The jet set doesn’t appeal to me. All that greed, narcissism and preening competitiveness – no thanks. But I will admit to being more susceptible to its airbrushed imagery – a kind of genteel pastel glam (we’re talking ancien not nouveau darling, do keep up) that is all about being immaculately distant. Vanille d’Iris has some of that quality, being probably the best lipstick iris I have encountered, subtle, lightly suedey, with a few puffs of ultra-light smoke hanging around its entrance. It’s not a perfume to focus upon, but one that moves around you like a fine haze. The vanilla is far recessed in the mix, a touch of sweet padding at the back that does not upset the sheerness. If one wants to feel discretely fabulous, like the kind of person who maintains a matte porcelain visage in the stinking heat, this is the one.
Salty vetiver with an undertone of fruitiness that immediately suggested immortelle to my nose rather than the declared notes. It has a slightly sweaty, old vellum quality but also plenty of lift, giving it an energizing feel. Dry and savoury, it seems designed for casual summer use or as a background hum to a busy day at the office. Nothing like the full-on layered marvel of this house’s Trance, but pretty good in its own stripped back way. During the course of the day it seems to take a shower, with the vetiver getting increasingly clean and fresh and a green mango note finally revealing itself. We’re in Timbuktu’s backyard now.
Rosa Nigra was made for reclining in ‘the cloud’ surely, as it’s so peachy and fluffy and no doubt circled by ‘likes’. These words from a Lene Lovich song seem apt: ‘Too tender to touch, too fragile to lust’. Rosa Nigra’s is a roseate fantasy princess world, everything’s a pink musky haze and the gentlest of rose and vanilla tones plump out the impression of peach at the start. It seems to be a perfume about to collapse into powder at any minute; all that candyfloss muskiness is surely headed that way.
But, oh no, it stays aerial and pinky, synthetic for sure, but kitschy kooky, and I find myself quite enjoying its mindlessness despite my better judgment. Maybe I am of an age when I am allowed to have Barbie moments without the accompanying shame of letting down all of humankind.
An odd little number, which wrong foots the wearer at first into thinking this is high on hygiene what with its soap-and-talcum-powder florals of utterly ambiguous pedigree. Light in a surprisingly un-Montale way, it seems like a ‘why did they bother?’ kind of perfume.
But then what started as a pleasant but inconsequential floral starts shifting gears, when first a similarly indifferent attempt at leather (except this smells more like the inside of a rubber washing up glove) and then a pretty vague ‘oud’ (faintly woody and ever so apologetically cheesy, like a shock-chilled brie) join in. Slowly the florals recede until they’re just a fringe and the leather and oud begin to expand and unwind, with a bit of a nod to Montale’s striking Aoud Cuir d’Arabie. Except that this is much politer.
And then several hours further, the whole thing starts to turn around with those light florals taking the spotlight again, but this time with their leather and oud heart pumping within. The longer one wears it, the more it appeals but there’s no escaping that this is a pretty subdued offering for this house. And about as orange as spinach.
A warm embrace, that gathers and holds and keeps you close. Nuit de Noël offers a reassurance that classical perfumery, with its layering and orchestration, has still so much to tell us and that its message can be of warmth and love. But the first thing it seems to be saying in its enclosing hug is: ‘Be not afraid.’ For here is a perfume of great boldness, albeit dressed in golden raiment and with a softness of touch that defies you to equate daring with any kind of militancy.
Upfront is a huge floral bouquet, with a rich and heady jasmine as its star; it has an amazing carnal warmth tempered by the classic understudy note of rose. The rose is here purely to round out and refine the opulent jasmine, rather than shine in its own right, and it performs this selfless function perfectly in the service of a luminous (yet far from transparent) floral accord.
In keeping with the classic manner the florals are wrapped in layer upon refined layer. Ambery-musky tones, a gauzy powder, a tremendously complex woody layer that feels like a perfume in its own right, accents of moss here rendered warm by the glow of the rest, all suggest great depths and familiar mysteries. I smell matured and tempered spices, balsams, candied orange and patisserie almond and chestnut preparations. It matters little if there are corresponding ingredients to these impressions – this is a perfume that suggests so many things, none in discord. This is its gift, accept it and be rewarded.
Despite a noticeable moss note, I would hesitate to call Nuit de Noël a chypre – it has none of that family’s briskness or angularity. Instead, there is oriental warmth and luxury, contained within a classic sense of structure – there is no sprawl to it. That classicism gives it an antique quality but one that is sympathetic, full of character and so much more giving than the distortions of nostalgia.
