Perfume Releases: Endless Flankers, More Ouds & Some New Fragrances

Every now and then, I think it’s fun to post about some of the new perfume releases that are either already out on the market or that soon will be. At the very least, you’ll see some pretty bottles. All posts are taken via Now Smell This (NST), Fragrantica or other, credited sites. (If I could figure out how to properly re-blog a non-WordPress article, I would but, alas, my technical knowledge does not go that far. I have tried to give credit via full quotes and source citation. Almost everything is a direct quote from the original site and/or the press releases that they are relying upon.)

ROBERT PIGUET:
Petit FracasAlready out on the market is a new flanker version of Fracas, Petit Fracas, for those who are supposedly “not ready” for the power of full-grown Fracas. Joe Garces, CEO of Robert Piguet Parfums, spoke to Basenotes about it in an interview that you can read here. To me, it basically seems like a fruity, sweet version of Fracas that is designed to appeal to the younger demographic. I am not particularly thrilled about the fact that the notes include cocoa, which seems like a bit of a travesty for something labelled, even partially, as “Fracas.” From the article:

Garces talks about Petit Fracas in the video below. The scent is for women who are not yet ‘ready’ for Fracas, and as well as Fracas’s signature tuberose contains notes of bergamot, mandarin, pear, jasmine, gardenia, cocoa, musk and sandalwood.

To see the video, you can go to the Basenotes article linked above. There are already reviews for it out on Fragrantica, where one person states that Petit Fracas was made because the CEO’s daughter did not like Fracas. I will abstain from comment and try not to thrust my fist through the monitor. No, on second thought, I will not abstain. It’s all well and good for someone not to like Fracas. It’s totally understandable, in fact. But if you’re not a fan, then don’t make your new release something under the Fracas name, especially if its notes seem extremely different and only one-tenth the complexity of Fracas. In other words, don’t try to capitalise on the legendary Fracas name to launch something totally different. You have about 12 other scents. Make this one #13. And tell your daughter that Fracas is not meant to be a fruit cocktail with cocoa!

GAULTIER:
In February, Jean-Paul Gaultier will releases a flanker for his 1995′s Le Mâle called Le Beau Male.
Jean Paul Gaultier Le Beau Male

It is developed by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, who also developed the original Le Mâle fragrance. Notes include mint, lavender, vanilla, sandalwood and musk.

Source: NST.

LUTENS:

Also in February, NST states there will be a new Serge Lutens called La Fille de Berlin:

Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin

Serge Lutens will launch La Fille de Berlin, a new fragrance in the “Selective Distribution” series (formerly known as the export range), in February.

La Fille de Berlin is a rose-based floriental fragrance, and is being launched in conjunction with his upcoming book of photography, Berlin à Paris.

Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin will be available in 50 ml Eau de Parfum.

VERSACE:
Versace jumps on the increasingly mainstream, extremely popular oud bandwagon with Versace Pour Homme Oud Noir

Versace Pour Homme Oud Noir

Versace has launched Versace Pour Homme Oud Noir, a new fragrance for men geared towards the Middle East market. Versace Pour Homme Oud Noir is a flanker to 2008′s Versace Pour Homme.

The seduction of a sunset on a desert; a sensual heady aroma. A fragrance for men designed for lovers of oriental fragrances, for a man with a strong personality. An intense and regal composition; spicy and with a deep scent of leather.

Versace Pour Homme Oud Noir is available in 100 ml Eau de Parfum.

DIOR:

January sees the launch of yet another Dior Poison flanker called Hypnotic Poison Eau Secrète. NST states:

Christian Dior Hypnotic Poison Eau Secrète Christian Dior will launch Hypnotic Poison Eau Secrète, a new flanker to 1998′s Hypnotic Poison, which was a flanker to 1985′s Poison.

The notes include citrus, bergamot, jasmine, neroli and vanilla.

Christian Dior Hypnotic Poison Eau Secrète will be available in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Toilette.

GUCCI:
In February, Gucci will release flankers to its Guilty line of fragrances. NST states:

Gucci Guilty Black

Gucci will launch Gucci Guilty Black, new flankers to 2010′s Gucci Guilty and 2011′s Gucci Guilty Pour Homme.

Gucci Guilty Black (above right) ~ an ‘intense and elegant’ oriental floral, with red fruits, pink pepper, raspberry, violet, amber and patchouli. In 30, 50 and 75 ml Eau de Toilette.

Gucci Guilty Black Pour Homme (above left) ~ ‘intense and energetic’ woody aromatic fougere, with coriander, lavender, orange blossom, neroli, patchouli and leather. In 30, 50 and 90 ml Eau de Toilette.

ARTEMISIA:
Artemisia Natural Perfume has launched Saveur de l’Abricot. NST describes it as a new fruity floral fragrance and quotes the press release:

Artemisia Natural Perfume Saveur de l'AbricotPicture plucking a ripe apricot from the tree and taking a bite. Feel the velvety, golden skin on your lips. Taste the juicy tang of the flesh on your tongue. Multiple layers of ambrosial sweetness explode with earthy voluptuousness and piquant twist.

Saveur de l’Abricot means the flavor of apricot. Most of what we perceive as flavor is actually scent. With the fruity-floral richness of Chinese osmanthus and real apricot essence, Saveur de l’Abricot is an impressionistic fragrance capturing the sensuality of eating an apricot.

Artemisia Natural Perfume Saveur de l’Abricot is available in 7 gr Solid Perfume and 17 ml Eau de Parfum. Samples are also available. (via artemisiaperfume).

NST also lets us know that the brand has a sale until February 28, 2013: “everything 25% off through 2/28, no coupon code needed.”

HUGO BOSS:

I don’t really have words for this as it seems like an extraordinarily odd combination of notes, so I will let NST take it on:

Hugo Boss Hugo Red

Hugo Boss will launch Hugo Red, a new fragrance for men, in January. Hugo Red will be fronted by actor Jared Leto.

Hugo Red was inspired by “the dual nature of metal” and features a cold metal accord with grapefruit, rhubarb, and metallic notes; and a hot metal accord with cedar and amber.

Hugo Boss Hugo Red will be available in 50, 75 and 150 ml Eau de Toilette and in matching grooming products.

