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John Varvatos Oud (2014)
by John Varvatos

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John Varvatos Oud information

Year of Launch2014
GenderMasculine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 24 votes)

People and companies

HouseJohn Varvatos
PerfumerRodrigo Flores-Roux
SupplierGivaudan
Parent CompanyRevlon Inc > Elizabeth Arden Inc
Parent Company at launchElizabeth Arden Inc

About John Varvatos Oud

John Varvatos Oud is a masculine fragrance by John Varvatos. The scent was launched in 2014 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux

Reviews of John Varvatos Oud

John Varvatos has had a relatively good run in the men's segment, with the eponymous scent John Varvatos (2004), Vintage (2006), Artisan (2009), and flankers all composed by Rodrigo Flores-Roux of Givaudan, who has created every Varvatos scent as unofficial house perfumer for the former Calvin Klein creative director-turned-designer. John Varvatos Oud (2014) was the expected outing into the Middle Eastern-themed oud segment, as the West's intial rejection of Western oud efforts in the early 2000's did an about-face into widespread curiousity and eventual acceptance by the 2010's. Before long, every designer had an oud creation or oud flanker of a pre-existing line, with Varvatos being no exception to this rule. Most Western ouds in the designer segment tend to omit a lot of the Middle Eastern flavor fans of authentic oud attars crave, meaning heady notes like rose and patchouli are often not part of mix, since they are made under the assumption that the demographic they serve can't handle that kind of a strong perfume due to decades of synthetic transparency being popular (particularly in the US), and the oud itself is usually a chemical compound containing little or sometimes no actual oud to keep costs within Western designer expectations, since good quality agarwood is very expensive. Estée Lauder made an entire line of perfumes made to Middle Eastern tastes exported directly to that market, and even they contained trivial amounts of the key ingredient at best, despite being good in their own way. That's not to say there aren't some good Western ouds heading into pricey niche territory, they're just rare, and John Varvatos Oud is one such rare bird, with a few catches that could end up being deal-breakers for certain people. John Varvatos Oud is surprisingly a very complex orchestration of notes, and like some classics that have more notes than what's good for them, you won't be able to get much note separation if any at all from John Varvatos Oud except in the very opening notes and very finish of the dry down.

The journey from top to bottom is a blur, but what's gleaned from this blur is Western style that takes heavy nods from its Middle East source inspiration, much like the Aramis Perfume Calligraphy (2012) line, just with a mildly-skanky oud note that is a bit more noticeable. For starters, you know right off the top that this is still a Varvatos fragrance because of a very prescient tobacco, which is described thus because it almost acts like a spoiler for the yee-haw going on in base. You're in a leather jacket enjoying a cigar then suddenly *wham* it hits you: this is a Middle Eastern-themed perfume. Nutmeg, cypress, sage, and cade oil roll out the red carpet for the opulent middle. Turkish rose, cinnamon, saffron, jasmine, osmanthus, black pepper, and clove all meld into a Hollywood rendition of the oud accord which lays on top most authentic varieties from houses like Al Haramain or Al Rehab, but John Varvatos Oud quickly takes off the VR helmet and brings you back to Anywhere USA with the base that the aforementioned tobacco top seems to presage. The oud is there, and it's quite a nice little virile oud note too, combining with leather to make a much less-powerful version of the primary accord in Dior Leather Oud (2010), but buried in a milieu of amber, patchouli, labdanum, opopnax, cedar, myrrh, incense (likely norlimbanol), and musk. This crowded house is both the biggest selling point, and biggest weakness of the fragrance, as it obscures the subject oud too much, but also makes this yet another entertainingly creative wearing experience for an open mind. Wear time is long thanks to the EdP concentration, but the sillage is uncommonly low even for the usual EdP that likes sticking closer to the wearer in a tighter, smaller, but more intense scent bubble. Instead, we get projection actually closer to an eau de cologne, so you'll have to apply closer to the face or really hose down in John Varvatos Oud just to get a good trail going, which makes it a little weaker in that area than its standard eau de toilette brethren.

