Boundless by Amouage (2021) is one of two new releases which come in gendered bottles but are technically genderless, with Material (2021) being the one housed in the typically feminine-market bottle. Boundless still will mostly appeal to guys though, because it follows tropes and themes thoroughly exploited in the men's fragrance market. Perfumed by Robertet perfumer Karine Vinchon Spehner, who herself is returning from both Memoir Man (2010) and Overture Man (2019), Boundless is positioned to be far more like the classic resinous releases under former creative director Christopher Chong, rather than the previous collection which was more Western-friendly. This isn't to say creative director Reynaud Salmon is trying to walk in the footsteps of ghosts, as he clearly stepped out on his own with fragrances like Crimson Rocks (2020), but here with Boundless we see more of a nod to what Amouage is known for rather than it trying to explore new territory; this can only be a good thing because a changing of the guard in the fragrance industry usually means a flushing out of the old and replacement with the new, which is not the best way to retain an audience while growing it. Ask older fans of brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, and Valentino how they feel about L'Oréal practically throwing away everything they loved and starting over, or fans of recently-acquired Azzaro, Prada, and Mugler how they feel about the future of those brands in L'Oréal hands; the latter has already seen all the flankers of A*Men (1996) dumped by the wayside, so what Salmon does here is actually good.
Whether or not you can appreciate a new creative director respecting the legacy of what they inherit and trying to maintain some of that in their efforts, you can definitely see that Boundless is far more "old" Amouage than "new" in any case. This starts off as a smokey, fiery incense and pepper melange that quickly twists into a semi-sweet abyss of resins and classic baroque aromatics. The opening of cardamom, ginger, and elemi is sweetened with just a puff of blood orange, and takes on almost a red pepper quality like in the newest Victor & Rolf Spicebomb Nightvision Infrared (2021). However, this stuff doesn't stay quite as linear or as sweet, moving through a darker and more complex heart of cocoa, vanilla, myrrh, and benzoin. The latter offers a honeyed quality which some may find a bit too cloying depending on what they look for in a scent such as this, but for me Boundless combines the oriental and the gourmand rather well up until this point, The base is the only thing a little on the pedestrian side for me, but it is still pretty high-quality stuff, just overloaded a bit too much on "tonkbacco" like L'Occitane Eau des Baux (2006) or Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille (2007). The rest of it is patchouli, guaiac wood, vetiver, olibanum, and a claimed oakmoss absolute (which I don't get), but is in classic Amouage territory. Wear time is all day, and sillage is also Amouage standard (also read: insane), so no complaints about performance. Boundless is a statement-maker, so wear it wherever you dare, although try to use it in cooler months, as the spices mixed with sweet would cloy too much in humid situations.
Comparisons go wild and range from Enigma Pour Homme Parfum Cologne by Roja Dove (2019) to Parfums de Marly Carisle (2015) and even Chergui by Serge Lutens (2005), but I only see small bits of each in this scent. Frag Bros will be Frag Bros though, and everything has to be a clone of something else more popular with the influencers, or have X DNA in it because perfumes are expected to be like vapid pop music, with each celebrity guest DJ remixing riffs from the last one into the "latest banger" for maximum in-the-moment relevance. Life in the fast lane is not Amouage's ticket to fame, because something like Interlude Man (2012) is their most popular scent (so much it got 2 flankers), and there is nothing mass-appealing or trendy about it. I see Boundless as being much the same way, perhaps maybe minus the "man" on the bottle, to coax the particularly curious or individualistic perfumista to also douse herself in the exotic spicy elixir that is this perfume. Is it truly unisex? I don't know, maybe? Probably not? This is another ultra-dense opaque display of Amouage being every bit a perfume brand from the Middle East playing with Western methods of production, the very thing that made them stand out in the first place since Guy Robert made the first fragrances for them back in the early 80's. I admit for the steep luxury niche price, there are a lot of other things you could be wearing in similar league, like the aforementioned Viktor & Rolf, but you won't be getting this exact experience. I think it really comes down to experience when you're okay with paying prices like these anyway. Thumbs up
My first thought on the opening was that Boundless smells like a peppery vanilla cola. As it dries down, I agree with Jcelello that this smells like Tobacco Vanille. It does have more pepper than TV, so that's a nice differentiation. Gives it a lighter, cleaner profile.
It's not super loud but I get good projection and longevity.
A smartly turned-out resinous offering with an added layer of mystery about it, the scent of the healer's chamber from a fantasy novel. Karine Vinchon Spehner plays skilfully with dark and light, for while Boundless has an array of deep, rich, bass scent impressions it also has a sense of every ingredient deployed to create them still shining, nothing turning fusty or stale. At heart a sonorous and dry vanilla stripped of cloying sweetness and layered up with resins (including the delicate yet piercing smoke of good quality frankincense), Boundless is at the very least an object lesson in creating an amber that intrigues and doesn't collapse into a dense splodge. But the real trick up its sleeve is how the resins shade in and out, initially coming across as some secret mix of dried herbs, traces of their green life coming through the soothing blend. By degree, they become starker, more powerful, gaining a spiciness and hints of tobacco that takes Boundless towards more traditional masculine' perfumes territory. This is the point at which I could have lost all interest but for the surefootedness of the execution and the refusal to go down the sweet route; I didn't feel like leaving this sorcerer's chamber. KVS has been responsible for two of my Amouage faves Memoir Man and Opus III, both perfumes that seemed to carve out their own space. Time and further wears will tell whether Boundless will join them.
Boundless reminds me of a few fragrances I already know well (Enigma Pour Homme, Tobacco Vanille, Spiritueuse Double Vanille). There are moments throughout wearing Boundless where I was heavily reminded of each of these fragrances. The only time I feel Boundless is very unique is in the opening when a wonderful blood orange note is present, but that fades far too fast. If they managed to compose this so that note lasted longer, I would be a much bigger fan of this. For a new Amouage, I am disappointed that it is not more unique.
That said, I enjoy Boundless more than the above-mentioned fragrances. Vanilla-focused fragrances tend to be cloying and too sweet for me. SDV, Enigma, and Tobacco Vanille are great in small doses, but too thick and sweet to enjoy for a whole day. The vanilla in Boundless is more smoky than sweet and smells very natural. The whole fragrance has a sheer quality, which makes it suitable for pretty much year-round wear. Performance is just right. Finally, the blend smells of very high-quality naturals. I can't pick up anything that smells synthetic to my nose.
In summary, Boundless is a keeper. I enjoyed it thoroughly and will wear my bottle often. Once my disappointment in not being wowed wears off, I will be left with a new wardrobe staple. I own several Amouage fragrances that I find totally unique but will wear a lot less than Boundless.