Fragrant Fridays: Eid Gift Guide - Luxury Fragrances - Ouds

Friday, 8 June 2018

For the longest time I've been meaning to write some fragrance related posts because back in my retail days I did do a couple fragrance jobs which involved some training and I think that it would be valuable information for people to know!
Fragrances are very personal and in all honesty it's always best to sample a fragrance rather than read reviews online (there's something inexplicable about how a scent can take us to a special memory or place), but if you know what kind of fragrance notes or scents you usually like, then these posts should hopefully help.

I'm going to start the "Fragrant Fridays" series with this Oud Eid gift guide which has super luxury fragrances in it for someone very very special.
This could be a parent, a partner or a super close friend or family member that you really appreciate, (which is who some of these fragrances will be going to this Eid). 
Sometimes the average gift isn't enough for someone who's helped you during difficult times and this is where a luxury gift like Oud (that no one else will get) will say it all for you.

What is Oud?


Oud is a fragrance derived from the Agar tree which is thought to originate from Assam in India. 
The trees are found in South East Asia, India and Bangladesh and when the tree is infected by a specific mould, it produces a dark fragrant resin to protect itself. Oud is sourced from the resin-embedded heartwood of the tree and it can take up to 40 years to produce a good amount of Oud.
Agarwood is the most expensive timber in the world and can be as expensive as gold per kg or even more, depending on the rarity of the tree it was cut from. The price is also high because it is now a potentially threatened species.
Sometimes the wood chips are soaked in fragrant oils and burned as incense (bakhoor) for religious ceremonies like Eid, or generally to fragrance the home (particularly to cancel out strong cooking smells!)

The fragrance itself is described as a warm, bitter, spicy or woody with a slight hint of damp rot (which is not for everyone!).
Some are smoky, some are sweet but it is pretty potent, so for the longest time I avoided Ouds as I found them too strong.

How does it relate to Eid/Islam?

Imam Bukhari reported that Oud is known to be an excellent scent for strengthening the body and the mind. According to him, the Prophet (SAW) said: “Treat yourselves with Indian incense (Oud Al-Hindi) for it has healing for seven diseases; it is to be sniffed by one having throat problems and put in the mouth for one suffering from pleurisy.”

Now of course none of these can be put in the mouth as they're fragrances and not the raw form of Oud, but it was known that the Prophet SAW loved good smells; various hadith are quoted in this article and clarification for women wearing fragrances (whilst praying) can be found here.

People scent their houses by burning Bakhoor (my family have adopted this in recent years) and it's the cultural norm particularly in Middle Eastern countries as it dates back to our Prophet (SAW)'s times.
Oud is also considered to be the best gift at Eid/holidays as it's a valuable and spiritual gift and also an inherited custom.
As Oud can be quite pricey, it is only something to be bought if it is within your means of course and if you're able to afford Oud then it is not seen as extravagant (assuming you give Zakat!).

Oud Gift Ideas


As I said before, I've previously found the scent of Bakhoor/Oud quite strong, my usual preference for fragrances is much less woody or smoky and more sweet/fruity or floral, however I do love warm fragrances and recently Viktor & Rolf released a smokier version of my ultimate fave fragrance (Flowerbomb Intense) and I surprisingly love it a lot (so much so it's now on my prayer scarf).

Ouds are generally not gender specific and a lot are unisex, however there are some Ouds which are (in my opinion) more feminine or aimed at a female market if they're more sweet or floral, but again, in the Middle East this isn't really a thing and men are known to wear sweet perfumes and vice versa.

I'm not sure if it's to do with age but my recent scent preference (or "nosebuds" as I like to call them), seem to be more open to new scents whereas before in my 20s, I was only about the sweet/fruity fragrances, so in this post I've chosen some of the best brands and fragrances currently out there for Oud (thankfully gifted to me by the brands included in this post!).
I've started from most pricey to most affordable with various gift ideas, so I hope you find this helpful!

Roja Aoud
United Arab Emirates - "Spirit of the Union"

Undeniably, this fragrance is the most expensive I've laid hands on and even though it is a fairly recent brand (launched in 2011) by British Perfumer Roja Dove, it is renown as the world's most luxurious fragrance house.
Roja works with only the finest quality materials and ingredients (Rose de Mai, Jasmine de Grasse, Aoud and more) which are housed in bottles with 24 carat gold caps and Swarovski crystals and then packaged in handmade silk-lined boxes, made in England. So it's pretty damned luxurious and as I said above, is a very special gift.


