The following will be a brief assessment of the trio of new Oud fragrances from Maison Francis Kurkdjian (“MFK”) called the OUD Mood Collection. As always, my Reviews En Bref are for perfumes that — for whatever reason — didn’t seem to warrant one of my full, exhaustive, detailed reviews. In this case, it is because I think these perfumes are best suited to men who are hardcore, passionate, obsessed Oud aficionados who worship the very purest, most concentrated essence of the note. After some recent experiences, I’ve realised that I most definitely do not fall into that category.
THE OUD MOOD COLLECTION:
In early 2013, Francis Kurkdjian released three new interpretations of Oud. All featured Laotian oud, the rarest of all agarwood ingredients, and all were the most concentrated type of fragrance: pure parfum (or extrait de parfum). On the MFK website, Mr. Kurkdjian explains as follows:
The OUD mood collection
Francis Kurkdjian imagined the OUD mood collection as feelings, sensations, rather like those one would have when wrapped in a fragrant stole. The play on shimmer, comfort and warmth. They are precious, intense and concentrated.
OUD VELVET MOOD:
Cinamon from Ceylan – Saffron- Oud du Laos – Copahu balm [a resin] from Brazil
A majestic, enveloping fragrance that gives the sensation of density and fluidity.
Oud Velvet opened on my skin with heavily buttered saffron, sharply medicinal oud, and leathery, animalic, black resin. The saffron-leather smelled goaty, almost rancid and raw, and was tinged by an unpleasant burnt note as if singed by smoke. The combination turns the oud note almost fecal. The whole thing is underpinned by an oddly buttered note, almost like dirty buttered caramel, but there is also the feel of bitter, wet, black coffee grinds. It was a terribly rough, difficult opening.
Thankfully, about fifteen minutes in, the extremely unpleasant concoction softens into something smoother and gentler. And it continues to do so with every passing moment. Oud Velvet actually does feel like a darkly velvety take on oud with rich saffron, sweet cinnamon and dark resins. The latter is no longer so raw and animalic; all hints of anything goaty, rancid or fecal have vanished. Instead, it’s been replaced by a strongly stony, steely, cold note that replicates a little the oud in By Kilian‘s Pure Oud. The Candy Perfume Boy called the note “industrial,” and that is actually genius. Oud Velvet really does evoke the feel and scent of a large, empty, echoing, stony, industrial warehouse. And, yet, underneath, there lurks something that feels like meaty chocolate, adding some warmth to the scent. As time passes, Oud Velvet turns into a chocolate-cinnamon oud with flickers of nutty saffron, stony-cold industrial elements, and thick, darkly ambered resin. By the end, 9 hours later, it was simply oud with some lightly ambered tones.
OUD CASHMERE MOOD:
Labdanum from Morocco – Benzoin – Oud from Laos – Vanilla
This oriental fragrance is woven with all the gentleness of a ‘‘second skin’’, soft and balmy.
Like Oud Velvet, Oud Cashmere also has a difficult opening. On my skin, it began with blasts of rancid, sharp, medicinal, metallic notes underpinned by the feel of rubbing alcohol. There is a definite smell of cheese. To be specific, a creamy chèvre-blue cheese hybrid that is infused with vanillic elements. This is not like the purely Gorgonzola blue cheese in Xerjoff’s Zafar (which also has extremely aged, rare Laotian agarwood), but something slightly different. Here, the note is creamier, less pungent, more artificial, and sweetened by a sort of candy-floss vanilla.The overall combination almost seems worse, especially when you consider the medicinal undertones with its notes of pink, rubber bandages.
Oud Cashmere does not improve with time. With each passing moment, the goat-Gorgonzola starts to fade, and the perfume becomes more and more medicinal, antiseptic, vanilla. It smells sweet and unnatural: pink candy floss and pink, rubber bandages underlying astringent. Clearly, I am not one to handle the pure essence of oud, especially when it is from this sort of aged, Laotian agarwood. Perhaps a man with edgier tastes and a fanatical love for true, potent oud would love it. I tried Oud Cashmere three times and, all three times, I ended up scrubbing it off after a few hours. There is only so much a person can take for the sake of a review.
OUD SILK MOOD:
Bulgarian rose – Camomille from Marocco- Oud from Laos – Papyrus
A light, airy fragrance reminiscent of the rustle of silk or the soft touch of a rose petal.
Oud Silk is not a particularly inventive, original take on the conventional rose-oud combination, but it is the best of the trio in the Oud Mood Collection. It opens on my skin with the loveliest of super concentrated, rich, heady rose notes. It’s opulent, ripe and highly sweetened. The oud lingers in the back, soft and subtle, with absolutely no medicinal, astringent, antiseptic or fecal notes. Subtle chamomile wafts in and out, adding to the floral nature of the perfume. Underneath, quiet whispers of dry papyrus grass rustle. I think a commentator on Basenotes, “Buzzlepuff“, put it well when he said that the papyrus note acts like a bridge between the floral elements and the more woody oud. In fact, his assessment of the perfume mirrored much of my own:
This is a big floral rose with a very strong oud backdrop. If you have ever wondered why rose makes such a great partner with animalic medicinally zingy rotting vegetation sap – oud – specifically Laotian Oud, then you must smell this fragrance. The papyrus note enhances and magnifies the cool dry wood side of the oud in here. Bulgarian Rose is that very big red perfume rose scent and here is amplified by blue chamomile bridges to the slight floral aspect of Laotian Oud. There is a seamless flowing aspect to this. Nothing is left hanging out there from beginning to end – smooth as silk. I have tried to match this up with anything else similar in my history of sniffing things and I am at a loss. It is a little like Rose Oud By Killian but bolder and rosier and there is no saffron in this mix. [...] It does read feminine to me but I could see a man wearing it too.
On my skin, the agarwood was not such a bold, strong backdrop as it was on him, but something far more subtle. Frankly, it was an enormous relief, since I may be too plebeian for true Laotian agarwood. The subtlety of it in Oud Silk is probably the reason why I liked the fragrance the most out of the trio. It was the least brutal, the least masculine, and the least traumatic manifestation of agarwood. I suspect, however, that hardcore oud fanatics may find it to be too much of a boring, conventional take on the note.
All in all, I wasn’t a fan of the Oud Mood collection. Silk Oud was very nice, but not particularly interesting. The others were definitely…. er… interesting — in the worst way possible. I honestly can’t decide what was more of an ordeal: the abrasive opening of Velvet Oud with that rancid, animalic, raw leather note singed by smoke and almost fecal undertones; or the goat-blue cheese and vanilla, pink candy floss with pink rubber, medicinal bandages of Cashmere Oud. Given the significantly improved nature of Velvet Oud, the Cashmere has the dubious honour of winning.
The odd thing is that I love the aged Laotian oud in Neela Vermeire‘s Trayee, but these more medicinal, abrasive and, frankly, painful versions are just too much for me. For a narrow, limited (and very masculine) segment of the population, some of them may be fabulous. But even men who postulate themselves at the altar of super-powerful agarwood may hesitate at spending $375 for a 2.4 oz/70 ml bottle. Yes, the Oud Mood Collection is the most potent concentration of fragrance around — pure parfum — and the bottles are especially large in light of that fact, but…
Well, to put it charitably, better you than me, my friend, better you than me.