jubilation XXV for men was not far behind in my personal pantheon, a fragrance that should earn a place in my fall season wardrobe. It was composed by Bertand Duchaufour—before everyone learned of Duchaufour's love of incense scents—and overseen by Chong as gathering the best quality of Omani frankincense for its somnambulant, mystical, zen-like aroma, and giving an aura of quiet introspection.
📷 Amouage collective best in show image.
What I didn't know then, but have learned since, is how Chong was an iconoclast for the brand and for perfumery artistic direction in general. He was always very forthcoming with his information anyway.
Classically trained as a Lyric Baritone, Chong has often described his career as unorthodox and his role at Amouage as pre-ordained, “singing” various song cycles by bottling art and emotions. According to Chong, creating a perfume is always a process of storytelling. During his tenure at Amouage, he approached his work from a deeply personal perspective, adding layers of myriad contradictions and nuances. A multi-faceted maverick and creative risk-taker, each of his creations was a window to his mind, heart, and soul.
His musical expertise was beautifully expressed in the cadenzas of some of the Amouage fragrances, indeed. The cunning in Honour Man, for example, lies in presenting each note as a distinct pitch with sonorous timbre, yet also as unifying them into a chromatic scale that is heard, like bass coming out from subwoofers in the larynx of some smoldering lion afar, coming closer and closer by the minute. In no way threatening, but impressive all the same.
The prolific art director was issuing perfume duos for a good while, having the best noses creating under his guidance: the majestic Jubilation 25 for women and Jubilation XXV for men were soon followed by the sweeping Epic for Men and Epic for Women, the floral saturation of Lyric Woman and Lyric Man, or the tropical jungle landscapes of Bracken Man and Bracken Woman.
Essentially masterminding rich fragrances which have lured lovers of true luxury and superb raw materials (as can be attested especially in the gorgeous Attars of the brand, such as Amouage Homage), creating something of a cult in the process. Even when the skeleton is recognizable as belonging to a specific category met again, the fleshing out of the robust contours is impressive enough to warrant uniqueness.
📷 Bottle of Amouage fragrance into background shape of a violin.
For the Library Collection, a sub-collection within the Amouage portfolio, some fans complained, comparing it to the other symphonic pieces in the house's portfolio and finding the fragrances (Opus I, II, III, and IV specifically) leaner and sparser and ultimately not as satisfying. However, to draw upon the musical references that Chong naturally and effortlessly lent to the brand, beside a full Wagnerian orchestra playing a Gesamtkunstwerk, like Gold or Jubilation 25 women, any one of them would be deemed lacking. But further testing of the opera in the Library Collection confirms a theory I had that this is the "niche" sub-brand within the house, focusing on specific raw materials or accords and highlighting specific ideas which are themselves treated in a less complex, less dense manner. They resemble études, rather than orchestral pieces, consolidating Chong's musical spirit.
For his departing adieu, Chong says, “I would like to thank Amouage for giving me so many opportunities to develop my perfumery skills. My 12 year journey at Amouage has been nothing short of epic and it has been an honor to meet and work with so many wonderful people along the way. I leave with enormous and enduring gratitude. I am truly grateful to everyone who believed in me, even when I was being challenging at times with my creativity. Your trust gave me tremendous courage and confidence to take Amouage from a relatively unknown Omani brand to the international recognition that it has today.”
📷 Amouage Portrayal bottles.
He added, “This is not a swan song but rather a short interlude to enable me to focus on new projects and new challenges, so watch this space. This is only the end of the beginning.”
📷 Amouage Library Collection Opus bottles.
We have loved and honored Mr. Chong's master work for Amouage for so long that we can't but wish him the very best in his upcoming endeavors!
Source: Fragrantica, by Elena Vosnaki.
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