Perris Monte Carlo Bois d’Oud

Honeyed oud, plummy fruits, the smoky smell of burnt leaves and singed wood interwoven with delicate florals, vanilla, and white creaminess, all combined in a mix that resembles some other well-known fragrances on the market before turning into its own creature — that’s the essence of Bois d’Oud, a fragrance from Perris Monte Carlo.

Source: Fragrantica.

Source: Fragrantica.

Perris Monte Carlo is a relatively new house that emerged in 2012. I’ve been curious about it for a while as it is based in my old home, so I obtained two samples of the line. The majority of the fragrances, including Bois d’Oud, were launched in 2012 in Europe, before later being released in the U.S. in 2013. I can’t find a company website to see how Perris would describe Bois d’Oud, only a lot of PR babble about how the company’s signature involves luxury, gold, and prestigiousness. It all sounds terribly nouveau riche and obnoxious, so let’s get directly to the perfume’s notes.

According to First in Fragrance, Bois d’Oud’s ingredients are:

Top Note: Bergamot
Heart Note: Peach, Plum, Jasmine, Iris, Rose, Orange Blossom
Base Note: Cedarwood, Agarwood (Oud), Patchouly, Vanilla, Ambergris, Labdanum (Rockrose), Musk

Honey and plums. Photo: Alice Carrier at Bread and Honey blogspot. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Honey and plums. Photo: Alice Carrier at Bread and Honey blogspot. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Bois d’Oud opens on my skin with the richness of honey-drenched oud, followed by plums, a patchouli rose, smokiness, and a toffee’d, dirty, labdanum amber. There are subtle strains of orange blossom, and, indeed, a light flicker of orange itself. The overall effect is of a multi-faceted, dark sweetness that is dominated by plummy fruit, oud, and honey.

Bois d’Oud’s opening immediately and instantly calls to mind Arabian Oud‘s Kalemat. The Perris fragrance is slightly different with more plums, a stronger oud presence, and the inclusion of orange blossoms in lieu of blueberries. It is also thinner, sheerer, and less opaque in feel than Kalemat’s opening. For a brief moment, Bois d’Oud also reminds me of an oud version of Serge LutensFille en Aiguilles, though there are even more differences with this one. Bois d’Oud is less plummy than that one, lacks the heavy frankincense element, has honey instead of brown sugar sap, includes a very noticeable strain of jammy rose, and its smokiness seems to stem from different sources. Throughout Bois d’Oud’s development, I kept feeling like I was smelling something akin to guaiac wood, with its aroma of burning leaves in a fall bonfire, as well as its occasional facet of stale dustiness. That’s all very different than Fille en Aiguilles. Ultimately, perhaps the combination of honeyed sweetness, slightly dirty ambered labdanum, oud and darkly plummy fruits is closer to a third fragrance that came to mind during Bois d’Oud’s development: Nasomatto‘s Black Afgano. Bois d’Oud opens like a mix of Kalemat and Black Afgano, before eventually moving closer to the latter.

Source: picsfab.com

Source: picsfab.com

10 minutes into its development, the notes in Bois d’Oud realign themselves. The plum takes a small step back, while the peach, orange blossom, and jammy patchouli rose step more to the foreground. The orange blossom adds a subtle (very subtle) soapy undertone to the fragrance, though it’s fleeting. The peach adds a different sort of fruitness, but it is the patchouli which is most prominent. It’s a purple fruitchouli that is thoroughly intertwined with the rose, but it doesn’t feel like dark molasses so much as syrup. Very sweet syrup that underscores the strong impression of honey. The oud, fruit and floral accords are quite drenched with both elements, creating the impression of stickiness, though the perfume is very airy in weight.

Source: ghulmil.com

Source: ghulmil.com

The whole bouquet is nestled in a cocoon of abstract woods and a subtle tinge of smokiness. As noted above, I keep feeling as though there should be guaiac wood listed in the notes, because something in Bois d’Oud replicates its particular form of singed dryness. It goes beyond the smell of mere cedar, though both woods can have a dusty, stale undertone like the one that appears later on in Bois d’Oud. In truth, I really don’t smell cedar in the way that I’m used to, and all the wood notes beyond the oud feel really indistinct in an individual manner. As for the oud, it is not medicinal, fecal, raw, or butch. It is merely honeyed, and a little bit musky.

Photo: TheCozyApron.com. (For a recipe for grilled cinnamon plums with honey and marscapone vanilla, click on the photo. Website link is embedded within.)

Photo: TheCozyApron.com. (For a recipe for grilled cinnamon plums with honey and mascarpone vanilla, click on the photo. Website link is embedded within.)

Bois d’Oud continues to shift. About 20 minutes in, the vanilla emerges in the base, along with what I can only describe as a white creaminess. It’s doesn’t feel like it comes wholly from the vanilla, though that does seep over into it. I can only describe it as something that is almost like white, honeyed beeswax, but not quite. It doesn’t smell waxy or even particularly honeyed, so perhaps it’s not an offshoot of labdanum (which can often take on those nuances), either. Whatever the source, it goes beyond a mere textural thing and is one of my favorite parts of Bois d’Oud, especially when it has that lightly vanillic flavour to it. Interestingly, as the vanilla creaminess grows stronger, the honey note that burst out of the gates grows weaker and thinner.

At the same time, the first glimmer of a dry, woody aromachemical appears. It emphasizes my early impression that the oud note is synthetic, not real. As Andy Tauer once noted in his blog, most purported “oud” fragrances on the market today use hardly any of the increasingly expensive, real ingredient, relying instead on chemical substitutes put into a cypriol base. It smells like that here with Bois d’Oud. At first, it is quite a subtle chemical twinge, thanks to the growing creaminess and soft vanilla that help to cushion the note. Later, though, it becomes a slightly different matter.

"Coffee and cream" Art Print by Shalisa Photography/ Sharon Lisa Clarke on FineartAmerica.com

“Coffee and cream” Art Print by Shalisa Photography/ Sharon Lisa Clarke on FineartAmerica.com

As a whole, Bois d’Oud at the end of 30 minutes is a well-blended bouquet of oud, patchouli rose, slightly vanillic creaminess, plum, and labdanum amber with flickers of orange blossoms, smokiness, and an abstract woodiness. Bois d’Oud still feels syrupy, but now it is from the purple fruitchouli more than from the honey. The peach lingers in the sidelines, but it is quite muted. It’s the same story with the cedar, and that subtle smokiness.

Bois d’Oud doesn’t change substantially for the next few hours. It drops in sillage at the start of the 2nd hour, hovering just 2 inches above the skin at best, and its weight feels as though it were cut by 60%. I keep having images of translucent cream tulle, splattered by plummy, purple fruitchouli and roses, then sprayed with a synthetic oud. Something in the base is taking on a faintly medicinal vibe, though it’s not the “pink rubber band-aid” smell that oud can sometimes have. Whatever it is, I’m not a fan. Equally disappointing is how that lovely vanilla and white, cream beeswax note is being increasingly overshadowed by a woody, stale dustiness that probably stems from the cedar.

Bois d’Oud turns into a skin scent about 2.5 hours in, though it easy to detect up close, thanks to the plummy, syrupy patchouli in particular. The honey, peach and orange blossoms have vanished, though the jammy rose lingers. The vanilla seems very muffled, while the aromachemical aspect is not. The focus of the scent is increasingly on oud and dry woods, infused with that creamy note and the subtle touch of abstract, stale dustiness. Bois d’Oud feels now like a Montale fragrance. You can take that how you will.

I’m obviously not enthused about this stage, but I have to say that Bois d’Oud recovers very well, changes again, and has an extremely nice drydown. Near the end of the 4th hour, Bois d’Oud takes on more ambered and earthy nuances. There is suddenly a lot of gritty, dark, golden amber lurking about the edges, creeping closer to the main stage. At the same time, there are undertones of something that smells like dry tobacco. Much more noticeable is a definite animalic muskiness that wafts about as well, adding a dirty earthiness and the tiniest, subtle touch of skankiness.

Source: samsunggalaxy.co

Source: samsunggalaxy.co

For the most part, Bois d’Oud is now a soft blend of creamy woods, oud, dirty labdanum amber, dryness, earthiness, and a tinge of animalic muskiness. The bouquet is still infused with roses and a syrupy sweetness, but both are much lighter touches that have been diffused or countered by the new elements. Unfortunately, Bois d’Oud has become very gauzy and thin, and you have to sniff really hard to detect its nuances.

The earthiness and skanky musk slowly fade away, and their place is taken by other elements. There is the faintest trace of soft, sweetened powder that briefly pops up in the base for about 40 minutes. Up to top, there is a subtle stale smokiness that flitters about. It’s not quite the smell of campfire ashes, nor the smell of burning leaves, but subtle parts of both, amidst the stronger smell of singed wood. It’s that guaiac wood impression that I talked about earlier As a whole, Bois d’Oud feels much drier at the end of the 5th hour and the start of the 6th, much more purely focused on its wood notes, though that quiet creaminess still remains.

Source: top.besthdwallpapers.info

Source: top.besthdwallpapers.info

Bois d’Oud’s notes slowly shift in terms of their prominence and order. For a few hours, the perfume consists of sweet oud, creaminess, amber, and dry woods, upon a base consisting of an aromachemical tinge and plumminess, all lightly flecked by that whisper of singed woods and dustiness. Slowly, though, the creaminess fades away and the amber takes over.

By the end of the 9th hour, Bois d’Oud is a gauzy blur of amber, followed by abstract woodiness and a lingering touch of sweetness. It’s very nice, and has almost a caramel undertone to it, thanks to the labdanum. At times, the syrupy jamminess of the patchouli rears its head, but generally the fragrance is centered on ambered woods in a mix of dryness with sweetness. That is how the perfume remains until its very end, almost 11.5 hours from the start.

Source: pugetsoundbites.wordpress.com

Source: pugetsoundbites.wordpress.com

On Fragrantica, people seem to really like Bois d’Oud. I was interested to see that the notes the people found most dominant were, in order: oud (22 votes), plum (18), vanilla (16), and patchouli (14). Several people picked up on the creaminess, which they found to be vanillic in nature. Others talk about the plums, sweetness, and, in one case, the peach. One woman compared Bois d’Oud to a Montale fragrance, a brand she says she loves, and wrote, in part:

the scent is quite a stunner. It is very similar to Velvet Aoud from Montale, only richer, sweeter and woodier. There is a plastic kind of aura which reminds me of Iris Ganache from Guerlain.

I cannot smell the bergamote they describe for the top notes. It’s had a syrupy feel, without being too sugary. The sweetness must come from the plum and the peach. I do not smell any flowers of any kind. There is a strong woody, forest-like smell, which isn’t fresh at all… Aoud is the most dominant note, along with dried fruits. Like dried plums and apricots, which have a lot of sweetness and a little saltiness in them. Lots of them! The roses and jasmine, if there, are totally hidden to my nose. Maybe the smallest amount of neroli and iris…. Cedar is listed, but cedar for me is always a “fresh” kind of wood, a little green…. I don’t smell that either… The woods in here are deep and dark. There is also a lot of ambregris which has a vanillary tone, but no distinctive vanilla. I cannot smell much musk or patchouli. No freshness here.

Overall, I would call this a fruity woody, if such a category existed…
Case and point: dried fruits + aoud + dark woods + ambregris. Great silage and longevity, fairly linear, becomes a tad fresher in the base, surprisingly. [Emphasis with bolding added by me.]

Source: spicewallpaper.blogspot.com

Source: spicewallpaper.blogspot.com

Other impressions of Bois d’Oud are:

  • one of the best Ouds on the market surpasses all Montale creations IMO, this could be a vintage M7 flanker, enough said!
  • The beginning, to me was all about the oud, not very sweet – quite earthy and musk-laden. It reminded me very much of M Micallef’s Oud Gourmet – and I didn’t find it at all fruity. About 5 hours later now, the vanilla has really come out and it feels more creamy. I’m really loving this dry down, but am sorry to not have experienced the plum notes and creaminess earlier on.
  • very special frag in a perfume world lately dominated by oud in all his forms ,this a sirupy quite sweet oud maybe one of the most feminine around ,it reminds me a lot of the first original not reformulated poison by dior ..anyway a definitely worth buying frag  7/10   [Emphasis to names with bolding added by me.]
Source: souq.com

Source: souq.com

On Basenotes, the very first review at the top of the page almost made snort with its amusing conclusion:

Perris is based in Monaco, the juice made in Italy, and the thrift store bling of the bottles is aimed straight at the Middle Eastern market.