Just to be clear, John Varvatos Oud is a good composition for the price, but only if you can get it at discounted rates on the gray market, because it is more expensive than the rest of the line at about $120 USD in department stores that carry it, which also places it in the same "almost niche" territory as Aramis Perfume Calligraphy and many other Western oud takes which try (unsuccessfully) to market themselves as a cut above the usual fare. Furthermore, it's an Eau de Parfum but for the life of me it doesn't perform like one, so if retail was my only option, this would get a neutral rating for the hassle. But, because it can be had for prices similar to the rest of the Varvatos catalog online, John Varvatos Oud squeaks by with a thumbs up for what it is. Rodrigo Flores-Roux proves his creative versatility yet again here, and it seems Varvatos is determined to test this perfumer's mettle in every genre, one release at a time. Ultimately, this is a quietly masculine oud interpretation that mixes in the traditional Middle East accord with the leather and chrome rebel without a cause aesthetic John Varvatos likes to push, and it works. Steve McQueen peppered with a bit Omar Sharif, and Harleys doing wheelies over a sand dune on their way to a casbah to illegally drink that smuggled American bourbon against a backdrop of Arabesque tunes, all captured in 70mm Panavision is what I get here. For between $50-$70, the typical wide-job 4.2oz bottle Varvatos uses for this and all his scents is worth the price of admission for a smell that evokes images of a leather-clad Lawrence of Arabia smoking a Camel cigarette, but I wouldn't pay full retail for it. Also note that this wide bottle has been made even bulkier by an extra cladding of gold tone plastic, which was likely meant to enhance the luxury appeal but transforms an already-chunky bottle into an unwieldy monster. Hardcore Oud majis will not like this, but then again they wouldn't be looking in Nordstrom or on FragranceNet for their fix anyway, so it's all good. If nothing else, John Varvatos Oud is a fun fragrance if had at the right price, just like many others in the Varvatos stable, in spite of its slight performance issues, for folks who don't take their agar so seriously.
25th October, 2018 (last edited: 26th October, 2018)
Looks like I will be the first to give this a thumbs up. This juice starts with slight tobacco, juniper and a saffron/cinnamon mix. Turns into a clove and rose mid to my nose. Then the oud, that is ever so slightly medicinal, leather and amber. In spite of the medicinal oud (which I really dislike) I like this juice a lot. Starting with a sample and will most likely move on to a full bottle. Enjoy!

Update. 12.13.18
Today I find that this is very similar to M7 Fresh by YSL. I would say it doesn't last as long but it is EXTREMELY close in smell. Just a little more information if you are thinking of pulling the trigger on JV Oud.
20th August, 2018 (last edited: 13th December, 2018)
You can smell the oud in JV Oud but it is definitely more approachable and safe than other oud scents considered to be the references for the genre. The ambery-sweetness (this is not a sweet scent) mixed with florals, spice, tobacco, and leather all share equal billing with the oud, so I could see how some would be disappointed that the oud isn't featured more prominently. That being said, a solid choice for someone who wants to just "dabble" in oud and also not choke out a room. Projection is average while longevity is just slightly below average, maybe 4-5 hours.
15th June, 2018
even the oud from them sucks in the longevity dept??? wow....whats up with these guys....they must make weak stuff on purpose.
15th March, 2017
Very soft Oud, very middle eastern smelling. I honestly really like this. I smelled it back to back with Tom Ford Wood Oud and It's a different scent but they share a similar oud at least. This is a solid choice for an Oud that isn't offensive and still smells interesting enough to keep smelling your wrist. Well executed. The longevity was ok, performance decent. For me, I would only buy it discounted but not for full price. Pretty unique for a designer, and his best fragrance by far. For me, if it performed a bit better I'd recommend this higher. Better to me than versace oud, I'd say it's the best designer oud outside of TF (which this one is more unique but doesn't perform quite as well).
26th January, 2016 (last edited: 12th April, 2016)
First off, the price for this is simply not worth it.

Wait for the discounts before buying, however do try it out.

Fans of JV will love this...it does not stray far from the original and JV Vintage. Smoky, spicy, not much oud though, which is a shame. I think this could have been a real winner.

The tacky plastic gold around the bottle killed it for me. This is a me too mediocre effort.
09th September, 2015

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