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.
Oud from Laos, Cinnamon from Ceylan, Saffron and Brazillian Copahu Balm
How Does it Smell?
In a similar vein to last year’s OUD, Francis Kurkdjian has managed to create something entirely unexpected with OUD Velvet Mood, but in terms of smell both compositions could not be further away from each other. OUD Velvet Mood is oud seen through an industrial prism of hot metal, dusty car parts and machinery. It could be allied to the steampunk vibe of Andy Tauer’s Loretta if the accord wasn’t situated within a less plush setting due to the austere quality of the oud and cinnamon.
There is definitely a spiky, almost-piquant core to OUD Velvet Mood that creates a coolness, almost as if the heat of the opening dissipates entirely after being dropped into a vat of golden saffron. The effect is cold and aloof, almost untouchable, but it isn’t jarring, slipping seamlessly into the mix like liquid mercury.
This Metropolis-inspired oud has the unsettling feel of velvet rubbed the wrong way. It’s an essay of the rough vs the smooth – an intriguing blend where the harsh, angular metal notes are wrapped in delicate grey velvet. There is an air of mystery, of something that keeps you a step away from seeing its true form that gives OUD Velvet Mood the unique quality of being a perfume that never truly feels owned by the wearer.
Oud from Laos, Moroccan Labdanum, Laotian Benzoin and Vanilla
How Does it Smell?
Where OUD Velvet Mood evokes the image of an abandoned steel foundry, OUD Cashmere Mood conjures up images of ancient rituals and resins, showering the skin in delectable, smoky warmth. It is a more typical style of oud and will more than likely seem the most familiar out of the trio.
Familiarity is not a negative in this case as OUD Cashmere Mood is exceptionally well done and incredibly likeable. The smoky, sour woody notes of oud are layered with subtle wafts of benzoin and create what is perhaps the most obviously ‘textured’ oud of the bunch.
Despite the tendency of the materials used to create plushness there is very little about OUD Cashmere Mood that is creamy, instead heading towards a vibe that is more akin to the feel of something solid. The wood smoke runs throughout creating a hardy structure that is more evocative of architecture than it is of fabric leading one to wish that it was all just a little bit more fluffy.
Oud from Laos, Bulgarian Rose, Blue Chamomile from Morocco and Papyrus.
How Does it Smell?
Subtlety appears to be the main thread which links most of Francis Kurkdjian’s OUDs together but OUD Silk Mood is the one that breaks the trend. One would recommend that you ignore the blue colouring of the juice because this one is a gigantic, fuschia-coloured rose.
It is all very similar to Lady Vengeance, Kurkdjian’s composition for Juliette Has a Gun, except where Lady V is all powder puffs and silliness, OUD Silk Mood employs just the right level of weight (i.e. strong woods) to stop the whole thing taking off on a destructive flight around town.
There is powder here sure, but it is used to give softness (and unsurprisingly a silky texture) rather than lift or reach. Papyrus adds a subtle hint of green that firmly cements the rose as something more natural than first perceived, it tempers the sweetness and hints at the moistness of soil beneath the thorns.
OUD Silk Mood is the most enjoyable of powdery pink roses and if I were to shell out the £275 for one of these OUD Moods my money would be saved for this one (nobody tell Nigel…), because not only does it smell perfectly proportioned, it Projects with a capital ‘P’ and just lasts and lasts and lasts.
OUD Velvet Mood, OUD Cashmere Mood and OUD Silk Mood are available in 70ml Extrait de Parfum for £275. In the UK they are/will be available at Selfridges, Liberty & Harvey Nichols and online at www.franciskurkdjian.com.
PR samples. Quotes via franciskurkdjian.com. Notes via Press Release. Image 1 via cafleurbon.com. Image 2, 3 and 4 via lesecretdumarais.com.