Journey Woman Eau de Parfum by Amouage Review
Appropriately enough, I first tried Amouage’s Journey Woman on a journey of my own, taking a Greyhound bus to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving.
In retrospect, this was probably not a great perfume to sample while trapped on a bus, as its cloying sweetness is at times stuffy and almost nauseating, but thankfully the projection is modest enough that I’m certain it didn’t bother anyone, and there was no one in the seats around me anyway.
Journey Woman is quite traditionally feminine and very sweet almost all the way through. It turns out that isn’t for me right now, but I was still stunned by the beauty of the perfume, and I know it’s just what some people are looking for.
In the opening, the first thing I notice is heady narcotic florals, blooming white jasmine sambac jasmine with that sunscreen sort of edge, reminding me of the coconut-rounded white floral bouquet in Serge Lutens’ Datura Noir or the waxy lily in Hermès’ Un Jardin sur la Lagune.
Sambac jasmine, also known as Arabian jasmine, is a particular type of jasmine used to flavor tea in China. The jasmine accord in Journey Woman thus really is two-fold: there’s a regular sort of indolic white jasmine that’s dominant in the opening, and then a rich, deep jasmine note with honey and tea facets that shows itself more two to three hours in. The jasmine in the opening, though, is more of the traditional sort, white and indolic with an almost-fruity edge.
The florals are only dominant for a minute before the fruity accord blooms into the center of Journey Woman. It’s all apricot and an osmanthus note that smells so much like apricot. (Sure, osmanthus is a flower, but I’m putting it squarely in the fruity category here, as I often do, since it smells more like sweet jammy golden apricots than any sort of flower.)
It’s a fascinating interdimensional sort of accord. Is it fruit or is it flowers? I can’t tell. It leans fruity, but there’s something about the shape of it that feels more feathered and delicate, blooming in dramatic arching lines, rather than smelling like a round, heavy, overwhelmingly firm suggestion of fruit. It’s surrounded with sensual white jasmine blooms, and the boundaries between the two blend as the indoles of the jasmine meld into the flower shape of the apricot accord.
And then there’s the honey.
To me, the apricot accord and the honey accord are the incredibly sweet pair that dominate this fragrance. Curiously, though, this feels less like honey to men and more like a photorealistic beeswax. It makes me think of a hexagonal chunk of soft yellow beeswax I’d bought at a farmer’s market as a teen once for my lip-balm-making adventures, poured into an ornate mold with indentations shaped like tiny tessellated hexagons and bees.
It’s that, but extra sweetened.
This is an even more photorealistic beeswax than the heady sticky beeswax of Zoologist’s Bee, often considered the queen bee of honey perfumes.
Regardless, this really feels like a distinctly recognizable honey note. It couldn’t be anything else. Sometimes honey notes in perfumery are a bit of a stretch, a general sort of floral-leaning sweetness. Not so here. This is very cleary genuine, saccharine yellow beeswax and honey. I couldn’t imagine it being anything else.
My boyfriend liked Journey Woman on me. He remarked that something about it reminded him of church and of candles. It took me a second to figure out what he might be seeing here. There’s a faint suggestion of smokiness in the background from the tobacco, sure, but I honestly don’t pick it up at all in the opening.
That incredibly realistic, cloying sweet yellow beeswax note, though? I can totally see how it would remind someone of candles. It reminds me of candles. Not that Journey Woman smells like a fake, artificial sort of Yankee Candle smell — not at all. It just smells like a million tiny little hand-poured beeswax tea lights, emanating an aroma of apricots and flower petals.
All this melds together into a distinct single front of fruity-honey sweetness. apricots, beeswax, and jasmine.
