Precious perfumery

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About 100 years ago, it was perceived to be a scandal to wear perfume directly on the skin rather than on one’s clothes. In the same way that latex was until very recently seen as a fetish fabric, so perfume as a “second skin” was equally taboo. Marilyn Monroe couldn’t have put it better when famously asked by a reporter what she wore to bed, by teasingly replying “Chanel No. 5”.  Such is perfume’s intense, intimate relationship with the wearer, making it more precious than clothing or jewellery – and highly sensual. And, when it comes to perfume ingredients, few are more sensual, costly and luxurious than pure oud – which forms the base of the new fragrance trio Oud Mood by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.
As with his highly successful original Oud fragrance from 2012, each scent incorporates pure oud from Laos – the most costly of its kind. Oud itself is an enigmatic, rich and evocative ingredient which has proved extremely popular in the perfumery world over the past few years – with many famous perfumers and fashion houses offering their own interpretations. Kurkdjian himself explains more about this unusual, somewhat addictive material.
“Oud is for the Middle East market a very important accord and for our western noses is an entirely new olfactory family the same way you had in early 1910s a new family called amber or chypre. Its main signature comes from the Middle East although the raw material is from Southern Asia.”
So what exactly is oud in raw form? “Oud is the combination between a tree and a fungus,” Kurkdjian explains. “The tree gets infected and develops a scent. It’s as a sensual and animalic note that is very unique in the perfume palette.”
Kurkdjian has created three different perfumes, each of which showcases oud in a different light. Each one is inspired by a luxurious material and envelops the body in a somewhat similar fashion. Velvet mood echoes the rich material of its name, with deep, smoky tones of cinnamon, saffron and Brazilian copahu balm. Cashmere mood evokes the dry, spice-infused heat of the desert with the help of vanilla and Moroccan labdanum.
But to my mind it’s the pretty Silk mood which upstages the other two – then again I’m always partial to a sweet, unabashedly feminine scent. With an enveloping heart of Bulgarian rose, its enigmatic character has the fleshy softness of the flower’s petals and is given immense depth when combined with oud, blue camomile and papyrus. It’s as raunchy and ostentatious as a bordello – a true seductress of a scent, which naturally works best on bare skin.
by Viola Levy
illustration by Maria Jenje Lundqvist
Each 70ml Oud Mood fragrance is £270 available at Selfridges, Liberty, Harvey Nichols, Les Senteurs and

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