Long in the tooth. Flogging a dead horse. Stick a fork in it. Something wicked this way comes.
There are so many expressions hint at the sense of ennui/dread I feel at the thought of a new oud perfume. Niche designers are releasing two or three at a time (The Different Company, by Kilian, Francis Kurkdjian. Even Patricia de Nicolai!) Designer and celebrity fragrances are scrambling late to the table. (Chanel Bleueoud, Madonna Truth, Dare or Oud, Dior J'Oud, Estée Lauder Youth D’Oud, Paris Hilton So Oud! So Hot!) It would be revolting if it weren't so tired.
It was with particular angst that I saw one of my favorite perfumers, Aurélien Guichard (whom my autocorrect calls, “Brilliant Shark” when I dictate) had made the latest oud perfume. And for Robert Piguet, no less. Guichard captures the Persephone-syndrome afflicting contemporary perfumers better than most. Part of the year trapped in Hades (Davidoff, Mugler) and half a year on free on earth (Robert Piguet.) From a company with a track record of enticing, suggestive one word titles (Bandit, Fracas, Visa, Futur) comes an uninspired monosyllabic title. Oud. Almost rhymes with turd. Expectations, low; hopes, nil.
Outcome? Surprising. Pleasantly so. To all the nichy perfumers trying to find the new compositional trampoline that will allow them to jump this shark, and for all the hacks who are simply pouring buckets of Oud Note ™ into their their stock of Flanker Base ™ come look close. Guichard did what he does best and treated oud like any other tool on his palette. That is to say, he executed classical perfumery.
I'm not sure I'll ever love Oud, as I don't particularly love oud, but christ, I appreciate this perfume. By classical perfumery, I mean applying deliberate compositional techniques to oud in order to create a rich, perfume that demonstrates artistic principles such as proportionality, intent and aesthetics. This is what Bernard Chant did with patchouli in Aromatics Elixir and Germaine Cellier did with galbanum and isoquinilone in Bandit. What Jaques Guerlain did with vanilla.
I've read a number of reviewers who say that Oud contains next to no oud. However the fragrance was composed, Guichard enhances oud’s properties and plays to its strengths. The band-aid note isn't hidden, it's amplified and made sweaty with a heavy dose of myrrh. The odd facet I've smelled in oud wood itself, the chalky/resiny/prickly/parched quality isn't smoothed over, it’s developed. It becomes the principal characteristic of this perfume from the almost disagreeable top notes to the more settled bass notes.
Oud has a distinct, pronounced character, and fits in more with Piguet's relic perfumes than it does the new young dudes in the line like Mademoiselle Piguet and Petit Fracas, also by Guichard. There’s nothing diminutive in Oud. It has the forget-me-not quality of Baghari, but none of its charm. Like Bandit and Fracas, it has a caged-animal quality that suggests a fragile safety. Despite an occasionally calm appearance, they aren’t tamed. They're held captive. It carries the same unsolvable mixed message as a person who comes on to you and then snubs you when you pursue the apparent invitation. I think Germain Cellier would have loved Guichard’s Oud.
Oud possesses another quality that often gets confused with age. Vent Vert, Cabochard, Youth Dew. Nahema, Poison, Lou Lou. Even Angel. These classical perfumes aren't successful due to their age. They succeed because of the deliberate approaches that technically proficient artists used to produce the new ideas that they express. They are remembered not for the fact that they are old, but because they are fucking beautiful. Oud and Guichard join the above-mentioned perfumes and perfumers in the tradition of using a formal approach to create a new idea.
(Small note. More than most perfumes, one spray is sufficient. Two, uncomfortable. Three, traumatic.)
A chocolate-y "oud" with anachronistic ‘80s aesthetics attached to it. It’s quite complex and layered, and the layers themselves are crystal clear, but it’s a highly unflattering sequence of notes.
Fir balsam tends to do me in, and this one’s no exception—a bad ‘80s creeper aromatic emerges, complete with mustaches and medallions, lingering more prominently than it probably should. This isn’t helped at all by the presence of synthetic iononic notes that I guess are supposed to be saffron (it's a poor sketch of saffron, really). The oud is barely present, but what's there clashes with a patchouli that reads prominently as minty chocolate. This is all undergirded by a salty bacon-like guiaic note.
