Comptoir Sud Pacifique Ouds

Aouda-avecpack-HD-230x200_230x0Years 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, 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!

  • Women Scents says:

    I’d stick with my Bulgari Omnia.

  • zeezee says:

    Huh. I know that plasticky vanilla-candle smell you wot of, and it’s solely responsible for my alleged hate of everything “vanilla”. Until I started finding more and more exceptions to the rule, of course. Now, I couldn’t claim I’m a vanilla hater if I want to still be taken seriously.
    Aouds intimidate me, so these alu-can sweet nothings may be a nice (read: less nose-hair singing) introduction.

    • zeezee says:

      Yikes. That should read: singeing. The day my nose hairs start singing is the day I’ve finally cracked.

  • Elizabeth says:

    This is a timely post, since I’m indulging in an oud obsession right now. Have you tried Micallef Homme (Aoud)? It’s a beautiful, wearable, almost-sweet but not gourmand oud. I am lemming a bottle. I also need to try these ouds, especially Aoud de Nuit. Thanks for the great review, I didn’t even know they existed!

    • Nava says:

      You’re welcome. I’m just getting my feet wet in the oud category, and I definitely plan on sampling some more. Stay tuned. 🙂

  • carter says:

    AND the name of Linda Pilkington’s wonderful company. Okay, going back to bed now with a mustard plaster on my forehead in the hope that rights what is wrong with my brain.

  • March says:

    Hey, thanks, this was very interesting! I also have trouble with oud being completely overwhelming, also in particular the famous rose/oud combo… kill me now. These sound totally doable!

    • carter says:

      I’m just the opposite — I am drawn to rose ouds like a moth to a flame. I love Montale’s Aoud Attar, Roses Petals and Queen Rose, and Pascal Morabito’s Nahima 2 even more, perhaps. And Ormande Woman’s Ta’if. But Homage Attar with its Ta’if roses and silver oud is my idea of the perfect rose aoud, and one of my top five fragrances ever, ever, ever.

    • Lee says:

      Having just been murdered due to my similar aversion to oud/rose combos (I’d rather eat my eyeballs, thanks), I’m not really typing this.

      Right, off on holiday….


    • Nava says:

      They are. I’m in a completely zen place right now, probably because I made the mistake of watching an episode of “Hoarders” on A&E earlier this week. Wearable, doable, simple, easy… I’m on an anti-complicated kick right now.

  • Maha says:

    Oh my gosh, ouds. As an oud fanatic in the making, I can’t totally identify with this post (though you have given me a new set of must-try fragrances!) I do think Le Labo’s Oud 27 is a good one to try if you find the Montales too strong. Tangy and deep and interesting, Le Labo’s Oud is, in my experience, one of those perfumes you just can’t get out of your head after you first smell it. I have a tiny sample of the balm formulation that I use like smelling salts–if it’s an especially bad day on public transit, I take it out and inhale and suddenly life is a lot better.

    Still, Montale’s Red Aoud is my newest darling; the saffron is perfect, if you like warm, big, stonky saffron. I have to remind myself that I have a ton of other worthy fragrances around so I don’t wear it every day and tire of it. I don’t think a perfume has ever gotten me so many compliments, though I love it so much, I’d probably keep wearing it even if I met only wrinkled noses.

  • Disteza says:

    I fell off into the deep end with ouds; since the Montale ouds were mostly meh on me, so I decided to head straight for the powerful stuff. My wallet has never been the same, or left such a stink trail! I have a super spendy sample that will knock out most people if I try to wear it out of the house within 30 minutes of application, but after that, leathery, skanky, resinous heaven! It stains like nothing I’ve ever come across before though–takes a good coupla minutes of scrubbing to get it off SKIN!

    • Nava says:

      What do you think of the concept of a skanky fragrance safe house? A place where we can all gather to ride out potential olfactory offenses we have no business inflicting on others outside of our ilk. We can operate like a prohibition speakeasy – sliding peephole in the door, password requirement. How great would that be?

  • Musette says:

    I’m still wrestling with ouds. I have a couple that, upon first sniff, smell deeee-viiiine. Then a few minutes later I get a whacking great headache and smell only head shop from then on in. The Montales hold okay for me (only minimal headache) but I’m not that crazy about the scent – I, too, get a lot of powder. La Belle E sent me an Arabian oud that is incredible – I’m trying to figure out how to wear it….. (that’s the divine-to-migraine one)

    great post! thank you.

    xoxo >-)

    • Nava says:

      We should tag-team those ouds, you and I; I’ve gotten some pretty wicked headaches as well.

