oud: 6 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.

Explaining Oud and Middle Eastern Perfume Trends

I get lots of requests to talk about perfume trends–what themes are promising to remain popular, why white florals are perennial favorites, what we might see in the upcoming season, and other questions along these lines. Answering them is a bit like reading a crystal ball, and some marketing agencies earn a nice profit doing just that. On the other hand, what people wear in different countries and why they enjoy what they do is something I find fascinating. This is the topic of my recent FT column, Perfumes with Middle Eastern panache. Based on my travels and interviews, the article explains why fragrance is such an integral part of Middle Eastern culture and how European perfume houses are taking note of it.

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Parfums de Nicolai Amber Oud and Rose Oud : New Perfumes

Parfums de Nicolaï presents a new collection called Oud. Amber Oud and Rose Oud are two new launches built around this rich woody note.  According to the press release, ” ‘I have created perfumes based on oud because I wanted to enrich my collection of powerful and long lasting fragrances’ explains Patricia de Nicolaï. ‘I wanted to combine the extraordinary richness of agarwood with amber for one perfume, and for the other, with rose, all the way retaining the tradition of French elegance.’ Patricia de Nicolaï added noble essences of patchouli, Atlas cedarwood, castoreum, tonka bean, costus or nagarmotha to magnify her oud.”

parfums-nicolai-oud

Amber Oud includes notes of lavender, thyme, sage, davana, cinnamon, saffron, agarwood, Atlas cedar, patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla, tonka bean, styrax, musk, castoreum and amber.

Rose Oud features raspberry, davana, osmanthus, rose, lily of the valley, agarwood, patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla, musk, castoreum and amber.

Rose Oud & Amber Oud will be available in 30ml (58 €) and 100 ml (174 €) Eau de Parfum starting November 19th. Via press release

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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