OSCAR DE LA RENTA:
On the light, flowery front, Oscar de la Renta has launched Something Blue, a new bridal-inspired fragrance. NST provides the details:

Oscar de la Renta Something Blue

Introducing Something Blue, a fragrance to cherish forever. Inspired by life’s most magical moments, this romantic fragrance opens with a sparkling burst of mandarin and linden blossom and warms to an irresistibly sultry finish with notes of bourbon vanilla and white musk. A removable ring engraved with the designer’s signature logo is a symbol of Mr. de la Renta’s abiding devotion to his beloved clientele.

Additional notes include stephanotis, lily of the valley and lychee. Oscar de la Renta Something Blue is available now at Saks Fifth Avenue, in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum and matching candle.

DAVIDOFF:

Davidoff The GameNST has the press release for the new Davidoff scent which is called The Game and which will be launched some time in 2013.

NST states:

Davidoff will launch Davidoff The Game, a new woody aromatic fragrance for men:

Never underestimate the stakes.
Always play fair.
Master the rules and leave nothing to chance.
Because life is a game and the winner takes it all.

The Game was developed by perfumer Bernard Ellena; notes include gin fizz accord (juniper berry), iris, precious woods and blackwood.

Davidoff The Game will be available in 100 ml Eau de Toilette.

Davidoff also has another new scent and it’s already out on the market. It’s a flanker for Hot Water called Hot Water Night and it contains oud. Fragrantica has further details:

Men’s fragrance Hot Water was launched in 2009 and announced as a fiery fragrance woven from powerful red chords. Its composition highlights red basil, red peppers and hot resin, embraced by warm earthy tones of patchouli. The night version—a successor of the first—Hot Water Night, appeared in 2012 as a darker and tawnier version of the original fragrance.

Hot Water Night brings a very masculine and intense composition, which puts an emphasis on hot spices. The top notes of the new edition are intertwining black pepper and aromatic juniper berries. The heart blooms with rose absolute reinforced by the notes of cedar, which are gently laid on the base made from oriental oud and gray amber.

DAVIDOFF HOT WATER NIGHTjuniper berries, black pepper
rose absolut, cedar
gray amber, oud

Davidoff Hot Water Night is presented in a bottle of the same form as the Hot Water release, but this time painted black. The black body of the bottle is graced with contrasting red details, which certainly announces the vigorous and virile chords of the composition. The fragrance is available as 110 ml Eau de Toilette Intense.

CARTIER:
Cartier has a new flanker to its Eau de Cartier line and this one is all about roses.  Fragrantica has the details:

Cartier has launched a flanker to their best-selling Eau de Cartier from 2001, called Eau de Cartier Goutte de Rose. The new flanker follows Eau de Cartier Essence de Bois from 2011 and Eau de Cartier Essence d’Orange from 2010, as well as the various collector’s editions of the original Eau de Cartier through the years.

The new fragrance is taking the rosy shades of its name into the packaging which differentiates it from the violet-leaf focused original in the white box.

Created by in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent, Goutte de Rose is a bright and joyful “eau” infused with the delicate essences of freshly picked roses upon which dew is still attached, aiming to inject immediate freshness, femininity and the well-being of a bright morning.

50ml EUR €73.42 – 100ml EUR €98.71

LA MAISON DE LA VANILLE:

La Maison de la Vanille has three new perfumes, including one that is an oud fragrance. NST does not have a date for the US releases, but it seems that they are all out in Germany. NST has this information:

La Maison de la Vanille Intense Patchouli

La Maison de la Vanille has launched three new fragrances, Intense Patchouli, Ambre Secret and Royal Oud. Along with 2011′s Absolu de Vanille, they make up the Les Parfums d’Absolu collection.

Intense Patchouli (shown) ~ “A thoroughly surprising and extraordinary patchouly composition. Perky lemon aromas and Lavender blossom provide a brand new fragrance experience and a real element of surprise. The floating and ethereal lightness of citric notes and lavender let the strong patchouli note dance and almost fly.” Additional notes include white musk, sandalwood and vanilla.

Ambre Secret ~ “Ambergris at his best. Peppery spiciness and soft, warm shades of ambergris. Shining brightly at the start, always dark, smoky and becoming more sophisticated until it ends in pure seduction.” The notes include white musk, sandalwood, cedar, patchouli, Peru balsam, labdanum and vanilla.

Royal Oud ~ “Beguiling Oriental roses and feminine jasmine blossoms underline the precious nature of the perfume. A powerful and expressive Oriental accent leads us into the depths of the mystical and mysterious Orient where new sensory worlds are waiting to be explored. Authentic agarwood exudes supreme opulence and complexity.” Additional notes include patchouli, lignum vitae, sandalwood and white musk.

La Maison de la Vanille Intense Patchouli, Ambre Secret and Royal Oud are available now at First in Fragrance in Germany, in 100 ml Eau de Parfum.

Well, that’s it for this blog post. I tried to cover both niche and main-stream perfume lines, so hopefully, there will something you find intriguing in the list. There are numerous other releases out on the market from new flankers for Coach’s Poppy line, a limited edition version of Clinique’s Happy, a new light Eau flanker for Fan di Fendi, and more. If you’re interested, you can find more information on these (and the numerous other) releases at NST’s New Releases page or Fragrantica’s similar page for new fragrances. Just be prepared to be deluged by a thousand flankers.

By the way, for those of you who may be interested, the Lancome L’Autre Oud fragrance in that drop-dead gorgeous bottle which I posted about in my last New Releases entry is supposed to be out on the market now. However, I don’t see it listed on Lancome’s website and have no idea where on earth one could possibly find this. If you do, or if you get the chance to give it a test whiff, let me know. I think that is one of the most beautiful bottles I’ve seen in a while.

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Perfume Review: Amouage Jubilation XXV: An Oud Fit For A Sultan

The royal perfume house of Amouage would be perfect for a fairy tale or Greek myth. It would be the story of King Midas, and all he touched would be perfume gold. It would The Arabian Nightshave Ali Baba and a cave filled with treasures of scent and spice, incense and frankincense — not stolen by thieves but given freely by the Sultan with the order to create the most luxurious scent in all the land. Or, it would be the story of “Perfume” without serial killers and death, and with a happy ending.

As the renowned perfume critic, Luca Turin, said in a 2007 German magazine article:

The story of Amouage is remarkable. Twenty five years ago an Omani prince decided that his country, renowned since Egyptian times for the quality of its frankincense, home to the unique Green Mountain rose and on whose beaches half the world’s ambergris lands at random, needed a perfume firm that would take on the world’s greatest.

