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.
Oud, Tobacco Dust Absolute, Coriander Seed Oil, Roasted Tonka Organic Absolute, Coumarin, Sandalwood, Amber, Cistus Oil from Spain, Cistus Absolute, Cedarwood Atlas Orpur, Patchouli Absolute and Castoreum
How Does it Smell?
If one was blindfolded and presented with Tobacco Oud without any knowledge of the perfume’s name, ingredients or origin one would immediately be able to recognise it as a Tom Ford creation. Like most perfumes the brand has on offer, it is rich, baroque, intoxicating and just a little bit gaudy in exactly the same way many of Ford’s scents are, and that is precisely what makes it so enjoyable.
It’s fair to say that the Tobacco part of Tobacco Oud is much more prominent than the Oud, especially in the perfume’s opening stages where a cacophonous cloud of amber, dried fruits and tobacco smoke fills the air like a burning bonfire of exotic woods, casting elegant plumes towards the sky.
Oud adds darkness and a bitter quality that prevents things from becoming too gourmand. It also brings subtle undertones of barnyard, with tiny hints of warm, slept-in hay providing a rather enjoyable touch of raunch. The base however, is all vanilla, smoke and spice, and in the far dry down Tobacco Oud settles to a plush (and still rather loud) and intensely auburn mixture.
Tobacco Oud is a satisfying fragrance and one that will easily find many fans. Everything is nicely proportioned and the stonkingly loud and warm sillage it possesses is both delicious and joyfully enveloping. Where Tobacco Oud lets itself down however, is in the fact that it’s not entirely unique and Ford already has two fragrances – Tobacco Vanille and Sahara Noir – that are more than slightly similar. Therefore, If one is looking for an brand new and interesting oud then Oud Fleur is a much better bet.
Oud Wood, Sandalwood, Incense, Styrax, Cistus, Leather, Ambergris, Castoreum, Rose Bulgaria Orpur, Rose Absolute Morocco, Rose Absolute Turkey Orpur, Ginger CO2, Cardamom Seed Oil Orpur, Cinnamon Bark Laos Orpur, Pimento Berry, Geranium Egypt Orpur, Tagette, Osmanthus, Davana Oil and Date Accord
How Does it Smell?
Oud Fleur is distinctly more unusual than any of Tom Ford’s other ouds. For a start it is much quieter in terms of volume and instead of opting to play to the obvious cues of Middle Eastern perfumery it portrays a softer and more fragile side of oud. This is no hefty stonker of an oud, the likes of which one is used to seeing. Here the delicate relationship between oriental spices and exotic flowers reigns supreme.
For the most part, Oud Fleur centres on the collision of three star ingredients; saffron, oud and osmanthus. We’ve seen the pairing of oud and osmanthus before, specifically in Mona di Orio’s transcendently beautiful OUD. But where’s Mona’s oud is evocative of a lover’s warm breath, Oud Fleur is somewhat colder and more aloof, instead conjuring up the image of a vast field full of monochrome flowers.
Osmanthus has a tendency to smell of juicy and waxy apricots but in Oud Fleur the effect is more ashen, with a measured dose of cardamom drying-out the flowers and adding to the overall grey feel, whilst a touch of pimento-soaked and cinnamon-dusted rose intensifies the sharpness.
Much like Tobacco Oud, Oud Fleur warms up with time and the base is a spiced vanilla and floral affair, albeit less immediately Middle Eastern in feel and much quieter. To put it simply, Oud Fleur is mesmerising and as far as ouds go it is most definitely worth trying. It’s an oud fragrance that doesn’t give everything away at first sniff – instant gratification isn’t the modus operandi here – and it draws you in with each application. This is an oud that has one mission – to captivate.
Tobacco Oud and Oud Fleur (and Oud Wood) are available in 50ml (£140) and 250ml (£320) Eau de Parfum. The Private Blend Oud Collection also consists of Oud Wood scented products, including; a Soap Bar (£26), Shower Gel (£42) and Body Lotion (£42).
Samples, notes, quotes and images via Tom Ford.