Yes, I think the bottle’s bling definitely approaches the tacky level, and is not representative of Monaco. (I promise you, Monaco is not a vulgar place, at least it wasn’t when I lived there. This newcomer, Perris, seems to be quite a different kettle of fish, though.) The rest of the review from “Gimme Green” is interesting, and seems to reflect my perception of a stale dustiness underlying Bois d’Oud:

Dry, dark, dusty wood with touches of sweetish suede and hints of dry fruit. Faded rose petals crumble about it. Lived in and somewhat musty.
Has a shut in feel, so claustrophobics beware.
The oud is of a recognizable sort (something similar is in Dueto’s City Love) and I imagine this is one synthetic we’ll come across more and more.
It’s modest, un-fresh and a satisfying wear, if not exactly breaking new ground. An oud one can don and not be distracted by. Plumps out and opens up surprisingly in the deep drydown.

Suede. Source: seasonalcolor.yuku.com

Suede. Source: seasonalcolor.yuku.com

One commentator, “Darvant,” also detected a suede tonality, along with an incense-y rubberiness and a strong floral element that included the jasmine. He writes, in part:

So luxurious, stormy, spicy/fruity and intoxicating in its first explosion but in a while so silky, slightly powdery, delicately rubbery (almost as a golden musky/resinous suede). […] a tornado of diverse elements by soon interacting each other in an armonic olfactory orchestra as luxurious hesperides, mellow plummy/orangy fruits, sambac jasmine, exotic sweet spices and powdery iris (the latter in its heady and mastering role). By soon the spicy/fruity drama is encompassed and comforted by a soothing accord of mossy galbanum, smooth balsams, animalic resins and probably rubbery/incensey suede. The influencing iris provides hints of floral powder perfectly integrated with musks, star anise and suede. A touch of olibanum or just powdery iris, woodsy resins and velvety suede? Probably it’s the note of agarwood (as linked with iris and star anise) which provides a sort of suede/rubber (vaguely boots polish type of) boise vibe around. The sambac jasmine affords an incredibly glamour “icy” spark in the air, as well as combined with musky amber, anise, talky iris and may be aldehydes. Actually in conclusion a velvety rubbery suede type of vibe emerges from the storm with all its exotic silkiness. A dark patchouli provides structure and stableness for all the general oriental mélange.

PS. In the dry down the vanilla emerges and tames a bit the agarwood spicy “gassiness”. The agarwood resin smells slightly synthetic and some people can demur it but i add that this element does not understate the extreme sophistication of the olfactory performance and can’t veil in any way the beauty of its glamour modernity.

In sharp contrast to all those layers, a third Basenotes poster wrote that he or she detected nothing more than “dry woods… [b]ut it’s such a nice smell, that it’s more than enough. Not groundbreaking though.”

I agree with that last statement. Bois d’Oud is not a revolutionary or unusual scent, as all the perfume comparisons from me and various forum commentators should make clear, but it’s not identical like the others either. It is not as dark, dry or smoky as Black Afgano; it seems smoother, plummier, more gourmand at times, and sheerer. Despite the initial resemblance to Kalemat or to an oud version of Fille en Aiguilles, Bois d’Oud later turns into something quite different from either one. I haven’t tried Montale’s Velvet Aoud to know how it might compare, or the Micallef scent mentioned on Fragrantica, but I can say that I think Bois d’Oud differs from vintage M7. There are a few token similarities in terms of how oud is mixed with plummy, resinous, labdanum notes, but as a whole, the two fragrances are very different, in my opinion.

Perhaps the ultimate reason why Bois d’Oud stands slightly apart from similar takes on the plummy-oud genre is the inclusion of the vanilla, creaminess and dustiness. Half-gourmand, half-not. Is that enough for perfume lovers who own similar scents in the same style? I don’t know. It’s going to be an individual decision.

All in all, if you like very plummy oud fragrances with sweetness, amber and vanilla, you may want to give Bois d’Oud a sniff. It is firmly unisex, in my opinion, and has good longevity with decent sillage. The perfume is not hugely expensive per ounce at $150 or €125 for 100 ml of eau de parfum, especially as you can find it priced for less than retail. Will it blow your socks off? I highly doubt it, but Bois d’Oud has some very enjoyable parts, along with a useful, versatile easiness about it.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Bois d’Oud is an eau de parfum that is available only in a 100 ml size. It costs €125 and £125. In the U.S., I think it costs $150, but I can’t find a ton of retailers to confirm that. The company has no website that I could find, either. In the U.S.: the Perris Monte Carlo line appears to be sold at Henri Bendel in New York, but their website only shows the Imperial Oud Black bottle. That seems to be a different fragrance entirely, but, oddly, subtext on the page also mentions Bois d’Oud. I have no explanation for that. Like Bendel, Neiman Marcus only carries the Imperial Oud and the new Rose de Taif. Elsewhere, I’ve noticed Amazon sellers offering Bois d’Oud. One sells a 10 ml decant for $35, while another has a 100 ml tester bottle for $100. Outside the U.S.: in the U.K., you can find Bois d’Oud at 10 Corso Como for £125, along with the rest of the Perris line. The perfume is also available at First in Fragrance for €125. I noticed Bois d’Oud on sale for €105 at the Parfum Center in the Netherlands, while it’s at regular price at Celeste. In Spain, you can buy it from Novento Grados, in Italy at Etos Profumeria, in Greece at Rosina Perfumery, and in Munich at Bruckner. In the Middle East, I found Bois d’Oud at Souq.com for AED 596. Kuwait’s Universal Fragrances has most of the line discounted for $99. Samples: Surrender to Chance doesn’t have Bois d’Oud in an individual form, but it has a Perris Monte Carlo Sample Set of 5 fragrances from the line in 2 ml atomizers for $38.99. You can order Bois d’Oud in an individual vial from The Perfumed Court where prices start at $4.96 for a 1 ml vial.
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LM Parfums Black Oud

The darkness of incense and an extremely refined oud, speckled with red-brown, earthy, and fiery spices. A deep woodiness that is soon married with a purple liqueured richness, before its sweetness eventually turns drier. Bold richness that moves into an intimate, gauzy whisper. Those are some of the different aspects of Black Oud from LM Parfums.

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

Black Oud is a pure parfum extrait that was released in 2012. LM Parfums describes the perfume and its notes as follows:

«Blend into the middle of a black and white tainted forest, be in the most obscure darkness, to deliver the fragrance of Oud.» This is my wish to take you into the depth of Indonesia.

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

The subtlety of the Oud fragrances, mixed to cistus gum, wrapped with nutmeg, caraway, and incense, this generous fragrance brings in its wake cedar, amber and sandalwood, embellished with a touch of musk.

Top Notes: Nutmeg, Cumin, Incense.
Heart Notes: Oud Wood, Labdamum.
Base Notes: sandalwood, Cedar, Civet, Castoreum, Vanilla, Amber.

Source: wallpaperup.com

Source: wallpaperup.com

Black Oud opens on my skin with a darkness quite worthy of its name. I’m surprised by that, since so many perfumes labelled “Noir” or “Black” don’t actually convey that sense or impression to me. Black Oud does — at least in its opening minutes. There is a burst of beautifully refined, high-quality agarwood that is thoroughly infused with a spicy, peppered sweetness. There is dusty, vaguely earthy cumin, but also the fiery bite of what feels like red, pimento chilis. A rich, very darkly resinous stickiness follows moments later, along with what feels distinctly like a jammy patchouli note. It completely throws me off, as nothing in the notes indicates patchouli, but that is what I smell. It’s a deeply purpled, velvety, liqueured richness with a vaguely fruited aspect. 

I love Black Oud’s opening. The spices are the key, adding a great depth to the smooth, refined oud. They are dusty, dusky, and dry, but never sweaty. I don’t smell the nutmeg at all on my skin, but the cumin is really lovely. For all its spiced dryness, it also smells oddly fresh in a way, and something about it evokes rye bread more than anything curried, sweaty or stale. The whole bouquet is wrapped up with a thick ribbon of billowing, black frankincense, but it is blended so seamlessly into the notes that it’s more of an overall feel of darkness than a sharp, easily delineated note.

Black in bottle, non-travel form.

Black in bottle, non-travel form.

I’ve worn Black Oud a number of times, and on each occasion in the opening minutes, my initial impression is always the same thing: a much better, more refined, drier Puredistance Black. (Puredistance insists on typing it as BLACK, but I refuse.) Black Oud was released in 2012; Puredistance’s Black in summer of 2013. They are both Extrait perfumes with spices, incense, oud, and a liqueured patchouli sweetness, though Puredistance refuses to release its exact notes for the fragrance and Black has a definite floral component. I was the only blogger out of the first lot who initially reviewed Black to say that I didn’t like it, and I received a bit of flack for it. Well, I stand by my opinion, as I still don’t like Black.

Source: quotes-pictures.feedio.net

Source: quotes-pictures.feedio.net

In the opening moments, Black Oud blows the Puredistance scent out of the water. It’s much smoother, more refined, and deeper. Unlike the Puredistance scent, the overall effect of one actually feels black in mood, perhaps because Black Oud is much smokier, drier, less unctuously sweet, and more spiced. The jammy, purple, fruit-chouli aroma is much more subtle in Black Oud’s opening phase, while the incense is much more profound. In addition, the oud note feels more luxuriously smooth and expensive. However, as we will soon see, the early differences soon fade, and I’m afraid Black Oud becomes a lot closer to Puredistance Black in nature. Several of the things in Puredistance Black that I struggled with manifest themselves here, to the point where I wonder if Antoine Lie made LM Parfums’ Black Oud a year before he made the significantly more expensive (and over-priced) Puredistance Black.

Mysore sandalwood cross-section. Source: vk.com

Mysore sandalwood cross-section. Source: vk.com

It takes very little time for Black Oud to start to evolve. Exactly 5 minutes into Black Oud’s development, the sandalwood peaks up its head. It’s muted at first, but it’s a lovely, subtle touch of spicy, creamy, smoky red-gold woodiness that feels like real Mysore wood. Laurent Mazzone has shown his willingness with the spectacular Hard Leather to spend any amount of money on the genuine Mysore wood, no matter how costly the rare ingredient may be, and I think he must have insisted on the real thing for Black Oud as well.

A few minutes later, other changes occur. The cumin starts to slowly melt into the other notes, creating a more abstract sense of “spiciness” instead of a distinct, individual cumin note. The sandalwood grows stronger, while the labdanum suddenly starts to stir. It’s got a deliciously toffee’d, vaguely dirty, almost chocolate-y undertone. Yet, Black Oud is never skanky, raunchy, urinous or dirty in any way on my skin. I never detect the civet, castoreum, or nutmeg, though there is a subtle muskiness and earthiness that creeps in towards the end of the perfume’s development.

As a whole, Black Oud in the opening half-hour is a very smooth, delicately spiced, liqueured, black-purple oud scent that is infused heavily with smoky incense and that inexplicable jammy element, then lightly flecked with Mysore sandalwood and labdanum amber. While LM Parfums’ Hard Leather is a lusty, “skanky” take on leather, incense, oud, and sandalwood, Black Oud is the sweeter, non-animalic, more purely oud and incense sibling. Every single one of its elements feels rich, seamless, and luxuriously refined, but the whole thing is also very gauzy in feel. Surprisingly so for an Extrait concentration.

"Purple Velvet Gold Flakes" by *Will3style at Deviantart.com. http://will3style.deviantart.com/art/Purple-Velvet-Gold-Flakes-258099755

“Purple Velvet Gold Flakes” by *Will3style at Deviantart.com. http://will3style.deviantart.com/art/Purple-Velvet-Gold-Flakes-258099755

Black Oud slowly turns sweeter, as the liqueured, fruited, patchouli-like jamminess grows stronger. Unfortunately for me, there is the first twinge of something aroma-chemical that stirs in the base. I’m not a fan of it, though it’s thankfully subtle and muted at this point. What is much prettier, however, is the cumin which adds a dry, almost herbal, green-brown spiciness to the base.

At the start of the 2nd hour, the aroma-chemical in the base turns into one of the main notes. It smells like some sort of very arid, “amber” substitute, but also very woody, harsh and, to my nose, jangly with its sharp edges. I don’t like it one bit, though I realise that I have a sensitivity to aromachemicals, and that the vast majority of people can’t detect them. At least the dryness of the note (whatever it is) helps to cut through some of Black Oud’s increasing sweetness, though the jammy liqueur is still very prominent. The incense retreats to the sidelines, along with the spiciness, while the sandalwood slowly starts to fade away.

Art by: LordmOth on Deviant Art. (Click on photo for website link embedded within.)

Art by: LordmOth on Deviant Art. (Click on photo for website link embedded within.)

Black Oud also turns thinner and sheerer, with sillage that now projects only about an inch above the skin. By the 1.75 hour mark, the perfume is a gauzy thin blur of refined oud, the excessively dry aromachemical, incense smokiness, and the jammy fruitchouli note. There is a subtle nuance of something vaguely herbal and earthy in the base, but the overall impression is of a non-floral, woodier, drier version of Puredistance Black.