Penhaligon’s have some of the most romantic perfume names, all so faery lands forlorn. One feels the appropriate state to be receiving such offerings is on a purple velvet chaise longue, emerald green cravat at throat fastened with appropriate gem-studded jewel, a tiny crystal glass filled with rare firewater to hand.
Alas, the perfumes themselves often tend to suffer from overtly synthetic smelling bases, and Endymion is no exception. Here a grating peppery-woody base infused with bilious-making aquatics sinks the enterprise which started pleasantly enough as a fresh musky-powdery barbershop cologne. Call me a snob but that offensive base just shrieks ‘cheap’.
A perfume where the notes list proves somewhat unreliable. An engaging, deeply bitter creation that is an oud in leather drag. Smell Nejma 1 up close and it is the smell of wet bark: bitter, inedible, somewhat musty, with great depth. There are floral notes in there but completely embedded in the woodiness. A trace of dry saffron is the only spicing that registers. There’s also a doughy quality to the mix (especially in the first half) that is reminiscent of iris.
In its trail, however, the experience is mainly of a dark, luxurious and smoothly executed leather – it’s a refined blend, rich and full of character (that bracing bitterness stays constant), yet not at all heavy.
A perfume curio that juxtaposes a volley of greens (bitter galbanum, astringent moss, other herbal accents) and not-quite-greens (sweetish hay tones) against feathery jasmine-like florals and lavender soap. One of those ‘shouldn’t really work but it does’ combinations that pulls off a bracing verdant freshness softened by soapy comfort. It’s one of those perfumes that doesn’t reward paying too much close attention to (the notes duck and bob a bit too much for that); just wear it and your step will be lighter and your day a little brighter.
When a perfume opens with the kind of concentrated greasiness that marks Rozy it is a statement of intent (and confidence). It says, bear with me, I have gifts to bestow, treasures to unfold.
Rozy, in its first act, is to my nose a grand perfume in the manner of Amouage’s Gold offerings: rich, opulent, giving the impression of tremendous detail, and definitely not for everyone. The layering of three notes – passionfruit, rose and honey – is dizzying, effulgent even, and yet composed with the deep soundness of classic perfumery.
The passionfruit with its joyous tartness makes the dense sweetness of the rest more palatable; the note isn’t light, instead it’s as if passionfruit curd had been translated into an olfactory instead of a gustatory delight. The rose is jammy with a touch of heady hyacinth for support. And the honey is unctuous, with a pronounced warm beeswax aspect bringing an animalic buzz. They join together into something that is full on and exuberant.
However, the second act sees the balance significantly altered, with the honey still blazing away but the passionfruit and rosy florals greatly dimmed. Much of the texture of the scent is lost, and we end up somewhere between Minya’s Hedonist and Xerjoff’s Al-Khat. Not a bad place to be but somewhat monotonous in its syrupiness after the dazzle of the first half.
Cool green lily and lily of the valley cross which has an undertone of the plastic-meets-mushrooms aspect found in the latter. Not the shrieking harpy lily that some experienced – but maybe that is because I tried the EDP not the oil. But also nothing that made me sit up and take notice despite a shaded pond-side feel about it. It’s fresh, it’s casual, parts of it smell a bit synthetic, it’s alright but run of the mill, and yes, I suppose it could get quite unrelenting if you’re not a particular fan of white florals.
Don’t judge a perfume by its notes list is an attitude I try to hang on to when testing, in order to be open and receptive to what's in the bottle (or can, in this case) rather than being nudged by expectation. But I must admit that the notes to Tropical Wood had my eyebrows arching before the first puff landed on my skin. Dear oh dear, acidic fruit like passion fruit and pineapple combining with the sweetest of floral notes with oud and leather heaped on as well? It would take a miracle worker to create something compelling from these.
I’m sad to announce no miracle awaits. The opening is intensely hard-boiled and jammy, with the concentrated tropical fruity notes almost declaring war on the rose-syrup led florals. The woody note seems to hang around the edges like an uninvited guest, unintegrated.
After a while, much of the dense fruit dissipates and we are back in pretty familiar Montale territory, a musked-up hairspray rose with a woody backing, the point of difference being that the woods rendition is pretty smooth, almost sheer, rather than dark and patchoulied. Montale has released far too many offerings in a similar vein and they are mostly fairly competent, but there’s little to them that would make me want to adopt one. One can do equally well, even better, with the glut of options from cut-price Arabic houses.
