Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Although roses interpreted in the warm oriental style have been a popular theme as of late (Armani Privé Rose d’Arabie, Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady, etc.,) I keep returning to By Kilian Rose Oud. Opulent and complex, it remains one of my favorite fragrances inspired by the Middle East perfumery tradition. Its beauty comes not just from the particularly fine raw materials—although the lavish use of beautiful rose essences certainly lends it a sumptuous aura — it is the cleverly played contrast between the accords that makes Rose Oud special. The initial flourish of crimson rose petals belies the classical woody structure of the composition. Rose Oud beckons with its appealing softness of petals, but let it seep into your skin, and you will discover that it is dark, sensual and full of mystery.
The fragrance was created by perfumer Calice Becker, who has a particular talent for crafting very luminous, multifaceted accords, whether she works with flowers or woods. In Rose Oud, her signature is evident in the radiant structure of the composition. Despite the dark oud accord, which is balanced out by the spices and roses, Rose Oud retains a surprisingly gossamer, airy sensation. It unfolds in a modern, panoramic style, presenting first cinnamon and cardamom dusted rose petals and then the dark, smoky woods. As it dries down, the composition continues to deepen, not just attenuate.
Rose should not scare away men from trying Rose Oud, especially if they enjoy Le Labo Rose 31 and Serge Lutens El Attarine. The oud accord, which captures perfectly the dramatic beauty of natural oud essence–from leather to honey, from wood to tobacco—gives Rose Oud a strong woody-animalic character, which is made more refined by the floral notes. It is certainly a Western interpretation of a traditional Middle Eastern oud, and it is done with so much style and elegance that I find it irresistible. Wearing Rose Oud is like donning a sparkling, exotic garment, which nevertheless feels perfectly comfortable and familiar.
By Kilian Rose Oud (fragrance family: woods) includes notes of cardamom, cinnamon, cedarwood, cypriol, saffron, geranium, Bulgarian rose, and rosa centifolia. By Kilian fragrances are sold from Aedes, MiN, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks5thAvenue.