For those of you who have recently started taking an interest in fragrance; oud, oudh, agarwood or aloeswood is probably an ingredient you have read or heard about, seen or smelled. Of course, if you have spent time in the Middle East, parts of Asia or North Africa, oud is something you are likely to be accustomed to. The darkened heartwood is harvested from Aquilaria and Gyrinops trees that have been infected with a type of mould. Miraculously the infected wood produces a highly unique and desirable aroma. In Middle Eastern culture, the fragrant wood chips are burned as incense. The wood can also be steam distilled to produce an essential oil and CO2 extraction is a relatively new method of obtaining a scented extract. Of the woods used in perfumery, oud wood is by far the most expensive. It is also relatively rare. Rarity and high cost is a perfume marketer’s dream story, and over the past decade, brands have been cashing in on the oud legend.
Although there are a number of sustainability initiatives designed to replenish plantations, good quality pure oud oil is still rare and very expensive. Many perfume houses work with synthetic substitutes to create their oud perfumes but nothing compares to the complexity and depth offered by the authentic oil. My favourite oud fragrance is Frederic Malle’s “The Night,” which is sold exclusively in selected department stores in the UAE. If you are lucky, you might find a bottle in Frederic Malle flagships around the world. Launched in 2014, The Night was created by IFF perfumer Dominique Ropion and it contains a lavish dose of natural oud extract. A 100ml bottle will cost you AU$1700. You get a smile and a polite shake of the head when you ask Malle’s boutique staff if they have samples. “It’s not possible, Sir.”
I recently received my copy of the 2016 edition of Michael Edwards’ Fragrances of the World book. His book and the Fragrances of the World online database are my essential research tools when writing perfume reviews. Michael Edwards and his team of evaluators have tracked almost every perfume launched around the world for over 30 years so the database is comprehensive. I’ve interviewed Michael Edwards a couple of times. The audio interview I posted on my blog in 2014 is of Michael telling his story and it demonstrates why he is regarded by the industry as being one of the world’s foremost experts on perfume.
Flicking through the pages of the new edition, I decided to dig a little deeper into the Oud Phenomenon. When the fragrance industry falls for a trend, it falls hard. These days every brand seems to have an oud fragrance, from high-end luxury brands to discount pharmacy brands. It still surprises me when a new fragrance is launched with oud, oudh or agarwood in the title. Did the Marketing team take the day off when the brand decided on the name? When I read online forums and other fragrance blogs, fans of perfumes everywhere tend to share the sentiment that today there is too many oud perfumes. I looked at the Fragrances of the World online database, which has a sophisticated search engine. I looked for fragrances launched 2006 – 2016. The database came back with 12587 results. I refined my search to show fragrances that contained an oud note in the olfactory pyramid of notes. My result was 670. This meant over 5% of new fragrances launched during the past 10 years contained oud or an oud accord. Then I filtered my list by launch date and I drew out the names of fragrances that used the word oud, oudh, aoud, agarwood or aloeswood in the perfume title. Below is that list. Looking at my results I was surprised to discover Tom Ford was the first major brand in the database to use ‘oud’ in a perfume title: Tom Ford Oud Wood (2007). The designer has always been a trailblazer and he was the Creative Director behind one of the first Western fragrances to contain an oud note: Yves Saint Laurent M7 (2002). Before this little bit of research I never thought of him as also playing a role in setting off oud’s snowball effect. There is a steady increase in new perfumes subscribing to the trend and the numbers are still on the incline. I expected the trend to have peaked around 2012/13 but it seems perfume brands remain fixated on this exotic ingredient and note.