I love how the oud fragrances are spelled how they should be pronounced the correct Arabic way (عود) and of course that there are various super luxurious ones to choose from. 
I chose the United Arab Emirates - Spirit of the Union - as the description sounded like Roja wanted to capture the spirit of the UAE and how in the Middle East they have a culture that holds perfume so close to their hearts. It also is described as Oriental: Rich & Soft - Sweet, Warm & Dry.
I wanted to be transported back through the scent to Dubai that I have visited many times and this fragrance definitely captures that. The ingredients are:

Top notes: 
Bergamot, Artemisia
Heart notes: 
Geranium, Rose de Mai, Jasmin de Grasse, Ylang Ylang, Cistus, Clove buds, Blackcurrant Buds.
Base notes:
Pink Pepper, Cumin, Cypriol, Patchouli, Oakmoss, Guaiacwood, Aoud (Agarwood), Benzoin, Frankincense, Labdanum, Musk
I personally find this fragrance wears more masculine and spicy/peppery, but I can smell the rose/oud mix and as the day goes on the other ingredients become more prominent and it does really remind me of being in a souk in Dubai. 
As with most Ouds, less is more (or you can end up getting a headache!) and the lasting power of these parfums are easily 12 hours+ which is actually amazing to still smell the fragrance 12 hours on.

Available: 50ml Eau de Parfum for £425 (available at Harrods and Selfridges) or you could get a 7.5ml trial size for £65 from the Roja Parfums website 

I was ever so kindly also sent a trial size "Sweetie Aoud" (only available on the Roja parfums website) as I mentioned how my usual fragrance preference is sweet/warm.
This one is described as Oriental: Rich & Soft - Sweet, Warm & Gourmond. The ingredients are similar to above, but sweetened with Patisserie Accord and no Pepper or Cloves for the spiciness.
I have to say this one is definitely more wearable for me as a "feminine" fragrance but with this woody/smoky warmth of oud that comes through as the day goes on. 


Moresque Fragrances

Next up is a recent brand discovery - Moresque. They are described as a brand that marries Italian style with Arabic charm; all fragrances are made in Italy.
The bottles of each fragrance are actual works of art, I want to collect them just to display some day as they're all so beautiful!
There are various collections: White, Black, Gold and Art.
I was invited to an event for the launch of their "Midnight London" fragrance and surprisingly found the fragrance to be pleasantly smoky/woody with a hint of fruitiness and not too intense. I'm not sure if there's any actual Oud in this but the base notes of incense come through and give that similar smoky scent.
It was made to capture the "London Fog" at midnight as described by the lovely Moresque founder Cindy Guillemant and I do feel like this is a true unisex fragrance.

Top notes:
Rhubarb, Ginger, Bergamot
Heart notes:
Magnolia, Styrax, Suede Accord
Base notes:
Nagarmotha, Incense, Cashmeran

Available: 100ml Eau de Parfum for £310 (exclusively available at Harrods only!)

I was also sent Contessa from the Art Collection and I am obsessed with the bottle design and the scent, though again I can't see any Agarwood/Oud in the ingredients.
This scent is definitely a warm, comforting scent; I can smell the Star Anise the most and it wears pretty long (roughly 8+ hours) and is sweet, which I attribute to the Tonka Bean and Vanilla. 
There's no woody/spicy scent from an Oud that I can smell and I can easily see myself wearing this in Winter daily as a nice warming scent.

Top notes:
Pink Pepper, Nutmeg, Bergamot, Star Anise
Heart notes:
Rose, Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang
Base notes:
Ambroxan, Tonka Bean, Vanilla, Musk

Available: 100ml Eau de Parfum for £290 (again only available at Harrods)

By Kilian Musk Oud

This brand is founded by Kilian Hennessy who has an extensive experience with various fragrance houses and was launched in 2007. What I love about By Kilian products is the fact that they're "eco-luxe" - luxe items that are reusable as the bottles are refillable and even the accompanying boxes/clutches they come with are reusable, making "perfume visible" for once, which I absolutely love.

If you're following me on Instagram, you may have seen me gush about this brand earlier this year when I received my Love, Don't Be Shy fragrance (from the L'Oeuvre Noire collection), complete with the limited edition slogan clutch "I see no good reason to act my age" (still unbelievably available here!)
I saved this Love, Don't Be Shy, especially for my 30th Birthday (and wore it here and here on IG) as I wanted to have a specific scent memory for the three days I had planned (and use the fabulous clutch of course!). Now when I smell the sweet marshmallowy scent, I definitely am reminded of the 3 blissful days I had for my birthday last month 🙌🏽

By Kilian have 5 Ouds as part of the "Arabian Nights" collection and also a few Middle East exclusive Ouds, but Musk Oud is available in the Arabian Nights collection and I chose it as it varied from other brands' Rose Ouds that are available.

The black lacquered coffret box it comes in displays beautifully instagrammable Arabic Calligraphy that says "Arabian Nights", but what I love most about it - that I'm sure most mothers will too - is that it is lockable with a beautiful gold key which has a tassle.

