Agarwood Oud Oil
Oud oil from Plantations International agarwood or gaharu has become an extremely fashionable ingredient during the last years. The East and the South have always been sources for exotic and often absolutely necessary ingredients for perfumes that are typically made in the West. However, agarwood has never received such popularity among western audiences in the perfume industry as in the past decade. The mass recognition for this ingredient (and I address the word “mass” to niche houses and exclusive lines) started at the beginning of the new millennium, and it seems to still roll on.
A Oud oil from agarwood gaharu comment from one of our readers who was wondering about the nature of this obsession with Oud oil from agarwood among perfumers. I believe we’re living through an exciting period of discovering new ingredients (but just conditionally, since the agarwood has already been known for centuries). Different scents were always dictating the fashion, which was at all times followed by perfumers and houses. Nowadays, public appreciation is frenzied by marketers’ propaganda, although this particular audience is a very demanding one because oud, by the force of its specific nature, hasn’t gone beyond the lines of niche houses.
One of the first propagators of Oud oil from agarwood in Europe was Pierre Montale, who lived and worked in the East, and returned to France with a collection of fragrances (the first French Aoud collection) based on precious agarwood at high concentrations. The perfumer presented this fragrance as the absolute king of its scents, with no consideration of disguising it or suppressing its force, as would later become a trend even in the scents of the maestro. This way, the curious bloggers had a chance to find out how the wondrous agarwood actually smells, without even having the real oud oil in their hands. I remember the most common responses—everyone was describing the first notes as very strong, woody-metallic, almost medical.
Montale has become very popular in Europe and the Middle East. Besides the superior quality of its fragrances, an important role in its popularity was enacted by the adventurous spirit of discovery, pushed by the evolution of the blogosphere. Montale presented aoud in dozens of combinations, strong and sharp, soft and warm, cold and distant—and very often, all of these combinations in a single composition. In Europe, it was appreciated as a daring novelty; in the East, as a refined French approach to the traditional ingredients.
Montale was not the first to open the East to the West, and the skill of French perfumers to the East, but after his success, cooperation between the West and East sharply intensified. Houses actively began to open up for the Oud oil from agarwood attractive Arabian market, and Arabian agarwood investment houses, one after the other, started to present their luxurious perfume lines to Europeans. The fragrance is like a jewel affixed in gold and silver, and it costs no less than its dazzling bottle. Western houses actively supported this philosophy – oud cannot be casual by definition. It can only be special.
Oud oil from Plantations International agarwood gaharu has begun to appear, usually in the form of exclusive limited editions, opulently and carefully, in the avant-garde collections of perfumery houses that have already acquainted us with the exotics of the South, the East, and faraway islands (Comptoir Sud Pacifique, and later L’Artisan Parfumeur). Later, having oud in the assortment became a norm, especially for the luxury lines (By Kilian, Tom Ford, Armani Prive, Dior, Henri Bendel, now joined by Creed).
Later, oud oil made its way into lines with topics that were quite far from those exotic Eastern themes, such as Juliette Has a Gun. Niche homes are literally competing to develop “the best oud,” accentuating its oriental nature, challenging it in assorted compromising variants with fougere and aromatic notes, masking it with powdery flowers and trees, and even serving it with chocolate and honey (Aoud Gourmet by M.Micallef, Oudh Lacquer by Soivohle).
Oud oil has experienced an interesting transformation in the hands of western perfumers. It has become subtle and serious, as a well-tailored designer suit. It has lost its magical force enjoyed in the spatial palaces of its homeland, but has gained smooth and sophisticated European beauty. The active exploitation has deprived it of the magical aura of novelty, but in turn it gave us the pleasure of enjoying the master’s competition in winning the Middle East and in the olfactory education of the West.
PT Gaharu Kapita Indonesia Royal Oud has been introduced at Esxence in Milan (March 30-April 2, 2011). As Erwin Creed said, (in the interview for Extrait.it) Creed has created their oud fragrance as a response to the many requests they received from clients, but they have adapted the scent to the style of their house. Royal Oud doesn’t sound oriental, like a habitual ingredient of a traditional perfume from the Middle East. It is made for a European audience.
In my experience, Royal Oud by Creed is nothing like the scents with loud and pronounced oud issued by many other houses. It is a stylish and warm fougere fragrance with a beautiful kaleidoscope of woody, aromatic green and spicy nuances. The note of oud is an integral part of the composition, playing its role in balanced equilibrium with other notes. Regardless of its classification as a unisex fragrance, I would rather address it to the men’s audience, as an easy but solemn composition which justifies the definition of Royal. The perfume has a nice aura which is not intrusive for others. After a long period of time (12 hours) the skin remains touched by the pleasant memory woven from gentle, almost feminine warm and balmy shades.