Oud Wood – Tom Ford
Aoud Damascus – Montale, Aoud Lime – Montale, Aoud Rose Petals – Montale, Precious Oud – Trish McEvoy, Red Aoud – Montale, White Aoud – Montale,
Agarwood Man – Gandini, Aoud de Nuit – Comptoir Sud Pacifique, Aouda – Comptoir Sud Pacifique, Oud 27 – Le Labo, Oud Version – Horseball, Pure Oud – By Kilian, Rose & Oud – Henri Bendel, Midnight Oud – Juliette Has A Gun
Accord Oud – Byredo, Agaressence – Brecourt, Al Oudh – L’Artisan Parfumeur, City Oud – Dueto Parfums, Leather Oud – Christian Dior, Oud & Bergamot – Jo Malone, Oud Immortel – Byredo, Oud Royal – Armani Prive, Vanilla Aoud – M. Micallef
Agarwoud – Heeley, Aoud – Roja Parfums, Aoud S – Mancera, Black Rose Oud – Trish McEvoy, Gardenia Oud – Smell Bent, Incense Oud – By Kilian, M7 Oud Absolu – Yves Saint Laurent, New York Oud – Bond No. 9, Oud et Rose – S.T Dupont, Oudh Osmanthus – Mona di Orio, Precious Oud – Van Cleef & Arpels, R’Oud Elements – Kerosene, Rose Oud – Illuminum, Rose Oud – Les Senteurs Gourmandes, Sand Oud – Mancera, Scarlet Oud – Illuminum, Shams Oud – Memo
Amber Aoud – Roja Parfums, Amber Oud – Perfumer’s Workshop, Aoud Black Candy – Mancera, Aoud Ever – Montale, Aoud Forest – Montale, Belle au PArfum de Oud – Esteban, Dahn al Oudh Raysan – Ajmal, Golden Oud – Alexandre. J, Intense Oud – Jovan, Moto Oud – Blackbird, Nawab of Oudh – Ormonde Jayne, Oud – Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Oud Malaki – Chopard, Oud Shamash – The Different Company, Essenza di Aoud – Pal Zileri, Rose Oud – Alexandre. J, Rose Oud – The Body Shop, Roseaoud & Musk – Mancera, Royal Rose Aoud – M. Micallef, Saffron Rare Oud – Perfumer’s Workshop, Savane’ Oud – Torre of Tuscany, The Aoud – Mancera, Tuberose Oud – The Perfumer’s Workshop, Velvet Rose & Oud – Jo Malone, Zafeer Oud Vanille – Alexandre. J, Indonesian Oud – Ermenegildo Zegna, Kanon Agardwood – Kanon, Nawab of Oudh Intensivo – Ormande Jayne
Black Oud – Monotheme, Black Oud – The Merchant of Venice, Black Oudh for Men – Reiss, Bois de Oud – La Sultane de Saba, Damask Oud – Hugo Boss, Carved Oud – Thameen, Velvet Tender Oud – Dolce & Gabbana, Eau de iceberg 74: Oud – Iceberg, Emergald Oud – Bella Bellisima, L’Autre Oud – Lancome, Madly Kenzo Oud – Kenzo, Mysterious Oud – Chabaud, Mystic Oud – Historiae, Night Garden: Assam Oudh – Crabtree & Evelyn, Oud Alif – Shay & Blue, Oud Bleu Intense – Fragrance du Bois, Oud Cashmere Mood – Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Oud Fleur – Tom Ford, Oud – Franck Boclet, Oud Graphite – Montana, Oud Jaune Intense – Fragrance du Bois, Oud Noir Intense – Fragrance du Bois, Oud Orange Intense – Fragrance du Bois, Oud Rose Intense – Fragrance du Bois, Oud Rouge Intense – Fragrance du Bois, Oud Save the King – Atkinsons London, Oud Silk Mood – Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Oud Velvet Mood – Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Oud Vert Intense – Fragrance du Bois, Oud Violet Intense – Fragrance du Bois, Oud’ish – Zarkoperfume, Oudh Sensuel – Compotoir Sud Pacifique, Tiger Oud – Robert Cavalli, Rose Oud – Nicolai, Sahraa Oud – Fragranc du Bois, Terryfic Oud – Terry de Gunzburg, Harrods Agardwood Parfum – Bond No. 9, Gold Rose – Tiziana Terenzi
