The Ruby Oud – Maison Francis Kurkdjian OUD Satin Mood Perfume Review

New from Francis Kurkdjian's Maison: OUD Satin Mood

New from Francis Kurkdjian’s Maison: OUD Satin Mood

Oud fragrances come in all shapes and sizes.  There are the straightforward ouds presented in a vaguely middle-eastern style, uniformed with rose and amber.  There are also the hidden ouds – ouds that are anything but the funky barnyard of the real thing.  Finally, we mustn’t forget the unusual ouds – the ouds that do something a bit different, and a bit daring, with this now plentifully utilised note, and take it to dizzying new heights of olfaction.  One of my favourite ouds that sits firmly in the unique camp is Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s OUD – a scent that colours the usually smoky and animalic odour of the noble tree rot into shades of cerulean blue, with flecks of gold shimmer.  In OUD, Kurkdjian pairs oud from Laos with a metric-f-ton of musk and fresh citrus to create an ethereal, and not to mention, thoroughly modern oud, that is a world away from the oppressive, and dense ouds that attempt to conjure images of a middle eastern bazaar, but ultimately come across as a caricature.

Kurkdjian followed his tremendous OUD with his OUD Mood collection, which consisted of three oud-based fragrances inspired by silk, cashmere and velvet.  My favourite from this particular collection was OUD Velvet Mood, an odd and industrial sort-of-oud that perfectly captures the smell of hot metal skyscrapers  formed from steel and blazing sheets of glass, rising from the sands in Dubai.  To put it simply, when it comes to oud, or the art of perfumery in general, Kurkdjian follows his own set of rules and he always offers up something new, and exciting.  So, if you’re bored with oud (at this point, I’m bored with being bored with oud) Kurkdjian is the man to get you out of that funk.

This spring, Kurkdjian is treating us to yet another oud, and this time he’s ready to paint the town red – ruby red, to be precise.  Joining the OUD Mood collection, this new scent, which is entitled OUD Satin Mood, is a delicious, decadent and daring take on the oud theme that plays with familiar themes, but twists them excitedly on their heads.  It’s a fragrance that one wants to wrap around themselves in a veil of protection – an amulet and a talisman to ward of the greyness of everyday life – a banner that says, back of bitches, I’m fabulous.

“With your eyes closed, you can imagine flowing fabrics delicately draped over bare skin, caressed by intense and dazzling sunlight. You will want to wrap it around you, lose yourself in the depth of the moment and suspend time.”

– Maison Francis Kurkdjian

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Oh We’re So Pretty, Oh So Pretty, We’re Fragrant – Atkinsons Oud Save the Queen Perfume Review

Oud Save the Queen

Oud Save the Queen

I realise that linking Sex Pistols’ lyrics with perfume in the title of this post is a tenuous connection at best, but if perfume brand Atkinsons is allowed to have fun with titles and monikers, then I’ll be darned if I’m can’t join in too. On the subject of names, the latest fragrance from Atkinsons has such a wonderfully hilarious name I genuinely could not pass up givin it a shot. I mean, you’ve got to admire the audacity of a brand who bestows a perfume with the name ‘Oud Save the Queen‘.

Atkinsons is a recently-revived British brand that started in London in 1799 and is self-described as being “the original London Society fragrance house and the first official Perfumer to the Royal court”. This royal connection is explored further by Atkinsons, who claim to have “created the first British Oud fragrance, Prince Ibraham Bouquet, for Crown Prince Mohammed Ali Ibrahim of Egypt” upon the request of Queen Mary, during the roaring twenties.

The Oud Collection, which consists of Oud Save the Queen and her masculine counterpart ‘Oud Save the King‘, celebrates the brand’s royal connections to Britain and Egypt. Atkinsons calls their feminine oud (created by perfumer Francis Deleamont of Firmenich) a “majestic fragrance of sublimely sovereign beauty” that boasts notes of tea, flowers and rich woods. The result is something that is a little bit too sturdy to be truly “majestic”, but majesty can be overrated if you ask me.

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The Big Smoke – Tom Ford Private Blend London Perfume Review

House of Parliament, Effect of Sunlight, 1903

Houses of Parliament, Effect of Sunlight, Claude Monet, 1903

London is an awesome city. I say this not just because I am British and therefore undeniably biased in the matter, but also because it is a simple truth. London has a charisma that many cities do not, stemming from the many contrasts that besiege its winding streets. These disorganised clashes of new and old, rough and smooth, and clean and dirty, make for a cultural mish-mash that is at times, utterly bonkers and entirely unique but ultimately very charming.

One man that loves London as much as I do is Tom Ford and to celebrate the opening of his Sloane Square boutique in 2013, the incredibly prolific fashion and perfume purveyor that is Mr. Ford created his very own olfactory tribute to this finest and fairest of cities. Taking its name from the city of the same name and launching last year, ‘London‘ is the newest addition to the Private Blend collection, available only in a select number of stores within the nation’s capital.

The brand describes London as being “rich, elegant and urbane” – three words that could certainly be attributed to the city after which it is named, if only just the glamorous bits in which one would find a Tom Ford boutique. But this perfume is more than just a tribute to a city, it is in fact a celebration of Mr. Ford’s favourite ingredient – oud. Now before you all start rolling your eyes at the sheer mention of the ‘o’ word (I see you), heed this notice: this perfume is a damn good example of how to do an inconspicuous oud – an oud that doesn’t take centre stage and plays a supporting role, or as they used to call them back in the day – an oriental.

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A Cut Above the Rest – Tom Ford Tobacco Oud and Oud Fleur Perfume Review

The Oud Wood Collection

The Private Blend Oud Collection

Tom Ford has a thing for oud. He is reputed to have been the first person to popularise and bring the ingredient (albeit a decent synthetic rather than real thing) to mainstream perfumery with Yves Saint Laurent’s impressive M7 in 2002. Since then he has remained relatively active on the oud front, releasing the equally impressive Oud Wood (a robustly woody oud for western tastes) as part of his initial onslaught of Private Blends way back in 2007.