Black Oud remains largely unchanged for the next few hours. Thankfully, the harsh aromachemical note disappears by the end of the 3rd hour, and my mood improves. By the middle of the 4th hour, Black Oud is a skin scent that slowly turns drier and woodier. It’s a sheer, very pretty blend of vaguely oud-y woodiness and sweetness with tiny, subtle flickers of smokiness, earthiness, and something vaguely herbal lurking at the edges. Around the 7th hour, a touch of beeswax appears, undoubtedly from the labdanum, and a growing element of muskiness.

Source: hotguyscollection.com

Source: hotguyscollection.com

In its final hours, Black Oud also takes on sexy muskiness that has a tobacco-like undertone and a velvety earthiness that almost feels mushroom-y at times. I suspect it stems from the castoreum. As a whole, though, Black Oud’s drydown is generally just abstract woodiness with a touch of sweetness and dryness blended within. Something about it is quite seductive. Call me crazy, but this is what I imagine Tom Ford to smell like. Sweet, dry, woody muskiness with a touch of the scent of a man’s warm skin, all wrapped in a very refined, understated bouquet. Yes, I know Tom Ford is the least “under-stated” person around, but he is what I think of when I smell Black Oud’s drydown: open-shirted, bare-chested and revealing skin that carries the discreet musky sweetness of Black Oud.

As noted earlier, Black Oud is an extrait or pure parfum. It doesn’t feel like it on my skin, I’m afraid. On a few occasions when I’ve worn it, I was surprised by how quickly it faded. Two decent-sized sprays gave me between 9 and 9.75 hours in duration, but the perfume consistently became a skin scent at the start of the 3rd hour. I frequently thought that it had vanished by the end of the 5th hour, but, no, Black Oud definitely lingered, and was noticeable when I put my nose directly on my skin and smelled very hard. With 3 big sprays, Black Oud lasted a good 12 hours on my skin, but, again, it was extremely discreet.

A number of LM Parfums start strongly and then become much more intimate, as that seems to be part of the brand’s overall aesthetic. The gorgeous Sensual Orchid is one example, where the opulent, bold, narcotic sensuality slowly turns into something more romantically discreet, as though it were olfactory lingerie. I am starting to have the impression that Laurent Mazzone might feel that a subtler suggestion is better for his bolder, richer aromas, the new Hard Leather excepted. So, when seen in that light, perhaps Black Oud’s softness and subtlety makes sense, but I was still taken aback. It really didn’t feel like an Extrait on my skin, and its wispiness was another thing that made me think of the intentionally “whispering” Puredistance Black.

While I have extremely wonky, perfume-consuming skin, I’m apparently not alone on the issue of Black Oud’s subtlety and limited projection. On Fragrantica, two other people felt the same way, though their overall assessment for the fragrance was very positive. For example:

If Valentino ever produced an OUD based fragrance it would smell something like this.

Romantic and Deep are the key words here. A rich mix of delicate spices and oud emphasizing the intricate balance between eastern and western perfumery. Smooth pristine and dressed up.

It isn’t loud by any means. In fact I think it is a sleeper that will wake up at unexpected moments. It is however very durable.

Leave it on for a while before you try to decipher it….it’s one of those. […][¶]

EDIT :
Been wearing this for a full day now. I hate to say it but this has nothing to do with an Extrait as far as projection goes. […] EDIT : TWO Days later. I share the same feelings still. Nice *subtle* romantic oud scent that lasts a good amount of time as a skin scent with just minimal projection. [¶] DEFINITELY not one of the stronger Extraits/Parfums that I have sampled but what can you expect for $225 100ml Extrait.

Others agree on the romantic, refined nature of Black Oud, including a woman commentator who offers up the first review below:

  • This perfume is a dream come true : when I wear it,I have the feeling that I smell a mysterious lover’s smell (a latin one, of course !)on my skin all day long! Very erotic ! Wonderful ! You’ll feel very sexy while wearing it (for men or women.)
  • very amazing perfume and it’s like Black Afgano but with more Oud and more sillage .. [¶] I love this perfume[.] [Emphasis to name added by me.]

On Basenotes, there are 3 reviews for Black Oud, 2 of which are positive and one is a mere “neutral.” Their views, in part or in full, are as follows:

  • Simple comfort to wear animalic oud scent.
  • It starts quite alcoholic and spiced , with a soft frankincense. Then it develops to a sweet-rosey oud .Finally it dries down towards a kind of animalic sandalwood . [¶] This reminds me of L’Air du Desert Marocain with a touch of oud .This is not dark nor black . [¶] Longevity is regular , taking into account that this is an extract of parfum . [¶] Over-priced for what it is , 200 eur . [Emphasis to name added by me.]
  • Wonderfully smooth and powerful scent [….][¶] I love it, it isn’t too powerful, very “smooth” as someone else mentioned, and it is really just what I was looking for, a sensual date scent. […]
Source: HDwallpapers.

Source: HDwallpapers.

One perfume blogger who isn’t a fan of agarwood wrote that Black Oud was the first scent with the note that she liked. The site, Esperanza Van Der Zon, wrote, in part:

Black Oud became the first oud perfume I really liked. It is a very well blended oud extrait with rich wood and incense elements. The oud is not dominating the perfume but part of the whole composition like a primus inter pares, equal amongst the other notes. It is hard to detect individual notes as they are very well blended. But I do detect rich frankincense lingering at the beginning, followed by warm dark woods to continue to labdanum and golden oud. The extrait changes its scent showing some different aspects at first but does not change very much during the day on my skin. What remains is a warm wooden resinous drydown, modern, strong, very present and with a little edge. Compared to a texture it would be soft black wool, still a bit tingling when you touch it. […][¶]

Although the Black Oud is an extrait (pure perfume), its sillage is enormous, one spitz is enough for a whole day. Some called Black Oud a sillage monster. I would say this extrait is for true sillage lovers or people who do not like to reapply during the day. You can still scent Black Oud after 24 hours so have some caution when applying !

Her sillage and longevity experiences are obviously quite different from what I or some of the Fragrantica people experienced, so skin chemistry is clearly key. What I found interesting about her review is how taken she was by Black Oud. Even though she found the perfume a “bit too masculine” by her standards, she said she would still buy a full bottle if it were cheaper:

There are cold days I really enjoy wearing Black Oud. It is a pity it only comes in 100 ml bottles for about 200 euro. If it was sold in smaller bottles I would have bought a full bottle some time ago.

That’s quite an endorsement from someone who says bluntly that she does “not like oud very much.”

Speaking of prices, Black Oud costs $225 or €195 for the 100 ml bottle. It may not be cheap, but it is substantially less expensive than Puredistance Black which costs almost $600 for a similar 100 ml size. (Both are Extrait fragrances, so their prices can definitely be compared on an equal basis.)

Source: 8tracks.com

Source: 8tracks.com

Black Oud is a much better value than the Black, and a better fragrance as a whole, in my opinion, because it feels much more refined. The oud smells more luxurious and smoother, and the perfume lacks the annoying rose-fruitchouli singularity of Puredistance Black. The latter ended up making me think of pinks and purples, fluffy clouds, and Turkish delight. It was not “Black,” let alone very smoky or woody on my skin. In fact, it smelled significantly aromachemical in nature, and was much more generic in profile, two reasons why I think Puredistance Black is badly over-hyped and over-priced for what it is.

Black Oud, on the other hand, seems darker, smokier, woodier, and drier. The opening 30 minutes are really fantastic, and the drydown is both pretty and quite sexy. The middle stage, alas, didn’t thrill me at all; I don’t like whatever amber aromachemical was used in the base, and the liqueured sweetness of Black Oud was a bit difficult for me as a whole. I’m also not enthused by the discreet, intimate sillage. However, at the end of the day, all of those things are a matter of personal tastes and skin chemistry. Black Oud isn’t very me, but I can respect it (minus that aromachemical bit) and I can completely see why people find it to be a beautifully blended oud fragrance. Puredistance Black, on the other hand, just leaves me scratching my head. At best.

In short, if you’re looking for a refined, approachable oud scent with sweetness, incense, and dryness, you may want to give Black Oud a sniff.

Disclosure: Perfume provided courtesy of LM Parfums. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, my opinions are my own, and my first obligation is honesty to my readers. 

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Black Oud is pure parfum extrait that is available only in a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle which costs $225 or €195. In the U.S.: Laurent Mazzone’s fragrances are sold exclusively at Osswald NYC. If, at some point in the future, you don’t see Black Oud listed at that link, it’s because Osswald takes down a perfume’s page when they’re temporarily out-of-stock, then puts it back up later. Outside the U.S.: you can buy Black Oud directly from LM Parfums. In addition, they offer large decant samples of all LM Parfums extraits which are priced at €19 for 5 ml size. LM Parfums also owns Premiere Avenue which sells both Black Oud and the 5 ml decant. It ships worldwide. In the UK, the LM Parfums line is exclusive to Harvey Nichols. In Paris, LM Parfums are sold at Jovoy. In the Netherlands, you can find Black Oud at ParfuMaria. The LM Parfums line is also available at Silks Cosmetics. In Germany, First in Fragrance carries the full line, and sells samples as well. You can also find LM Parfums at Essenza Nobile, Italy’s Vittoria Profumi, or Alla Violetta. In the Middle East, I found most of the LM Parfums line at the UAE’s Souq perfume site. For all other countries, you can find a vendor near you from Switzerland to Belgium, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Croatia, Azerbaijan, and more, by using the LM Parfums Partner listing. Laurent Mazzone or LM Parfums fragrances are widely available throughout Europe, and many of those sites sell samples as well. Samples: A number of the sites listed above sell samples. In the U.S., none of the decanting sites carry LM Parfums, but you can call Osswald NYC at (212) 625-3111 to order samples. They have a special phone deal for U.S. customers where 10 samples of any 10 fragrances in 1 ml vials is $10 with free shipping. However, they are currently out of vials until mid-March.

Amouage Sandal Attar

Some of the most luxurious creations in the perfume world are rich Middle Eastern attars, and few people do it as well as the royal perfume house, Amouage. I recently had the chance to try Sandal, an lesser-known Amouage attar, thanks to the kindness of a reader of the blog, “Dubaiscents,” who generously sent me a sample. Sandal is a soliflore centered around one ingredient, and one ingredient alone: sandalwood. 

Sandal attar, via Fragrantica.

Sandal attar, via Fragrantica.

Sandal‘s press description is provided by one EU retailer, Profumeria Pepos, and reads:

Unique and therefore absolute. Only one player dominates the heart of this attar, Sandalwood. Mystic wood celebrating the oriental cults. Aphrodisiac wood smelling the nights of love. Lonely lover’s skin is often sought to sublimate the Asian touch with its dry and velvety touce. Here, a maximum concentration of itself, was left alone to be admired in its absolute beauty.

Mysore sandalwood cross-section. Source: http://vk.com/wall172858112_51

Mysore sandalwood cross-section. Source: http://vk.com/wall172858112_51

Sandal is supposedly nothing but pure Indian sandalwood. It is one of my favorite notes, and I grew up in an age where all the fragrances I wore had copious amounts of the glorious Mysore wood. Rich, red, spicy, often a little smoky, creamy, and with a touch of sweetness, it was beautiful. Unfortunately, nowadays, true Mysore sandalwood is so rare and so astronomically priced in even the smallest quantities that it might as well be extinct for the purposes of perfumery. As regular readers of the blog know well, I’m a huge sandalwood snob, and I find the Australian kind to be significantly different. I can count the modern fragrances that include genuine Mysore sandalwood on one hand, as the smell is truly distinctive for me.

Australian "santalum spicatum," via alibaba.com .

Australian “Santalum Spicatum,” via alibaba.com .

To my nose, Amouage’s Sandal attar smells like Australian sandalwood, and nothing like the Mysore variety that I grew up wearing in fragrances and oils. Sandal opens on my skin as green creaminess that smells exactly like buttermilk with the slightest, faintest tinge of sourness. The wood smells young and green, and doesn’t evoke the visuals of true Mysore sandalwood with its red-gold hues, rich spiciness, light smokiness, and sweetness. I recently received some oil from an Australian sandalwood plantation, and Amouage’s Sandal is almost identical to that on my skin. The only difference is that the Sandal lacks the occasionally medicinal touches, and is infinitely creamier. It’s beautifully soft and smooth, but it still smells green to me.

As a single-note oil, Sandal doesn’t change much on my skin. After a few hours, a lovely, extremely delicate, and light floral element creeps into the creamy woody smoothness. It has an almost a lemony undertone to it and, on occasion, smells a little like lemongrass. At no time is any of it spicy or smoked in feel. The attar wears very close to the skin, hovering perhaps an inch above at best in initial projection in the opening hour. It becomes a skin scent after about 5.5 hours, then fades away entirely at the start of the 9th hour.

