I like to think that when he died, Leonard Cohen was laid naked in a white shroud, anointed from head to toe in Ancient Resins, and then burned on a pyre that floats off down the Ganges. But recently, I learned that Cohen loved more than one of Mandy Aftel’s creations. In fact, Cohen wouldn't go out without a drop of her Oud Luban on his person.
Learning that made me reassess my imagining of Leonard Cohen as a gloomy, depressive poet, anointed with the biblical-smelling Ancient Resins. Because Oud Luban is an oud fragrance that takes what Luca Turin mentioned as an “inherent brown study grimness” characteristic of the material and shoots it through with a light-strobing blood orange note that makes it feel like liquid late-afternoon sunshine.
Superior, Hojari-grade frankincense from the Dhofar desert in Oman adds a bright, terpenic freshness that sidles up to the citrus and supports it – think crushed pine needles, with their juicy, lemony, green scent on your fingers after you touch them. And all this against a very smoky, leathery oud oil that is darkness personified. A superb, natural-smelling, joyful balancing of dark and light, Oud Luban displays a sort of switching-on-of-the-Christmas-lights effect.
I don’t think I have ever smelled a perfume that works oud quite like this. The smoky, growly undertones of real oud are there alright – no mistaking this for a synthetic variant – but its usual tendency to spread its gravel-voiced gloominess over everything has been reined in by the bright, citrusy resin elements. I think of it as humorous and hopeful.
And maybe this humorous, fey thing is a truer portrait of Leonard Cohen than my historic, mental imagining of his character. My dad recently told me a story he had read somewhere, of Leonard Cohen at a party. He just sat down on his own, picked up a guitar and started to strum, quietly humming the words to one of his famous songs. Bit by bit, women, young and old, began to kneel down at either side of him, listening intently. One of his friends whispered to him, Leonard, did you notice that you’re surrounded by women. Without looking up from his guitar and strumming away, he whispered back, “Works every time”.
Oud Luban is probably my favorite of the Aftelier line. It's basically a mix of oud and citrus, which shouldn't work but does.
It's Aftelier, so the oud is real and very nice, like a campfire in a forest with hints of rubber. The citrus is perfectly balanced, giving a sense of lift and brightness to the dark deep woods, as well as a whiff of freshly squeezed orange juice. There are other greens in there as well, vaguely herbal but also smelling of nature, filling in the spaces with the scent of a place in a forest.
My only complaint is that there's a touch of "natural perfume smell", that weird pet store odor that I don't like in natural perfumes, but it's largely contained within the forest headspace, so I don't mind it as much here as I do in other perfumes. Thumbs up.
I cannot make my mind up about this one. I love the opening orange/oud/incense/earthy feel, but it isn't coming over on me as a whole perfume. It seems to be missing something. I think it would be good as a grounding agent for overtly floral perfumes. I love how it smells but it isn't complete for me as a scent on its own.
Her taming of the oud however is superb and that tips me the thumb up. It moves softly as a wild tamed animal by her honeyed and spicy side. Incense is swirling in gentle tendrils around her bare feet and ankles as they quietly pad along the moist earth in the heat of the shade. They sit together in the heat with her ruffling the nearly dried grasses.
The ingredient quality shines through but the oud doesn't quite have the teeth it used to have before it was tamed. It is still beautiful as a caged animal but I find myself yearning for the wilder side.
Aftelier makes a strong entry into the oud genre with its superb solid scent, Oud Luban. Aside from the obvious (it being a solid perfume), Oud Luban is different from other scents by only having top and bottom notes... No heart notes are present. It opens with a subtle natural orange note coupled with an almost pine-like frankincense. The combination works brilliantly, and lasts a good 20 minutes before giving way to the real oud base. According to Aftelier, Oud Luban uses eight different ouds in its composition. I can't verify that claim by picking all of them out, but I definitely can tell that the combination works... The oud here is smooth, natural, with a very pleasant rubbery accord that is not off putting or synthetic in the least. This is also a very accessible oud that is extremely wearable and versatile. Sillage and projection are minimal, while longevity is average to slightly above average. The minimal sillage and projection are two minor weaknesses in an otherwise extremely strong effort and easily forgiven when taken against the scent's many strengths.
Oud Luban can only be classified as a success in my mind. It is an oud that even if you are not really into oud scents you can still appreciate and enjoy. Oud Luban is also tailor made for layering with some of the other natural solid scents from Aftelier, like their Rose and Fir scents. I do wish, similar to many other oud based scents that it were less costly, of course ($210 for 1/4 oz), but at least in this case you are getting a top quality real oud scent for your money unlike so many impostors sold for similar or greater sums. Definitely Oud Luban merits being placed on One's "Buy" list. It is truly excellent. 4 to 4.5 stars out of 5.
24th March, 2012 (last edited: 21st December, 2012)
Mandy Aftel is a talented nose, and has some very nice fragrances in her line. The big problem for me is the short longevity. That happens with natural perfumery.
Oud Luban is a different beast all together. When Oud Luban is applied to the hair, I get a nice 8 hours out of it.
The beauty of Oud Luban is well balanced, suave, and debonaire. No stinky synthetic oud here. This stuff is extremely versatile. Just wear by itself (in your hair) for a wonderfull smooth woody oud day. Apply on skin to boost a floral scent. Experiment and layer, the combinations are endless.
Oud Luban wasn't just thrown together to have an oud scent in line up like so many other companys are doing. It's a well structured scent to be enjoyed by perfumistas and newbies alike. Thank you Mandy for giving Oud Luban some love, it gives back.
05th January, 2012 (last edited: 17th January, 2012)