Cut to 2013 and Mr Ford is once again throwing his hat into the somewhat overcrowded oud ring with The Private Blend Oud Collection. The collection sees the repackaging of Tom Ford’s immensely popular Oud Wood in addition to the release of two brand new fragrances, each displaying a unique and entirely TomFordian take on the most intensely addictive (and definitely over exposed) of aromas.

“I have wanted to revisit oud for years; it is one of the most endlessly fascinating ingredients in a perfumer’s palette. For this collection, I explored how oud could intertwine with other precious ingredients from the rich and storied culture and artisanal traditions of the Middle East”

– Tom Ford

The two new perfumes are Tobacco Oud and Oud Fleur. The former is inspired by Dokha, “a blend of herbs, flowers and spice-laden tobacco that was smoked in secret five centuries ago during a ban on smoking” and is suitably tobacco-filled. Oud Fleur is somewhat more difficult to pin down, and presents a slightly more individual take on the note. Between the two of them however, these two new fragrances show that when it comes to oud, Tom Ford is a significant cut above the rest. Continue reading

Missing the Magic Touch – By Kilian Playing with the Devil & Musk Oud Perfume Reviews

Kilian

Playing With the Devil & Musk Oud

By Kilian – the brainchild of cognac heir Kilian Hennessy – launched as a brand in 2007. Hennessy’s first collection, wonderfully entitled ‘L’Oeuvre Noire’, was an impressive outfit, consisting of rich, decadent and expertly created fragrances. Since then, By Kilian has been relatively prolific with its output, releasing a number of fragrances under its ‘Arabian Nights’, ‘Asian Tales and ‘In the Garden of Good and Evil’ collections.

Comparing the fragrance within these latter collection to those found in L’Oeuvre Noire leads one to question what happened to the brand. The more recent offerings have failed to capture the hedonistic magic of those initial fragrances, with none of the newer offerings being even remotely comparable to the photorealistic tuberose of Beyond Love, the film noir honey of Back to Black or rich, pink delicacy of Love.

This year By Kilian has added two new fragrances to its collection; Musk Oud and Playing with the Devil. Both are polar opposites in style, proving that as far as creative direction goes, Hennessy definitely understands and enjoys variety. On the downside however, they also show a continuing ‘watering down’ of ideas within the brand and when looking back at what By Kilian has brought to the table before, this feels very sad indeed.

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In the Mood For Oud? – Maison Francis Kurkdjian OUD Velvet Mood, OUD Cashmere Mood and OUD Silk Mood Perfume Review

Oud Mood

Francis Kurkdjian’s Trio of Oud Moods

If I were to pose most perfume-addicts the question; “are you in the mood for oud?” the response would likely be a resounding ‘no’, with a good few exasperated sighs and possibly one or two slaps to the face for good measure. The simple fact is that oud, the noble rot from the Aquilaria tree, is over exposed in the world of perfume and one cannot step into their local fragrance hall without being bombarded by “THE LATEST OUD FRAGRANCE FROM XXX” or “LOOK, WE’VE MADE A PERFUME AND IT HAS OUD IN IT, ACTUAL OUD (KINDA, NOT REALLY)!”.

But I refuse to be disheartened by the oud trend, because that’s exactly what it is – a trend, and we all know that trends are transient in nature, meaning that it’ll all be over before we know it. In reality this trend is far from being all bad, after all there are some great oud-based scents out there (check out my Guide to Oud), with perhaps the best in most recent years being Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s incandescent OUD.

“The creation of the OUD mood collection is a tribute to the type of perfume that makes you feel as if you are wrapped in a rare, delicate material, one that is in perfect harmony with a warm, gentle, refined state of mind.”

Following on from the success of last year’s incandescent OUD, Francis Kurkdjian has added not one, but three new oud fragrances to his Maison. Named ‘OUD Mood’ this collection takes inspiration from the soft feel of fabric, namely; Silk, Velvet and Cashmere. Each one offering a brand new and interesting texture of oud and serving as a wave of refreshment for tired, bored and frankly cranky perfume lovers.

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Globetrotting – Ormonde Jayne Tsarina, Nawab of Oudh, Qi and Montabaco Perfume Reviews

From Latin America to China via Russia and India and the Gulf

From Latin America to China via Russia and India and the Gulf

If I could change one thing about my life it would be to ensure that I was better travelled than I am. In my head I long to be a great explorer scouring every corner of the earth. I want to walk the Great Wall of China, taste the street food in Mexico, eat lobsters in Maine (it all comes back to food with me), play with the cats at the cat cafe in Tokyo and float around the streets of Florence , but the problem is, I’m a bit of a wimp.

So, as much as I wish I’d visited all of these places, and I do truly hope to one day, I haven’t, in fact up until a few years ago I hadn’t made it further than France. It’s appalling, I know. Luckily for us armchair explorers, with Ormonde Jayne’s latest collection ‘The Four Corners of the Earth’ one can visit the most exotic destinations without even removing one’s pyjamas. So over the last couple of weeks I’ve been to the Gulf, Russia, Latin America and China…

For the Four Corners of the Earth collection Linda Pilkington and perfumer Geza Schoen have taken Ormonde Jayne on a trip round the globe, soaking up the sights, smells and colours of four distinct cultures without diluting the brand one bit, and this is what makes the collection so excellent; the fact that despite the strong influences of their respective homelands, each fragrance still very much follows the Ormonde Jayne signature of refined, elegant fragrances. After all, it’s not just where we go that shapes who we are, it’s where we come from too.

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