KenzoAmour Le Parfum


As regular readers know, I am an unaplogetic fan of the original KenzoAmour.  I think you either like it or you find it completely boring.  As Robin (a fellow fan) notes in her thoughtful review on Now Smell This:

 “Amour is, if anything, an extraordinarily tame fragrance: there is nothing to ruffle the surface other than a persistent undertone of dark wood and a dash of incense. But as with rice pudding, it is the blandness itself that is compelling; it just smells nice, and there is something rather calming about it.”   

Which pretty much captures the allure of KenzoAmour for me.  I wear it the way I drink tea – without a lot of thought, on a regular basis, in pursuit of comfort.  Maybe KenzoAmour isn´t that scent for you, but I think many/most perfume fans have a fragrance that does the same basic job for them.

So I´d been waiting impatiently for the new KenzoAmour Le Parfum to arrive in stores.  It went “live” in the online Sephora store several weeks ago, but I refused to order it because my unsniffed-purchase track record is so terrible it approaches jinx level.  It´s like the fragrance fairies put a curse on my unsniffed buys.  Even something that looks like a sure thing, and that I could return to Sephora if I didn´t like, would almost certainly be a failure.  So I haunted our local store like a cranky ghost.  Just when I gave up in despair and begged a sample off Robin (thus avoiding the curse) it showed up in our mall, and I´ve had the chance to try it several times.

I thought this would be a Venn-diagram-type review, where I´d be discussing where the two scents overlap and where they differ, but instead I´m left with the persistent image of two distinct musical pieces being played on opposite ends of the piano. 

The original KenzoAmour EdP´s notes are cherry blossom, rice steam, white tea, frangipani, heliotrope, thanaka wood, incense, vanilla and musk.  It´s played at a higher pitch – the sweet, cherry opening smell of flowers and heliotrope giving way rapidly to the heart of the fragrance, woody and with the smell of cooking rice, followed by vanilla, soft musk and incense.  It´s not remotely foody, despite that list of notes – there´s nothing there you would eat – but if it works on you as it does for me, it is a day-long skin scent, and extraordinarily comforting.

KenzoAmour Le Parfum, in a matte gold version of the same funky, modernist Karim Rashid bottle that the original came in, might have been simply a stronger version of the original.  Here´s the blurb from Sephora: “The gold of the East dwells at the heart of KenzoAmour le Parfum—a woody, oriental fragrance composed of rich and precious ingredients: Patchouli, Benzoin Balm of Siam, Amber, and Incense mixed with the original KenzoAmour notes.”  Sephora lists the notes of Le Parfum as incense, rice steam, amber, patchouli, frangipani, benzoin, vanilla.   Regardless of what Sephora says about mixing in the original notes, the old, sweet heliotropin top of the EdP is missing – probably a blessing for those who found it either too sweet or too evocative of Play-Doh.  Instead, Le Parfum takes place on the low end of the piano.  I get very little development – some (clean) patchouli, almost no florals, the original, lovely rice steam, lots of benzoin, and a dark vanilla over a woody, ambery base.  My favorite part of the parfum is that benzoin.  Le Parfum is hardly masculine, but it´s considerably darker and more unisex than the original.  It´s a little burnt, in an attractive way, like a flan instead of rice pudding.

Out of curiosity I did one of those seven-spritz numbers on myself one day in Sephora, including my hair, just to see what would happen – and it was fine, other than the SA looking at me strangely.  I thought at a higher concentration I might get a hint of the Play-Doh that Robin mentions in her review of the parfum, the heliotrope of the original having been supplemented/replaced with the even more Play-Doh-evoking amber.  I don´t know how you make “amber” in a fragrance, and I assume there are different choices for the chemical construct, as there are for musks.  Thankfully (crossing myself frantically and spitting over my shoulder) I, who have brought out the Play-Doh in more than one otherwise attractive fragrance, get none here.

I thought Le Parfum might resemble Kenzo Flower Oriental in its woody masculinity, but a resniff of Oriental proved me wrong.  Oriental is much more floral with the incense grafted on.  KenzoAmour Le Parfum and the EDP get closer together in the drydown, and I can´t help but think they´d layer beautifully.  As with the EDP, I find the lasting power very good  for a scent that does not wear heavily.

I delayed this review for a week, pondering the questions:  if the original didn’t do anything for you, might you like this any better?  I’ll offer a tentative yes — assuming you get benzoin and not just, say, ambernilla.  Which did I prefer?  Honestly, I’d have to say the original.  Lovely as Le Parfum is, without its peculiar, sweet milky-floral top, it doesn’t comfort me quite as much.  For others, that same lack of sweetness might be just the ticket.