Signal flare going up – ylang lovers, here’s one you will want to try. The opening minutes are striking: creating the impression of a blooming flower rather than the more sultry unctuousness that we are familiar with from the essential oil. The top is fresh with subtle hints of foliage, open and expansive, which is quite unusual, as ylang’s density often works against such an interpretation. There are hints of clove-tinged carnation and a distinct supporting creamy tiare note keeping things tropical.
As the perfume settles, some of the freshness dissipates to be replaced with the familiar honeyed ylang languor and a clearer ‘white floral’ identity (with jasmine also making itself known in the floral bouquet), but it never sags or becomes cloying; instead it relaxes into a chic classicism, floating like a haze around the wearer.
Its one drawback – and it’s a minor one – is that perhaps it ought to have focussed more closely on its lead player instead of bringing on the white floral chamber ensemble to quite the extent it does. For example, for all the assemblage of Perris’s Ylang Ylang Nosy Be there is a clear trickle of nectar-like golden ylang of a quality that makes you sit up and take notice running right through it. Here, one marvels at the well-rounded beauty of the entire cloud, but some of ylang’s distinctiveness gets blurred.
If this came in a glass bowl I’d eat it, no problem. I’m a bit less keen on wearing it because it does something so familiar at this point in time that an odour quite similar to this one flares from someone or the other at almost any social gathering one may go to.
Néa is fruity gumdrops in a pool of caramel. As with many of these dessert gourmands note differentiation is beside the point, and here everything is a thoroughly blended and smoothed out whole. The fruity accent is about as interesting as it gets – if I had to plump for a particular fruit I’d go for pomegranate. There is a bit of a puckering tang to it, but gumdrops is its destiny. A brief flash of something a bit mouldy-boozy at the start is soon covered by the voluminous robes of creamy caramel.
Néa is quite comforting and easy going, but has all the character of a peeled potato. It also, surprisingly for this kind of perfume, deflates considerably in projection after the first few hours. Go for the plentiful budget alternatives instead if you really must.
Loody gives a mistaken first impression of being a bit of a stinker – a somewhat sour and musty rose that would require a pretty peculiar taste to appreciate. But it settles quickly and when it blooms, boy does it ever.
The Moroccan rose that is the focus of this perfume is deep and velvety, soft but not transparent or thin. And the woody-spicy accord with which it has been matched has been lovingly thought out, the wood accents are smooth yet have an almost oud-like depth to them and a slight bitterness. The spicing, which is restrained, I can only call ‘abstract’- it’s there but only as an enhancement of the wood and without individual spices evident. The pairing of rose and woods wavers in one’s perception: at times that profound and yet delicate rose seems to float over the woody base, and at others it seems completely united, the two enriching each other in a heady embrace. Dabs of a somewhat salty ambergris and aged leather make Loody a grown up perfume. The whole is radiant with diffusive musk, so that the wearer is contained in a scented mist.
I have a soft spot for roses, and an even greater one for woody roses. This is one of the better ones.
After an initial ‘Not again!’ screwing of my nose at what seemed like powder compact florals (which can age a perfume by a century) this settled quite nicely into a funky floral leather. So overlook the first volley that smells like one of those fur-coat-and-powder jobs that have been lying around for too long in the bottle and gently decaying. But focus on the decay, because as the perfume begins to bloom you’ll note that the floral notes that come into their own are enriched by an indolic fullness suggesting not only glorious peak flower power but also a bit of wilt. It’s quite bewitching and pairs seamlessly with a soft, worn leather accord and some buzzing musk.
Its dirt without feeling dirty, something that classic French perfumery excels in and Cuir Fétiche is in that mould. If the superficial impression is of grande dame refinement, that lingering suggestion of unmentionables brings a flush to her cheek. Unburdened by the sticky baggage of resins and spices which make some leathers unbearable to me, Cuir Fétiche is still a pleasingly complex creation, not too strong, offering the nose a variety of impressions, which overlap and tease.
After a fairly rubbery start (tuberose-orange blossom can sometimes go in that direction) this settles into a pretty relaxed white floral. The starring tuberose is by no means exceptional, but it has the requisite creaminess and light nuances of coconut which are positives. Fortunately the added sweets – caramel and a sugary version of vanilla – are kept subordinate to the florals. Nice enough, as the tuberose doesn’t swell to unmanageable giddiness, but if a calm evocation of this bloom is what I’m after, I’ll take MFK’s splendid Le Beau Parfum first any day.