The good new is that all of these notes (aside from the oud) are vividly presented and lucid; the bad news is that all of these notes (aside from the oud) are vividly presented and lucid. This is a deeply unpleasant combination of uncomplimentary notes which, when brought together, add a totalizing layer of discordant vulgarity. There’s nothing here to redeem this—it’s simultaneously dated and putrid. If you’re looking for an oud fragrance that has almost no oud, but instead combines coniferous, pungently aromatic chemicals with chocolate and bacon, then this is the scent for you. Extraordinarily ugly, bordering on offensive.
A typically fashionable, "volatile" and perfectly unisex new generation oud concoction with almost no traces of the classical vintage/medicinal agarwood vibe proper to the initial oud experiments of the modern era. This oud based fragrance will probably stand out as a best seller among the new oud creations launched on the market by almost all the notorious brands with a certain urge to hook the common trend. What i detect in the air? Well, we can inhale by soon a really spicy/resinous oud with floral patterns, boise stickiness and hints of secret olibanum (conjuring me vaguely the far more incensey and synthetic Alyssa Ashley Oud Pour Lui). The resinous trail recedes a bit along the way and the oud remains "molecular" and gasseous. The initial cloud produced by the interaction of saffron, balmy elements and green/floral notes could turn us to guess this can be a properly feminine aroma while the smell (finally mild by sweet woods and spicy till the dry down) features a notable fir resin element (carnal, boise and intimate) which (supported by an elegant, stable and dark patchouli) pushes the button over the masculine side in my opinion. The fir resins/patchouli combo provides an aromatic general nature and a certain dose of "earthy/spicy" consistency which "cut" the floral/balmy ethereal volatility of the "yummy gas" (a la Deeply Maria Lux, Belle au Parfum de Oud Esteban, Aoud Damascus or Agarwood Heeley) impressing structure, "articulation" and stableness. The dry down is warm, woody in a sort of powdery way, with a saffron/incense twist and a floral/resinous intensity. I have to admit that over a first try on the paper i dismissed this sample as too much oudish, gasseous and sweetish while trying it later on the skin i detected a more than interesting carnal/spicy dark dry down with exotic and mystic nuances, especially enjoying it at night in the frost. Powerful stuff with a long projection. Expensive but a must try for the fanatic of the oud's alchemies.
Ps: i've tested this fragrance several times again on skin and well, it finally tends to bother me a bit since i perceive it as too much oudishy and "artificial" in the final type of gassy/sweety/ambery/floral outcome, in spite of the huge amount of subtle nuances i still tend to catch in the general sophistication.
27th November, 2013 (last edited: 28th May, 2014)
The component of Saffron is nice. The component of Patchouli is nice. But these are really the only two aspects of the fragrance I can readily detect while wearing this, whether on my neck or on my forearms. Whether in the morning, when my brain may be a bit blurry, or in the evening when my senses are piqued -- it's just far too narrow & pleasant for an Oud.
The bottle is beautiful (simple yet intriguing, attractive yet austere)--really making me really want to love this, because it would look terrific in my cabinet--and I have given it plenty of chances, but for something calling itself an "Oud," I want more funk & more bang. Oh well.
An ‘almost but not quite’ kind of scent that has glimpses of greatness but doesn’t get close enough to realizing them. This seems to be a problem with quite a few of the new Piguets when measured against the stature of the first reformulated releases.
To elaborate: there’s a brief burst of something green and perhaps even a bit of aldehydic fizz which is an unusual treatment for an oud theme; the oud itself is quite subdued, purring softly in a corner rather than emerging from the lavatory or ripping off its shirt in a clumsy come on; there are sweet balsamic elements. Something sophisticated is being attempted here but the results don't quite gel. Once the drydown is established one is left with a curious sweet and medicinal/plasticine smell – perhaps this is the band-aid scent which some people complain about in ouds but which I had never encountered before.
Great longevity and reach, now if only the juice excited me a bit more.