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
Natural Oud from Laos, Rose Essence from Bulgaria, Rose Absolute from Turkey, Benzoin from Siam, and Violet and Vanilla Accord.
How Does it Smell?
OUD Satin Mood opens with a massive red wave of ruby-coloured notes. Rose and raspberry slither out of the sprayer in a haze of crimson hues that can only be described as delicious and utterly gourmand. It’s all a bit raspberry macaron and rose cream in the initial instance, which is always a good thing if you ask me, with a touch of sweet, earthy violet lurking in the background. As you can possibly imagine, this all smells rather decadent and full-bodied, but surprisingly it manages to come across as enveloping and sexy, without being aggressive or heavy. This is due to remarkable sense of depth and space where the individual accords feel as if there is a gap of space between them, allowing each one to luminously infuse with the next.
Things take a dip under the sheets as OUD Satin Mood develops on the skin. What, at first, felt like a fearless dive into the pastry cart at Laduree (a trick that I wholeheartedly recommend if one isn’t too fussed about being allowed to return as a repeat customer), quickly becomes centred on pefumery’s familiar staple of amber. Now, remember earlier when I said that Kurkdjian defies convention in OUD Satin Mood by giving familiar themes an unfamiliar twist? Good, it is pleasing to know that you are paying attention. Well, the amber here isn’t the usual ball of vanilla and benzoin fluff that is so often used to plug the gaps in dodgy base notes – nor is it a blocky and unwieldy blend ready to topple over and destroy everything in its wake, either. No, this is a dark amber with deep chocolatey and patchouli nuances, coloured in a wonderfully complex shade of auburn. Its rich colour is only rivalled by its plush texture, a consistency that feels simultaneously satiny and thick, almost as if it is made from thousands of layers of silk bound together. I do love it when perfumers play with texture, it must be said, and Kurkdjian has done an impressive job with OUD Satin Mood in this respect.
In the base, things become woodier and a tad more vanilla-centric. The rose fades right into the background, pairing with the remaining wisps of violet to present nothing more than an air of gourmand sweetness. It’s at this point that one starts to really notice the oud. In the initial stages, it’s nothing more than a smoky baritone lurking somewhere off stage, but as the show-stealing notes of rose and amber start to finish their final encore(they do like to hog the limelight), does that wonderful smokiness get its moment. Of course, oud isn’t just about smoke, there’s metallic sharpness and leathery animal tones as well. The oud is multi-faceted and engaging, evolving constantly with each wear. What stays the same however, is the luxurious and enveloping feel of rich textures and complex odours coming together to create a beautiful shroud.
As always, Francis Kurkdjian does not disappoint. OUD Satin Mood, much like OUD and OUD Velvet Mood, is the type of fragrance to make one think twice about bothering with a fragrance of this style from any other house. It’s a true fusion of East and West, with the gourmand sensibilities of the latter merging perfectly with the richly coloured textiles of the former, and whilst it may not present entirely new ideas (rose ouds really are ten a penny in this day and age) it does set the bar for the style very high. OUD Satin Mood flies the flag for those decadent oud and rose fragrances, and it does it so much better than anyone else, adding a dash of panache for good measure.
OUD Satin Mood launches at Harrods in May and will be available in 70ml Eau de Parfum for £195.
Sample, notes and quotes via Maison Francis Kurkdjian. Image 1 is my own. Image 2 via basenotes.net.