If The Awakening, Tonatto’s other oud-influenced perfume, was despite its merits a bit of a damp squib, this one is a bit better. Here the focus is squarely on creating a woody perfume ennobled by sweet rot. From the opening suggestion of a freshly opened pack of Bata rubber slippers to a much drier settle where bass wood tones overlap – slightly spicy, smoky, leathery and intoxicating – The Path is pretty much on course. No floral, fruity or herbal distractions here, all the layering and depth of this perfume seems to consist only of woody notes pervaded by a wine cellar kind of fragrant mouldiness – it’s the kind of thing that is a siren song for me.
But it has two big drawbacks. The first is its lack of strength in the first few hours. It’s as if Tonatto has taken a quality Arabian blend and diluted it to timorous politeness. Subtlety is fine for certain odour profiles but an oud with such striation and character deserved a more confident presence. But the second is worse – as the hours go by the strength seems to improve a bit, but now there is dissipation of the texturing that was its main attraction, as first we get a few hours of something that resembles a ‘dry woods’ aromachemical (and probably is), followed by said note getting increasingly dusty.
I’m afraid I feel I rather slept through this one despite paying it close attention. Described by Tonatto as a mix of velvety florals and oud, it was a must-try for me – Tonatto is a highly skilled perfumer in my book who brings a delicacy of touch to the heaviest of notes and I was interested to see what route she would go down with oud.
Well, the oud, which seems just like trace sprinkles of dusty wood at the start does awaken as time passes. This is quite a clever trick as this is a perfume of great transparency to begin with, opening with tuberose and jasmine presented in such a light manner they are almost aqueous, before the natural greasiness of these blooms creeps up. Sweet violets join the bouquet along with that light woody dusting. The treatment and the florals used seemed like familiar Tonatto territory and I felt she was repeating herself a bit.
But as time went on the oud that was hiding in plain sight begins to stir, first gaining a worn leather aspect and then a quality of wine dregs. All of which has great potential except for the overall low volume of this perfume. It’s persistent alright, and I can smell it on my skin and yet it seems unwilling to fully show itself. Pleasant but a bit vague, which is a shame because sniffed up close it definitely has more merit. Hairspray musks in the mix don’t do the drydown any favours either.
The juxtaposition of a fruity note with the soil that birthed it works remarkably effectively in Tajibni. The note in question is a rounded and full orange, zesty and inviting. But it’s the contrasting accord of dry earth receiving rain and damp bark and mulchy leaves that made me gasp with joy, it’s that good. According to the Al Haramain website this has been achieved through a pairing of patchouli and immortelle – it’s quite special whatever the ingredients. The mix is handled with a lightness of touch, with powdery heliotrope and muted suede offering understated support to the main players. Naturally the evolution is away from the orange (which fades out entirely) and more towards the soil accord which suits me just fine - but there are enough glints of variation to please other tastes I think.
A successful, unusual, calm composition that comes with a hefty price tag – 140 euro for 6 ml perfume oil at the time of writing.
Complexity to rejoice in, Atifa Noir is a special occasion perfume that promises worlds as yet undiscovered. Anchored around a chord that is equal parts soil tincture and damp wood, a swirl of fruity notes (golden orangey tones rather than any specific fruit) entices the nose. The rose and black pepper of the mid-section are surely there but fused together into one entity and then further blended into the seductive earth and musty wood accord. Hints of dark chocolate and dry vanilla round it off.
Wearing Atifa Noir is like wearing heavily embroidered clothing – with movement different parts of the pattern are revealed, yet the overall effect is luxurious and hard-won.
A perfume that seems hammered together rather than composed. The jagged opening nails down screechy aldehydes, cheapo citruses, a jasmine-led bouquet of white flowers and obnoxiously loud cumin – all hurling abuse at each other. I have not come across a more discordant juxtaposition of ingredients for quite a while.
Atifa Blanche does have a long evolution but that doesn’t lift it much. The cumin seems to ebb a bit after half an hour or so and the white florals take on a lily character – here we are skirting the middle ranges of acceptability. But once this phase passes the cumin flexes its dirty muscle again, with tuberose now taking the lead role in the white floral shouting match. One wishes it would fade but unfortunately it has stellar staying power.
Unlovely and unloved by me.