So, in 1983, His Highness Sayyid Hamad bin Hamoud al bu Said was ordered to do just that by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the ruler of the Sultanate of Oman. As the perfume store Aedes explains, they wanted “to tell the world about the ingredients particularly found in Oman – the rarest frankincense from Dhofar in the south of the country and the rarest rose of all, the rock rose harvested high up in the mountains of the Jebel Akhdar range towering over the Sultanate’s beautiful capital, Muscat.”

A Thousand and One Nights.

A Thousand and One Nights.

Consequently, Amouage tends to use very Middle Eastern ingredients such as oud or agarwood, rose, incense, resins like labdanum, and spices. It also hires some of the most famous “noses” in the perfume world to create its fragrances, supposedly with an unlimited budget. No expense spared. And the result is some of the most expensive perfumes in the world, even if no longer the most expensive. (It amuses me that the Amouage website describes its offerings as “The Gift of Kings” because it truly means that – both literally and figuratively.)

The Sultan of Oman with Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in Oman.

The Sultan of Oman with Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in Oman.

On its 25th anniversary in 2007, Amouage launched two celebratory eau de parfums Amouage 2 Jubiliationsunder the guidance of its artistic director, Christopher Chong, and created by the famous orientalist nose, Bertrand Duchaufour. (“Orientalist” is Luca Turin’s description, not mine.) The men’s version was called Jubilation XXV and the women’s version was Jubilation 25. Both versions are eau de parfum concentration and both are essentially considered to be unisex fragrances. Certainly both genders seem to wear the different versions. I have both and plan to review Jubilation 25 tomorrow. For now, let’s focus on the men’s version.

Jubilation XXV is classified as an “Oriental Fougère” fragrance for men, which essentially means its a woody, aromatic oriental. (See the Glossary for a full explanation of the Fougère family of fragrances.) Fragrantica lists the notes as follows:

Top notes are orange, coriander, labdanum, tarragon, olibanum and blackberry;

middle notes are guaiac wood, cinnamon, bay leaf, honey, orchid, rose, clove and celery seeds;

base notes are opoponax, patchouli, myrrh, cedar, musk, oakmoss, ambergris, agarwood (oud) and immortelle.

Amouage describes the perfume’s evolution as follows:

With the grandeur of a great epic, Jubilation XXV opens majestically with notes of the finest frankincense from Oman.

At its heart are elegant notes of rose, orchid and smoky gaiac wood, evoking the philosophy of the enigmatic man carrying the essence of his sophistication across all eras and cultures.

Like the magic of a spellbinding epiphany, notes of musk, myrrh, cedarwood, ambegris, patchouli and immortelle resonate in the depth of the fragrance expressing his longing to travel far, across all continents, to find the ethereal unknown.

Jubilation XXV.

Jubilation XXV.

I don’t see it. Jubilation XXV opens with a massive bear hug of oud, concentrated honey, sweet myrrh, a  touch of saffron, an almost imperceptible whisper of blackberry, and a strongly boozy amber accord — all under the strong auspices of balsam-heavy orange amber. It is incredibly reminiscent of Hermès’ Elixir de Merveilles, a fragrance I truly adore and which I reviewed here. It is all bitter Seville oranges which, just like in the Elixir, are wrapped in bitter black chocolate (compliments of the patchouli), salt, amber and woody balsam. I find barely any of the supposedly massive blackberry accord that a vast majority of the people have noted. There is a miniscule hint of it seconds into Jubilation’s opening, but it is mere seconds for me. The real fruit that I smell is, as noted, orange.

I was so astonished by the similarities that I tested it out a second time, late in the evening, with a different perfume on each arm. The only difference between the two openings is the touch of oud but — bar that — they were essentially identical. I’m extremely surprised that no-one else has noticed, but I suspect that most men don’t realise the Elixir is really unisex, and perhaps the average Elixir woman isn’t likely to try a seemingly “men’s” oud fragrance.

The oud note is extremely interesting in Jubilation’s opening hour. It is a fleeting, flickering thing; a darting ghost that pops up unexpectedly for a little while before vanishing from sight. Numerous commentators have said that Jubilation is a ghost as a whole: one minute it’s here, the next it’s gone, then it’s back again. They say the scent keeps disappearing, before reappearing. I haven’t had that experience with Jubilation as a whole, but I have had it with the oud element. Sometimes, it feels as though there is absolutely no oud in Jubilation and that I somehow accidentally sprayed on my Elixir. At other times, it appears with an almost mentholated note that cools down and cuts through the narcotic headiness of the warm, boozy resins, the rich heavy balsam-infused orange, and the peppery, smoky frankincense.

The oud in Jubilation is not the sharply screechy, metallic clang of the very synthetic-smelling Montale Aouds that I’ve tried. Nor is it the more medicinal oud of YSL‘s M7. It is slightly closer to the softer ouds in the By Killian Arabian Nights collection (though, at this early stage, not to Kilian’s Pure Oud). No, the oud in Jubilation is too tamed and softened by the smoky resins and the balsam-infused orange. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it merely means that Jubilation’s first stage is not oud-dominant. (That comes later.)

Nonetheless, as a whole, Jubilation lacks the edge and hardness of some oud perfumes. It certainly lacks the more extreme aspect of oud scents like M7 (in its original formulation) which have resulted in descriptions like “dangerous.” Jubilation is a complex, nuanced, layered, very high quality and extremely expensive, rich scent. But it’s not dangerous, if that is what you’re looking for. And, dammit, it smells a lot like an oud version of Hermès Elixir for the first hour! It even has the latter’s unusual salty quality; a hint of the sea air mixed with saltwater taffy.

I checked to see how many of the same ingredients they share; both perfumes have cedar, orange, patchouli, resins, ambergris and incense. Jubilation has a ton more notes than the Elixir, but many of those separate notes come very close to replicating the accords in the Elixir. The myrrh, opoponax (sweet myrrh), labdanum (resin), olbanum (frankincense) and immortelle all have sweet, smoky, incense-y notes that parallel the Elixir’s patchouli, Siam resin, caramel, sandalwood, tonka bean and incense. Immortelle, in particular, has a maple-syrup, honey, caramel aspect that is definitely echoed in the Elixir. (See the Glossary for more details and definitions of these various notes and perfume ingredients.)