This isn’t like apricot nectar, golden ambrosia, rich and stewy apricot jam. Instead, it’s a general fruity shape that’s incredibly sweet and golden-orange. It’s not at all fresh — there’s no green, sour, or tangy sparkle of juices — but it isn’t a jar of realistic apricot preserves either. Instead, it’s an amalgamation of the softest, sweetest features of apricot. It’s sweet in a way that feels warm and can get almost cloying and stuffy, with a softness to it that reminds me of the texture of the incredibly fine fuzz on the skin of an apricot.
In the same way a honey note doesn’t smell exactly like real honey and yet is instantly recognizable as a honey note, the same is true for the apricots here. Light but warm, fruity without going clean shampooey, leaning into dense nectar stickiness in a way that’s too dense, narcotic, indolic to be real, this is still incredibly obvious as an apricot note on me, despite the fact it doesn’t smell like any apricot I’ve ever beheld.
The amount of abstraction perfumery gets away with while still being recognizable really is amazing.
This abstraction is central to the mixture of osmanthus and apricot. It’s hard to tell which is which. It’s all one honeyed-sweet yellow accord, apricots and beeswax all the way down.
There’s a yellow floral aura to the whole operation. The honey and beeswax glow yellow, the apricots are a warm golden orange, and it seems the whole composition is underlit by the comforting, friendly wave of yellow florals.
While the white florals are indolic and seductive, the yellow floral accord feels genial. It feels like a close friend that platonically calls you her girlfriend and lends you her jewelry and drags you along to her line dancing class.
That general yellow floral is, at its center, mostly mimosa, fitting for the brunch-loving mimosa-downing lovable character I’ve imagined here. It’s a gentle yellow floral that’s not quite as fresh, green, and aquatic as something like linden, but a little heavier, sweeter, stickier, matching the timbre of the rest of the scent here. It feels like sunshine and pollination, a hint of a story carried far and wide on the feet of bees.
Yes, bees. Journey Woman makes me think of bees a lot, between the white and yellow flowers and the pollen and the honey and even the fruit. Perhaps it’s partly due to the fact I just read Laline Paull’s excellent debut novel, The Bees. This is a cloying beeswax-honey-sweet scent I can only imagine would be piped down as the queen’s perfume in that book and worshipped throughout the hive.
Beeswax like candles. Beeswax and flowers and almost smoke. It had reminded my partner a bit of church, and now I’m thinking of it as the fragrance of sweet flower church, of sensual bee prayers.
There’s a carnal sensuality to the jasmine and honey and fruit. It’s not overtly animalic, though the jasmine and honey do have an indolic edge that does feel a little feral at times. It’s the combination of that unhinged wild feeling hiding among the flowers and the overwhelming, head-spinning sweetness of everything. It feels a bit sexual in the way some sort of love spell or potion might.
And yet to me it also feels unbalanced, leaning so entirely into cloying high femme beeswax sweetness with little to balance it, no sour or animalic or woody dimension. That’s fine, and it’s exactly what some people are looking for. The overwhelming sweetness with no counteracting darker side just makes me feel like I need to open a window sometimes when wearing Journey Woman, and I suspect I’d relish more sensuality in a version of this where the sweetness is counterbalanced.
Yes, this is a cloying sort of sweetness that frankly makes me want to open a window. The beeswax is sweet just like in L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Seville a L’Aube. Its narcotic indolic jasmine beeswax opening is quite similar in some ways to what’s happening here.
With beeswax and warm spice, a dash of nutmeg and an aura that feels like a sprinkling of cinnamon, Journey Woman is also quite reminiscent of Penhaligons’ Ruthless Countess Dorothea, just minus the cashmere and plus extra honey and fruit.
This is Dorothea when she was young, more unbalanced and performatively seductive, wilder and bolder and looking for a lover. Whereas the grown-up Dorothea relishes her power in a way that’s entrenched in her surroundings, her home, and the establishment, Journey Woman is Dorothea cut loose, wielding her wild, flitting independence with prowess to get what she wants. These are the gorgeous pictures of Dorothea’s powerful PTA mom in her youth, laughing and smirking and beckoning men come hither.