Patricia Nicolaï pulls out a sophisticated and fresh take on cypriol in this offering. If her Amber Oud was Not An Oud, this is Not An Oud 2, so slight is the presence of anything oudy. But actually this doesn’t matter too much, as the smoky materials that are at the heart of this perfume have rarely been presented in such an uplifting and, initially, green a manner.
As soon as the sprayer is depressed this is a perfume that comes billowing out, a wonderful herbal and grassy rush within which are the smoking embers of nagarmotha, that dry, almost choky yet strangely attractive scent. A touch of almost fruity sweetness emerges for a short while before fading out again. There is an impressive backdrop of resinous, peppery, woody tones behind it whereas the salubrious, somewhat medicinal greens at the start begin to slowly dry out. With time one realizes that a sprightly, clean incense has always been part of the action just a bit submerged in the stronger personality of the nagarmotha. The unity of the whole is impressive; there’s nothing within this perfume’s palette of sensations that seems even slightly out of place.
To present Incense Oud’s quite pungently smoky central statement in a manner that feels so fresh and unforced is further proof, were it needed, of Ms Nicolaï’s exceptional talents. However it must be said that once the perfume has settled a few hours in, we are in the parched, resinous territory that has become familiar to quite a few butch creations of late. A joy for the first two hours, a bit boring thereafter.
I remember reading the notes list when this was launched and thinking that they seemed like a dream combination. Perhaps my fear of tampering with dreams has led to this long delay in actually trying the perfume. By now the dream has dissipated and I can smell Ambre Doré without some imaginary holy grail screeching an operatic wail of disappointment from the wings.
It’s an unconventional beauty. The opening is chocolatey richness, which makes me think there must be some patchouli in this somewhere which, combined with the styrax, gives that impression. But it quickly recedes to make way for a surprisingly feral oud – this stuff is seriously dirty old leather and runny cheese, and it’s ringed by a salty, herbal, resinous halo. From me, this draws the nostrils equivalent of a lip smack. The amber in the base is revealed slowly and it’s a proper grown up barely-sweet amber, not some sickly confection; it has the essential ambery warmth, but has the balmy quality of shoe polish that matches well with the oud, eventually enfolding it until just a residual leatheriness is all that remains of the latter. About 4 hours in it has settled into being chiefly an amber but with a strong resinous cast and a dash of rum to it. And then, late, late, late in the wear, there is that patchouli again, no longer smelling like chocolate, but blending into the ambery warmth.
Ambre Doré has a varied olfactory palette, but handles this richness well. It has medium projection so the strong personalities of some of the notes aren’t shouting at you, and the whole remains harmonious, albeit this is a harmony played on the black keys.
If there’s a house style to Ormonde Jayne it is ‘wait for it/wait for it/subtle/subtle’. It’s non-pushy, non-showy, confident in itself. There are exceptions in the line-up of course, but those are the perfumes I find misfire.
Orris Noir is a gauzy mélange of buffed notes. Even though warm spices (pimiento, pepper) and resins form its backbone, they are handled in a manner that is smooth and glossy. The soft, mildly sweet, doughy iris is married happily with a gently shimmering myrrh accent – the whole thing seems to tremble in the air around the wearer, until the iris takes on a more suede-like aspect. The abiding impression is of understated luxury, the finest leather but in a shade somewhere between cream and beige with just the hint of a blush.
Orris Noir puts on weight in the later stages, the projection becomes more full-bodied and the oriental richness more pronounced. This is the territory that Ys Uzac’s later Satin Doll captured much more successfully.
Not a straight rose by any means, this has associations of powder compacts, chemical dust, and a sourish greenness around the edges. Doesn’t sound very appetizing, and yet, as always, it’s in the integration of elements that the skill lies.
There’s only a brief glimpse of the juicy and rich rose materials at the start before they start to morph under the influence of the other players. Most notable to my nose is heliotrope which brings a Nahema-like quality to this creation (alas without the propulsive dynamism characteristic of that perfume), offering powdery, marzipan-like accents, turning the rose away from nature and towards the dressing table. Another major player is a curious pesticide-laden peach note, which imparts little by way of fruitiness, instead drawing one’s attention to the structure and artifice of this offering. It doesn’t seem out of place, probably because it is bedded down on a soft vanilla, just a hint of clove and soothing balsamic elements.
This is a rose that is at once a real rose and a representation of the thing crafted in cardboard and velvet and lord knows what else. It’s an effective juxtaposition – a perfume that seems to be drawing attention to the process of combination that resulted in its creation while still giving pleasure.
