By Kilian Rose Oud : Perfume Review

Bykilian rose oud

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.



  • Olfactoria: I am just slowly getting fsmiliar wit the line, so your review is incredibly helpful. I love the phrase “continues to deepen not just attenuate”. Another must smell, it seems 🙂 January 3, 2011 at 4:10am Reply

  • Olfactoria: So sorry for the typos, *blush* combination of iPhone, cold fingers and to quickly hitting ‘post’ 😉 January 3, 2011 at 4:12am Reply

  • Marina: It is so soft and cushy on me, with nothing particularly dark, although certainly sensual. I don’t mind the lack of darkness you describe, because the fragrance is just so pretty, and I have enough dark scents as it is. January 3, 2011 at 7:22am Reply

  • Vintage Lady: It is a fragrance I have on my test list. Middle Easter scents that are conceibed with an Occidental touch are of great interest.

    Thanks for this visually felt review! January 3, 2011 at 8:21am Reply

  • dee: Card-carrying rose ho, here!

    I’ve basically refused to try this line because of the Clive Christian-inspired aspirational pricing; but your review is making me want to investigate these refill bottles I hear tell of…

    Sounds so good 🙂 January 3, 2011 at 9:28am Reply

  • Lidia: Hi and Happy New Year to all!
    I was wondering how does Rose
    oud compare to Amouage Lyric
    Woman, if it compares at all?
    Thanks January 3, 2011 at 2:50pm Reply

  • Victoria: D, in this case, I am more than willing to pay the price, because I can just smell how excellent the materials are. Granted, you pay for the bottle, the luxurious packaging, but without doubt, the fragrance is luxurious too. January 3, 2011 at 10:33am Reply

  • Victoria: I love these kinds of fragrances, from Shalimar and Emeraude to Portrait of a Lady and Rose Oud. The blend of French aesthetic and Middle Eastern flair is very appealing to me. January 3, 2011 at 10:34am Reply

  • Victoria: I find the oud-sandalwood accord quite dark, as it settles on my skin. That being said, Pure Oud is an even dark woods blend. I love it too, but I wear Rose Oud much more often. January 3, 2011 at 10:35am Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, no worries! Whenever I type from my Blackberry, I am embarrassed to discover later how many typos I make. January 3, 2011 at 10:36am Reply

  • Victoria: It is my favorite so far, although I also love Back to Black for its dark Hababita/Tabu richness. It is another one on my to-review list. Pure Oud is one of the best Western oud renditions, where the oud is presented without much embellishment. January 3, 2011 at 10:38am Reply

  • Bolsa: I had the opportunity to witness the presentation of this perfume in my country and I fully agree with everything you’ve said here, I had not been able to better or myself! January 3, 2011 at 3:47pm Reply

  • violetnoir: Oh lord…looks like I need to test this one. I love cardamom!

    Hugs! January 3, 2011 at 8:40pm Reply

  • Victoria: Linda, Happy New Year to you too!
    Lyric Woman is a more blended fragrance, with lots of different components, and as a result, it is a more abstract rose. Plus, it has a really pronounced incense note, and the rose notes are front and center.
    Rose Oud is simpler in structure, and when I wear it, I really feel that it is a marriage between rose and dark woods, with few other notes distracting from this dramatic pairing. The rose is evenly balanced with oud. January 3, 2011 at 6:23pm Reply

  • Victoria: Bolsa, I am glad to hear it, thank you! January 3, 2011 at 6:23pm Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, the cardamom note is a nice accent here. Overall, my favorite oud these days! January 3, 2011 at 9:00pm Reply

  • Kevy: Could u please recommend some rose perfumes for men (if any)? Just throw some names at me. If there aren’t any roses for men, then I’ll just have to start wearing the women’s ones, and if I should happen to be queried at work why I smell of roses, I’ll just lie and tell my colleagues I’m wearing a manly, rose-centred cologne February 5, 2011 at 7:37am Reply

  • Victoria: How about Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit, Frederic Malle Une Rose, L'Artisan Voleur de Roses, Agent Provocateur? They have nice rose notes, but they do not smell like dainty, tea roses. The first three can definitely work as unisex fragrances and they are even designed to be. AP can work for both men and women. Also Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Homme, which has a nice, crisp rose-citrusy note.  February 5, 2011 at 11:08am Reply

  • Martha1108: I just found your blog, and I love it! I have a question about Rose Oud. The Saks 5th website only list Eau de Parfum, not Parfum.
    Were you writing about the parfum or eau de parfum? My favorite perfume is 1000, and the perfume and the eau de parfum are noticeably different. To me, anyway.
    Martha February 8, 2011 at 12:35am Reply