The real differences between the two scents begin after the first hour. Jubilation start to lose that sweet head, and the full roar of the woods start to appear. The lingering and final traces of orange are mentholated now, not caramelized. There is also far greater smoke. I smell hints of the Guaiac wood whose scent is described by Fragrantica as “smoky, tarmac notes” and which one Basenotes commentator finds to have a “rosy, honeyed-sweet and slightly smoky and waxy-oily slightly rubbery aroma. The Guaiac wood is subtle, especially under the much more overpowering oud notes, but it’s there. I don’t smell the coriander, orchid, bay leaf, tarragon or celery seeds listed in the notes. I cook extensively, and I know what all those herbs smell like. And they’re not appearing on me.

After a few hours, Jubilation turns into an intimate frankincense and oud party. The oud is much, much stronger now. It’s as though the top notes had muzzled it but now, it’s free to soar. The smell evokes a wintery outdoors, a large stone campfire among the dark, dry woods, with a brisk, chill in the air and the smell of burning leaves. There is stone-like coldness, with sharp black pepper and a definitely leather undercurrent to this oud. As such, it is very reminiscent of By Kilian’s Pure Oud. There is also that rubbery, almost plastic-y but medicinal aspect to the oud that calls to mind the pink plastic sides of a bandaid. That part evokes YSL’s M7. I wonder at times how much of this is the oud and how much is the Guaiac wood with its tarmac, rubber, pepper and smoke notes that others have found. Perhaps it really is just the oud itself combined with the incense, smoke, and biting pepper of the frankincense.

It doesn’t matter. The final result is that the two overarching smells alternate between a gentle waltz, an intimately fiery tango, and a loud cha-cha-cha. They weave in and out of the room. Sometimes, they are snuggling in the dark shadows of the alcoves – just out of sight. At other times, they tango back into the room and the rat-a-tat-tat of their heels stomp up my arm and to my nose. Then they vanish again. It’s bewildering. If I hadn’t read all those comments about the perfume’s on-again, off-again vanishing act, I would think I was hallucinating or that my nose had gone wonky.

The ghost act makes it hard for me to assess the sillage of Jubilation. Its projection for the first hour is as big as everyone says, but then it becomes much more difficult to ascertain. More than one person has wondered if Jubilation was just so strong at the start that their nose “got used to it” for large stretches of time. I will say that, on me, Jubilation does not have the massive longevity that most report — but that is hardly anything new. All in all, Jubilation lasted about 5.5 hours on me, with the last 3 being close to the skin.

All in all, I liked Jubilation XXV, but I’m hardly tempted to share in the mass genuflection and obeisance for the fragrance. Much of the adoring, worshipful praise seems — to me — to stem from those lovely opening notes that some have compared to spices and dates (the fruit) in a Turkish bazaar. Believe me, I know how utterly divine those notes can be; I raved about them extensively for Hermès’ Elixir de Merveilles. I suspect the Elixir is precisely why I’m not more overwhelmed and passionate about Jubilation; I’ve already had the experience. But, for one who hasn’t and who is seeking an oud fragrance on top of it, then I suspect Jubilation XXV will make you rather weak at the knees. It is not an overwhelming, crushing oud fragrance but a very luxurious one that feels expensive. Which is just as well, given that it is expensive.

Bloody expensive, in fact! The usual bottle is 3.4 fl.oz/100 ml and costs $290, £170.00 or around €210. There is a smaller 1.7 oz/50 ml version that costs £140.00, but a cursory review of a few US websites shows it is not available on any of the usual or big perfume sites. I found the smaller size only at Beauty Encounter where it retails for $245. It’s not a particularly good deal, given that double the quantity (or 3.4 oz) costs only $50 more. (As a side note, the women’s version of Jubilation is slightly more expensive in general: $300 for 3.4 oz, instead of $290.)

Amouage Gold in actual gold.

Amouage Gold in actual gold.

So, is Jubilation XXV worth getting? As always, that is a subjective and personal decision, but the cost of Jubilation makes it a bit more complicated than that equation usually is. Amouage may no longer make the most expensive perfume in the world — that was Gold in 1983 — but it’s still not a walk in the park. Yet, for a large number of people, Jubilation XXV is a scent without compare, one of their all-time favorites, and completely worth every golden penny. I would suggest testing it out via a sample. If it steals your heart, wonderful. If not, then perhaps you can always layer one of your existing ouds (particularly if you already own one from By Kilian) with the significantly cheaper, but always marvelous, Elixir de Merveilles.

DETAILS:
Availability & Stores: In the US, Jubilation XXV can be purchased online at AedesFour SeasonsLuckyscent or Parfums Raffy. (Google and Parfums Raffy state that it is the authorized retailer for Amouage and that it provides free shipping.) If you want the smaller 1.7 oz version, you can go to Beauty Encounter. Samples of Jubilation can be purchased from all those places, as well as from Surrender to Chance (the decant site I always use) where the smallest vial costs $3.99. In London, I’ve read that Jubilation XXV is available at Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Les Senteurs or the Amouage boutique. In Canada, I’ve read that it’s available at The Perfume Shoppe. In Germany, at First in Fragrance. And, of course, it is available world-wide on Amouage’s own website. The website also has a “Store Locator” for about 20 countries which should, hopefully, help you find Jubilation somewhere close to you.

Perfume Releases: Ouds, Flankers & More

After seeing an extremely beautiful bottle in a Fragrantica posting for the new Lancome Oud scent, I thought it might be fun to post about some of the new perfume releases. At the very least, you’ll see some gorgeous bottles. All posts are taken via Fragrantica. (If I could figure out how to properly re-blog a non-WordPress article, I would but, alas, my technical knowledge does not go that far. I have tried to give credit via full quotes and source citation.)

Lancome jumps on the increasingly mainstream, extremely popular oud bandwagon with Lancome L’Autre Oud:

Lancome launched L’Autre Oud in October 2012 as a part of the luxurious and exclusive collection. The scent is inspired by traveling the Orient. Opulent, rare and mysterious, this new fragrance provides the Lancome vision of popular oud. L’Autre Oud is an allegory of the mythical tree located between shadow and light, strength and tenderness, freshness and sensuality.

The formula is simple: seventeen ingredients were carefully selected to convey the point and the theme as best as they can. It starts off with spicy notes of saffron, cypriol from India, labdanum absolute and aromatic clary sage. The heart consists of Turkish rose and Bulgarian rose absolute. The rich, powerful and woody base is made of guaiac wood, green and wet patchouli, vetiver, amyris wood, moss, gurjun balm and myrrh absolute. The perfumer is Christophe Raynaud. The fragrance is available in bottles of 75 ml at the price of 120 Euros.