I cannot describe how obsessed I am with this brand's coffret boxes, clutches and general packaging; even the sides of the bottles are embossed with beautiful designs and it's attention to design detail like this that wins me over personally, and makes giving this as a gift even more special.

The actual Musk Oud fragrance leans on the powdery/floral side, so I'd say it's a great gift for someone who likes more powdery warm scents, however on writing this post I realise it says it contains base notes of rum which I'm unsure is synthetic or real so if looking to buy this, maybe smell the other Ouds in the range in case its unpermissable to wear (especially while praying).

When I tested it, wearing time was around 6+ hours and I do feel it's less potent than the previous fragrances/ouds in this post.

Top notes:
Lemon, Cardamom, Coriander
Heart notes:
Cypress, Bulgarian Rose, Geranium, Artemisia
Base notes:
Rum, Incense, Oud, Musk, Patchouli

Available: 50ml Eau de Parfum for £285 directly at the By Kilian website (or House of Fraser, Selfridges and Harrods).

Viktor & Rolf Invisible Oud

This one is an exclusive! I positively squealed inside when I found out that my longterm favourite fragrance brand (V&R) had brought out their own Oud.. and that I'm one of the first to have one!
I'd seen the "Magic" collection before online but hadn't had the chance to check them out in person.
There are 6 unisex fragrances (or "spells"/ "potions"), all inspired by magic super powers and all with innovative accords.
The Invisible Oud is the seventh Magic potion and is in honour of the greatest magic power - invisibility (the Harry Potter vibes are exciting me even more here!).
There isn't much info yet about the top, heart and base notes but the PR info sheet states that this fragrance uses the purest natural Oud oil and White Musks, Pink Pepper notes, sweet Benzoin, Vanilla and Myrrh.
The bottles are designed like to look like they belong in an Apothecary (they have little air bubbles in the glass!) and Invisible Oud's liquid colour is a golden brown. They come in elegant drawers and each Magic fragrance has an artwork illustration card inside.

At first spritz it doesn't smell anything like Oud, but a fresh, sweet, warm fragrance, unlike anything else I've smelled personally.
Then once it dries down boy do you smell the Oud! It's smoky/spicy and woody but weirdly I don't find it too overwhelming or masculine, it's got the perfect balance of woodiness and sweetness (probably due to the Vanilla or Benzoin).
Lasting power is at least 10+ hours; the woodiness fades a little by the end of the day and it's like this subtle spicy/warm scent left on the skin.

Not yet available (will find out release date). 
The other six 75ml Eau de Parfum Magic collection fragrances are available for £140 from: House of FraserSelfridges and Harrods.

Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud Body Creme
I couldn't do this Oud post without mentioning product from Jo Malone and of course it had to be the Velvet Rose & Oud which is most popular with women I know!
I recently went to the Regent Street store and had a complimentary hand and arm massage using a body creme which was then layered with a different fragrance and smelled divine (more on this in an upcoming future post!)
I thought I'd include the Velvet Rose & Oud body creme instead of the Oud fragrances in this post as Body/Home Oud products tend to be more affordable than the fragrances.
Jo Malone body cremes keep my skin feeling moisturised for so long (and fragrant of course) and this one contains Darkest Damask rose, smoky oud wood, clove and praline.

The creme is £60 for 175ml (it feels like a weighty big tub too btw!) but it is so rich, you only need a little, so should last a long time!
Available from House of Fraser and Selfridges (currently out of stock at Jo Malone website directly).

Diptyque Oud Candle 


Last but not in the slightest least is this Oud candle sent by Liberty from none other than Diptyque of course, which smells pretty potent and strong- it smells like true woody masculine oud as soon as the box is opened!
Tha candle also contains incense and sandalwood and patchouli notes in case you want to get a better idea of what kind of scent would be floating around your home.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, bakhoor/oud scents are strong and stick to surfaces, so it helps the home smell better, especially after cooking.

Diptyque of course also do many other candles which I have to say I've not yet tried but look forward to in the future especially as they are known for being using a high quality vegetable/paraffin wax mix and lead-free wicks.

Available 190g for £47 at Liberty, Diptyque and various other department stores.


So there you have it, I could practically write a book about all the types of Ouds out there, I still could add more as well like Tom Ford, Armani, D&G (and many more!).

 Let me know what your favourite Oud is and why!
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4 comments:

  1. I love the smell of oud nd even I have consumed oud to cure some illness can't remember exactly what coz I was a kid 🙈🙈🙈

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  2. I love love love most types of Oud fragrances, but had no idea about the healing properties, thats really interesting!

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  3. Loved reading! So insightful and detailed. The Diptyque candle sounds like my fave xx

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  4. Omg ...this is like OUD heaven!! I want all of them and girl this is so well written definatly ROJA and VR are on my wishlist...

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