Australian sandalwood or "Santalum Spicatum." Source: rarewoodsandveneers.com

Australian sandalwood or “Santalum Spicatum.” Source: rarewoodsandveneers.com

I couldn’t find any blog reviews for Sandal, but there are brief assessments in some very old Basenotes threads. In one discussion dating back to 2010, a commentator found the sandalwood in the attar to be genuine Mysore sandalwood and described the smell like “coconut water.” He thought it was exactly like the old Mysore scents he used to wear in the 1970s. However, in an earlier thread from 2009, the two olfactory descriptions of the Sandal attar were different.

  • I’ve sniffed Al Andalous and Sandalwood and both seemed to be very similar to other typical Middle Eastern attars of the same respective genres, with a fair dose of clearly synthetic ingredients.  […] The Sandalwood attar was not unpleasant but not anywhere near the pure sandalwood oil.
  • The Sandal is very medicinal, like a cough crop. That sounds strange but it’s gorgeous.

Amouage’s attars are not immune from reformulation or weakening, so I don’t know if the 2013 version that I tested has changed from the 2010 version of the Basenotes commentator who detected “genuine” Mysore sandalwood. All I can say is that, to my nose, Sandal has creamy buttermilk greenness, not the red Mysore spiciness, sweetness and smoke.

Sandal is pretty in its creaminess and, if one were not a sandalwood snob, would probably be very enjoyable to wear. For me, personally, however, I could not justify spending the amount of money asked by Amouage for such a green, buttermilk version of my favorite note, especially given the sillage. I tested the attar a few times and, on one occasion, asked a family member who loves Mysore sandalwood what they thought. It was only an hour after application, but they could barely detect the scent on my skin. I said, “it’s sandalwood,” to which they replied, “doesn’t smell like it to me.”

Sandal is cheaper than Amouage’s better known attars like Tribute and Homage, but they’re still not giving away. You can find the smallest size (12 ml) starting at $250 or €168, which is better than Tribute’s opening price of $370. It’s still quite a hefty outlay for a mere 12 ml of a soliflore with weak sillage. For me, personally, the glorious, fantastic Tribute blows it out of the water, but Tribute is a much more complicated beast and definitely not a soliflore. I also prefer the interesting, nuanced Al Mas and Asrar attars, but, again, it probably isn’t fair to judge a single-note fragrance by the standards of scents with more layers.

At the end of the day, price is always a subjective matter, as is probably the aromatic impression of Mysore wood in general. So if you’re looking for a creamy and pretty take on sandalwood, then you may want to consider Sandal. It’s not the easiest thing to find, but it’s not impossible either. 

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Sandal is a concentrated perfume oil, and comes in two sizes: 12 ml and 30 ml. Amouage has stopped carrying its attars outside the Middle East. Sandal is not sold in the U.S. nor available directly from the Amouage website, but you can find it on a few online retailers. Before I get to that, however, your best bet in finding the attar is in perfume groups. One is “Facebook Fragrance Friends” on Facebook, in which decants or samples of all the Amouage attars are currently being offered by the kind reader who provided me with Sandal. She paid the lower Oman and Dubai price for the bottles, so you may save a little over buying them at the higher Western price. Outside of Facebook, both sizes of Sandal are available at Zahras, a US online site specializing in Middle Eastern fragrances. You will have to scroll down that PDF link to page 19 to find the listing. The prices are $250 and $469 respectively for the 12 and 30 ml bottles. In the EU, I found Sandal at Profumeria Pepos which sells 12 ml of Sandal for €168. Same thing with Al Sacro Cuore, another Italian site. I could not find Sandal on the Dubai perfume site, ASF-Dubaishop, which normally carries a few of the Amouage attars at a good price, but not this one. Kuwait’s Universal Perfumes also doesn’t carry Sandal, but Italy’s Alla Violetta has numerous Amouage attars listed, including the Sandal at €168. However, none of them seem to be in stock, as they all carry the comment, “notify me when available” and you can’t put anything into a shopping cart. In terms of other vendors, Sandal is sold by Russia’s ry7. I don’t think the Amouage boutique in London carries the attars any more, as they’ve been limited to the Middle East by now, but you can always check. Samples: I haven’t found samples of the Sandal to be available on any of the decanting sites.

Ex Idolo Thirty-Three

Matthew Zhuk. Source: Ex Idolo.

Matthew Zhuk. Source: Ex Idolo.

There are some incredibly nice people with real talent emerging on the perfume scene, and I think the founder and perfumer behind Ex IdoloMatthew Zhuk, is one of them. He seems to be a genuinely nice chap with a thoughtful bent, a self-deprecating sense of humour, and a passion for perfumery, both vintage and modern.

Thirty-three. Source: Luckyscent.

Thirty-three. Source: Luckyscent.

Mr. Zhuk is a London-based perfumer who sent me his debut fragrance, Thirty-Three (spelled with the hyphen) with full knowledge about my reviewing policy and my tendency towards bluntness. His obviously genuine passion for vintage scents, his desire to create something outside the typical framework of oud fragrances (which he’s studied a lot), and his down-to-earth affability made me really want to love Thirty-three. Plus, it has the most stunning cognac-coloured liquid. Alas, Thirty-three is not for me for a variety of reasons.

Ex Idolo describes Thirty-three and its notes as follows:

Thirty-three is a fragrance crafted from very special ingredients. The soul of the fragrance is built around a vintage oud – distilled in 1980 and aged until its release in 2013. It is also the only modern perfume to use a significant amount of wild-harvested Chinese oud oil and natural Chinese rose oil to build the scent profile. Contrary to most ouds however, Thirty-three is a surprisingly soft and velvety fragrance, and genuinely fits in an innovative space in terms of the wider oud category. Thirty-three is a deep and dark unisex fragrance, with dry and cold facets.

Thirty-three packaging via the Ex Idolo website.

Thirty-three packaging via the Ex Idolo website.

As Mr. Zhuk wrote to me in an email:

Thirty-three is an oud, but in a time where the genre is rapidly commercializing, it sets itself apart with a number of differentiating points. The most important of those are the tone it projects, which is decidedly less harsh than what is typical in the genre, but also because it is the first “western” mainstream release to use a vintage oud in its formulation – in this case, distilled in 1980 (hence the name).

Thirty-three has an interesting set of notes:

Soft black pepper, Candied mandarin, Caoutchouc, Chinese white tea, Chinese rose, Taif rose, Orris, Damascus steel, Rare, natural vintage ouds, Aged patchouli, Heliotropin

Black pimento pepper by R.Boroujerd via Wikicommons.

Black pimento pepper by R.Boroujerd via Wikicommons.

When I smelled Thirty-three from the vial, it was a plethora of: jammy roses; fruited, sweet, purple fruit-chouli; black rubber; fiery black pepper with almost a pimento or chili-like bite; honeyed oud; and a boozy cognac element. On the skin, Thirty-three isn’t very different at first. It opens with the fiercest pepper and chili note imaginable, almost searing the nose, followed by heaping amounts of syrupy, jammy roses that are deeply infused with the purple, fruited, molasses-like patchouli that I hate so much.

Damascus or Wootz steel  in a sword's edge. Source: vikingsword.com

Damascus or Wootz steel in a sword’s edge. Source: vikingsword.com

Then, the discordant, surprising twist occurs. There is a sharp, industrial clang that is chilly, sharp, pungent, and metallic. It has to be the “Damascus Steel” in the notes, as the note genuinely feels frosted and cold. Underneath is a black rubber element that is dry, dry, dry, followed by a rather contradictory warm, boozy cognac tonality. I can’t get over the nose-clearing pepper, or that iced, industrial steel which I’ve never encountered before. I give kudos for originality, but that doesn’t mean I love it.

Milk of rubber or Caoutchouc tree that later turns to black latex rubber. Source: rubberroofingshingles.net

Milk of rubber or Caoutchouc tree that later turns to black latex rubber. Source: rubberroofingshingles.net

The truly unpleasant part is the profound dryness to Thirty-three that burns the back of my throat, creates a tightening in my nose, and sends a searing pain through my head each time I sniff my arm in the opening phase. I’ve tested Thirty-three a few times at different levels and dosages, and the dryness consistently renders my throat scratchy, irritated, and sore.

There must be something synthetic in the base that is triggering such an intense reaction each and every time. In the past, the only thing that has made my throat close up is Norlimbanol, but I don’t smell that in the way that I’ve encountered before. However, Thirty-three has the same sort of intense aridness, verging on the dust in a land undergoing a severe drought, that Norlimbanol can generate. Perhaps it stems from the Caoutchouc element which is the rubber latex from a rubber tree, even though I don’t smell “black rubber” in any significant way after the opening minutes. Whatever the cause, the dusty aridness feels completely discordant and contradictory with all the intensely syrupy, overly sweet, fruited roses.

Turkish rose petal jam via amideastfeast.com

Turkish rose petal jam via amideastfeast.com

The black pepper begins to pipe down after 10 minutes, enabling the other notes to come through, though they’re often hard to detect under the tidal wave of pink jam. There are tiny suggestions of the dried, candied orange, but much more noticeable is a slight woodiness that smells of dried cork with a singed nuance. It is fleeting, and certainly doesn’t smell like oud in any noticeable, individually distinct way. For the most part, all I detect with Thirty-three are roses infused with heaping amounts of syrupy, purple, fruited patchouli molasses. Perhaps the problem is one of skin chemistry; my skin takes fruit-chouli and runs with it, amplifying above much else. Thirty Three is no exception to the rule.

"Cottage Garden Rose-Petal Syrup." Photo: BecR on Food.com.

“Cottage Garden Rose-Petal Syrup.” Photo: BecR on Food.com.

From start almost to finish, Thirty-three is largely roses, roses, and more roses on my skin. There are tiny, subtle variations at first, but everything is muffled under the thick blanket of syrupy roses. About 45 minutes in, the fragrance mellows a little, losing some of its discordant jangle, and almost all of its chilled steel. There are tiny flickers of something vaguely like dry woodiness in the base, but it often feels like a figment of my imagination. There is no question of imagination about the synthetic dusty dryness, however, which remains for about 3.5 hours as a strong underpinning to that fruited rose.

Other changes pertain to sillage. With a large application of 4 sprays, the fragrance softens after 2.25 hours, dropping to about 2-3 inches above the skin, and later turning into a skin scent around the fifth one. With a small dose of 2 sprays, Thirty Three becomes a skin scent after two hours. It’s always a discreet scent as a whole.

A little before the start of the 4th hour, Thirty-three finally shifts. The syrupy, highly sweetened jammy roses finally take a small breather, and there is something vaguely discernible as oud. It’s dry, lightly honeyed, and refined. Texturally, it feels very smooth and almost creamy. Unfortunately, though, it is extremely subtle and muted. Neither the perpetual force-field of pink roses nor the extremely low sillage help detection much. Before I know it, less than an hour later, the note vanishes.

Source: wholeblossoms.com

Source: wholeblossoms.com

At the start of the sixth hour with a large dose, but the fourth hour with a small one, the roses becomes very pretty. They feel incredibly creamy, and petal soft. Though they are still infused with that bloody fruit-chouli, the delicacy of the floral note is really lovely. Gauzy, high-quality, and very refined, it’s the merest breath upon the skin. A subtle powderiness lurks underneath, as does a lingering touch of dryness.

Thirty-three soon transitions into its final drydown phase. At first, it’s a sheer whisper of a powdery rose, but soon the powder takes over completely. At the start of the 7th hour, Thirty-three is powder with a definite soapy tinge to it, and nothing more. It dies as an abstract, sheer blur of soapiness shortly about 9.25 hours from the start with a large dose of 4 sprays, but after 8 hours with 2 small ones.

Source: RGPeixoto on Flickr. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Source: RGPeixoto on Flickr. (Website link embedded within photo.)

As a whole, Thirty-three was a high-quality rose soliflore on my skin. It may not be to my personal tastes, but I can see how women, rose lovers, and those who don’t like conventional or masculine oud fragrances may enjoy it. For me, it’s very much in the same vein as Frederic Malle‘s Portrait of a Lady. I’m not a fan of the Malle, but then I loathe purple patchouli and syrupy sweet roses. Those who approach Thirty Three expecting a truly oud-centered fragrance — like something from Amouage or Xerjoff — may end up disappointed. The perfume may have been intentionally crafted to have a “surprisingly soft” focus and refinement, but to the point of having the oud be nearly invisible?

It’s not merely my opinion. The one review on Basenotes in the official Thirty-three entry reads:

Roses, Roses, Roseeeeeeesssss

Was intreagued by the add copy…..Im a sucker for a fancy presentation as well as oud so ordered a sample from Roullier White which arrived promptly in the mail. The liquid looked gorgeous with its dark almost cognac like hue and I applied it and…..enter The Rose. OK….roses are usually found alongside oud so now big surprise there but after 5 hours there is still just…..rose……

Granted,I dont have a mass spectrografer for a nose but I just cant smell the oud at all.