Chopard, that famous old jewelry house, doesn’t want to be left behind either. It has teamed up with the legendary Dominque Ropion, the “nose” behind such scents as Malle’s Carnal Flower and Portrait of a Lady, Dior’s Pure Poison, Armani’s Acqua di Gioia, Givenchy’s Amarige and Ysatis, Lady Million, Krazy Krizia and many more. Together, they have created an oud perfume for men:

Chopard is launching a new fragrance for men which will first be launched in the Middle East. It is inspired by the Orient and contains dark and seductive spices, leather and dark wood. The composition signed by perfumer  Dominique Ropion, highlights oud, completing the oriental character of the edition.

The composition of the new fragrance CHOPARD OUD MALAKI offers luminous accords of grapefruit in the very top of the composition, along with an aromatic blend of artemisia and lavender. The heart accentuates masculinity with leather accords combined with tobacco and spices, while the base notes highlight oriental notes with a combination of oud, ambergris and mysterious, dark, woody notes.

CHOPARD OUD MALAKI
grapefruit, artemisia, lavanderleather, tobacco, spicesoud, ambergris, dark wood

Fragrance Chopard Oud Malaki can be obtained as 50 and 80 ml Eau de Parfum, available since 2012.

 

I know I keep writing about the popularity of oud, along with other bloggers like Scent Bound, but it’s really popular! So, here’s a third oud fragrance release: Reminiscence Oud by the french house, Reminiscence. Fragrantica states as follows:

After wonderful vanilla (Reminiscence Vanille) launched in 2012, the French house of Reminiscence is launching Reminiscence Oud which joins the collection “Les Classiques.” Its oriental character is accentuated with spices and surrounded with the main ingredient of the composition—oud.

Reminiscence Oud is beautifully composed. Harmonious and perfect for both sexes, Reminiscence Oud offers hot and comfortable aromas supporting the oriental rhythm. The fragrance balances between pink pepper, saffron and cardamom, providing dynamics to warm and pleasant notes of amber and chocolate patchouli. The new composition is enriched with the charm of rose enhanced by intense oud and castoreum.

Reminiscence Oud
pink pepper, cardamon, saffron, rose, patchouli, amber, castoreum, oud

Fragrance REMINISCENCE OUD arrives in a dark brown color and has the same form as its antecedent with one difference. The body of the new bottle bends in the opposite direction from the bottles of the entire collection. The cap is gold in color as well as the stars on the front side of the bottle. The perfume aims at men and women and is available as 100 ml Eau de Parfum.

Two other trends are also popular, though they’re more of a marketing ploy, in my opinion. They are: releasing flanker versions of existing perfumes, or selling special limited-edition versions of existing perfumes in more luxe (and therefore, more expensive) bottles. It’s an increasingly popular way for perfume companies to make money without expending the capital, effort or resources required to produce a new perfume completely from scratch. Which probably explains YSL‘s decision with regard to M7 Oud Absolu and In Love Again. Fragrantica provides the relevant information, along with photos of the embellished bottles:

On the eve of the holidays Yves Saint Laurent is launching limited editions In Love Again Crystal Edition and M7 Oud Absolu Crystal Edition. The fragrances are available in the same form as last year’s collection of classics which includes eight fragrances by Yves Saint Laurent, with stoppers covered with gold and black crystals.

In Love Again is one of the classics of the Yves Saint Laurent collection, composed of floral-fruity notes. Its composition encompasses accentuated accords of mandarin, currant, grapes, rose, peony, musk and blackberry. The new edition In Love Again Crystal Edition can be obtained in a bottle with golden crystals 80 ml eau de toilette priced at 200 pounds.

IN LOVE AGAIN
mandarin, currant
grapes, rose, peony
blakcberry [sic], musk

 

M7 Oud Absolu is a sophisticated and luxurious fragrance based on notes of the popular M7 edition combined with precious oud accords. The composition highlights intense oud surrounded by patchouli, labdanum and myrrh refreshed with luminous mandarin zest. New edition M7 Oud Absolu Crystal Edition is available in a flacon with black crystals 80 ml eau de toilette priced at 185 pounds.

M7 OUD ABSOLU
mandarin
patchouli
oud, myrrh, labdanum

 

There are also numerous, new, flanker versions for other best-selling scents such as: Armani Code, Coach Signature, Dolce & Gabbana The One, Dior’s Hypnotic Poison, Narcisco Rodriguez‘s best-selling For Her (just released in L’Eau for Her version), Issey Miyake‘s L’Eau d’Issey, Valentino‘s Valentina Acqua, Cartier‘s L’Heure Verteuse, and YSL Parisienne. If you’re interested, you can find more information on these (and the numerous other) releases at Fragrantica.

Scent Notes: Oud

A fantastic analysis of Oud and how much of it in contemporary perfumes is actually a synthetic molecule. Obviously, that impacts the nuances and smell. To quote one part of the fascinating post: “Nowadays, natural oud is rarely used in perfumery. Due to over-harvesting and the labourious process collecting the raw material, it is not feasible to use natural oud for mass market perfumery. Most fragrances on the market contain synthetic materials to replicate the natural oud scent. Vir Sanghvi (virsangvi.com) says that Firmenich’s Oud Synthetic 10760E is used in most oud fragrances on the mass market. Givaudan also has its own version of an oud synthetic. Elena Vosnaki (perfumeshrine.blogspot.ca) says that Oud Wood by Tom Ford is made with Givaudan’s Agarwood Arpur. Bond No. 9 New York Oud also contains the same synthetic.”

If you’re interested in Oud, make sure to read the whole thing. You can learn a lot, as I did. From Creed’s Royal Oud to others, there may be a market and commercial reason for why synthetic oud may be preferable for perfumers. Apart from the low(er) cost, naturally.

ScentBound

In the last several years oud has become very popular in mass market and niche fragrances.  I did some research on oud and how it is used in perfumes nowadays and here is what I found out:

Sourcing Natural Oud

AgarwoodTreeOud (a.k.a. agarwood, oudh, aoud) is formed when the heartwood of Aquilaria and Gyrinops trees get infected with a dark-walled fungus (Phaeoacremonium parasitica).  The infected tree releases a resin in the process of protecting itself from the fungus.  This resin emits a very complex and distinctive smell, which we call today oud or agarwood.

Agarwood can be produced only from eight of the fifteen species of Aquilaria.  Those 8 species are traditionally found in India, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.  Naturally, under 10% of the trees in a Aquilaria forest would get infected with the fungus and produce oud.  A common method to get higher…

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Modern Trends in Perfume – Part IV: Oud/Aoud – Elegant Wood or Medicinal Sexiness?