    • Maha says:

      Nava reminded me–isn’t it funny how much the perfume-headache index varies from person to person? Ouds don’t bother me at all (perhaps all that time spent in mosques as a child?), but I can’t stand to wear certain florals–Estee Lauder Pleasures and Hermes Caleche kill my sinuses every time.

      • Musette says:

        I know just what you mean – it’s the rare citrus that can bug me (though they might be vile they’re not headache-inducing) but bring on a musk and you just might bring up my lunch!

        Everybody has different triggers, it seems and I wonder if those weird reactions have much to do with early exposure, or lack thereof?

        xo >-)

        • Nava says:

          If that’s the case then I suffer from enduring psychological damage dating back to childhood from all the Chanel No. 5 my mother wore.

  • Hi Nava! What was the plain oud by CsP that I tried during the not most recent but one before that Art With Flowers event? IT was really simple and plain but I quite liked it. I thought it was just called Oud!

    • Nava says:

      I can’t remember which of the ouds Susan had with her, but it was probably Aoud de Nuit. I thought it was simply “Oud” as well.

  • Melissa says:

    Hi Nava

    I enjoyed sniffing these when we sampled them with the rep some months ago at AWF. I’m a bit surprised that they don’t have them yet. I can’t remember which one I liked the best. I think I liked the warmth of Aoud de Nuit and the muskiness of Nomaoud, but it was a while ago. Nice starter ouds.

    I’m with Louise though. I sniffed a Montale early into my fragrance fanaticism career and I was immediately intrigued. I wasn’t sure that I could wear it in public, but I needed some. A few years later, Louise spritzed me with some ouds from her collection and well, I’m still not sure that I should wear these in public, but my family seems to tolerate me. Um, most of the time.

    • Nava says:

      I don’t know what it is about Montales, but they go all rank and powdery on me. I was first exposed to their ouds at Aedes de Venustas and was completely overpowered by them.

      I’m not 100% sure of the availability, but I will check with Susan from Comptoir and let you know.

  • Louise says:

    Ah, ooooud! I had no acclimation time for the odor that some find tough-it was love at first huff.

    I’ve been a fan of several Montales for years, and wear a couple regularly. But as my interest grew, I knew I needed to smell stronger sh, er stuff. A visit to the London Arabian Oud shop a few years ago was an eye-and nose-opener. Besides the lovely staff, their service was fabulous. After selecting a few more discreet scents, I was invited to the basement area, for the hardcore fans. They served lovely dark coffee and dates, and had me sample some extraordinary oud blends, as well as burning oud chips and various pure ouds. The latter varied from deep and smooth to pooey to playful. I came home with some aged Cambodian oud. I use it to wrinkle my friends noses 😉

    These sound like nice light oud blends. I do hope they come to Art with Flowers soon.

    The pine debate you’re thinking about was prolly around SLs Filles en Aiguilles (I’m in the yum camp) and that one most attracts me of the CSPs, though they all sound interesting. It’s nice to see CSP going back to its earlier days of producing less “easy” scents.

    • Melissa says:

      You oud-enabler you. Wrinkled my nose a few times! Ahhhh.

    • Nava says:

      That’s right – the SL! Now I remember. I’m not a big pine fan, but give me a fresh Christmas tree…

      Sadly, I haven’t found one Montale that works for me. And I wish I’d known about the Arabian Oud shop when I was in London. I’m sure if I did, I’d have a very different perspective.

      I find myself wondering if these will catch on considering the “easyness” that CSP has embraced in recent years. I’m with you in applauding them for their return to interesting as opposed to easy.

  • DinaC says:

    Very educational, Nava. I’ll have to try out the ouds at Art with Flowers next time! The Nomaoud sounds the most interesting to me right now, probably because of the sandalwood, but I’d like to sniff them all.

    Love the story about grappa! Haha. You poor thing. That will teach you to make funny faces in foreign places, right?!? 🙂

    • Nava says:

      I have learned my lesson. Especially in places like France and Italy where food and drink are very serious topics. 🙂