Quite a disappointment ……..

Well, I did detect other things in the fragrance, but, unfortunately, it was primarily the patchouli, and that incredibly unpleasant, dusty, synthetic element which gave me the most pounding migraine for a while.

Some people are big fans of Thirty-three. I’ll skip detailing the thoughts of Mark Behnke on CaFleureBon who loved Thirty-three, because he praises everything — always, lavishly, and uncritically. Instead, I’ll focus on some other perspectives. Octavian of 1000 Fragrances apparently wrote, sometime this summer, a positive review which I can no longer pull up to link for you. (His site is now closed down, and he has moved onto other things.) However, a small part is quoted on the Ex Idolo website, and reads:

One of the most spectacular compositions of the year comes from an unexpected place… Thirty Three is not “une odeur”, but “un esprit” a quality which refers to the ability of a perfume to “bloom” when you wear it like a living masterpiece.

Tara of Olfactoria’s Travels also enjoyed it, writing:

Thirty-three is extremely well blended. Apart from a burst of mandarin at the start and a beautifully deep red rose accord that persists throughout, the rest of the notes seep seamlessly into the pillowy bed of oud. It is sophisticated and seductive in the mould of the wonderful Rose Oud from By Kilian.

For some reason, I had suspected Thirty-three would be rather masculine, but that’s not the case. It isn’t a macho, hairy-chested, animalic oud at all. It’s highly refined and undeniably soft. It has that skin-melding quality which gives it a sensuous, understated elegance.

She’s right that Thirty-three isn’t masculine, and I actually agree on the issue of a similarity to a Kilian fragrance. In my case, however, I wasn’t thinking only of Rose Oud, but of Amber Oud which is remarkable for not smelling even remotely of oud on my skin. (Nor on that of many others.) Yes, Thirty-three is definitely a feminine fragrance with so little discernible, hardcore oud in it that it feels quite like a Kilian. High quality, pillowy, feminine roses all the way.

The feminine aspect was noted by a reviewer on a different Basenotes thread. As one of two people who had tried the perfume, “gandhajala” wrote:

Gave this a sniff briefly on a mouillette: the oud and whatnot came across as quite woody with slight spice/leather/ tobacco facets; the rose is nice, but personally, I’ve had my fill of oud+rose.
This is certainly not a dirty oud by oud standards and many people on the evening seemed to find the fragrance quite femme.

I didn’t enjoy Thirty-three, but it’s all a matter of personal taste and one’s subjective valuation of certain notes. I think there is a definite segment of the perfume market who may love the perfume. Those who enjoy the heavy patchouli-rose aspect of Malle’s POAL, the pillowy softness of a Kilian scent, the refined cleanness of his ouds, ultra-feminine rose soliflores, or fragrances with almost no major, masculine oud at all, may want to give Thirty Three a sniff. It’s clearly high-quality, and intended to be a super refined take on the note. I think Mr. Zhuk has definite talent, and I look forward to seeing what he does next.

Disclosure: Sample provided by Ex Idolo. That did not affect this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own. My first obligation is honesty to my readers.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Thirty Three is an eau de parfum that is available only in a 30 ml size and which costs $120, CAD $125, or £90. In the U.S.: You can find Thirty Three at Luckyscent and the Twisted Lily. At the time of this review, Luckyscent is back-ordered. Outside the U.S.: In Canada, you can find Thirty Three at Etiket. In the UK, the perfume is available at Roullier White, which also sells samples and which ships throughout the EU. It is also sold at Fenwick, though I couldn’t find Thirty Three online. For other sites in the US, Canada, Hungary, and London, you can check out Ex Idolo’s Purchase page. Further vendors should carry the perfume in 2014. Samples: you can order samples of Thirty Three from a number of the sites listed above. You can also try Surrender to Chance which sells 33 starting at $5.99 for a 1/2 ml vial.

LM Parfums Hard Leather: Lust In The Woods

Source: Tumblr. Original artist or site unknown.

Source: Tumblr. Original artist or site unknown.

Sex. Seduction. The scent of a man in leather and smoke. The softness of a woman in sandalwood and vanilla. Musky figures entwined on a rumpled bed, in a room filled with the black swirls of incense. The smell of his neck, his chin rough with dry stubble, and the lingering traces of rum on his mouth. Her body golden, smooth, covered with honey, and damp with sweat. Hardness, softness, and always, pure animal sensuality.

The images that come to my mind when Hard Leather first opens on my skin are wholly inappropriate for further description. But it happens each time I smell the new fragrance from by LM Parfums. In the past, seduction has come to mind with a few fragrances that I’ve tried this year, notably Hard Leather’s older sister, Sensual Orchid, and Amouage‘s Fate Woman, but nothing quite like this. Nothing quite so animalic, so overt. This is not about coy, flirtatious seduction, but steamy intimacy.

Source: timeslive.co.za

Source: timeslive.co.za

For me, the opening hour of Hard Leather is primal, purely sexual, and it impacted me immediately from the very first time I smelled it. It made me quite lose my cool, despite being with the actual perfumer in the most haughtily snobbish, constipated place in all of Paris. And every time I’ve worn it since, it makes me feel quite heated. In short, Hard Leather has one of the best openings of any perfume I’ve smelled this year. In many a year, actually. The rest of the fragrance is not quite as glorious, primarily due to a middle phase that I struggle with a little, but the perfume is still incredibly well done as a whole and I think a lot of men are going to love it. 

LM Parfums Hard Leather 3Hard Leather is set to release some time this week or the next in France, so I thought it was time for a full, proper review, beyond just my cursory, initial ravings. [Update: The perfume was officially released a few hours after the posting of this review, and is now available for sale.] Hard Leather is pure parfum with 20% fragrance oils, and part of LM Parfum’s new line called The Intimacy Collection. The press release description sent to me states that Hard Leather’s olfactory pyramid includes:

Top Notes: Rum, Leather.

Heart Notes: Iris, Honey.

Base Notes: Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Oud, Frankincense, Styrax and Vanilla.

Smoke #6 by Stefan Bonazzi. (Website link embedded within photo,.)

Smoke #6 by Stefan Bonazzi. (Website link embedded within photo,.)

When you smell Hard Leather from the sprayer on the bottle, you are hit with a wave of black incense that is almost fiery and piercing. It is followed by smoky, sweet oud that smells as though it were taken straight from an extremely old agarwood tree in Laos. On its heels is a powerful, intense sandalwood that is most definitely the real, spicy, glorious, and very rare kind from Mysore. There is a dustiness, a dryness to the wood-incense combination, but also a patina of sweetness. To my nose, the aroma evokes both the incense-sandalwood profile of my beloved vintage Opium, as well as the much drier, dustier, more fiery incense-sandalwood-oud combination of Neela Vermeire‘s Trayee. But you can’t judge a perfume by its bottle aroma, any more than you can a book by its cover.

Source: Tumblr. Original source or photographer unknown.

Source: Tumblr. Original source or photographer unknown.

Hard Leather opens on my skin with an initial whiff of honey and genuine Mysore sandalwood, then a powerful, potent burst of animalic, raw, musky leather. It’s as though a light coat of honey was thinly layered over raw animal hides left in the sun, which are then drenched with musk. The leather is initially like that in Montale‘s Aoud Cuir d’Arabie, before it turns into something midway between Aoud Cuir d’Arabie and Serge Lutens‘ glorious Cuir Mauresque. By the same token, the musk is similar to that in Serge LutensMuscs Koublai Khan (hereinafter “MKK“), only rounder and generally softer. It has the most fleeting urinous edge, but far less than the Lutens had on my skin. I’m generally not one for very raw, extremely animalic leather, but, my God, it’s sexy here. It’s leather with the scent of skin, heated and musky after sex, lightly drizzled with honey, and wrapped up with tendrils of black incense.

On skin, the oud initially lurks behind the leather, but it rears its head after a few minutes. It smells exactly like the aged Laotian kind used in such expensive lines as Xerjoff, and Laurent Mazzone confirmed to me that it is indeed aged Asian agarwood. The wonderful difference, here, is that the oud never smells fecal, or (even worse) like rotting gorgonzola, the way that Laotian agarwood can sometimes be in perfumery. Instead, it’s smooth, with a bit of that “noble rot” funk that is true to real oud. It’s also sweet, thanks to the honey, and slightly smoking from the incense. The oud is blended perfectly with the other woods in Hard Leather, from the slightly musky, dry cedar, to the gloriously rich, smooth, spicy sandalwood. The latter most definitely smells like the real stuff, and judging by the Robertet name on my tiny decant and the fact that they deal with the most expensive raw materials, I suspect Mr. Mazzone spent a fortune ensuring he got actual, red Mysore instead of some generic beige wood or green Australian “sandalwood.”

Source: 123people.es

Source: 123people.es

The final result is an opening that I find to be utterly addictive, a smoldering cocktail of raw, steamy sex appeal. It’s as though Serge Lutens’ Cuir Mauresque mixed with MKK, Neela Vermeire’s Trayee, Montale’s Aoud Cuir d’Arabie, and a dash of vintage Opium’s drydown, only the final result is ramped up by a hundred. It’s Lawrence of Arabia’s swarthy, musky sheikhs, with Turkish harem concubines clothed only in tendrils of incense, having sex in the ancient agar forests of Laos under freshly tanned, cured leather coated in honey and sandalwood.

Yet, for all that the notes may sound aggressive or too much, Hard Leather’s opening is utterly seamless and perfectly blended. The notes fluidly move one into the other, each transforming the next, with no hard edges, roughness, or spiky, prickly bits. In this phase, the incense may be the sharpest thing about the fragrance, waging a war of blackness on the sexual musk and leather, as if to drag the lovers to a Chinese temple. One thing I’ve noticed is that Hard Leather is a fragrance where less is sometimes more at the start, because two big sprays can be quite intense.

Thirty minutes in, Hard Leather starts to shift. The leather loses some of its rawness, turning richer, and more burnished. The musk softens too, feeling a little less dirty or skanky, while the honey blends in the base to add the faintest touch of sweetness. The sandalwood becomes even deeper, and even takes on a floral touch that is quite lovely. Actually, all the wood accords grow stronger, as does the smoke. Slowly, Hard Leather begins the transition to its next phase where the wood elements dominate the scent to such an extent, I sometimes wonder if the perfume might be more aptly named Hard Woods.

An hour into its development, Hard Leather begins its second stage, turning intensely dry. The desiccated feel from the woods and smoke essentially neutralizes the honey, but I think something else is at play. I smell Norlimbanol with its arid and, yes, its synthetic feel. For those who are unfamiliar with the name, Norlimbanol is a super aromachemical from Givaudan that puts ISO E Super to shame with its power. It has an ultra powerful, sharp aroma of woodiness with an undertone of leather, but it is always bone-dry to the point of dustiness.

Recently, I spent 10 minutes sniffing just the outside of my little decant of Hard Leather, and there was a definite synthetic whiff of dry woodiness right from the sprayer. On skin, it only shows up after an hour or 75 minutes, but it does show up. A few times when I’ve sniffed Hard Leather on my arm and up close, I get an immediate tightness in my nose and the faintest tickle at the back of my throat. The Norlimbanol is merely a speck at first, but it becomes increasingly powerful in Hard Leather’s 2nd through 5th hours, and I have to admit, I’m not a fan of it. Even without it, I think the new focus on dry woods destroys the perfection of the first hour with its raw animalism and unapologetic, lusty sensuality. Bring back the sex and leather, I say!

Smoke #11   Stefano Bonazzi Selected Digital Works. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Smoke #11 Stefano Bonazzi Selected Digital Works. (Website link embedded within photo.)

About 90-minutes into its development, Hard Leather is a different fragrance. The oud and Norlimbanol have taken over, turning the scent into one of extreme woods and incense with a very arid feel. The lusty, raunchy leather is blended into it, but it is a much more muted layer that lies underneath, and it is no longer Hard Leather’s main focus. At the same time, Hard Leather’s initially powerful sillage drops. With 2 big sprays (or the equivalent of 3 enormous smears), Hard Leather initially wafts about 5-6 inches around you, before dropping down after 90 minutes to a softer, airier cloud that is only about 3 inches. It’s very intense when smelled up close, and remains that way for hours.

The other notes make a valiant effort to counter-balance the the power of the oud, incense, and Norlimbanol. Unfortunately, my skin takes synthetics like the latter and runs with it, so they’re not particularly successful. Still, I really like how the Mysore sandalwood blooms, turning more floral and much creamier. I can also detect the sweeter notes stirring in the base. Styrax is a smoky, spicy, slightly leathered sort of amber resin, and it adds little flecks of golden warmth like fireflies in an extremely dark, smoky forest. The tiniest tendrils of vanilla curl up as well, stroking the woods, trying to tame them with sweetness in order to end the dry spell.

