Amouage Opus III is an eau de parfum from Amouage's "Library Collection" of fragrances. It can be purchased from, $325 for 100 ml. ParfumsRaffy also sells a set of 2-ml samples of the first three scents in the Library Collection (Opus I, II, and III) for only $15. My sample came from a fellow perfume lover.

Image (top) is from the photo gallery on the Royal Winter Agricultural Fair's website.

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Suzanne's Perfume Journal

AMOUAGE OPUS III: Like an Evening at ‘The Royal’

November 12, 2010:

I was young—just out of college—and had never seen anything like it: the Royal Winter Agricultural Fair in Toronto, Canada. By day, it was a ‘come one, come all’ agricultural fair, breathtakingly huge but also family friendly: a place for city dwellers to bring their kids to see the finest breeds of horses, dogs, dairy cattle, beef cattle, poultry, swine, sheep and more, as well as astounding floral exhibits and horticultural displays. By night, however, “The Royal,” as it is commonly referred to, was something else entirely: limousines pulled up to the curb to let out women dressed in evening gowns and furs, whose sleek blonde bobs caught the light of the exhibition hall the same way their diamond jewelry did, and whose husbands trailed after them in black-tie attire, dutifully holding their purses and steering them to the arena where the horse shows were held.  The transformation was like something out of Cinderella, with The Royal living up to its name (Queen Elizabeth II is the fair’s patron, and in 2009, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, travelled to Toronto to officially open the fair), as well as its reputation as one of the premiere horse shows in the world. At night, the champagne came out, parties were held, and there was a parade of money that flashed by, both on the hoof and on the heel.

The headiness of the nighttime atmosphere at The Royal came flooding back to me when I began wearing my generous sample of Amouage Opus III last month—and this week, as I sat down to write this post, I realized that the fair is currently underway, wrapping up its ten-day schedule of events this weekend. Oh how I wish I could be there to witness its thrilling spectacle again and to breathe in its odd commingling of smells—of oiled and well-groomed animals and shiny people and flowers and roast lamb sandwiches with mint jelly (the food there is unlike anything you’ll find at other agricultural fairs—in addition to a high-end food court, the venue features a restaurant serving haute cuisine) and all of the barnyard smells of sawdust, hay, and animal dung. But since I’m not there, I’ll content myself by burying my nose in Opus III, a perfume that is as wondrously busy and glamorously animalic as an evening at The Royal.

Opus III has top notes of mimosa, broom, carnation and nutmeg; heart notes of violet, jasmine, ylang-ylang, and orange blossom; and base notes of ambrette, musk, papyrus, cedarwood, sandalwood, guaiacwood, benzoin, vanilla and frankincense.

Like most of the fragrances in the Amouage line, Opus III is a thick perfume, especially in the first couple hours of wear. Its opening combination of notes is quite unique: Most of the time, top notes are so fleeting that you can hardly parse them out before they are gone, but Opus III’s top notes have a great deal of weight and provide an initial warm, animalic burst to the fragrance that strikes me as unusual in terms of perfume construction. What they remind me of is the smell of hay, rendered sweeter and dirtier by the tang of horse urine, drifting over a row of saddles lined up on a saddle horse and gathering their leathery aroma into its bouquet. I recently learned that the shrub which we call mimosa here in America, with its spindly puffs of pink blooms that smell cool and cucumberish, is not the mimosa related to perfumery. The mimosa note used in perfumery is that of the yellow-flowered mimosa found in the Mediterranean areas of Europe and related closely to the Cassie flower. It smells honeyed and sweet, but also with green and powdery facets, which might explain why, when it combines with the hay-like broom flower note, it takes on a slightly urinous, animalic scent that is way more sexy than it sounds. (Honey having an acridly sweet, urine-like facet to it.)

The first two hours are the most interesting hours in terms of the perfume’s wear: cooler, haughtier notes press their way into the fold, and sometimes I get hints of candied violets, but predominantly I get a cherry-almond note that reminds me of heliotrope (not listed among the perfume’s notes), expensive lipstick, and the classic Guerlain fragrance, L’Heure Bleue. It’s at this point in Opus III’s progression that I so vividly recall those beautiful, expensive women arriving at The Royal in the evenings to watch their equally expensive horses being put through their paces in the show ring. The warm, tangy smell of hay, horse and leather meeting the cool, sweet, powdery whiff of cosmetics and perfume: that’s how Opus III presents itself to me at this stage. As it dries down, the animalic elements fade away, the almond note remains distinct but becomes drier and fluffier, and quite gradually the scent becomes lightly vanillic and sandalwood creamy. It does this in natural, drowsy fashion, the way most well-made perfumes do: leisurely and unhurried after the main event is over; still holding onto some of its olfactory souvenirs.