I have said it a number of times before, but things that are true must be said more than once; I am taking my sweet time working my way through Amouage’s back catalogue of scents and most importantly I am enjoying the journey immensely. What strikes me most about the Amouage line is the impressive degree of cohesion demonstrated amongst such an eclectic mix of fragrance styles, each of which is woven together by the silver thread of omani frankincense.
Speaking of journeys, none are more impressive than the ancient journeys of the Silk Road, the subject of which is the inspiration behind Amouage’s 2009 feminine and masculine duo. Creative Director Christopher Chong worked alongside perfumers Cecile Zarokian, Daniel Maurel, Angeline Leporini (for Woman) and Randa Hammami (for Man) to create two perfumes that represent the sheer scale and importance of these cross-continental journeys that no longer exist.
Epic is the moniker given to this type of journey and is bestowed upon both fragrances. Inspired by the legend of travels along the world’s spice and trade routes, and hued in imperial jadeite the name Epic could not be more perfect, and whilst it may lead you to believe that these fragrances are cinematic in their size, one should not be fooled, unlike other Amouage perfumes Epic Woman and Man are essays in soft elegance.
“Perfume, like fashion, is about attitude, seasons, colour, mood and context. There is a time and place for everything.”
My experience of the Heeley line (brainchild of designer James Heeley) has been generally positive, and my impression so far is that it is a line full of interesting, innovative creations which simply must be tried. What I really like about Heeley Parfums though, is that they present themselves with no pretence, no gimmicks, they just say “here we are, come smells us, don’t we smell good?”. But don’t be fooled by this simple approach, the Heeley line actually consists of a range of unique and complex perfumes with highlights such as the beautiful iris ‘Iris de Nuit’, ode to the sea ‘Sel Marin’ and almost comic ‘Esprit du Tigre’.
Late last year James Heeley decided to expand the line with a trio of Extrait de Parfums that take the Heeley aesthetic to a new level of luxury without compromising the overall ethos of unique creations presented in a simple and clear manner. Each Extrait, like the entire Heeley line come to think of it, doesn’t feel the need to shout its message, instead it confidently speaks in a ‘take me or leave me’ manner.
The Heeley Extrait de Parfums are a “collection of quite different scents made from exceptional ingredients, each with an intensity and depth that create a luxurious, ‘haute couture’ feel” and were created because James Heeley wanted to work with his favourite materials in higher concentrations. Heeley succeeds in creating a collection of three perfumes – Agarwoud, Bubblegum Chic & L’Amandière – that are not only high quality but are also high-concept interesting interpretations of familiar themes.
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.
Perfume fate seemed to happen last week. As I was planning The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Oud, the postman bought me two oud-ie goodies – the first being my new bottle of Tom Ford’s Oud Wood and the second being a sample of By Kilian’s latest perfume ‘Amber Oud’. So it seems like last week was fated to be the week of the oud, and in keeping with that theme it only seems fitting to give Amber Oud a whirl.
Firstly, By Kilian has to be commended for their PR practices. Last year they offered members of The Kilian Club on their Facebook Page a complete set of samples from the L’Oeuvre Noire collection and now they have been kind enough to send everyone a sample of their latest fragrance ‘Amber Oud’, with the sole intent of introducing it to Kilian fans. Now, that’s good PR!
Amber Oud is inspired by greek mythology and is the latest addition to By Kilian’s Arabian Nights collection. It was created by Calice Becker and joins Incense Oud, Pure Oud and Rose Oud to become the fourth pillar within Kilian’s oud-quartet. Kilian says that Amber Oud “is borned in Heliades tears”  and with this new fragrance his objective “was to deconstruct/reconstruct the traditional “Amber” by taking the animalistic qualities of a dark “Oud” and adding richness through an overdose of “Vanilla” from Madagascar and “Benzoin” from Laos.” 
Oud is a note that seems to have had a great deal of popularity over the last few years. Most perfume houses have an ‘oud’ in their line-up, in fact many have several – anybody who’s anyone has got one. Despite it’s prolific presence in today’s perfume landscape, it cannot be denied that oud is a wonderfully powerful material, that when used properly can be one of the most beautiful smells known to man.
Oud is the jigsaw piece that helps fuse European and Eastern styles of perfumery together, and whilst the oud that is used in western perfumery is much cleaner (and largely synthetic) than that used in the east, it has coloured the face of perfumery in bright arabian hues and taken us on exotic voyages to faraway lands.
Oud/Oudh/Aoud/Agarwood is a “dark, resinous heartwood”  that forms in infected Aquilaria trees. The infection is due to a specific type of mould, that changes the colour and density of the wood, leaving a strong, dark resin (the oud) in the core.
Due to its rarity and variation in quality and scent profile, oud is a very difficult and expensive ingredient to work with, hence why the majority of oud fragrances use a synthetic substitute.
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My tastes tend to lean towards those perfumes that are either floral, oriental or gourmand, and woody fragrances, whilst not being my favourite type, belong to a genre that I have learned to love as my tastes have developed and improved along my perfume-sniffing journey. For this reason O Tannenbaum! has been an intriguing post to write and I have tried to choose three scents that represent completely different aspects of the woody genre.
Oud/Aoud/Oodh/Agarwood is a ‘dark, resinous heartwood that forms in Aquilara and Gyrinops trees when they become infected with a type of mold.’  The smell of Oud really varies and from my experience it can smell medicinal, animalic and funky like a barnyard or intensely peppery and spiky.
Over the last couple of years there has been a plethora of fragrances released based around oud, a note which has been used in middle eastern perfumery for thousands of years. Oud has very much become the note du jour and it seems that almost every fragrance house has done ‘an oud’.
One house that kicked off the trend is Montale, created by perfumer Pierre Montale and tucked away in a corner of the very upmarket and glamourous Place Vendôme in Paris, Montale focuses on rich oriental fragrances and exotic blends using the famous oud.
This review is of two of Montale’s most well known scents, Black Aoud and White Aoud. These two scents strike an interesting contrast with each other and show the versatility of the oud note.