Source: hqdesktop.net

Source: hqdesktop.net

The core essence of Hard Leather’s second stage remains largely unchanged for the next few hours. Different notes wax and wane in prominence or strength, but the intense smoke, dry woods, and oud dominate. The power of the trio and the length of their stay really seems to depend on how much Hard Leather you apply. The more you spray, the longer their duration and force, and the less sweetness the fragrance manifests. Regardless, midway during the third hour, the vanilla starts to play a much bigger role. It’s now quite cuddly, cozy, rich, and sweet. The sandalwood turns even creamier; it’s a very smooth, incredibly luxurious aroma that begins to muscle its way onto center stage. Hard Leather is an elegant blend of dryness, sweetness, spiciness, creaminess, smokiness, leather, and woods, with just a hint of something raunchy, untamed, and animalic at its edges.

Source: 123rf.com

Source: 123rf.com

At the end of the fifth hour, the dryness finally recedes, and Hard Leather transitions to its third stage. The primary focal point is now spicy sandalwood and sweet vanilla, followed by oud, incense and increasingly muted hints of musky leather. It is all much more discreet, lying right on the skin, though it doesn’t take any effort to detect Hard Leather up close. Other notes pop up and down like a Jack in the Box. The honey reappears from time to time in the background, adding to Hard Leather’s growing glimpses of sweetness. The base feels much warmer now as well, though the styrax resin never seems like actual amber but something much more abstract in nature.

The oddest thing is the iris. Sometimes, Hard Leather has a definite floral element, but it really seems to stem primarily from the sandalwood. On occasion, however, the iris appears on my skin, primarily as a cool, soft suede with the faintest tinge of soft powder. It’s incredibly muted and weak on me, and I suspect cooler or paler skins may bring out the iris more than my warm, basenote-amplifying chemistry.

Source: top.besthdwallpapers.info

Source: top.besthdwallpapers.info

Hard Leather’s final stage begins around the 8th hour. The perfume is a blur of spicy sandalwood with tiny flickers of smoky oud, musk, and sweetness. It feels quite abstract on some levels, though the sandalwood is unmistakable. In its final moments, Hard Leather is merely a gauzy whisper of sweet, slightly spicy woodiness. The scent has astounding longevity on my perfume-consuming skin. Two big sprays (the equivalent of 3 enormous smears) lasted 14.25 hours, though it was quite patchy in spots and I actually thought it may have died after 12 hours. With only one spray, Hard Leather lasts just under 12.5 hours. The sillage is initially quite fierce, but, like all LM Parfums, softens and drops around the 90-minute mark. Using the smaller quantity, Hard Leather became a true skin on me at end of the 4th hour; with a larger application, at the end of the 6th.

I love Hard Leather, though it’s not perfect. I will never get tired of its opening, and how jaw-droppingly seductive it is. It is pure sex on a stick (or, in this case, sex in a bottle). I wish with all my heart that it would last forever, especially as I’m less enthused by the 2nd phase with all its Norlimbanol. Still, the aromachemical is miles away from the demonic toxicity of YSL‘s utterly heinous Noble Leather, and it certainly didn’t impact me in the same way. It’s also much softer and tamer in small quantities, so I’d gladly wear Hard Leather even with the bloody Norlimbanol. That should tell you how much I love that raunchy, sexual, primal start. It’s positively indecent — in the very best way possible! Hard Leather ends on a happy note, too, with creamy, rich, gloriously real Mysore sandalwood, warm vanilla, and, less excitingly, oud.

For all that I would like to drown myself in Hard Leather’s opening, for all its impact on me, I most definitely do NOT recommend the perfume to everyone. Those who disliked any of the fragrances that I’ve mentioned here — from Aoud Cuir d’Arabie and Cuir Mauresque, to Muscs Koublai Khan or Trayee — should stay away. Those who have issues with oud of any kind, especially aged agarwood, or who find animalic scents to be dirty, should avoid Hard Leather as well. People who like their leather to be more like suede or expensive handbags will find this scent to be far too raw for their tastes. And, as a whole, I don’t think Hard Leather is a fragrance that the vast majority of women would like on their own skin, though I think a lot would find it incredibly sexy on a man.

Hard Leather is a fragrance that skews sharply and unapologetically masculine, rendering things like Puredistance‘s glorious M extremely unisex in comparison. (I personally think that M really is unisex, but I know a number of women who feel they can’t wear it. That sentiment would be amplified by a thousand for Hard Leather.) I think the dryness of Hard Leather’s second phase may also be difficult for people of either gender who prefer a little more sweetness with their woods or animalic touches.

Amouage Opus VIISpeaking of that dryness, Hard Leather at the end of the second hour made me think of Amouage‘s Opus VII. The two fragrances are very different, particularly because of the herbal oddness of the fenugreek in Opus VII and the nature of the two musks. On my skin, the animalic elements in Opus VII turned into something strongly reminiscent of a wild cat enclosure at the zoo with peeing lions, instead of the scent of skin during sex. Opus VII is visually greener, with strong spices, and heavily peppered with ISO E Super. Yet both fragrances have an extreme darkness to them, and share oud, incense, sandalwood, leather tonalities, and amplifying synthetics with a bone-dry feel. I think Hard Leather is much less desiccated than Opus VII, and has sweeter, warmer elements, but, in terms of an aesthetic style, the two fragrances share some distant kinship, though I must stress again that they don’t smell anything alike.

Photo: Oleksiy Maksymenko. Source: FineArtAmerica. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Photo: Oleksiy Maksymenko. Source: FineArtAmerica. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Still, if Opus VII was your cup of tea and you didn’t find it too dry, oud-y or smoky, then you should definitely try Hard Leather. If neither Opus VII nor any of the other fragrances mentioned here were your style, Hard Leather won’t be either. In my case, I loathed Opus VII (thanks to the peeing lion and the ISO E Super), but I do love Hard Leather because of its greater kinship with fragrances like Cuir Mauresque, MKK, and Trayee. The raunchy sexuality of that opening phase is so beautifully balanced, melded so seamlessly with the other notes, that it is very tasteful in my eyes — which makes it even more seductive and hot. Perhaps the best way to describe it is to compare it to the height of foreplay, instead of anything more… climactic, shall we say. Hard Leather’s subsequent journey into the depths of a dark, smoky forest undergoing a drought is hardly as appealing, but the creamy, sweetened warmth of the final stage takes us back to bed, with a couple now sleeping off the after-effects of both stages in a haze of sandalwood, oud, and sweet muskiness. 

Unfortunately, none of this comes cheaply. From what I’ve gathered, and from my early taste of the 2014 LM Parfums fragrances that I tried in Paris, Laurent Mazzone’s new Intimacy Collection seeks to focus on more complex, sophisticated scents based on the most expensive of ingredients. Hard Leather is the first in that collection, and it is priced accordingly at €295. (The current extraits perfumes are €195, a €100 less.) I don’t know what the American price will be when it eventually hits these shores and comes to Osswald in New York, but €295 is $400 at today’s rate of exchange. On the other hand, Hard Leather is also pure parfum in concentration, and there is a 100 ml of it. It smells expensive; it includes incredibly costly ingredients like aged Laotian oud, iris, and, more importantly, rare, almost extinct Mysore sandalwood; and a single spray has great potency and longevity.

I’m the first one to decry perfumes that are over-priced for what they are, but I think you’re definitely getting your money’s worth with Hard Leather. It is worth every penny. In fact, if the perfume consisted solely of that smoking hot, steamy opening, but cost twice as much, I’d contemplate selling a kidney to buy it. My God, that opening… that opening…. I don’t know if I should take a freezing cold shower, or just spray on some more. 

Disclosure: sample provided by LM Parfums. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, my opinions are my own, and my first obligation is honesty to my readers. 

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Hard Leather is pure parfum extrait that is available only in a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle which costs €295. It was released just today, 12/04/13, online, at LM Parfums. Samples of all LM Parfums extraits are usually available and priced at €19 for 5 ml size, and I see Hard Leather is also listed as of 12/14. Laurent Mazzone’s Premiere Avenue now has a decant of Hard Leather for that price as well. In the U.S.: Laurent Mazzone’s fragrances are sold exclusively at Osswald NYC, but they informed me on Twitter that they won’t receive Hard Leather until January 2014. I will try to update this post when they do. Outside the U.S.: You can find Hard Leather, along with all LM Parfums, and 5 ml samples of each at Laurent Mazzone’s own Premiere Avenue which ships throughout Europe. Hard Leather is not yet offered in decant form, but you can check back later as the perfume was just released today.  In the UK, the LM Parfums line is exclusive to Harvey Nichols. In Paris, LM Parfums are sold at Jovoy. In the Netherlands, you can find LM Parfums at ParfuMaria or Silks Cosmetics. In Germany, First in Fragrance carries the full line, and sells samples as well. You can also find LM Parfums at Essenza Nobile, Italy’s Vittoria Profumi, or Alla Violetta. In the Middle East, I found most of the LM Parfums line at the UAE’s Souq perfume site. For all other countries, you can find a vendor near you from Switzerland to Belgium, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Croatia, Azerbaijan, and more, by using the LM Parfums Partner listing. Laurent Mazzone or LM Parfums fragrances are widely available throughout Europe, and many of those sites sell samples as well.

Tom Ford Oud Fleur & Tobacco Oud (Private Blend Collection)

Tom Ford recently came out with Oud Fleur and Tobacco Oud, two new agarwood fragrances to join his original Oud Wood perfume. The latter has only been re-packaged into a new bottle to match its baby siblings and has not changed. As a result, this review will focus simply on Oud Fleur and Tobacco Oud.

OUD FLEUR:

Oud Fleur via chicprofile.com

Oud Fleur via chicprofile.com

According to CaFleureBon, Oud Fleur was created by Yann Vasnier of Givaudan who has made a number of fragrances for Tom Ford. The perfume’s notes on Fragrantica are extremely limited:

rose, patchouli, agarwood (oud), sandalwood and resins.

I tried Oud Fleur twice, and I realised mere minutes into my first test that half of the things I was scribbling on my notepad weren’t on that list. From cardamom to ginger, apricot-y osmanthus, and more, the notes I detected didn’t match up with Fragrantica’s bare bones description. So I did some digging, and I found a much more substantial list at The Moodie Report which is presumably quoting a Tom Ford Press release. It describes Oud Fleur as follows:

Private Blend Oud Fleur is composed around an oud wood core, amplified with additional woody notes: patchouli, sandalwood, incense, styrax, cistus, a leather accord, ambergris and castoreum.

The Middle East’s Damascus Rose heritage is evoked with a blend of Rose Bulgaria ORPUR, Rose Absolute Morocco and Rose Absolute Turkey ORPUR, said to combine fresh petal, nectar and stem-like scent signatures.

This floral heart is enhanced with ginger CO2, cardamom seed oil ORPUR, cinnamon bark Laos ORPUR and pimento berry. The composition is completed with a touch of Geranium Egypt ORPUR, tagette, osmanthus, davana oil and a date accord.

So, the succinct list of notes would be:

pimento, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, three different types of rose absolutes, geranium, tagette, osmanthus, davana oil, a date accord, patchouli, sandalwood, incense, styrax, cistus [labdanum amber], a leather accord, ambergris and castoreum.

Osmanthus. Source: en.wikipedia.org

Osmanthus. Source: en.wikipedia.org

A few words about the ingredients on that list and in the Moodie press release, as they may not be familiar to everyone. “ORPUR” seems to be the name given by Givaudan, the fragrance aroma and ingredients giant, to its ultra, high-end “pure naturals.” Osmanthus is an Asian flower whose aroma can be like that of apricots, tea, and/or limpid, dewy, light florals.

Davana. Source: hermitageoils.com/davana-essential-oil

Davana. Source: hermitageoils.com/davana-essential-oil

Davana is an Indian flower whose aroma is very creamy, rich, and heady with a subtext of apricots and fruit as well. Tagette or tagete is the name of plant in the marigold family that has an odor which is “sweet, fruity and almost citrus-like.” Some sources say that, depending on type, tagette oil can be a little musky, pungent and sharp with herbaceous notes that soon turn into something very fruited, almost like green apples. As for castoreum, I’ll spare you what it is, but its aroma is animalic, very leathery and a bit sharp. On occasion, it will have a slightly civet-like urinous edge that often turns into something deeper, more rounded, sensuous, and musky. Tiny amounts are often added to non-leather fragrances to provide a plush, velvety, rich brownness in the base, and a bit of subtle “skank.” Finally, on a more familiar note, pimento is simply another name for a type of spicy red chili pepper. 

