The Red Deserts of Mars – Thierry Mugler Alien Oud Majestueux Perfume Review

Alien in Red

Alien in Red

It was reported last week that NASA had found evidence of liquid water flowing on Mars. The red planet is no longer a dry, and arid collection of rock and dust, it seems. In other surprising and space-related news, Thierry Mugler has made the decision to launch a limited edition version of Alien called ‘Alien Oud Majestueux’, an oriental fragrance that sees the hyper-jasmine of the original accompanied by oud, the ever popular heartwood extracted from the Aquilaria tree, and seen so often in modern fragrances over the last few years. Composed by the masterful Dominique Ropion, who co-signed the original with Laurent Bruyere, this new version of Alien promises to tantalise with its opulent spices and sweet flower nectar. Colour me intrigued.

Now, I must confess that the news of an oud-injected version of Mugler’s successful Alien did arouse some titters on Twitter in addition to the usual moans about the over-exposure of everyone’s favourite noble tree rot. Of course, Mugler has all but resisted the oud trend for quite some time (although, they have flirted with the note in their Miroir Miroir! series) and the fact that the last non-oud converted bastion of the industry had finally given in did elicit a sigh or two, from yours truly included. As time progressed however, the idea of an Alien oud grew to be an interesting one. I mean, Alien is a pretty fierce woody jasmine fragrance that lends itself well to remixes (see Alien Essence Absolue & Alien Le Goût du Parfum), and a middle-eastern take on an intense, space-age floral actually seemed like something worth sniffing. At risk of spoiling the rest of this review, I can confirm that it is.

“Cocoon your mind, body and soul in Alien Oud Majestueux, the new oriental fragrance. This scent will transport you to the spice markets of the Middle East where your senses will be tantalised with the fragrant notes of opulent spices and sweet flower nectar.”

– Thierry Mugler

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Edible Oud – Robert Piguet Oud Divin & Oud Délice Perfume Reviews

Lip-Smacking Ouds

Lip-Smacking Ouds

During this review I am going to attempt not to; a) mention; or b) moan about, the perfume industry’s boring obsession with oud. Oh, well that didn’t last very long, did it? In all seriousness, you don’t need to hear me bang on about oud and why we’re all fed up with it, because frankly, I’m fed up with saying it. So onwards and upwards. Oud is popular and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, despite our collective ennui regarding the subject. Which leads me nicely onto two brand new oud fragrances from luxury brand Robert Piguet…

The Piguet brand has exploded considerably over the last three years and their small capsule collection of a handful, or so of scents has increased significantly with 19 new fragrances created since 2012 (that’s quite the growth, people). In truth, they’ve been a bit of a mixed bag, and whilst I thought that scents such as Petit Fracas were great fun (and really worth sniffing), many haven’t lived up to the greatness of the brand’s classics such as Fracas, Bandit and Visa. Which, let’s face it, must be quite difficult, i mean, not every fragrance are ever going to be as great as Fracas!

This summer, Piguet have launched Oud Divin and Oud Délice, two follow-ups to their Oud, which was launched in 2012, and was a pretty big and funky take on the note. These two ouds take the signature of the original and turn it into something a little bit more palatable. They flirt with the gourmand and present the signature Oud Piguet, the “proprietary blend of resins and woods” that was the core of 2012’s stinky (in a good way) Oud, in two strikingly different ways – one is robust, shocking and intriguing, whilst the other pleases with softness and familiarity.

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Tongue in Cheek – Juliette Has a Gun Gentlewoman & Another Oud Perfume Reviews

Juliette is Suited and Booted but She's Not Deadly Serious...

Juliette is Suited and Booted but She’s Not Deadly Serious…

Niche brand Juliette Has a Gun seems to be spoiling us with a bevy of launches this summer. We get not one, but two pillar fragrances from the house and style-wise these launches play to two completely different styles, with both opting to defy conventions in different ways. That said, they both sit comfortably into Juliette’s ever-growing oeuvre, which is a distinct mix of the oriental and strong, and the musky with intent. They make for an interesting mix, that’s for sure.

First up we have Gentlewoman, a fragrance inspired by a traditional eau de cologne but given a feminine twist. Of Gentlewoman, brand creator Romano Ricci said he wanted to “give women a dash of dandy”, creating a ‘gentlewoman’s code’ outlining a “citrus woody musky” fragrance that according to the brand, possesses, amongst other things, dandyism, impertinence, audacity, look and freedom. The result is a modern eau de cologne that strips away the gender barriers, favouring androgyny over tired notions of what is appropriate for men, women and anyone that identifies as in-between.

We also have Another Oud. That’s to say that the name of the fragrance is in fact, ‘Another Oud’, not that the launch is another oud fragrance, which it is, actually – an oud, that is. To clarify, this is another oud fragrance cheekily entitled ‘Another Oud’, which is all a bit of a riot if you ask me. Juliette Has a Gun say that this is actually “just the opposite” of a traditional oud fragrance and is, “Version 2.0.” as they quite nifty describe it. You’ve got to give credit to a house that says what we’re all thinking and does so deliberately in order to inspire curiosity. What’s more, this particular oud is actually rather sniff-worthy, and not just because of the name.

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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