While the Fresh & Clean scents outlined in Part III have been around for almost two decades, our final category involves the very latest and hottest trend in the perfume industry: Oud or Aoud fragrances. These scents use, Agarwood, one of the oldest ingredients and most expensive ingredients in the world, and its distillation is responsible for a truly different, modern fragrance.

In its purest incantation, it can evoke a cold campfire in the outdoors. At times, it can have a definitely medicinal element to its woodiness, smelling of bandaids or, in one case, reminding me of a lime disinfectant sprayed in a cold, steely hospital morgue and creating the olfactory equivalent of Chernobyl on my arm. If done well and with the right body chemistry, it can descend into smoky, incense-y, sweet, leathery richness. Oud is always expensive and used mainly by the more niche perfume houses. It can also be an extremely polarising scent. In fact, the most controversial, polarising Oud fragrance of all may be the Tom Ford-created YSL “M7,” a cologne whose very advertising campaign broke all the rules by featuring a hairy, nude male model in full frontal… er… glory. We will get to that bit later.

Let’s start at the beginning. While spellings may vary, Aoud and Oud (I’ve even seen Oudh!) both refer to Agarwood which is an extremely ancient element found in the East. No-one explains its heritage, characteristics and its current usage half as well as the experts at CaFleureBon, so I will just link to their marvelous, brilliant analysis of it here. To make a long story short, however, Fragrantica states that Agarwood “is reputed to be the most expensive wood in the world” and that Oud is the “pathological secretion of the aquillaria tree, a rich, musty woody-nutty scent that is highly prized in the Middle East. In commercial perfumery it’s safe to say all ‘oud’ is a recreated synthetic note.”

There are an increasing number of different Oud/Aoud fragrances on the market these days, from the 2011 Creed offering for men (Royal Oud) to Tom Ford. But the majority of the oud scents come from even more niche houses, from Juliette Has a Gun (founded by Nina Ricci’s great-grandson), to Montale, to the offerings of the Sultan of Oman who founded the ultra-exclusive niche house, Amouage, reputed to be the most expensive fragrance line in the world. If “clean and fresh” is a more commercial, mass-market scent, then ancient Oud goes the exact opposite way. It’s hardly surprising given the expensive nature of the ingredient.

I’ve tried a number of unisex Oud scents, thanks to the incredibly useful website, Surrender to Chance, which sells small vials or large “decants” of almost every scent imaginable – from department stores lines to the niche houses to the rare, discontinued and vintage. (I cannot recommend them enough and the shipping is a fantastic price for a fast turnaround: $2.95 for First Class Shipping on any order within the U.S., and starting at $5.95 for international shipping.) Thanks to them, I was able to try a selection of Oud/Aoud fragrances from such lines as By Kilian and Montale. By the way, you may be interested to know that Kilian is a scion of the famous Hennessy cognac dynasty. (The Hennessy company is now a part of the LVMH luxury conglomerate). You can find reviews for those Oud/Aoud fragrances here.

The very first mainstream fragrance to feature oud was M7 by YSL, under the direction

The abbreviated version of M7 ad that was run in most magazines. For the full, uncensored version see the review at One Thousand Scents, linked to below.

The abbreviated version of M7 ad that was run in most magazines. For the full, uncensored version see the review at One Thousand Scents, linked to below.

of Tom Ford. It was 2002, and I don’t think the mainstream market was ready for either an oud fragrance or for the way it was marketed. As CaFleureBon put it in the article linked to up above, “[i]t was a resounding failure at the time, although it would probably be very popular if it were introduced today due to the current market’s new familiarity with oud. It was apparently too much, too soon, as it was a very powerful fragrance, but it has a cult following to this day, due in part to its provocative ad campaign.”

One Thousand Scents has an excellent review of M7 that I highly recommend, though I should warn any readers who are at work that it features that absolutely NSFW, full-frontal photo which we’ll talk about momentarily. The review states that official list of notes for M7 are:

Top: Bergamot, mandarin, rosemary.
Middle: Vetiver, agarwood.
Base: Amber, musk, mandrake root. 

I was very impressed by One Thousand Scents‘ review. I have not smelled M7 in person, but absolutely want to now as a result. A close friend of mine who adores it (but is not sure he dares wear it out the house yet) sent me a few sprays on thick stationary and I loved the sweet, smoky notes that linger on it.  I asked him to write a guest review, but he felt he wasn’t enough of an expert to do M7 true justice. However, he kindly agreed to let me share some of his impressions which I thought added to M7’s intriguing nature. He found it:

weirdly intoxicating. Medicinal yes, perhaps smokey as well? Like dousing a campfire with some antibiotic perhaps” but not in a bad way. After some time, the incense came out but not in a strong, pungent way that would nauseate one. “It does still smell medicinal, but in a more intriguing and less abrasive way.” Like “a clean bandaid or like gauze with a mild ointment on it. But less potent and unpleasant. I’ve read some comments that liken it to a hospital, but I think that does it a disservice…. Someone on basenotes described M7 as both hypnotic and comforting and I utterly agree. I am totally under its spell. It’s definitely for cool/cold weather. […]  M7 makes me want to mysteriously wander the streets of Paris on a cold, rainy day while wearing a trenchcoat.

[In the very end though,] M7 is basically Grenouille’s final scent where people don’t know why they are descending into a giant orgy!

As you can see, M7 is a complicated, complex fragrance, and I bring it up not to review it per se (I can’t, I haven’t worn it!) but to demonstrate how far the market has changed today. In 2002, the perfume world — mainstream or even, perhaps, as a whole — was not ready for such an aggressive, confusing, novel scent. As One Thousand Scents noted, M7 is “a smoky, incensey, bristly, growling thing. You’ll either love it or hate it; there’s no in-between. It is not kidding.” (emphasis in the original.)

M7 might perhaps have had a chance in the mainstream world had it not been for “That Ad”! One Thousand Scents talks about, very amusingly, the British reaction:

Some people were a little less sanguine than the French. The British, for instance. This article about the ad in the Sunday Herald tried to keep its tone light and amused, but it smells like borderline panic to me; it really boils down to OH MY GOD IT’S A NAKED MAN IN A MAGAZINE AD AND HE’S NAKED AND YOU CAN SEE HIS DICK AND EVERYTHING OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD!

A less censored version of the ad but this is still not the full, original one!