Source: impfl.com

Source: impfl.com

As always with Tom Ford fragrances, the amount you apply impacts the notes that you detect, their prominence, and their forcefulness. In addition, the potency of many Private Blend fragrances means tha it’s better starting off with a lesser amount. As a result, the first time I tried Oud Fleur, I only applied about 2 really giant smears, or about 1.5 sprays. It made the expected difference to the notes in the opening hour. Oud Fleur started with a much more creamy, mellow, soft aroma that was primarily a dewy, pale rose infused with fruited elements and strewn lightly with spices over a very creamy, sweetened wood base. Everything was creamy and soft. There was even a subtle whiff of a very creamy saffron note like an Indian rice pudding dessert lightly sprinkled with cardamom. The rose flits in and out of the top notes, while the patchouli works from the base to add a subtle touch of fruited sweetness. There was just the merest, faintest suggestion of something leathered, dark, and chewy underneath, but Oud Fleur’s main composition was of very creamy woods. 

Source: popularscreensavers.com

Source: popularscreensavers.com

It was one of my favorite parts of the perfume. With a minimal quantity, Oud Fleur’s opening stage somehow consisted of a sandalwood-like fragrance more than an oud one. It never feels like actual Mysore sandalwood, but the impression of something similar has been created through subtle augmentation via the spices and resins. It boosts what feels like a rather generic “sandalwood” base into something very much like the real thing with its spiced, slightly smoked, sweet, golden-red aroma. It’s all largely thanks to that cardamom note with the subtle saffron-like element (which probably stems from the pimento). The final result for Oud Fleur’s first hour is a fragrance that is a lovely, delicate blend of creamy woodiness with sweet, dusty spices and a subtle sprinkling of light rose petals. It’s all incredibly sheer and seems to positively evaporate from my skin within minutes.

Ginger. iStock photo via Wetpaint.com

Ginger. iStock photo via Wetpaint.com

The second time I tested Oud Fleur, however, I applied about 4 massive smears which would be the equivalent of 3 small sprays, and the perfume’s opening hour was substantially different and much more spicy. Oud Fleur began with a blast of ginger, vanilla, rose, patchouli, amorphous, vague woodiness, and a hint of slightly skanky, animalic leather. The leathery element disappeared within seconds, but the somewhat urinous, feline or civet-like edge of the castoreum hovered about for another minute before it, too, vanished. Sweet florals quickly took their place, from the ginger-infused osmanthus to the creamy davana with its fruited apricot overtones. There was a hint of light spice from the sandalwood, then heaps more from a heavy, rich dose of nutty, dry cardamom.

Source: splendidtable.org

Source: splendidtable.org

With a much bigger application, the ginger came to the foreground, but Oud Fleur’s opening hours were also heavily dominated by the pimento which was completely nonexistent during my first test. It added a fiery kick to the fragrance, feeling precisely like the sort of peppered heat of a red chili pepper. The larger application also brought significantly greater definition to the floral notes. Before, Oud Fleur was primarily a creamy wood fragrance that was initially dominated by a dewy, pale rose with some fruitedness, cardamom, and some other vaguely osmanthus-like elements. The second time, however, Oud Fleur opened mainly as fruity-floral fragrance with heavy amounts of chili and ginger, and a lot of the davana flower’s apricot-floral overtones. There was no real incense, and the woody notes were largely overwhelmed.

Damascena roseAn hour into Oud Fleur’s development, the perfume’s main bouquet is of: sharp, biting pimento; dusty, sharp ginger; creamy davana apricots; floral, apricot-y osmanthus; and a heavy burst of rose. There are slight touches of incense and oud, but little sandalwood or leather. The rose alternates between being jammy and fruited (as a result of the patchouli and other accords), and being dewy, pale, soft and fresh. It also waxes and wanes in prominence, like a small wave hitting Oud Wood’s creamy shores before retreating. On occasion, it’s also supplemented by some greenness from the geranium.

Source: taste.com.au

Source: taste.com.au

By the middle of the second hour, Oud Fleur smells like a creamy, almost custardy, almost mousse-y, airy flan infused with slightly burning spikes of chili pepper, then covered with a blanket of lightly sweetened, fruited flowers. The notes have blurred into each other, the fragrance feels increasingly soft, and hovers just an inch above the skin.

If you’ll notice, I haven’t mentioned oud or agarwood in either of my descriptions of Oud Fleur’s opening stage. There’s a reason for that. In both tests, the oud lurked completely at the fragrance’s edges, popping up like a ghost once in a while to give a little animalic “Boo” in the softest of whispers. On occasion, it took on a more musky, leathered feel (thanks to the castoreum and leather accords); at other times, it was more sweet, seeming like Indian oud instead of the Laotian kind on the list. Actually, to be honest, this doesn’t seem like real agarwood at all. It feels more synthetic than real, and it’s certainly not profoundly woody, deep, or dominant. In all cases, however, the note is really like Casper the Friendly Ghost throughout the majority of Oud Fleur’s lifespan. This is an “oud” perfume for people who actually dislike or struggle with oud. 

"Cosmic Swirls Beige" by Jeannie Atwater Jordan Allen at fineartamerica.com

“Cosmic Swirls Beige” by Jeannie Atwater &Jordan Allen at fineartamerica.com http://fineartamerica.com/featured/cosmic-swirls-beige-jeannie-atwater-jordan-allen.html

The differences in the two openings really lasts about two to three hours at most, and then the two roads of Oud Fleur merge into one. Basically, the second, more robust, spiced version of Oud Fleur takes on the soft, gauzy, creamy woodiness of the first version. It merely takes three hours, instead of just under two hours, for Oud Fleur to turn into a creamy flan-like bouquet infused with slightly fruited florals, abstract beige woodiness, the smallest flecks of oud, a tinge of incense, and some amber. Eventually, the floral elements fade away, leaving a generic, indistinct creamy woodiness with a hint of amber and some tonka vanilla. In its final moments, Oud Fleur is a nebulous smear of woods with a tinge of powdered sweetness.

Oud Fleur has decent longevity and low sillage on my skin. With 2 big smears, the perfume opened very softly, became a skin scent after about 90 minutes, and lasted a total of 7.75 hours. With 4 very big smears, Oud Fleur opened with moderate sillage that projected about 3 inches, then dropped after 2 hours to hover just an inch above the skin. It became a skin scent at the start of the 4th hour, and remained as a sheer, gauzy wisp for several more hours. All in all, it lasted just a little over 9.25 hours.

Oud wood with its "noble rot." Source: The Perfume Shrine via Dr. Robert Blanchette, University of Minnesota - forestpathology.coafes.umn.edu

Oud wood with its “noble rot.” Source: The Perfume Shrine via Dr. Robert Blanchette, University of Minnesota – forestpathology.coafes.umn.edu

I think Oud Fleur is a pretty, pleasant fragrance that has some wonderful creamy bits and can be quite lovely at times. It is more complicated than a simple, small application would lead you to believe, and veers from being sweet, sexy and feminine, to being quite cozy in an elegant manner. However, at heart, it’s really a misnamed fragrance that is more a light fruity-floral with spices and some generic woods than an actual oud fragrance. If I’m to be honest, I think Oud Fleur is very pretty, but somewhat over-priced for a fragrance that isn’t very distinctive. I also think those expecting a true agarwood perfume, or something with the heavy, woody richness of Oud Wood will be sorely disappointed. The same applies to anyone seeking a very masculine or true oud. This is not Xerjoff or Amouage territory!

On the other hand, those who liked By Kilian‘s Playing with the Devil (In The Garden of Good and Evil) would probably like Oud Fleur quite a bit. For me, Tom Ford accomplished what Kilian Hennessey failed to do, creating a fruity-floral with a bit of a fiery, spicy bite (the Devil) that turns into soft, creamy, floral woodiness (Goodness in the Garden). By the same token, women who enjoy soft fruity-florals and don’t like oud may greatly enjoy Oud Fleur. Men who are looking for a more woody twist on creamy florals with some cozy sweetness in the base may feel the same way.      

TOBACCO OUD:

Tobacco Oud via beautyscene.net

Tobacco Oud via beautyscene.net

Tobacco Oud is a fragrance that mimicked a wide range of many existing Tom Ford fragrances on my skin. I kid you not, Tobacco Oud had parts that were extremely similar to four different Tom Ford Private Blends. In order: Amber Absolute, Tobacco Vanille, Café RoseSahara Noir, then back to Amber Absolute in the drydown. Make of that what you will when you contemplate Tobacco Oud’s originality….

According to CaFleureBon, Tobacco Oud was created by Olivier Gillotin of Givaudan who made Tobacco Vanille for Tom Ford. The Moodie Report describes the fragrance and its notes as follows:

As its name suggests, Private Blend Tobacco Oud features a tobacco accord inspired by “dokha,” a blend of herbs, flowers and spice-laden tobacco that was smoked in secret five centuries ago during a ban on smoking — and retains its allure as a widely used tobacco today.

Other key ingredients include roasted Tonka organic absolute, coumarin, sandalwood, amber, cistus oil, cistus absolute, cedarwood Atlas ORPUR, patchouli and castoreum. 

So, a succinct summary of notes would be:

A ‘Dokha’ Tobacco accord, herbs, coumarin, flowers, Tonka bean absolute, sandalwood, cistus [labdanum amber] oil, cistus [labdanum amber] absolute, oud, amber, cedarwood, patchouli, and castoreum.

Labdanum compiled into a chunk. Source: Fragrantica

Labdanum compiled into a chunk. Source: Fragrantica

Tobacco Oud opens on my skin with a burst of amber and labdanum, then hints of tobacco and oud. For those of you who may mistake the two, labdanum and amber have very different smells. As one perfume nose told me in her studio, labdanum is “real amber,” while “amber” is often the compilation of various other notes to create that overall impression. Labdanum has a very particular, completely unique aroma that is dark, slightly dirty, very nutty and toffee’d with subtle, underlying nuances of honey, beeswax, musk, and/or something a bit leathery. It is almost always a deeper, richer, denser, stronger, darker aroma that is less soft, creamy, and cuddly than regular, lighter “amber.”

All of this is key, because labdanum is really at the heart of Tobacco Oud, as well as its forbearer, the now discontinued, labdanum monster, Amber Absolute, and Amber Absolute’s extremely similar replacement, Sahara Noir. On my skin, Tobacco Oud opens exactly like Amber Absolute, with hints of Tobacco Vanille. That last part can’t be very surprising given that the same perfumer also made this new tobacco fragrance.

Source: visualparadox.com

Source: visualparadox.com

After the opening burst of labdanum, other elements emerge. Joining the tobacco in second place is patchouli, adding a subtle jamminess and additional layer of sweetness to the scent. Bringing up the rear are hints of: vanilla; a smoky, very dry, very brittle cedar; a whisper of oud; and a subtle flicker of something vaguely herbal that is too faint to really place. Tobacco Oud’s main, overall bouquet is of a nutty, dirty, dark, rich, labdanum toffee infused with a fruited pipe tobacco, a jammy sweetness, strong cedar, and a hint of vanilla. The perfume is initially rich and strong in its potency, but it’s far from being dense, opaque, or thick in feel. Actually, it feels much airier than the heavy Amber Absolute, even from the start.

Source: gawallen.piczo.com

Source: gawallen.piczo.com

Ten minutes in, other nuances appear under the top notes. There is a whiff of something floral, something almost rose-like, but it’s very minor at first. Much more noticeable is the subtle aroma of burnt beeswax, along with the merest suggestion of a darkened leather coated with honey. Both are side-effects of the labdanum. My skin tends to amplify the note, but it also makes patchouli act like a bullhorn a lot of the times, and Tobacco Oud is no exception. It takes the patchouli and runs with it, bringing out a definite syrupy, fruited, almost fruit-chouli like sweetness. Less than 30 minutes into Tobacco Oud’s development, the patchouli merges into the floral note to create a jammy rose sweetness that completely overwhelms the tobacco. I’ll be honest, I was a bit baffled, but, clearly, it’s the patchouli at play and, as usual, my skin wreaks havoc with it.

As the notes begin to blur into each other and overlap, Tobacco Oud turns into a labdanum, patchouli, and sweetened rose fragrance on my skin with only the vaguest suggestion of tobacco, oud, incense smoke, or cedar. Around the 75-minute mark, Tobacco Oud’s projection drops, the notes become even softer, and the fragrance loses most of its tobacco layer. The jamminess of the rose mixed with the dark labdanum amber creates something that, on my skin, distinctly resembles portions of Tom Ford’s Café Rose.

Tom Ford advert for Sahara Noir. Source: Fragrantica.

Tom Ford advert for Sahara Noir. Source: Fragrantica.

As regular readers will know, I’m not a fan of jammy, fruit-chouli, so it’s a huge relief when it fades by the end of the second hour and Tobacco Oud changes again. Now, it’s a gauzy, sheer, relatively dry-ish amber infused with frankincense and the merest flicker of oud. In short, the third hour opens in Sahara Noir territory, only Tobacco Oud is substantially thinner and weaker in feel. As the review linked above makes clear, I found Sahara Noir itself to be a copy of Amber Absolute, only much better balanced and less bullying, but somewhat lighter, less unctuous, without quite so much frankincense intensity, and with the new (but subtle) addition of oud.

