Oud fragrance notes

  • Head

    • saffron
  • Heart

    • fir balsam, styrax, myrrh
  • Base

    • guaiac wood, oud, patchouli

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Latest Reviews of Oud

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Saffron-infused oud to start. Heavy, rich balsamic accord. Fir branches dragged indoors. Their odor blooms within the home's interior heat. Soily, earthy, buzzy styrax. Church incense.

Becomes somewhat sweet over time. Woods are resinous. Patchouli seems kind of boozy, alcoholic. It becomes a little skanky later. I smell a woodpile, of various species thrown together. It's kind of odd but, I like it. Patchouli gets even stronger later on. Lasts and lasts.
19th March 2019
Robert Piguet's Oud is one of those impossibly complicated perfumes that seems to smell different every time I sniff it. It's almost like three perfumes layered on one another. First, there's a fruity floral with upfront cherry over jammy patchouli and flowers. Then, there's a bitter green chypre with lots of galbanum and grassy patchouli. Then, there's also an oud perfume, with the oud largely represented as a gross sort of industrial smell over frankincense and chemical-treated mulch and lumber, replete with a bleachy "woody amber" base.

If you put all of these disparate elements together, you get Piguet's Oud. If it sounds like a recipe that can't possibly work, it kind of doesn't, but it's not anywhere near as bad as it sounds like it should be. So I'm left with a dilemma. Do I give points for making something so ridiculously over-complicated actually mostly work? Or do I deduct points for crowding so much needless complexity into a perfume when what was really called for was keen editing?

In the end, I'm just going to split the difference and vote neutral.
28th March 2017

Nice complexity, and a strong, long lasting fragrance. It has an edge that's almost too much; I'm torn between thumbs up and neutral, but the ambition pushes it into thumbs up territory. I'm wearing the last of the sample, but I think this is something that would grow on me more over time. The oud this is named after is a minor player. This smells like something that could gather a following.
29th September 2016
Harsh, metallic, powerful opening of aldehydes, cloves and other spices, Iso E Super, something slightly sweet-resinous and an almost unperceivable note of synthetic oud (which basically smells like just being “created” by the juxtaposition of aldehydes and some chemical rubber-ish aromachemicals). The only “realistic” note I get is the fir balsam, which is quite powerful together with aldehydes and spices. I don't get why they called it “Oud”, as it's basically all about aldehydes, spices and fir balsam. After some hours (I mean 6 or 7) you get more clearly what remains of the note of synthetic oud – not that this is an added value, as it feels like: “where the hell have you been?”. Pungent, artificial, incredibly powerful (like many other new Piguet's): a tacky, clumsy, annoying and remarkably unpleasant bomb of metallic-synthetic stuff which has not the slightest resemblance to oud – and more sadly, to Piguet's old trademark quality. I'll not beat a dead horse, but: horrible!

7th December 2014
Long in the tooth. Flogging a dead horse. Stick a fork in it. Something wicked this way comes.

There are so many expressions hint at the sense of ennui/dread I feel at the thought of a new oud perfume. Niche designers are releasing two or three at a time (The Different Company, by Kilian, Francis Kurkdjian. Even Patricia de Nicolai!)  Designer and celebrity fragrances are scrambling late to the table. (Chanel Bleueoud, Madonna Truth, Dare or Oud, Dior J'Oud, Estée Lauder Youth D'Oud, Paris Hilton So Oud! So Hot!)  It would be revolting if it weren't so tired.

It was with particular angst that I saw one of my favorite perfumers, Aurélien Guichard (whom my autocorrect calls, “Brilliant Shark” when I dictate) had made the latest oud perfume. And for Robert Piguet, no less. Guichard captures the Persephone-syndrome afflicting contemporary perfumers better than most.  Part of the year trapped in Hades (Davidoff, Mugler) and half a year on free on earth (Robert Piguet.) From a company with a track record of enticing, suggestive one word titles (Bandit, Fracas, Visa, Futur) comes an uninspired monosyllabic title. Oud. Almost rhymes with turd. Expectations, low; hopes, nil. 

Outcome? Surprising. Pleasantly so. To all the nichy perfumers trying to find the new compositional trampoline that will allow them to jump this shark, and for all the hacks who are simply pouring buckets of Oud Note ™ into their their stock of Flanker Base ™ come look close. Guichard did what he does best and treated oud like any other tool on his palette. That is to say, he executed classical perfumery.

I'm not sure I'll ever love Oud, as I don't particularly love oud, but christ, I appreciate this perfume.  By classical perfumery, I mean applying deliberate compositional techniques to oud in order to create a rich, perfume that demonstrates artistic principles such as proportionality, intent and aesthetics. This is what Bernard Chant did with patchouli in Aromatics Elixir and Germaine Cellier did with galbanum and isoquinilone in Bandit. What Jaques Guerlain did with vanilla.

I've read a number of reviewers who say that Oud contains next to no oud. However the fragrance was composed, Guichard enhances oud's properties and plays to its strengths. The band-aid note isn't hidden, it's amplified and made sweaty with a heavy dose of myrrh. The odd facet I've smelled in oud wood itself, the chalky/resiny/prickly/parched quality isn't smoothed over, it's developed. It becomes the principal characteristic of this perfume from the almost disagreeable top notes to the more settled bass notes.

Oud has a distinct, pronounced character, and fits in more with Piguet's relic perfumes than it does the new young dudes in the line like Mademoiselle Piguet and Petit Fracas, also by Guichard. There's nothing diminutive in Oud. It has the forget-me-not quality of Baghari, but none of its charm.   Like Bandit and Fracas, it has a caged-animal quality that suggests a fragile safety. Despite an occasionally calm appearance, they aren't tamed.  They're held captive.   It carries the same unsolvable mixed message as a person who comes on to you and then snubs you when you pursue the apparent invitation. I think Germain Cellier would have loved Guichard's Oud.

Oud possesses another quality that often gets confused with age.  Vent Vert, Cabochard, Youth Dew.  Nahema, Poison, Lou Lou. Even Angel. These classical perfumes aren't successful due to their age. They succeed because of the deliberate approaches that technically proficient artists used to produce the new ideas that they express. They are remembered not for the fact that they are old, but because they are fucking beautiful. Oud and Guichard join the above-mentioned perfumes and perfumers in the tradition of using a formal approach to create a new idea.

(Small note.  More than most perfumes, one spray is sufficient.  Two, uncomfortable.  Three, traumatic.)
19th June 2014
A chocolate-y "oud" with anachronistic ‘80s aesthetics attached to it. It's quite complex and layered, and the layers themselves are crystal clear, but it's a highly unflattering sequence of notes.

Fir balsam tends to do me in, and this one's no exception–a bad ‘80s creeper aromatic emerges, complete with mustaches and medallions, lingering more prominently than it probably should. This isn't helped at all by the presence of synthetic iononic notes that I guess are supposed to be saffron (it's a poor sketch of saffron, really). The oud is barely present, but what's there clashes with a patchouli that reads prominently as minty chocolate. This is all undergirded by a salty bacon-like guiaic note.

The good new is that all of these notes (aside from the oud) are vividly presented and lucid; the bad news is that all of these notes (aside from the oud) are vividly presented and lucid. This is a deeply unpleasant combination of uncomplimentary notes which, when brought together, add a totalizing layer of discordant vulgarity. There's nothing here to redeem this–it's simultaneously dated and putrid. If you're looking for an oud fragrance that has almost no oud, but instead combines coniferous, pungently aromatic chemicals with chocolate and bacon, then this is the scent for you. Extraordinarily ugly, bordering on offensive.
8th April 2014
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