Some hours in, in the deep drydown, Rose Étoile de Hollande settles almost completely into Nahema’s lap.
A radiant woody perfume that reminds me strongly of the turbo high that used to accompany the forbidden childhood treat of scented supari. Supari is pieces or shavings of the wood-like areca nut that is then treated with sweeteners and aromatics (quite a bit of menthol that compliments the woodiness), resulting in a product that is chewed far and wide on the Indian sub-continent but has also been linked to oral cancers. That is by the by – I mention it because the scent of supari has a rush to it, diffusing perfectly in the nostrils as if it is intent on pleasuring every olfactory receptor. And Spicy Aoud achieves the same effect and actually smells like the stuff.
Saffron is the spice mentioned in the declared notes and here it is a musk-propelled version, reminiscent more of saffron flavourings rather than actual saffron. This doesn’t matter as the end result is so deeply satisfying. Apart from that there is little by way of any dominant spiciness. The patchouli in the base is sweet and smooth, blending seamlessly into the main vibrant, warm and fresh woody theme.
Montale has been on a bit of a winning streak of late and this is definitely a hit – bold and yet accessible, good for all seasons, versatile enough that you could wear without a thought but equally also pick it out for a special occasion.
Turn back the pages, turn back time, disregard the notes. Or des Indes smells more like a perfume base of a certain vintage, than a fully-fledged creation in its own right. It goes on as powder, old lipstick and older soap, and, as Rogalal aptly puts it, ‘doughy suede’ – and there it pretty much stays for me.
Undoubtedly luxurious in feel (it’s the creamiest of cuddles) and rich, what it sorely misses is a contrasting note or accord to play against its blanketing nature. An ambery vanilla at heart, the doughy-pasty quality forces it into beige when it would rather be wearing gold.
In Bass Schoen unveils a perfume that comes and lies down with you and instead of waking you up reassures with comfort and warmth – you sleep deeper, you dream richly.
A strange contradiction – wearing it, it feels instantly familiar yet what my nose smells remains elusive. Maybe it is the mastic that is supposedly upfront, a note I have not encountered properly. That disclaimer aside, the beginning of Bass is of a profoundly vegetal bitterness, with a little chewy sweet wood showing through. The sense of vegetation recedes to reveal smoky facets, wood shavings and pencil lead, a glug of booze, something evoking humidity like good quality vetivers can do and, bringing up the rear, a civil leather.
But it’s the whole that counts in Bass, not its parts – and here we have a creation that makes a fragrant bitterness so appealing, it evokes a dark, perfumed bed chamber, where sleep is easy and dreams enjoyable.
Sadly, it’s not all glory with Bass. A few hours in, the deep drydown is disappointingly monochrome: just a pleasant resinoid remnant instead of the palpating dark of the earlier phases.
Maybe one deserves a medal for persisting with the ‘why bother?’ AJ Arabia/Widian line. Because so far it has revealed mostly budget buy juices in the ponciest of trappings. The first thing to note about IV is that it has that ubiquitous cotton candy base that plumps out zillions of fruity florals. You can get perfumes with this stuff in the starring role for 10 bucks and this is not particularly a cut above. Beyond that there are smoothied florals and a hint of something refreshingly citric at the start but which soon fades. It’s not a write off, as the overall feel is easy to wear particularly when a lactonic vanilla peeks through the mix, but I’m sure those more in the know could recommend a dozen thriftier offerings that smell pretty similar for a fraction of the price.
There’s something about R’oud Elements that keeps suggesting to me the thought of boiling down a saucepan of M7 to a syrupy spoonful. It’s probably the huge candied amber (that has swallowed what seems like a bagful of cardamom pods) that sits bang in the middle. Or maybe the orangey accents glinting around it. It takes a bit of getting used to as initially it comes across as the loud party crasher to a rather more civilized peppery oud. But once one has made the adjustment (hey, this is modern US perfumery, they like their jujubes), one can make a bit more sense of R’oud Elements.
This full-bodied and pot-bellied amber with a mild-mannered oud in the supporting role has a few other tricks up its sleeve. It’s deodorized itself with a pine-lavender combo that is a curious juxtaposition of lightness against the rest of the notes that feel much heavier and somewhat sluggish. At times it almost smells like someone’s gone at a hallway with a can of air freshener.
Does it work? Sort of, because the projection is moderate. But I felt a bit cheated at getting served up a spiced amber when I thought I’d ordered a novel take on oud.