Oud: 24 posts

The Best Oud-Based Perfumes

Oud, or agarwood, is the biggest perfumery trend of the past ten years, and while it might occasionally show signs of flagging, it won’t disappear anytime soon. While we have seen many excellent fragrances based on the note derived from the resin of the Aquilaria tree species, uninspiring, bland compositions have been just as common. In my latest FT magazine column, The Best Oud-Based Perfumes, I explain what makes oud as a perfume note and a traditional Middle Eastern ingredient so important. Then, I describe several oud-based fragrances that I consider gold standards. Since oud is a material that comes from an endangered plant species, I also talk about the ethical issues we have to keep in mind as we seek out oud perfumes.

“Oud is a paradox. The exquisite aroma that set the imagination of Japanese poets and Sufi mystics aflame develops as a result of a disease. When healthy, the wood of the Aquilaria tree species is odourless, but once a certain type of mould affects them, they release an aromatic essence to protect their tissues from decomposition. It’s a slow process, during which blond wood turns dark and hard as a stone and develops a fragrance of uncommon complexity. It has the notes of sweet tobacco, incense, leather and smoked spices, with a lingering undercurrent of bitter honey and crushed mint. While it’s known by many names, including aloeswood, agarwood, gaharu, or jinko, its other name, dark gold, will be instantly recognisable to oud lovers. To continue reading, please click here.”

What are your favorite oud fragrances?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, oud chips and essence.

Penhaligon’s Vaara : Perfume Review

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A perfume fit for a Maharaja, says Penhaligon’s about Vaara, a fragrance inspired by the Royal House of Marwar-Jodphur in Rajasthan. This state in the northwest of India means “the land of kings,” and it’s renowned for its colorful textiles, filigreed palaces and majestic forts. It’s also the place where you can buy opium scented incense (whether or not it includes the actual drug is another matter) and try the decadently rich milk shakes perfumed with pistachios, almonds and saffron. Like most of India, it’s a sensory roller coaster.

penhaligons-vaara-perfume

So, why is Vaara such a wallflower? Etro has already tried to take us to Rajasthan with its recent fragrance, but the violet and rose combination never got past the South of France. Despite its promises, Vaara doesn’t even cross the Channel. It’s soft spoken and mild, a perfume for someone who really doesn’t like orientals or anything richer than frozen yogurt.

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Neela Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling and Trayee : Perfume Reviews

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Suzanna reviews two India inspired fragrances

Neela Vermeire is an Indian perfume lover living in Paris whose “creative partner” is none other than perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, king of the travel-themed fragrance.  The Neela Vermeire Creations line consists of four fragrances themed around different periods of Indian history: Mohur, TrayeeBombay Bling, and Ashoka. I’ve already reviewed Mohur, and today I will talk about Trayee and Bombay Bling.

Umrao-Jaan

After Mohur, my favorite was Trayee, a fragrance inspired by the Vedic era that uses notes of Ayurvedic medicine and religious rituals.  Trayee is a smoky perfume featuring a stunning incense note.  Also in there is a “ganja accord” that I will call “green bud” for those who might recognize it, and a sense-awakening jolt of ginger, cinnamon, and clove at the top.  Here and there, Trayee reminded me of black tea leaves (this is not listed) steeped plain, without sugar.

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Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme : Perfume Review

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I find endlessly fascinating the “stories” created around perfumes; the one concocted for Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme is briefer than many but is still dramatic:  “She turned the dial until the safe opened, revealing the diamond. She had stolen jewels before, but none compared with this one. She left a single rose and the scent of her perfume in its place for him to find. In a moment she’d be halfway around the world and he would be in pursuit. The chase began again…”

rose-anonyme

More useful for someone wondering whether he or she might enjoy the fragrance is a sentence about “a breathtaking seductress caught in a stolen affair between light and dark.”  Forget the seductress and go right to the light and dark part.  This isn’t fiction.  Rose Anonyme contains mostly dark elements that can easily topple a less carefully considered fragrance. But it’s so smoothly blended that the perfume feels like something that one slides into rather than something one sprays on.

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Neela Vermeire Creations Mohur : Perfume Review

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Neela Vermeire Mohur is a modern interpretation of a classical theme in Middle Eastern perfumery—the combination of rose with oud. It is one of a debut trio from the Neela Vermeire Creations line.  Ms. Vermeire is an Indian woman living in Paris who weaves the heritage of her native country around personal history to create perfume narratives.

Mohur takes its name from a gold coin minted during the Mogul era in Indian history. It is influenced by the story of the empress Nur Jahan, who not-so-secretly became the power behind the throne of her opium-addicted second husband.  After her husband’s death, Nur Jahan took up the art of perfumery while under what amounted to a house arrest.  Although the perfumes Nur Jahan created are lost to history, the story is not and it is this that Neela Vermeire has taken as inspiration.

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