Interlude Black Iris Man by Amouage (2020)

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Amouage Interlude Black Iris Man (2020) is the first ever flanker from the esteemed luxury niche house from Oman. Pierre Negrin was tasked with “overpainting” his original monstrous 2012 creation and the results in my opinion create a more balanced and complete fragrance. What made Amouage Interlude Man (2012) so special for so many is the very thing I am indifferent about: The singular strength of the jam-packed smokey-sweet amber/incense/cistus core that becomes mostly all you smell for the next 24 hours supported by a base of harsh wood notes. The oriental-themed powerhouse with such a linear front-loaded dry down beats on the door of Tom Ford’s Private Blend line for inclusion and instead knocks the whole damn door down, but isn’t without some creative merits so I ended up neutral on it rather than thumbs down (like most oud or tobacco Tom Ford Private Blend fragrances if I am to be quite honest). Interlude Black Iris Man seeks to smooth out and bolster the original with supporting notes that give the overall feel additional nuance, bringing Interlude Man more in line with older Amouage masculine favorites such as Jubilation XXV (2007) or Reflection Man (2007), which is a good thing as the last few releases under former creative director Christopher Chong were starting to feel forced and creatively bereft. If we have to suffer a flanker to see progress such as this, I’ll condone it, so long as they don’t start discontinuing all the modern classics the house has pumped out during Chong’s creative peak with the brand.

For me, Amouage Interlude Black Iris Man feels more like the fragrance Amouage Interlude Man should have been rather than a flanker to it, with the foodie notes of oregano and allspice gone from the opening to be replaced by rosemary (still culinary but also more common in perfume) and a beautiful violet leaf. The maturity of the violet leaf is lifted by bergamot in a way similar to how galbanum is often used, and the top notes linger into the heart rather than being replaced by them almost immediately as in the original Interlude Man. The amber, olibanum, opoponax, and labdanum are dried somewhat by the namesake iris, which is an ionone molecule similar to that used in Dior Homme (2005). This lovely iris is buffered with a slight hint of vanilla so the sweetness isn’t completely lost, but Interlude Black Iris Man is not sweet like the original. Myrrh joins the base of patchouli, smokey vetiver, sandalwood, and the agar note, kept from being scratchy like Comet cleanser thanks to the addition of a rounder patchouli and uplifting cedar note which keeps the final dry down from feeling too thick like the original. The end result is all the star players are there, but part of a layered experience that floats between incense, woods, the iris, and softer elements at the cost of the musky castoreum leather from the original (which didn’t really work well in this context anyway). Interlude Black Iris Man works much better as a black tie scent for formal occasions, and is classy enough with it’s restraint to see use in the office if applied lightly, but is still an enormous performer going 24+ hours if allowed.

All my gripes with the original Amouage Interlude Man are fixed here, and fans of the original may appreciate this first-ever flanker as a supplemental fragrance with greater versatility than standard Interlude Man. This is still very much “beastmode” if sprayed without restraint, and the YouTube taste makers will probably be divided over the changes made to one of their favorite hype beasts, but that can only be a good thing to me because it means I won’t suffer it as much on the bourgeois streets of Seattle since all the rich tech bros won’t immediately jump on a bottle because they were told “it’s a banger”. Pardon me while I vomit a little after including that verbiage in a review, but it’s the truth. As with most fragrances that draw a sycophantic following through social media, the allure of the original Interlude Man to me felt more based on it’s gross output of sillage rather than how it actually smelled, which was two pence short of a shotgun blast filled with amber and incense. Here in Interlude Black Iris Man, those notes are now allowed to breathe a little, and trade spaces with violet, iris, cedar, and drifting puffs of smoke (rather than perpetual smog), which makes the idea of Interlude Man finally feel “whole” in my eyes. Very nicely done Pierre Negrin, now if only we can get Alberto Morillas to return and retouch some of the commercially-minded stuff he’s pumped out for the house, I’d be fully on board with these “overpaintings” of Amouage masculines. Sample first if you own Interlude Man and you’re unsure about this, but skip ahead to Interlude Black Iris Man otherwise. Thumbs up.

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