Branding the fragrances of the Orient: an interview with Amouage

Author:Catherine Jewell
Position:Communications Division, WIPO
SUMMARY

Perfumery – the art of blending fragrant essential oils and aroma compounds – has been an enduring part of Omani culture for thousands of years. Today, Oman is home to Amouage, one of the world’s most prestigious perfume houses. Established in 1983 by His Highness Sayyid Hamad bin Hamoud al bu Said, Amouage has become known as an accomplished, sophisticated and opulent perfumer.

 
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Rabin Chatterjee, Amouage’s Financial Controller, discusses the company’s aspirations and the role that intellectual property (IP) rights play in supporting its long-term commercial ambitions.

What prompted the establishment of Amouage?

The vision of His Highness Sayyid Hamad bin Hamoud al bu Said was to introduce Oman’s heritage in the area of perfumery to the world and to produce a world-class perfume that encapsulates the unique fragrances of the Orient, particularly those of Oman. Attars, perfumes or essential oils obtained from flowers, and oud, also known as agarwood, a dark resinous wood with a distinctive fragrance, have been a part of Omani culture for over 2,000 years. These fragrances continue to play an important role in contemporary Omani culture. His Highness employed one of the world’s best perfume producers, known in the trade as “noses”, Guy Robert, to create Gold, our first fragrance. No expense was spared in developing it. In fact, Guy Robert considered it to be his crowning glory. Amouage Gold remains very popular and is one of our most expensive perfumes. While Amouage is now very much an international luxury brand, it is still rooted in the Orient.

How many fragrances are sold by Amouage?

Today, we have 38 branded fragrances. Each perfume is a new creation and tells a story. We believe that creativity and originality are the pillars of our success. We use the best and often the rarest ingredients – both natural and synthetic – and our overriding focus is to develop a fragrance that is something really beautiful, special and unique. We believe that our products have the highest level of perfume concentrate of any fragrance in the world.

How long does it take to create a new fragrance?

It takes around 18 months to develop a perfume. Our Creative Director, Christopher Chong, is responsible for conceptualizing and developing the brief for each perfume and for outlining its characteristics. He works with world noses from Grasse, Paris, New York, Geneva and beyond to develop it. They interpret the brief and submit samples. These can include up to 250 individual fragrances. There are many permutations; new ingredients are added, others are refined, reworked or deleted. We use only the highest-quality ingredients to produce our fragrances, and cost only becomes an issue when the final fragrance is chosen. This allows for maximum creativity and improves our chances of coming up with something really special. When the selection...

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