The gold bottle´s getting some love on the blogs and boards, but seeing it at Sephora next to the others I admit my heart sank a little.   I came to appreciate the original, distinctive bottle shape, although it looks a little odd in my collection.  To my eye, the exterior finish for Le Parfum seems better in the concept than the execution, and is darker in real life than in the photo above.  It´s small (only 30ml) and ideally the matte, dark gold exterior would look like painted, burnished wood – my idea of what they were maybe going for.  But instead it looks a little cheap, like that spray-on antique-gold-leaf you´d find in a craft store.  A bright, shiny, mirror-finish plasticized gold might have been another fun option with that mod-design bottle, or black, which I think would be quite elegant.


top image: KenzoAmour Le Parfum, online at Sephora, $65, free shipping, and I feel compelled to point out they have the wee bottle gift set of the regular KenzoAmour again, 3 mini bottles for $38, image also included here because they are so darn cute.

  • Jennifer says:

    I love the Kenzoamour it smells very sweet.

  • ajk says:

    March, I disagree with you about the original Amour. To me, it smells very foody and very sweet, like opening up a tub of Kozy Shack. No way would I call this a skin scent.

    I’m kind of surprised they didn’t riff on the pudding theme for the Parfum with some cinnamon or cardamom. Or maybe I just gave someone an idea for the next flanker.

  • Elle says:

    I prefer the original as well, but I do suspect I’ll eventually end up getting this to layer w/ it. However, now I’m busy wondering if I could somehow paint the bottle black. Am not sure I could successfully do a wood finish, but black sounds fab. I *adore* the bottles and you are so right about the gold simply not working.
    Also wanted to say that I wasn’t around the day you posted about lipsticks. Over the weekend I took time to read it and all the responses. Wow! SOO much excellent info! I’ve copied it and taken notes that I’m going to be using for all my upcoming lipstick purchases (I’m an unrepentant lipstick addict – don’t wear other makeup other than mascara, but can’t even get the mail w/out lipstick on).

    • March says:

      Hon … have I seen your lips on MUA? I think I have … wearing various fab shades. I’m really, really loving the lippies — got another red and a bizarro red blush to match. Now I’m looking at … orange. Well, more tangerine, but still. 😮

  • Patty says:

    I haven’t smelled the original, and I like the le Parfum, but it’s a little more gourmandy’ish on me than I prefer, but not to where I wouldn’t wear it and enjoy it. Now I need to sniff the original!

  • karin says:

    I have KenzoAmour in the bright fuschia Ryoko travel spray. So cute! Haven’t tried the Parfum yet, but I have a sample of Flower Oriental, and I swear it smells like the original Oscar de la Renta. Does anyone else think this? If you know Oscar, next time you spray FO, see if there isn’t a resemblance. Oh, and speaking of cute, I just received a 1 oz bottle of Lolita Lempicka from Sephora. Ha. The bottle is adorable in that size. Cracks me up. Also got Viva la Juicy in a roller ball. Gotta love those, too. So affordable at only $16!

    • March says:

      Phooey — I forgot to put up one of those Ryoko thingies, they’re so cute! And I think Sephora is driving the supply of much smaller bottles, a trend I am totally on board with.

  • Robin says:

    I am so surprised by how many people find this light — one spray of this is VERY strong on me, and lasts nearly all day. Sounds like I like it better than anyone else, but even then not sure I’m going to keep my bottle, which I only got because they had no tester. It wasn’t on my “to buy” list and it isn’t what I want “most” in the world at the moment. Keep swearing I’ll stop buying other stuff and get my Diorissimo extrait. We’ll see if I can manage to make another trip to the mall in order to return it though!

    • March says:

      You crack me up. Yep, I feel your pain on the Diorissimo. With all the money I’ve wasted in dribs and drabs I could have had two or three bottles of really nice perfume. :)>-

  • Elizabeth says:

    I bought this unsniffed too, March. Not a disaster, but definitely not a home run IMO either. I’ve never smelled the original, so maybe in comparison it would fare better, but all I got was sweet, milky blah. And I agree with Louise and others in that I can barely smell it. Parfum strength? I can’t imagine what the EdT is like, but it can’t be much weaker. The fact that you sprayed 7 spritzes and left the store without knocking anyone out is telling!