A less censored version of the ad but this is still not the full, original one!

If that was the British reaction, one cannot begin to fathom what the American one would have been!! Of course, that would require the full advert being shown here in America and that would have been highly unlikely given the puritanical mores. (The lingering effects of Janet Jackson’s “Nipplegate” are still not over!)

How did M7 have a chance to make it, and to introduce the mainstream, soccer dad world to Oud? It didn’t. Not a chance in hell. Even if the perfume notes hadn’t made it too alien for the time (mandrake root?!), that ad simply sealed its doom.

Poor M7, it was not only ahead of its time but, then, it suffered in inquity of being utterly emasculated. Adding insult to injury, a new version was put out in 2011: M7 Oud Absolu which, contrary to what its name would seem to imply, was most definitely not a more intense version of the original. By all accounts, it is a de-fanged meow of a scent as compared to the ROOOOOOOOOOOOAR of the original.

If 2002 was too soon for Oud, look at the market now. What a difference a decade makes! Givenchy, that old, extremely conservative house, now has Eaudemoiselle de Givenchy Bois de Oud! Demoiselle (or “young lady”) and oud… what a surprise. (Particularly from a house as conservative as Givenchy!) Givenchy is not alone. Dior, another mainstream house, has a Fahrenheit flanker, Fahrenheit Absolu, with Oud. Jil Sanders, Jo Malone, Armani, Calvin Klein (Euphoria Intense), Trish McAvoy, and even Juicy Couture (Dirty English) have now gotten into the act with fragrances containing some degree of oud.

But perhaps few things better epitomize the increasingly mainstream acceptance of Oud than the fact that, in 2009, Bath and Body Works came out with a fragrance whose notes include oud! Honestly, I’m not sure I believe it. And, yet, Fragrantica explicitly states that Bath & Body Work’s Twilight Woods includes “oud wood” in its dry notes. I’ve owned the candle version of Twilight Woods, and I don’t detect any oud — at least not proper, true oud which would seem to be far too expensive for such a line — but far be it for me to dispute the official ingredients for the perfume.

Regardless, the point remains the same. Oud is entering the mainstream in a way that was not imaginable at the time of M7’s launch, or even 5 years ago. And Oud fragrances are no longer extremely hard to find. Tom Ford now sells mainstream perfumes featuring oud (but not featuring male genitalia!) at Nordstrom’s and Saks. Juicy Couture’s Dirty English is available at Target and KMart. Interestingly, however, Sephora — that key destination for most mainstream beauty buyers in the U.S. — doesn’t carry Tom Ford’s Aoud perfume, though it does sells several of his other fragrances, and it doesn’t have any oud fragrance that I can remember seeing. (Perhaps Oud isn’t truly mainstream until it’s commonly sold at Macy’s and Sephora?)

I haven’t found the perfect Oud fragrance for me, though granted I’ve only tried 6 variations on it. It doesn’t help that my body seems to process the ingredient in a less than charming way. Most of the time, though not always, it is incredibly medicinal, bandaid-like, metallic, screechingly sharp and acrid with a peculiar lime note that really shouldn’t be there. (Particularly when lime isn’t listed as one of the ingredients in the perfume.) One iteration of it drove me to utter and complete madness. And not in a good way….  On many other people, however, oud can be sweet, woody, leathery, evocative of cold stone, vegetal, and/or very outdoorsy. I’m still on the hunt for one which will work on me and I will probably turn to Tom Ford’s Oud Wood next. I also plan on trying M7 for myself, if only to understand the huge polarising nature of the cult hit and to see if I fall into the camp of admirers.

Are you interested in trying Oud? If you have, do you have a favorite that you adore? What makes it so great and how does it smell on you? I’d love to hear your thoughts or any suggestions that you may have.

____________________________________________
For Part I: “Sugar, Spice & Even More Sugar,” go here.
For Part II, “Sweat, Genitalia, Dirty Sex & Decay,” go here.
For Part III, “Fresh & Natural, or Soapy Detergent?,” go here.

Review: By Kilian & Montale Oud perfumes

I’ve tried a number of unisex Oud fragrances from such niche perfume lines as Montale and By Kilian. (The latter was founded by the grandson of the famous Hennessy dynasty whose high-end cognac company is now part of the LVMH luxury conglomerate.) Oud scents are not cheap and the niche houses who put them out can charge a pretty penny. I could afford to try so many only thanks to the incredibly useful website, Surrender to Chance, which sells sample vials or larger-sized “decants” of almost every cologne or fragrance imaginable – from department stores lines to the niche houses to the rare, discontinued and vintage. (I cannot recommend them enough and the shipping is a fantastic price for a fast turnaround: $2.95 for First Class Shipping on any order within the U.S., and starting at $5.95 for international shipping.)

From By Kilian (hereinafter referred to just as Kilian), I tried four unisex fragrances from his Arabian Nights Collection: Amber OudRose OudIncense Oud and Pure OudIncense Oud opened with a sharp lime note which quickly receded to the background as the smoky, incense-y wood notes appeared. I liked this scent, though I swing back and forth as to whether I prefer the Rose Oud which opens with that sharp lime note before adding a rose element to the smokiness and woodiness. Honestly, I’ve concluded that that bitter, acrid, sharp, almost burning lime element has to be some element of the Oud distillation because I get it in a number of different Oud scents on the market. Not all, but enough such that I sometimes wonder if I’m imagining its pervasiveness, particularly as “sharp, acrid lime” is not something usually associated with Oud. This is obviously where personal chemistry comes into play.

Regardless, both Incense and Rose Oud settle into a comfortable, smoky woodiness that is quite different.  Neither has much sillage or longevity on me, but as I have repeatedly mentioned, few things do. With both Kilians, they fade into softness as quickly as 15 minutes later! However, they do remain, albeit close to the skin, with the Incense lasting for about 2 hours and the Rose Oud lasting a bit closer to 3 hours.

Kilian’s Amber Oud was a different experience because I smelled no oud whatsoever! No acrid, sour lime here but, rather, a lovely, very sweet opening note of amber and brown sugar. Almost a caramel feel, you might say, mixed with some 1970s-style patchouli and vanilla. The wood accord is simply nonexistent. So much so that I wondered if I was completely insane and decided to check the website, Basenotes. Apparently, I’m sane. There is no oud, according to most of the commentators, even though the official notes include it, along with bayleaf, cedarwood, amber and vanilla. As one person noted, you could get  the same result from Prada’s Amber series. I will say this, however, it lasted longer on me than the Rose or Incense versions.

