Strange, that after avoiding virtually all skin-scents for over twenty years (save for the tiniest dabs of baker's vanilla extract), I should choose Tom Ford Private Blend Oud Wood to reacquaint myself with the fragrance world, especially on a hot, humid summer's day! I wanted something sensual, complex, warm, masculine, maybe even dark and mystical, but with a "huggable", sweet heart. Various reviews led me to Oud Wood. I was not disappointed, I was overwhelmed.
My first experience at a fragrance counter in two decades was slightly intimidating, but Madame Sales Assistant took me seriously after I tossed out a few key words and offered me a spritz of the Oud Wood. SPRITZ!!! up the inside of my forearm, and another SPRITZ!!! down the same. "Whoa lady!" I thought, retaining the extreme caution (revulsion?) regarding over-application I had developed during the almost nightmarish days of Ralph Lauren's original Polo...then it hit.
The first half-minute reminded me of the resinous edge Polo had, but was more familiar to me from my own kitchen. Mapo tofu requires powdered Szechuan pepper, a source of numbing-heat. The initial blast was nearly identical to the piney-resin scent released from the spice grinder after grinding a batch of hua-jiao. It was like a trumpet blast waking my nose from slumber, blaring, “YOU JUST PUT PERFUME ON!! YOU REALIZE THAT, DON'T YOU?!”. The penetrating sharpness seemed to clear the olfactory stage, providing not only an expectant space for what came next, but also a contrast for the following woodsy, spicy sweetnesses.
Hot on the heels of the Szechuan pepper, saffron blazed sharp, strong, and quick, with—as in many Indian desserts—a yummy cardamon backdrop. The slightly medicinal saffron soon departed, leaving me craving more, yet thankful that it was over.
The oud which followed did not overpower—it was almost well-behaved, “almost” because it was shameless, brazenly seducing me with its light faecal-animal sweetness. Now, there are ouds, ouds, and more ouds, some yummy like fruit and flowers and licorice, some medicinal, others woody, mystical, or even rutty. This was rutty oud, not too dark (likely artificial), and soon evened out, receding to let the sweeter woods—sandalwood and rosewood, and vanilla to continue the seduction.
I simply could not stop sniffing at my forearm, shamelessly and brazenly.
The dry-out was relatively uneventful, with a gradual fading of spiced woods to sweet amber over the next few hours. The amber lingered on well into the next day, but was detectable only close to my skin.
A couple of tries over the next few days amounted to much the same, although lower temperatures and decreased humidity increased its longevity. Thankfully, I didn't fill entire rooms with Oud Wood gas, but those entering my personal space certainly noticed it with pleasure.
On me it is like “sex in a bottle” (as some others have also commented), but there is nothing tame about the erotic jinn that is released from this little brown bottle. Wearing it is like an initiation into a rutty world of ancient sexual practices by a smiling Lebanese bodybuilder, who appears dressed up in a black tuxedo, shirt undone to the sternum (ooo, look, a hairy chest!), three days dark scruff on his rivetingly handsome face, and thick gold chains swinging to the rhythm of his too-confident strut. But, despite all his attempts at worldly sophistication, he still needs to pay the bills by plying the world's oldest profession. Gosh, who am I to curl my lip and say no? The effortless masculinity of his presence overwhelms all objections, and I reach down and, trembling with desire, hand over a wad of cash. Am I his for the night, or is he mine?
For me, a one trick pony, but that's just fine.
Of course, mileage varies. On my husband it's all sweetness and purity, like a drawer of freshly laundered underwear. (Good. I wouldn't let him out of the house if it smelled on him like it does on me.)