    This is going to be returned, and my consolation is the bottle of Tolu on its way to me right now. 🙂

    • March says:

      Well, certainly I can’t argue about the strength. You’re right, anything I can spray on myself 7 times can’t be all that powerful. And a consolation bottle of Tolu sounds pretty fabulous! 😡

  • GalileosDaughter says:

    Benzoin? And rice steam? I’m going to have to seek this one out. The original struck me as being too powdery. The floral element seemed a little dissonant to me as well (and it ruined 7:15am in Bali for me). But those bottles just keep calling to me, they are absolutely stunning.
    I’m very curious about the rice steam note. Have you tried the Kenzoki Sensual Beneficial Water? I believe Christopher Brosius also has a Boiled Rice Accord. I’m tempted to buy these unsniffed because I’m so curious, but I’m afraid my unsniffed track record isn’t much better than yours.

    And on a completely unrelated nailpolish note: Essie Sexy Divide. Dark purple shimmery awesome. I’m not a fan of shimmer but this is just gorgeous. Lots of pics up on the interwebs, go take a look. 🙂

    • March says:

      Really … CB does boiled rice? Wow, that sounds so good. If they or Demeter did a rice steam or a rice pudding, I’d buy it. 🙂 Have not tried it, though, or Beneficial water.

      Sexy Divide. You naughty girl. I will have to go look, I’ve not seen that one.

      • joe805 says:

        How funny to get excited that we can buy Boiled Rice accord (and yes, it’s there, along with Rice Pilau accord and String Bean accord, among so many others). This is a very silly hobby sometimes.

        • March says:

          Well, it is silly. But is it any sillier than getting excited about a particular golf club or garden implement or handbag? I say no. ;)) Off to check out that boiled rice smell…

          • Existentialist says:

            Yes, but is it Jasmine rice or basmati rice? I need to know before I shell out the cash.

          • joe805 says:

            Will you be sad if it’s Eau d’Oncle Ben’s?

          • March says:

            heheh — I saw existentialist’s comment in the sidebar and clicked to make the same response, and you beat me to it.

            I have a family member who’s something of a gastronome (gastronaut?) and has excellent, adventurous food tastes — except he is inexplicably wedded to Uncle Ben’s, which I won’t even have in my house on the grounds that whatever it is, it isn’t rice. [-(

            I’m partial to Jasmine myself, since I get big bags of it from Trader Joe’s and I love the way it smells.

  • Frenchie says:

    I adore the original. Beautiful, comforting, subtle but present on my sking for the most part of the day. Le Parfum has not arrived yet to shops near me and I am waiting for it eagerly. But I don’t expect to like it. Amber is never good on me and I love the floral element in the original. I am very curious in any case. Thanks for an interisting review.

    • March says:

      Subtle and present. Yes. Perfect description. Don’t give up on LP yet — I don’t like amber either, and it worked out for me. But it didn’t quite sweep me off my feet the way the original did.

  • Shelley says:

    I remain curious about LeP, despite the sobering words. Mind you, sobering is welcome–I do have a *wee* tendency to lemming based on good writers’ words. Especially since I’m one of those who goes for the original Amour in much the same way you do; a reliable comfort scent whose lack of outrageous or particularly prominent features means it can be a Zelig of wardrobe and purpose.

    But yes, Louise, I CAN smell the original Amour, so that gives me a certain advantage when it comes to thinking of it. On the other hand, I disappear inside a near-toxic waft with many of the skanks you like, so maybe we are each inhabiting the perfume planet with unique purposes in wearing (and sharing…)… 🙂

    March, where our sniffer happiness diverges on this one is that I like Play-doh; maybe, just maybe, I’ll get the best of both worlds??? I’m not [-o<, though; I've plenty of scent for now, and the wallet reflects that.

    • March says:

      Lord, I hate even typing the words Pl*y-D*h on here, for fear of attracting bad juju. Let’s just call it PD.

      Actually. 🙂 I took the following nonsense out of my post: I divide the smell of PD (mentally) into two parts — the sweet, sort of cherry/almond part (you get that with heliotrope a lot) and the “dough” part, that bready smell. I really don’t mind one *or* the other one bit. There are cherry-almond smells I like, and bready smells. Both are evocative of PD. But you put them *together* and it’s over my line. Something like the original POTL is, essentially, PD on me. And no thanks.

      Always nice to see some other fans of Amour. After awhile I get the impression I’m the lone voice. 🙂

  • Louise says:

    The Kenzos must be lovely on you folks that can smell them. I can smell a tiny whiff of something pleasant in the Oriental, but the rest are so very light on me 🙁 . Must sniff on you, maybe it’s my skin or nose 😕

    I was really hoping for a really concentrated Amour in the LP, and got, as the above commenters, just an EdP. Sadly, it was of only a scent of plastic…I am sad to be…just another Ambernilla Victim b-(

    • March says:

      Another ambernilla tragedy! I wonder if you’ve ever tried Flower Oriental? 😕 They have it at Nordie, it was supposed to be an LE I think but never seems to have departed … anyway, that’s the only one I can see as plausible for you. Even the men’s/unisex like Tokyo and Peace and Power I can’t see even registering on your skin.

