Tom Ford knows his way around the note of oud. Within his own brand he has a mini-collection of oud fragrances amongst his many Private Blends, each of which takes the style of oud in a very different direction. He’s also the man behind YSL’s M7 which was one of the first mainstream fragrances to promote the use of oud (whether it was the first is up for debate). So it’s safe to say that oud is very much a signature of the Tom Ford brand and it’s a style of fragrance (and I say style instead of note because it’s really more of a genre than a singular ingredient).
The latest addition to Tom Ford’s oud oeuvre is Oud Minérale – a fragrance that intends to approach oud from a much fresher angle. The brand describe it as a scent that merges “rare and precious oud with the fresh exuberance of the ocean”, which may lead one to think that perhaps this is an oud too far. After all, smoky, animalic, middle eastern oud is on the polar opposite end of the fragrance spectrum to anything remotely aquatic. But to think that, whilst justified, would not be correct because Oud Minérale is a clever little composition that manages to find the common ground between these two opposing styles.
Marine Notes, Oud and Smoked Woods
How Does it Smell?
The first note I notice when spritzing Oud Minérale (which I do rather liberally, I must admit) is black pepper. You’ve got to love the mineral zing that black pepper brings to a fragrance – it adds a sort of grey spiciness that is devoid of sweetness or warmth. The second thing I notice is the marine accord of sea spray. This accord is definitely salty, but it makes me think more of wet rocks and pebbles more than it does the sea that crashes against them. So that’s the ‘minérale’ part, what about the oud?
Well the oud is very much the under-layer in the composition. I’d say that Oud Minérale is a fairly linear fragrance and one of two halves. You essentially two strong themes that run through the scent; marine-mineral up top and wood-smoke down below. The oud element is cold and industrial, sending up silver plumes of metallic smoke against a backdrop of dry, cracked leather. I get hints of Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Oud Velvet Mood but the oceanic vibe sets a different tone altogether. As it dries down, the fragrance settles into a very soft blend of grey rocks, wood smoke and salty air.
In terms of sillage, strength and weight, Oud Minérale strikes a good balance. It is present and strong with a diffusive sillage, but at the same time it feels light, transparent and airy (well, airy for an oud anyway). It also boasts this soft, gauzy texture that is tactile, with an inherent grainy quality that could evoke the image of anything from sand to particles of shattered glass.
Oud Minérale fits nicely into Tom Ford’s capsule series of ouds within the Private Blend collection. Where the others play more traditional themes, like woods, tobacco and flowers, Oud Minérale treads into unexplored territory – that of the aquatics. Of course, this is not Cool Water meets Oud Wood (thank the Perfume Gods for that), no, this is no such monstrosity. Oud Minérale is instead an austere take on oud that conjures up the image of ashen grey driftwood washed up on an isolated desert beach. It’s a poignant image and Oud Minérale is a poignant scent – a transparent, marine and summer appropriate oud that you’re going to want to smell. Great (and rather unusual) work, Mr. Ford.
Oud Minérale is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum for £155.
Sample, notes and quotes via TOM FORD. Images are my own.