Pure Oud was a completely unique experience out of the four Arabian Night fragrances that I tried. Basenotes states that it is composed of: “Oud, Saffron, Copahu balm, Amber, Gaiac wood, Cypriol, Cistus labdanum, Myrrh, Animalic notes.” On me, it (thankfully) lacked the strong opening lime note but descended immediately into a pure, almost synthetic perhaps, explosion of woodiness. It was different, there is no doubt, and quite fascinating. I can honestly say I’ve never smelled anything like it, perhaps as it is a cold, stony, wintery wood scent with a leather undertone. It strongly reminds me of the inside of a new, very expensive luxury car with ample (real) walnut wood and leather that is like butter. Except here, the leather isn’t hugely prominant in the face of that cold, steely wood. There is definitely an outdoorsy feel to this that is quite mentally and psychologically evocative. Living in warm Houston, I was strongly reminded of living in New York at Christmas time, wrapped up in a thick woolen coat and walking a street decorated with Christmas lights and covered with snow as tall steel or stone structures loomed up above. There is a slightly stony element and a coldness (in a good way) to the scent, along with the outdoorsy elements and leather. It made me wonder if this was what “cold,” “winter” or “stone” smelled like to the antihero, Grenouille, in the famous book Perfume.

Alas, even half a sample vial of this (in one go!) started to mellow on me within 15 minutes. It did not, however, fade completely. Instead, something different emerged. I actually could smell some Saffron (I cook a lot) and definitely some Myrrh. From that very cold, almost stone-like opening of wood with leather, now emerged lovely Myrrh, Saffron and Oud. My nose is not distinguished enough to know what Gaiac Wood, Cyprior or Cistus Labdanum smell like exactly but, whatever this is and whatever they do, the overall result is lovely. All in all, Pure Oud lasted perhaps 2 hours on me. I can’t say that it is something I would reach for daily but for those occasions when I want to feel different, unique and strangely enough, powerful, I would reach for this.

In contrast, Lime Aoud from Montale made me want a “Silkwood Shower.” (“Silkwood” is a fantastic film with Meryl Streep which led to the popular term referencing the scalding shower intended to rid one of radioactive contamination.) In fact, I did take my own version of Silkwood shower. Alas, there was no remedying how revolting this smelled on me. Oh, the irony that the woman on whom most things fade is subjected to a perfume she loathes and cannot escape. (As one of my best friends put it, it’s a situation worthy of the Twilight Zone.) I should begin by stating that the niche perfume house, Montale, is well-known (and much adored) for its various Aoud scents. They have many, with Dark Aoud being one that people frequently rave about as the ultimate in pure, really dark, super intense Aoud scents. (God, if it’s stronger than the Lime Aoud, please kill me before a touch of it gets on me.)

I ordered Lime Aoud because of the many raves for it on Fragrantica. Its notes intrigued me and certainly sounded good at the time: Aoud, Rose, Iris, Amber, Patchouli, Sandalwood, and Saffron. (See, Basenotes.) Some comments mention the extremely harsh opening of lime and Aoud. (It was the first time that lime was officially supposed to be part of an Aoud fragrance that I’d tested and, yet, I sometimes smell that note when it’s not supposed to be. Baffling.) Other commentators talk about a medicinal, bitter and metallic scent. I agree with both of those impressions. I’m not sure I agree with those who say that Lime Aoud turns into amber, sandalwood and roses.

The first time I put on Lime Aoud, I put on a small amount as I could tell from the moment I opened the vial that it was intense. I was blasted back by the lime and medicinal nature of it for hours. Sharp, acrid, medicinal, camphorous even, mixed in — totally incongruously, if I might add — with competing floral scents in an utterly revolting mix that just got stronger and stronger. After about 5 hours of barely suppressing nausea, I finally caved and took a long, scalding shower. Even after that, I could still smell faint traces of the worst part of it. And my clothes and hair positively reeked of it. It was so horrendous, I threw my clothes into the washer.

A few days later, I wondered if I’d imagined it and thought that I should give it another go. After all, some scents develop and change. Maybe I hadn’t given it enough of a chance. No. I lasted even less this time. I simply could not bear it. It was like someone had sprayed a floral scent in the air of a morgue, combining with its antiseptic, harshly metallic, cold, steel, and then added about a gallon of bitter lime on top of all that. My God, I’m cringing at the sheer memory.

Montale’s Aoud Blossom was slightly more successful  on me. Probably because it seems to have very little Aoud in it! According a commentator on Basenotes, it contains: “bergamot, Sicilian mandarin, ylang ylang, violet, jasmine sambac, tuberose, rose, Mysore sandalwood, Arabian oud.”  Many seem to think there is little to no real Aoud in it. I disagree. I can definitely smell it in the opening minutes, faint though it may be. Someone says they can smell the tuberose in it. I love tuberose and I get none of that on me. What I can smell is a definite floriental. Floral from the very dominant rose component, and oriental from the more spicy notes. I’m not sure I can really detect the mandarin, violet or jasmin but I can definitely smell the bergamot, ylang ylang and the sandalwood. However, everything is essentially overwhelmed by a very loud rose note that remains consistently dominant.

While Kilian and Serge Lutens fragrances don’t last long on me (at all!), Montale ones have decent to moderate sillage, and great longevity. (Too great, alas, in the case of the Lime Aoud). Its longevity is quite surprising to me, given how niche fragrances usually die a quick death on my skin. Aoud Blossom lasted about 5 hours on me, all in all. I will be frank, however, this is not a scent I would ever reach for again. And I am fighting off the urge to take another shower. It’s simply too pungent and in-your-face. Now, I *adore* strong scents, floral orientals and anything with a POW! And almost nothing gives me a bad physical reaction. But this… I can feel it at the back of my throat, it’s so overpowering that I feel a bit dizzy and I feel the onset of a migraine. It’s a deeply unhappy experience and one which has made me conclude that I must stay very far away from the House of Montale.

That said, there are enough variations of Aoud on the market that — whether your preference is for a sweeter version, a more woody one, a floral rose variation or hard core medicinal iteration — you can be sure to find one that appeals to you. If you’re willing to pay the prices for the uniqueness! This is not Coty or even your mother’s Estée Lauder. As for me, I will continue my exploration of Oud – probably with Tom Ford’s Oud Wood next as a friend of mine reports nothing medicinal, metallic, acrid or sharp about it. If I do try it out, I will be sure to report back.