Dear Oud: How can we miss you if you don’t go away?

Are you little tired of ouds at the moment? Have you noticed the unusually long duration of this fragrance trend? It’s been at least two years now, and it shows no sign of abating.  We’ve been inundated by ouds of every variety from all directions, and everybody’s getting in on the act. To name afew of the companies that have rolled out their own version: Bond No. 9, By Killian, Giorgio Armani, Jo Malone, l’Artisan Perfumer, Dior even Comptoir Sud Pacific.  There’s many more, too.  Just do a search using the word “oud” on any major frag website and see how many hits you get.  

It’s an interesting resiny, woody, herbaceous scent that conjures up images of being in a palatial gallery on a pillow strewn night, the air heavy with incense, the night breeze wafting in carrying ribbons of fragrant woods, resin and pitch.

If you haven’t already tried some on, do sample a few to see how this note has been interpreted. You’ll find that they vary from hardly, barely there (Van Cleef and Arpels Precious Oud) to a rich, deep dark and resinous mix  (Chantecaille’s  Kalimantan Perfume) that made such a lasting impression on me that I had to stop in the ladies room on the way out of the store and  scrub it off.  You can also get a single note oud, or agarwood, from sellers such as Madini Perfume Essences if you want to know what it’s like without all the flourishes.

Agarwood has an interesting pedigree: (“Agarwood or oodh (or just agar) is a dark resinous heartwood that forms in Aquilaria and Gyrinops  trees (large evergreens native to southeast Asia) when they become infected with a type of mold. Prior to infection, the heartwood is relatively light and pale coloured; however, as the infection progresses, the tree produces a dark aromatic resin in response to the attack, which results in a very dense, dark, resin embedded heartwood. The resin embedded wood is commonly called gaharu, jinko, aloeswood, agarwood, or oud (not to be confused with ‘Bakhoor’) and is valued in many cultures for its distinctive fragrance, and thus is used for incense and perfumes.“ Wikipedia. From the article “Agarwood”)

I can appreciate it for its beauty, but it’s all getting a little repetitious. Now when the sales clerks whips out the latest thing and it turns out to be an oud, all I can say is “Thank you, but I’m ouded out.”

What do you think of all the ouds out there?

  • Amen! I love oud but I have come to the point where the mere mention of the note sends me screaming the other way. The really original ones are few and far apart and all the rest are repetitive and exploitative I am sure oud can do wonderful things once perfumers realize that it doesn’t have to be obvious (and on the perfume name) to make a difference. One of the most beautiful oud notes is found in Habit Rouge eau de parfum, It doesn’t scream and it is not named Habit Rouge Oud.

  • Ninara Poll says:

    I still say that when Bath and Body Works does something that claims to utilize oud, the trend will officially be over and oud will be dead.


  • I’ve tried a number of pure oud oils … about a dozen. Some are truly gag-inducing, smelling like the zoo or the funkier sections in your local traveling circus. Some are more interesting … dark and fruity, or bracing and chemical. I find ouds from China and India tend to be more in the gag-inducing category, whereas ouds from Borneo and other islands tend to be more wearable.

    Among the fragrances I’ve tried that use oud as a note, the ones I like the most are YSL M7, L’Artisan Al Oudh, and Soivohle Oud Lacquer. I pretty much lost interest when Axe and Old Spice came out with oud fragrances … that was pretty much the first peal of the death knell for the oud fad, IMHO.

  • Lala says:

    “…that made such a lasting impression on me that I had to stop in the ladies room on the way out of the store and scrub it off.” Hee! I’m tired of it also.

  • bloody frida says:

    still have ouded yet!

  • FragrantWitch says:

    I have to admit to not having tried too many ouds. Though it is right up my alley as I am a lover of all things incense, resin, spice etc, ther market is so saturated that I am playing the long game, as it were. I figure that when the craze has died down the good will have risen to the top, as it were. If it is still getting blog love then I will check it out. Until then I’ll sniff if it comes my way, if not the universe will sort it out for me!