Source: openwalls.com

Source: openwalls.com

So, really, Tobacco Oud has really returned cycled back to the beginning. The main difference is in density, thickness, projection and dryness. Tobacco Oud seems much drier than Amber Absolute, much less opaque, resinous, indulgently dense and gooey in its labdanum. It’s weaker in both weight and sillage, hovering just an inch above the skin at the middle of the third hour. To me, Tobacco Oud is actually much less smoky or incense-heavy than either Sahara Noir or Amber Absolute. Yet, it also feels dryer, probably because the labdanum isn’t such a heavy, rich layer.

Source: rexfabrics.com

Source: rexfabrics.com

Tobacco Oud continues to devolve, reflecting neither of its namesake elements in any noticeable way. Near the end of the 4th hour, it loses the remainder of its incense, turning into a scent that is primarily gauzy, wispy labdanum with a hint of nebulous woody dryness that can just vaguely, barely, be made out as “oud.” Even that goes by the end of the 6th hour. From that pointon, until Tobacco Oud’s final moments, the perfume is a mere smear of soft amber. All in all, it lasted 9.5 hours on my skin with generally low sillage after the third hour.

People’s reactions to Tobacco Oud seem highly mixed, and generally much less enthusiastic than the response to Oud Fleur. On Fragrantica, almost all the talk about Tobacco Oud centers on just how much of those two namesake notes are in the scent, and the degree of similarity it shares to Amber Absolute. A number of people find the two perfumes to be very similar in their opening stage, but dissimilar in overall development, weight, and feel. A few find zero similarity, no doubt because they experienced a heavy amount of tobacco. (Oddly, a number of those bring up Sahara Noir instead.) Obviously, the more the tobacco element manifests itself on your skin, the less you’re likely to think Tobacco Oud resembles Amber Absolute.

To give you an idea of the debate and divergence in opinion, here are some snippets from Fragrantica:

  • Tobacco and Oud you are looking for? Look elsewhere. This fragrance is very similar to Amber Absolute at the top of this, rich with resinous amber but not as rich and less patchouli than AA. This fragrance is slightly drier. This fragrance does not have the longevity and projection that Amber Absolute has. There is no Oud and very minimal tobacco. Once this dries down, it turns into an amber/sandalwood scent with very light spices. […] This is very similar to amber absolute but if you’re an amber absolute fan this would not be a suitable replacement. It definitely lacks the richness that AA has.
  • tobacco oud? this is more amber absolute with just a bit of spices. nice scent and good sillage and longevity.
  • The tobacco is the most prominent aspect of it (considerably more so than the oud), and the note is split between the herbal facets of tobacco leaves and a genuinely dirty smoke effect. The spices are surprisingly grungy for a Tom Ford, and I’m assuming that there’s some civet or some choyas playing up against the patchouli to get this effect. The oud is minimal […] This is all placed over a fairly stock amber base that’s got a vanillic edge, but is largely characterless. It’s the same thing you find at the base of the lifeless Rive d’Ambre. [¶] There’s no connection to Amber Absolute here whatsoever. None. [¶] There is, however, what appears to be a hint of benzoin that draws some parallels to Sahara Noir, but the similarity is minimal. […] As an oud fragrance, it’s lackluster, but it’s on par with the other non-oud ouds from similar brands [.]
  • it is a very simple scent with a deep onslaught of a pipe’a’riffic notion. kinda like a cherry black and mild before it is burnt. i like it but i can’t see myself smelling like this often. it’s more like a novelty item then a fragrance i would wear. however it is a quality product and for someone who is looking for a very specific item. this fits your pipe tobacco needs.
  • Oh dear, love tobacco vanille, love oud wood more. This is nasty

Personally, I was much more interested in what a close friend of mine thought, as she is a die-hard Tom Ford fan whose “holy grail” fragrance is Oud Wood, followed then by Amber Absolute. For her, Oud Wood and Amber Absolute are absolute perfection. She is the very talented, thorough, globally successful beauty blogger, Temptalia, and her review of Tobacco Oud reads, in part, as follows:

Tobacco Oud opens with a burst of smoke, spice, and almost reminds me of incense burning at an altar. It’s dry, like walking in the woods during autumn, when it’s chilly enough that fireplaces are crackling, but there’s no snow or rain yet. Or stepping into a dry sauna–it’s just a lot of smokiness and drier woods to me; I keep thinking cedarwood (which is a note). There’s amber in the background, somewhere, that’s fleeting initially, and then it settles in for a long stay. It morphs into a mix of smoke, spice, amber, labdanum, and the beginning tendrils of vanilla. Finally, it becomes a more comforting, warmer scent that smells of lightly sweetened vanilla with a soft smokiness and a wee bit of spice that lingers. Oud is here and there throughout the first few hours of wear; it’s not the star–the smokiness from tobacco is definitely more in the forefront. If you’re looking for a strong oud note, it’s not in this scent.

The discontinued Amber Absolute.

The discontinued Amber Absolute.

She too has noted how Tom Ford fragrances differ substantially in smell depending on the quantity applied, and I think her observations are useful, along with the ever-helpful comparisons to her beloved Amber Absolute:

I found Tobacco Oud’s metamorphosis was greatly influenced by the number of sprays; less than two, and it was very, very dry and lacked warmth, but three sprays gave me that warmth that I missed the first time I wore it, and that warmth made me understand some of the comparisons to Amber Absolute. With that being said, Amber Absolute is much, much heavier on the amber; it’s headier, thicker, warmer, cozier; when Amber Absolute opens, I get that resinous quality but not the smokiness that I wafts from Tobacco OudAmber Absolute is also sweeter throughout the wear, where Tobacco Oud turns slightly sweeter from the tonka bean after six to eight hours of wear. Even if the two had more similarities than differences, the most marked difference is that Amber Absolute is a monster–it has more projection, longevity, and overall, it is just more potent. Amber Absolute–one spray split between my wrists–is still a skin scent twenty-four hours after I’ve applied and taken a shower.

Tobacco Oud is standing in front of the hearth and warming your hands, a brief respite from the cool outdoors.  Amber Absolute is curling up in a luxurious blanket in your favorite chair and settling in for the night.

Due to differences in skin chemistry, the opening I experienced was much more ambered and sweet than hers, as well as with substantially less tobacco and dryness. Nonetheless, I think she’s absolutely right about the overall differences, and she’s summarized them extremely well. I also agree that Amber Absolute has far greater sillage, weight, and duration.

That said, my dear friend has what I affectionately call “unicorn skin,” because she gets longevity from all fragrances to a degree that is simply unique. I’ve never seen numbers (from anyone!) like what she regularly gets from a single, tiny, split spray of perfume. (Any perfume, any brand — doesn’t make a difference.) She’s in a whole other territory, beyond even “glue skin,” and verging on something completely epic. It fills me with the deepest envy, but it also requires me to caution you that you should not take her longevity numbers as the typical norm.

You should, however, listen to the die-hard Oud Wood and Amber Absolute fan when she tells you that Tobacco Oud won’t satisfy your oud itch, and that it won’t measure up to Oud Wood or Amber Absolute for anyone who is truly passionate about either fragrance. I couldn’t agree more. Tobacco Oud isn’t a bad perfume, but, as this discussion should make clear, it’s incredibly generic and wholly unoriginal.

In essence, Tobacco Oud is like a Greatest Hits remix of the Tom Ford line, only played at a much lower volume, and not in High-Definition or surround-sound. Unfortunately, the sum total effect is not equal to the originals by themselves. I’m truly not sure to whom Tom Ford is marketing this fragrance, especially at $210 for the smallest sized bottle. All the people who love ouds and/or tobacco scents will have infinitely better, richer, more opulent choices elsewhere — often for much less. And, for the exact same price, Tom Ford fans can always turn to his existing line-up (or to eBay for Amber Absolute). I know a ton of guys who own both Oud Wood and Amber Absolute (with a few owning Tobacco Vanille and/or Sahara Noir as well). Layer some combination of those fragrances, and you’ll get a more potent, richer, deeper Tobacco Oud. Why spend $210 for a less distinctive, ersatz copy? Do they really think Tom Ford aficionados are that stupid, or that unfamiliar with the rest of the line? The only possible explanation lies in the perfume industry cycle, and the pressures imposed by annual shareholder reports on large conglomerates like Estée Lauder (which owns Tom Ford). Because perfume originality, creativity, body, depth, and quality aren’t it.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Both Oud Fleur and Tobacco Oud are eau de parfums. They come in three sizes that cost: $210, €180, or £140.00 for a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle; $280 or £320.00 for a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle; and $520 or €420 for a 250 ml/8.45 oz bottle. There are also accompanying bath products to go with Tom Ford’s original Oud Wood fragrance. In the U.S.: you can find the two new Oud perfumes at Nordstrom Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, and Luckyscent (which has just started to carry Tom Ford’s Private Blend collection). I don’t see the new Oud fragrances on the Bergdorf Goodman site, only the original Oud Wood. Outside the U.S.: In Canada, I believe Tom Ford is carried at Holt Renfrew, but they only list the old Oud Wood on their online website, not the new ones. In the UK, you can find the Oud collection at HarrodsHarvey NicholsSelfridges, or House of Fraser. All four stores sell the small 1.7 oz/50 ml size for £140.00, and the super-large 250 ml bottle for £320.00. In France, Tom Ford Private Blend fragrances are available at the Sephora in Paris, along with Premiere Avenue which sells the 50 ml bottle for €180, and the large 250 ml bottle for €420. (Scroll down the page at the link above to see the new Oud listings.) Premiere Avenue ships throughout Europe, and I believe they might ship world-wide but I’m not sure. For other all other countries, you can use the store locator on the Tom Ford website to find a retailer near you. Samples: I bought my samples of the new Oud fragrances at Surrender to Chance which sells both Oud Fleur and Tobacco Oud (as well as Oud Wood) starting at $3.99 for a 1/2 ml vial.

New Perfume Release: LM Parfums Hard Leather

As fate would have it, this morning I received the press release for LM Parfums‘ new fragrance, Hard Leather. Just yesterday, I talked about my overall impressions of the perfume which I got to test in Paris a few weeks ago, and absolutely loved. Hard Leather is set to launch in a few weeks, in November 2013. While I don’t have an exact date yet, I do have the notes and concentration of the perfume. [Update: The perfume has released and I have a full review of it. I have also placed it on my Best of 2013 list.]

I thought I’d post the full photographic press release instead of just writing out the text. I think the visuals are sexy and very sleekly cool, and I’m not just saying that because black is my favorite colour.

LM Parfums Hard Leather

LM Parfums Hard Leather 2

LM Parfums Hard Leather 3

LM Parfums HL 4

So, in short, the notes in Hard Leather are:

Rum, Leather, Iris, Honey, Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Oud, Frankincense, Styrax and Vanilla.

Hard Leather is an extrait (or pure parfum) in concentration and comes in a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle. LM Parfums’ extrait line usually costs $225 or €195, with the company offering 5 ml decants for €19. I don’t have pricing for Hard Leather, but I assume it will be in the same range. The line is available in the U.S. at OsswaldNY, and Hard Leather should be no exception. In Europe and elsewhere, you can buy LM Parfums directly from Laurent Mazzone’s website, as well as from numerous retailers. Links to online vendors who generally carry the line are below.

DETAILS:
In the U.S.: Laurent Mazzone’s fragrances used to be European exclusives, but the range just came to America two months ago. It’s sold exclusively at OsswaldNYC, with samples available for purchase by telephone order. Outside the U.S.: In Europe, you can buy the perfumes directly from LM Parfums. (There is also this other LM Parfums site.) Samples are available for €14 or €19, depending on the perfume in question and its concentration, and they come in a good 5 ml size. In the UK, the LM Parfums line is carried exclusively at Harvey Nichols. In France, you can find the perfumes, and 5 ml samples of each at Laurent Mazzone’s own Premiere Avenue. In Paris, LM Parfums are sold at Jovoy. Germany’s First in Fragrance carries the full line and sells samples as well. You can also find LM Parfums at Essenza Nobile, Italy’s Vittoria Profumi, or Alla Violetta. In the Netherlands, you can find LM Parfums at Silks Cosmeticsor Parfumaria. In the Middle East, I found most of the LM Parfums line at the UAE’s Souq perfume retailer. For all other countries, you can find a vendor near you from Switzerland to Belgium, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Croatia, Azerbaijan, and more, by using the LM Parfums Partner listing. Laurent Mazzone or LM Parfums fragrances are widely available throughout Europe, and many of those sites sell samples as well.