A background texture of tobacco becomes apparent around two hours in. At first, it’s very faint and difficult to parse. This feels a bit like the inverse of Mugler’s A*Men Pure Havane: instead of tobacco with a bit of honey, this is honey with a bit of tobacco.
The tobacco adds richness and texture within the layers of beeswax, which are still waxy now but less sticky, drippy, melty. That tobacco texture feels almost like powdered green or oolong tea to me. It’s more about texture than flavor.
It’s a mild, gentle, finely ground and blended fruity tobacco note rather than something harsh or bold. It’s not at all actually smoky like incense or firewood, but at some moments it lends a certain suggestion of something like smoky gray haze to Journey Woman.
I’d gotten used to the fruit-and-honey sweetness feeling cloying and stuffy and almost nauseating at times here. But from two hours in, the apricot fruity accord starts to back down here, and the beeswax loses its edge, and for the first time it really, honestly feels like honey to me rather than wax.
Some deep breaths of the honeyed accord in this phase feel painfully, breathtakingly beautiful. It’s pure, singing honey resonating all the way through your nostrils and down your throat. With some of the cloying over-sweetness and beeswax having faded, two hours in, it finally feels to me like this is a pure singing honey accord piercing through, with jammy fruity apricot and sensual jasmine facets to it.
The mix of pure singing golden apricot honey and loose-oolong-tea tobacco is electric. Two hours in, after a cavalcade of beeswax, I feel as if I’m finally striking at the honeyed heart of Journey Woman. And I love her.
Some people have said that in its first few minutes this is like the original formulation of Dior’s Hypnotic Poison, or perhaps its elegant and refined older sister. I can’t comment on that as I’ve only smelled relatively modern formulations of Hypnotic Poison. There is certainly a shared powerful sweetness between the two, and I think the older sister allegory is apt. Though they have very few notes in common, they have a similar cloyingly sweet femininity to them.
If you’re Hypnotic Poison, Journey Woman is your cool older sister who drinks jasmine oolong tea and smokes at parties and wears honey-sweet perfume and seems to always know what to do when you’re in trouble, whether that’s fixing a smoky eye or covering for you in the eyes of the law.
When I smell Journey Woman, I think of impeccably dressed, clever wives in modern period piece television circa 1920-1950. They’re ignored and oppressed, their makeup is perfect, their hair perpetually in curlers, and yet they’re the driving force behind their husband’s power. There’s an unapologetic, powerful femininity here that feels very in line with impeccably-dressed retro women who have learned to use their charms to get what they want. It’s not quite the same, but I think of the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel wearing something like Journey Woman.
Now, when I say feminine, I don’t necessarily mean feminine like soft dogwood pink ribbons and makeup powders, cute little mary jane shoes and Hello Kitty. No, this is sharply feminine in its sweetness in a way that feels golden-yellow-orange rather thank pink, and entirely adult rather than in any way juvenile.
Journey Woman manages to be incredibly sweet without ever feeling at all cutesy or youthful or at all like a middle schooler’s drug store fruity body spray. It’s a grown-up woman’s scent that owns who she is and what she loves. It pairs beautifully with a gorgeous coat and cashmere scarf in autumn. It’s womanly.
From two to three hours in, the sweetness in this perfume has hit a more tolerable cozy level, making me think of lots of honey and a small cup of jasmine green tea.
Yes, remember that sambac Arabian jasmine I mentioned in the opening? It’s here in full bloom now, a richer, deeper honeyed sort of jasmine that smells just like the jasmine in a fine blended green, white, or oolong tea.
Forget “You want some honey with your tea?” This is “You want some tea with your honey?” There’s still the occasional hint of thick, sweet beeswax, but less often now. ust sticky-sweet golden honey and nectar.
Three hours in, that apricot-tinged golden honey is still positively heavenly. It’s just a little bit softer, less overpowering, leaving a gentle golden beam of light that shines right into the center of your heart.