  • Victoria: Martha, thank you and welcome!
    I was writing about Eau de Parfum. I believe it is the only concentration available. February 8, 2011 at 8:06am Reply

  • nathanthomas: I LOVE this fragrance & im a guy so its definitely one only for the ladies! When so many fragrances are bland & unmemorable this one hit me as soon as i tried it. Luckily in the store i bought it in they had the beautiful silver travel spray (oddly this is VERY heavy, beautifully made with a clever magnetic lid & cost £60 whereas Tom Ford charges £150 for his atomisers which are much cheaper & nastier & more plasticky) – because i had bought the travel atomiser i was able to purchase the 100ml refill which worked out at half the price of buying the 50ml in the proper bottle would have cost so i didnt begrudge the expense! March 1, 2011 at 6:37pm Reply

  • nathanthomas: PS excuse the typo – i meant ‘definitely NOT one only for the ladies’! March 1, 2011 at 6:38pm Reply

  • Victoria: As much as I want to complain about the expense of the packaging, it is so great and so well-done that I really do not mind. Plus, I love the option of a less expensive refill.
    I am glad to hear that you wear Rose Oud. I really think that it works well on men. March 1, 2011 at 9:01pm Reply

  • Hannah: I’m wearing Rose Oud today. There’s a place in Hamburg that sells a drink with tea, milk, rosewater, saffron, and cardamom and as soon as I put the perfume on, I had to go get that drink (it’s an hour away). They smell very similar. The beverage is not cheap but it is more in my price range than the perfume and has the plus of being edible.
    I’m not into oud and I don’t like By Kilian, so I find it a bit funny that the only ouds that I’ve like so far are the By Kilian ouds (Amber Oud is my favorite). November 26, 2013 at 4:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: They’re really well-made, without any doubt. In comparison to many other ouds, especially. November 27, 2013 at 10:59am Reply

  • Joshua Wroblewski: I’m a Rose lover through and through, and I fell for Rose Oud upon first sniff. The handsome and juicy red Rose absoluts in this juice are presented so well and so pure and are executed perfectly over the perfumes entire life span. The Oud note is superbly blended adding depth and a 3 dimensional feel to that red Rose, and only becomes evident into the far drydown, and Saffron and Cinnamon lend just enough sweetness. Rose Oud is of strospheric quality, speaks mass volumes about the wearer, and worth the exuberant pricetag… March 31, 2014 at 3:33am Reply

  • Joshua Wroblewski: PS Victoria… I adore your blog by the way, and you are very professional and thorough in your reviews, and you are the first that I search for in a perfumes review. Thank you for your great input! March 31, 2014 at 3:39am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your nice words and for your great description of Rose Oud. Makes me want to put it on right away. I love this fragrance still, and I seem to enjoy it even more the longer I wear it. Expensive but worth it. March 31, 2014 at 3:40pm Reply

  • Sarah: I don’t know if I can spend $300 for a bottle of perfume but mmmmmmmm, I received my $4 sample today & it is luxurious. August 7, 2014 at 6:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: The refills are much more reasonable, I find, but yes, the bottles are very expensive. August 11, 2014 at 7:04am Reply

  • SHMW: Your review was one of several that made me really want to try Rose Oud however when I did eventually get to a by Kilian stockist they had none (although I did try and very much like Incense Oud). I still have not got a chance to try Rose Oud but have tried and really liked Gold Oud. My understanding is this is basically Rose Oud with the addition of some real Cambodian oud. It is a very mellow oud and now am curious about its relationship to the original Rose oud. There does not seem to be a lot of information out there about the differences and I have to say that descriptions like yours of Rose oud pretty much describe what I experience with Gold oud. Have you tried this? April 25, 2018 at 12:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: They’re still different to me, although Gold Oud is also beautiful. Rose Oud has a layer of soft rose petals, and this is not what I find in Gold Oud, which is stately, rich and slightly more imposing. April 26, 2018 at 8:50am Reply

  • SHMW: Thank you. That is really interesting and helpful not just for me but probably for others as comments here (and elsewhere) suggest some experience none of the delicious depth or darkness you found and enjoy in RO. Maybe in this case they might find Gold Oud perfect! I do love GO. I do find it rich, even lush but not at all solemn or imposing. I am now even more determined to find and test Rose oud as well… (By the way, commenting on oud perfumes is exhausting given spellchecks utter determination to turn every oud into ‘our.’ ) April 26, 2018 at 1:42pm Reply

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