Years ago, when I was a fragrance neophyte, I only wanted to smell like vanilla. That was during the early 90s before the proliferation of food-as-fragrance, and sadly, before I was able to appreciate a scent as groundbreaking as Cher´s Uninhibited. My entrée into vanilla whoredom (way before almond whoredom) was L´Artisan Parfumeur´s Vanilia. From there, I moved on to Comptoir´s Vanille, Vanille Abricot, Vanille Tiare – even though I usually run from gardenia as fast as I can, Vanille Amande, and so on. There was never enough vanilla for me; until it became as common as a Starbucks on two out of every four street corners. When I started smelling that plasticky vanilla flavoring smell – you know, that stuff that comes in the small brown plastic bottle that´s supposed to resemble vanilla, I knew it was time to move on.
One recent craze that I never really got into is ouds. Any of the ones I´ve smelled have been so overpowering that I could not imagine wearing so much as a microscopic drop. I don´t think I knew what oud was until the Montale line of fragrances hit North America. Having never traveled to Southeast Asia or India, I had no idea that oud is the resin distilled from agarwood, a species of evergreen indigenous to Southeast Asia and India. Well, now I consider myself informed; but my relationship with ouds is still in its infancy. It makes me think of when I went to Rome, and had dinner at a lovely restaurant around the corner from where I stayed. It was my first night there and I just about fell face-first into my dinner plate from jet lag. At the end of the meal, some of the people I was traveling with ordered coffee and grappa. I tasted a few of the grappas and made the grave error of making a couple of not very attractive faces when I tasted ones I didn´t like. We were a party of 12 and one of our waiters spotted my distaste for the grappa. He was so upset that he came back with a tray of about 8 different bottles of grappa and gave me little tastes until I found one I liked. The resulting hangover, combined with my jet lag, was epic; but now, I can do with a little grappa from time to time, as long as no one catches me making any nasty faces.
I´ve negotiated the same sort of détente with ouds, now that I´ve smelled the ones from Comptoir. You can insert the adjective “wearable”, in front of just about every note in the fragrance universe, including ouds. And these are some wearable ouds:
Aoud de Nuit: Bergamot, black currant, black rose, iris, vanilla, cardamom, saffron and cedar wood. This one is my favorite; one guess as to why. The vanilla blends so well with the saffron and cedar wood that it stays clean all the way into the drydown, without becoming overpoweringly sweet.
Aouda: Rose, geranium, chamomile, amyris, niaouli, copahu balm, cedar wood, tolu balsam, patchouli and oud accord. I found this a bit heavy on the rose, with some strong vegetation in the background. I think some of you vintage jezebels out there would love this one; it has a very classic twin-set-and-a-strand-of-pearls feel. Mind you, that would be a twin set and a strand of pearls worn with a pencil skirt and heels. Jeans and flats would be far too contradictory.
Nomaoud: Saffron, ylang ylang, purple rose, rockrose, cedar wood, cashmeran, oud wood, amyris, sandalwood, warm amber, leather and black musk. This is by far the sexiest of the four. The rose notes aren´t nearly as strong as they are in Aouda, and the drydown is warm and musky with just a hint of leather. I wouldn´t call this dirty or animalic, but it definitely exudes a not too subtle sexiness.
Oud Intense: Black currant, lemon, rose, patchouli, amber, pine needles, musk. Here, you have to really love pine, because it is the strongest note by far. This oud is also the most masculine. Don´t get me wrong, women can definitely wear this, but again, you have to love pine. I can envision Philosophy´s Cristina Carlino pitching this one out an office window, since pine is one of the notes she´s always bleating about when it comes to what she thinks we should never smell of. Wasn´t there a pine debate here on the Posse not too long ago? Help me please, because my short term memory is shot right now. I fear I may be working on a dementia.
These are all packaged in Comptoir´s signature aluminum bottle; 100 ml for $110.00. You can find them now at lushoasis.com, and for the MD/DC/VA crowd, I believe Art with Flowers will have them soon. Right now, you can snag 6 CSP samples for free when you order a 100 ml CSP over at Lush Oasis.
Lee asked me to pass along congrats to Alica, who is the lucky winner of his sample drawing from his “You Repulse Me” post last week. Alica, hit the “Contact Us” link at the top left of the page and leave your info. And don´t forget to warn your postal carrier!