The projection of Journey Woman is relatively intimate compared to its longevity. This is honestly a relief, as this is the sort of very sweet scent that could get sickening quickly if it were loud. Still, it’s no instant skin scent; the perfume is still very distinctly recognizable a few inches from the skin, just don’t expect a long trail of sillage or a scent that fills an entire room.
When it comes to balancing the scent and making it feel more cohesive and louder, a significant base of sour woods or leather would have really made a difference here. Supposedly there’s some cedar in the base here, but I’m not picking it up. As it were, Journey Woman is top-heavy.
And that’s okay. If there was a significant sour undercurrent, this wouldn’t be Journey Woman. It would be something else. Journey Woman is about cloying fruity-honey feminine sweetness without consequences. It’s unique and quite pretty and that unbalanced sweetness is exactly what a lot of people are looking for.
This is quite fruity and lush, frilly and frivolous, a heavy dose of sweetness with little to balance it out. If you’re wearing this one you really have to own it. I’d read a woman wearing this unafraid and with confidence as incredibly powerful, unapologetic in her femininity, with a stronger stomach for sweets and intensity than I.
I don’t get much of any cardamom, saffron, or cedar. If they’re here, they’re swallowed up. Yes, maybe occasionally I imagine there’s a touch more spice or soft leatheriness or wood in the background, but they’re all faint whispers in the wind compared to the prominent punch of apricots and honey.
Two and a half to three hours in, things start to feel just a little powdery as they lighten up. It’s never overwhelming or dominant, but a powdery texture does fill in the background a bit.
By hour three, Journey Woman is defined by a gentle powdery tobacco and honey, along with maybe a whisp of leathery saffron. The intense apricot fruitiness is finally fully bowing out, leaving a scent that’s more polite and forgiving and conservative, but still very pleasant.
I’m reminded again of A*Men Pure Havane. The tobacco here still has a finely-powdered quality that makes me think of tea, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent that it is, in fact, tobacco. Still, that note never feels overpowering, nor does it take Journey Woman anywhere that isn’t still overwhelmingly feminine.
Right after the apricot fruity nuances, the rich, deep, almost indolic nature of that pure honey note is the next to go. What’s left after the flowers and pollen evaporate is the yellow honey sugar, which fades and becomes tamer as time goes on, a gradually disappearing sweetness.
That apricot-honey sweetness was so overwhelming and almost sickening at times, and yet I find that I miss it and long for it to come back.
By four hours in, things are much fainter all around. The honey is a faint background afterthought, alongside tobacco and saffron notes that make me think of the gray smoke rising from a fire that’s been put out on a cool summer evening.
At this point, suddenly I can smell a whiff of cypriol oil, also known as nagarmotha. It’s something bitter in a greenish aromatic way, almost woody in the direction of fresh green conifers, almost earthy. It’s not consistent, but I get a prominent puff of it here and there; one minute I’m basking in a leftover sunshine ray of honey, and the next I’m addressing this skulking bitter woody note. It’s fascinating.
At some angles, an occasional whisper of fruitiness still comes through, illuminating the cypriol in a crisp way that feels almost like fresh, juicy bergamot. Most of the time, though, the note is subdued, bitter and cool, like some sort of mall goth of a woody note that won’t give you the time of day.
Don’t worry too much about this shattering the cohesive front of Journey Woman, though. It’s very faint, as is everything in this stage.
At this point the tobacco has fully solidified. It feels more dense than it did before, heftier, like thick gray smog rather than a smoky tea suggestion.
Five hours in, Journey Woman is predominantly a soft, musky vanilla skin scent, faint and creamy, relaxing and not too sweet. A whisp of tobacco smoke here, a hint of fruit there, but by and large this is an incredibly faint, mild, mellow sort of vanilla.
There’s just a hint of something aromatic and green left shining through a hint of cypriol. It makes me think of how Diptyque’s lovely Eau Duelle balances aromatics and vanilla in a way that still feels incredibly delicate and almost edible without feeling overwhelming. The effect, somehow, feels very sensual, especially when the faintest hint of leftover apricot comes shining through.