No 1 Oud – Aigner, Al-Kimiya Oud et Bois – d’Orsay, Aoud Café – Mancera, Aoud Line – Mancera, Aoud Nepal – Montale, Aoud Night – Montale, Aoud Violet – Mancera, Boid d’Oud – Detaille 1905, Bois de Aoud – Nejma, Crystal Oud – Alysonoldoini, Elixir Precieux: Oud – Christian Dior, Eternal Oud – By Kilian, Extreme Oud – By Kilian, Figue Aoudii – Maison Incens, Fortnum & Mason Taif Aoud – Roja Parfums, Gucci Oud – Gucci, H the Exclusive Aoud – Roja Parfums, Honey Oud – Floris, Oud for Men – Jacomo, John Varvatos Oud – John Varvatos, L’Autre Oud en Rose – Lancome, Leather Oud – Floris, No 10 White Oud – Agonist, Oud: Nejma 7 – Nejma, One Man Show Oud Edition – Jacques Bogart, Orange Aoud – Montale, Oud Amber Intense – Fragrance du Bois, Oud Assoluto – Pineider, Oud Blanc – Ted Lapidus, Oud Noir – Ted Lapidus, Oud Flamboyant – Givenchy, Oud Prestige – Jacoglu, Roberto Cavalli Oud Al Qasr – Roberto Cavalli, Secret de Rochas Oud Mystere – Rochas, Steam Aoud – Montale, The Oud Private Edition 2014 – Nejma, True Essence of Woods: Oud – Pino Silvestre, Ultimate L’Oud 75214 – Krigler, Versace Pour Femme Oud – Versace, Wild Rose Aoud – Mancera, Japanese Agardwood – Lisa Hoffman, Hand in Hand: Rose & Oudh – Ramon Monegal
1001 Ouds – Annick Goutal, Alien Oud Majesteux – Thierry Mugler, Amber Aoud Absolue Precieux – Roja Parfums, Amber Aoud Crystal Parfum – Roja Parfums, Another Oud – Juliette Has A Gun, Aoud Absolue Precieux – Roja Parfums, AOud Crystal Parfum – Roja Parfums, Aoud Lavender – Montale, Aoud Sense – Montale, Aoud Vanille – Mancera, Axis Oud – Axis, Boss Bottled Oud – Hugo Boss, Dahn Al Oudh Arzan – Ajmal, Gucci Intense Oud – Gucci, Himalayan Oud – Premiere Note, Incense Musk Oud – Build & Destroy, Irish Oud – Memo, L’Oud – Collistar, London Oud – Fragrance du Bois, Mesmerising Oudh Accord & Gold – Molton Brown, Musk Aoud Absolue Precieux – Roja Parfums, Musk Aoud Crystal Parfum – Roja Parfums, Myrrh Oud – The Merchant of Venice, Neroli Oud – Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger, Oud & Rose – L’Occitane, Oud Al-Sahraa – Parfums Berdoues, Oud Couture – Herrera Confidential, Oud de Burgas – Santi Burgas, Oud Delice – Robert Piguet, Oud du Jour – Amouroud, Oud Luban – Xerjoff, Oud Radieux – Cartier, Oud Saphir – Atelier Cologne, Oud Satin Mood – Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Oudrageous – The Merchant of Venice, Patchouli-Oud – Affinessence, Pearl Oud: Doha – By Kilian, Perry Ellis Oud Black Vanilla Absolute – Perry Ellis, Perry Ellis Oud Saffron Rose Absolute – Perry Ellis, Perry Ellis Oud Vetiver Royale Absolute – Perry Ellis, Polo Supreme Oud – Ralph Lauren, Secrete d’Essences: Rose Oud – Yves Rocher, Sueded Oud – Clean Reserve, Terryfic Oud Extreme – Terry de Gunzburg, Terryfic Oud L’Eau – Therry de Gunzburg, Essence of Oud Collection: Noble Incense – Bella Bellissma, The Oud Affair – Vilhelm, PH Bright Oudh – Blood Concept, Tutti Frutti: Candy Aoud – Roja Parfums, Tutti Frutti: Fruity Aoud – Roja Parfums, Warda Al Oud – Xerjoff
Ideal Oud – Mizensir, Oud Sublime – Nicolai, Oud Wa Misk – Parfums Berdous, Oud Wa Vanilla – Parfums Berdous, Oud Wa Ward – Parfums Berdous, Perfect Oud – Mizensir, Rose Oud Nights – J Del. Pozo, Spicy Aoud – Montale, to be continued…
If you want to know more about Fragrances of the World, it’s online database, or how to purchase a copy of the 2016 book edition, visit: www.fragrancesoftheworld.info