  • joe805 says:

    OK, here I sit, freshly showered, in what passes for pajamas, at midnight on a Sunday (Monday?), with Le Parfum on one arm and Indian Holi on the other (just got samples last week, but sadly, not the original).

    The darndest thing: Le Parfum smells kind of nice, but I can barely smell it, even after applying more. I’m getting a kind of nice, sweetish, comforting vibe and something I can honestly say reminds me of “rice steam,” but it’s definitely not something I would call “parfum strength.” Maybe I need to go to my Sephora and do one of those “seven-spritz numbers” (I guarantee my SA would look at me more strangely than yours did you). It’s nice and I could easily see this being a comfort scent.

    After kind of disliking Holi when I first tried it last week, I can say I’m liking it more right now. Definitely more bright florals there than LP, but I’m loving the dryness and benzoin in LP. If I didn’t know it, I wouldn’t guess that both are flankers of the same scent.

    And damn, I love that little coffret of the original (but hate you for turning me on to it!). I may need to buy it, give two of the minis to my sisters-in-law for xmas and keep one for myself.

    • Masha says:

      I agree, the LP is nowhere near pure parfum strength. It’s more like a light EdP. But when everything else released recently is like a light EdC, I guess an EdP is pretty darned strong by comparison.

      • March says:

        I guess for *those* guys, it’s a parfum? I think Holi and Flower Oriental have the most presence, and they’re not exactly bowling me over with their heaviness, you know? :)>-

    • March says:

      I love Holi, as I said up there, although a lot of people don’t. To my nose it’s got a slightly sharpish, champaca-incense note, and it’s delish. But you are right, it’s much more floral and Le Parfum is a different direction.

      Le Parfum I can smell just fine, but you are right — anything I can apply seven sprays of, on my head and body, and not be overwhelmed by is not a powerhouse.

      Those minis are so cute! I’m thinking about them as stocking stuffers.

  • Masha says:

    For some reason, the original Amour came across as cloying on me, with a kind of rubbery undernote that sounds kinky but made my DH wheeze. Indian Holi is a light, fruity musk scent I can wear anywhere, and I’m really enjoying the new LP during these snowy days. I get a strong Play-Doh note,(love Play-Doh!), and lots of benzoin and rice. I think how we perceive the Amour family probably has to do with how our noses are genetically tuned, so if one doesn’t work, one of the other two probably will. My favorite bottle is the Holi, though!

    • March says:

      I love Indian Holi. It smells like champaca flower to me, and I love that smell… so you get that nag champa vibe. But I thought I was a fanclub of exactly one. I’m glad to see some other commenters on here who like it. I wore it a lot this summer. To me a “signature” Kenzo feature is olfactory interest without being difficult about it.

      I LOVE the Holi bottle. That’s the one I think the colors have worked out best on.

  • Calypso says:

    I must be an outlier but I actually despise those bottles. All they want to do for me is tip over. They look like freakish animal snouts to me. I won’t buy the perfumes because I dislike all their bottles so much.

    • March says:

      You dislike ALL the Kenzo bottles? Or just the KenzoAmour? I love their bottles, although I didn’t like Amour at all. In fact, it was the rare (only?) case where I held off buying a perfume I wanted very much, for months, because I thought the bottle was so ugly. They’re very grabby visually. But I got over it and bought the white… by the time Indian Holi came out I’d resigned myself to it. 🙂

      But some of the others I like very much — the leaf one. I like the very very tall Flower, it’s fun, although I have no idea where you keep it.

  • Erin T / Tigs says:

    Oh, good. I thought I might be alone in prefering the original. In fact, I *much* prefer the original. What I like about Amour is what LT described as the “contemplative, muted floral coolness of Je Reviens”. It’s comforting, but it’s sort of distant, too. The cool quality is totally gone in the flankers. To me, the parfum smells a lot more commercial, and less unique than the original – just another vanilla/patch/”incense” oriental.

    • March says:

      I don’t know what it is about the original. I do have a couple things that smell very vaguely like it (Tan Giudicelli Annam, for instance) but … nothing really does the trick like that for me, although oddly, SL Santal Blanc has sort of the same effect on me.

      I’m not sure I’d call Le Parfum “more commercial,” at least as compared to much of what is in Sephora, but less odd- sure.