Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
If Ambre d’Orient explored amber in the opulent and gilded interpretation, Oud Royal wraps it in leather and dry woods. While the boldness of oud, a natural raw material of striking richness and complexity, is the axis, around which Oud Royal revolves, the strength and persistence of amber makes it more of an animalic amber-leather composition. The surprises do not end here. As the fragrance develops, instead of a brash and animalic, it becomes smooth and seductive.
Created by Symrise perfumer Evelyne Boulanger, Oud Royal is a fragrance from Armani Privé La Collection des Mille et une Nuits, which also includes Ambre d’Orient and Rose d’Arabie. It opens up on a delightful note reminiscent of rum and dried raisins, which given a subtle touch of saffron gives the opening accord an abstract gourmand quality. That dried fruit compote and pistachio candy sensation is fleeting, but it helps to soften the impact of oud, myrrh, labdanum and leather, which are quite heavy and opaque by nature. The crisp, dry amber and vanilla underpinning the composition infuse it with an appealing radiance. Like Ambre d’Orient, Oud Royal is a classical Middle Easter oud theme reinterpreted to fit the contemporary Western tastes.
As I previously reviewed Ambre d’Orient, the fragrances from this collection are in fact quite opulent, well-crafted, made with high-quality materials. Yet, as I am trying to get over the sticker shock of £170 per bottle (according to Harrod’s pricing,) I have to ask myself whether this price is warranted. I really enjoy the decadent sensuality that Oud Royal conveys as well as its prêt-a-porter interpretation of the leather-oud notes that sometimes are quite difficult to wear (such as by Kilian Pure Oud, beautiful though it is.) Yet, it does not strike me as particularly new or original. Or perhaps, something of this Arabian Tale was lost in translation.
Armani Privé Oud Royal (fragrance family: oriental) includes notes of davana, saffron, licorice, myrrh, guaiacwood, labdanum, incense, oud, amber, musk, vanilla. Armani Privé fragrances are available from Saks5thAvenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York.
Painting: L’Odalisque à la culotte rouge, Henri Matisse.