Cerulean Oud – Maison Francis Kurkdjian OUD Perfume Review

“Where most ouds are coloured in deep reds or rich browns, Kurkdjian’s is hued a pure cerulean blue”

Perfume, like fashion, follows trends and these trends often relate to particular styles of perfumery or even individual notes. We very often see the same genus of perfumes coming on to the market at any one time, for instance fruity florals are everywhere at the moment and I challenge you to find 10 perfumes released in the last year that don’t contain pink pepper. But as with trends in fashion, things in the world of perfumery don’t last long before tastes change once again and a new style comes along. We are fickle creatures after all.

The problem with trends is that they very quickly become boring, and this has very much been the case with oud. Everyone has an oud, everybody from Guerlain to Creed, even Ferrari has one… (no, I’m not joking). A quick search of the Basenotes Fragrance Directory shows that there are in fact 199 fragrances containing the word oud in the title and a 148 which list the noble rot as a note. One can easily come to the conclusion that there are definitely too many ouds and it is easy to become overwhelmed by and even bored with the trend.

Of course, just because there are a lot of ouds on the market doesn’t mean that there isn’t still room for ingenuity and excellent craft, in fact it is quite the opposite, there are some really good ouds out there (just see The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Oud). Last year Mona di Orio created Oud, a wonderfully unique take on oud, and this year Francis Kurkdjian does the same, and his offering could not be more unique.

OUD is the latest perfume to join the Maison Francis Kurkdjian lineup and it really is something very special. Francis Kurkdjian says of his oud offering: “My oud belongs to a marble palace engraved with gold, set under a dark-blue-star-studded night. It is the fine sand of the capricious sand dune, a fragrant harmattan in the silence of the desert.” Where most ouds are coloured in deep reds or rich browns, Kurkdjian’s is hued a pure cerulean blue and right from the beginning this OUD makes it clear that it is not your typical oud perfume.

“Oud can be seen as this century’s ambergris, a natural raw material, mid-way between wood and lichen, that can be strangely shaped. It has a rough, primitive aspect, an animal-like nature crying out to be made “sensual”, rather like the soul of a big cat dressed in silk.” – Francis Kurkdjian

The Notes

Saffron, Elemi Gum, Oud, Cedar Wood and Patchouli

How Does it Smell?

Right from the first spray it is very clear that OUD sets itself miles apart from the pack. It opens with gloriously bright citrus that at first shimmers and sparkles before becoming rich and almost candied. What makes the opening so unusual is that it is the opposite of what one would expect from an oud-based perfume, such is Kurkdjian’s talent of turning the expected upon its head.

The oud itself is used deftly, the name may shout OUD in capitals, but the note itself is pretty restrained within the composition, and it is all the better for it. Whereas we’re used to tripping over the oud (which is mostly synthetic – no bad thing in itself mind, its just not as smooth) in a perfume, here Kurkdjian asks you to search for it, he even says that he has “tamed its inimitable strength”. You step into the maze, not knowing where each turn will take you but safe in the knowledge that at the heart of the maze you will be rewarded. The oud at the heart of this maze, rather than being sour or astringent, is soft and plush. It is as smooth and delicate as silk with a beautiful, woody and smoky aura.

The citrus and oud float above an airy laundry musk that would feel completely out of place if it just wasn’t so damn good mixed with the oud and citrus. The musk makes OUD feel light and atmospheric, a quality that makes it stand out amongst the dense oriental ouds that flood the market. Oh, and don’t worry, this light and airy laundry musk doesn’t make OUD smell cheap, in fact the effect is quite the opposite, this is a very beautiful and refined perfume!

For me OUD was a surprise in a world where surprises are few and far between. If you feel that perfumery has lost its lustre and that there is too much choice with little difference, then give OUD a try. It will restore your faith that even after all this time there is still room for the element of surprise.

The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Oud

OUD is so wonderful I have included it as one of the reference ouds in The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Oud with the title ‘The Cerulean Oud’.


OUD is available in 70ml Eau de Parfum for £175. In the UK it is currently exclusive to Liberty.


This review is based on a sample of OUD provided by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.

Image 1 franciskurdjian.com
Image 2 vogue.de

All quotes via press release.
Notes vía franciskurkdjian.com