Journey Woman lasts a very respectable six to eight or so hours at decent volume.
A warning, though: If it gets trapped under clothing, it’ll stick around for literal days, top notes and all. Even if you take the clothing off, Journey Woman will have imprinted on your skin like a tattoo.
This is the circumstance that really made Journey Woman sickening for me. I can only take such pure golden yellow nectar sweetness for so long, and the point when the perfume naturally fades out makes for a sensible cutoff. But one time I accidentally let the sleeves of my sweater ride up over my Journey-Woman-doused wrists, and suddenly that cloying fruity apricot accord was making my head spin for days.
At moments like these, that saccharine fruitiness really gets old. It’s bright, it’s loud, it’s sugary, and it doesn’t change all that much until it disappears. At these points I can see the substance of comments comparing this to some kind of scented children’s molding clay — not quite playdough, something else, something sweet, maybe something European. Almost-powdery, almost-plasticky, and just strange, I imagine this effect is similar to the burning rubber or plastic note a few people have reported picking up in Journey Woman.
I find this is especially true when Journey Woman finds itself on clothing, where the fruity apricot-osmanthus accord sticks around boldly for an eerie and somewhat sickeningly long time. When allowed to cling to clothing, that honeyed fruity strange European modeling clay scent will stick around for days.
My advice is to sample carefully on skin (and not at clothes) first, to be cautious of wearing Journey Woman on hot days or in stuffy rooms, and, as always, to try a sample before you buy a full bottle.
Journey Woman is unique, unapologetically feminine, and absolutely beautiful. Ultimately, she is too sweet for me, too cloying and intense in all her beeswax-honey-apricot-mimosa corners, but I’ll be the first to admit she’s gorgeous anyway.
This sort of intensely, purely sweet scent is far too much for me to wear all day, so I can’t see myself reaching for Journey Woman personally, but there are also moments when her beauty simply takes my breath away. I’m carving those into my memory to revisit any time I’m craving some sweet comfort.
Journey Woman is striking. She’s lavishly feminine, an oozing, dripping concoction of sweetness that’s bold enough to convey dangerous confidence. People who have that confidence and love a good sweet honey-fruity perfume will absolutely adore Journey Woman and wield it masterfully, as a pleasure and as a weapon.
My stomach isn’t strong enough to handle this right now, but I wish I were the kind of woman who enjoys wearing this, and maybe I will be someday. Journey Woman is committed to what she loves and refuses to apologize for any of it. The result, though incredibly sweet, is often breathtaking.
That’s something I’ve really loved about all the Amouage perfumes I’ve tried so far: they’re unique and committed to what they’re doing. The aesthetic each perfume is going for is instantly clear from the beginning and continues to be so well into the drydown, with no waffling or apologizing.
Even the naming of their scents reflects this, I think. Each one is for the type of person the slightly abstract names and bottle colors seem to describe. If you really love Journey Woman, you don’t just wear Journey Woman. You become the Journey Woman.
Alas, I am not the Journey Woman. I personally much prefer Myths Woman, the other women’s perfume in Amouage’s Portraits of a Life collection. Beautiful Myths Woman, in all her mossy cold chypre glory, embodies an aesthetic that just feels so much more like me right now, but the quality and uniqueness of the two perfumes are on the same level.
Though the two perfumes have no notes in common, and are, indeed, quite unique, they share a certain directness, a clear and unapologetic expression of “This is who I am.”
That’s what I love about Amouage. Each scent of theirs is unique, direct, and straight to the point. What you see in the copy, in the notes pyramids, in reviews, is what you’re most likely to get.
If you like the sound of sweet apricots dripping in honey tied up in a bold feminine package, you’ll absolutely love Journey Woman.
Where to Find Journey Woman Eau de Parfum by Amouage
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