Over the last decade there probably hasn’t been another perfumery raw material that would have been spoken more of than oud. It stormed both mainstream and niche perfumery like nothing else in recent years. Some love it for its untamed, wild character and Middle-Eastern charm, some hate it for its fecal, overwhelming qualities. Many will agree with me that agarwood should have gone out of fashion some years ago. And while oud is oud, there are many different interpretations. I’m not going to lie – I have also fallen for some oud compositions, like Rose Anonyme, Rosam or Oudh Infini. Thanks to Van Cleef & Arpels there may be another one worth some of your attention.
Oud Blanc starts with a soft, plush-like texture that simply feels good on the skin. This softness, more abstract & transparent at first, begins to develop more color after a minute or two. Without rushing the perfume becomes stronger and gains an intense, deep red tone. Turkish rose has a very luxurious and majestic feel to it. The smell it carries is rich and saturated – which brings to mind the idea of hammam bath rituals with argan oil. There’s no denying the allure created by this new fragrance. Was it personified, it would be like grand dame in a heavy, red velvet gown.
As much as Turkish rose can be pretty on its own, Oud Blanc has more things to offer. After a little while there’s a feeling of sweetness that enters the stage but it’s far from the sugary, maltol-like overdose served left & right in feminine mainsteam fragrances. The sweet note here, created with dates, has a more aged, almost resiny effect on my skin. It’s hard to describe it accurately but if you can imagine benzoin with that dried fruity aspect of date you’ll get the idea. It infuses the rose accord with some sophistication and glamour, like adding some patina – a proof of age & elegance.
Rose and oud are a classic combo in perfumery that has been in use for many years now. Yet in case of Van Cleef & Arpels Oud Blanc it feels like it was invented anew. The splendid rose blends with oud in a graceful manner. It’s not a vortex but slow swirls of crimson red and black matter. Kind of like a shade that deepens the color in the dress creases. Oud in this perfume is in primary a dense & woody smell – it has its own weight and depth but doesn’t feel overpowering. In the second plan hides the more resinous, viscous and sort of animalic aspect of this controversial raw material.
Much later in the fragrance development a frankincense note is revealed. Since Oud Blanc plays on subtleties, I was not expecting a straightforward incense and I wasn’t mistaken. It’s more like an impression, like walking into a room with wooden walls. You can’t see a burning stick anymore but there’s still a silvery mist lingering in the air and the wood is permeated with its scent. There’s a beautiful clarity and transparency to this note – it feels spiritual & meditative. Oud along with the rose still continue this journey but they stepped aside, now making a charming background. The perfume dries down to an air-whipped, delicious vanilla with fluffy white musks that complete the composition.
Oud Blanc, the latest addition to Collection Extraordinaire of Van Cleef & Arpels is a perfume of surprising clarity and transparency. The fruit of work of perfumer Anne Flipo is more lightweight type of fragrance that clings to the skin, wrapping the wearer with a silky cocoon of intricately woven notes of oud, rose and vanilla among others. It has a warm and inviting aura that simply makes me feel good when I’m surrounded by vapors of Oud Blanc. The classic bottle for this line is lacquered in white (for a 2nd time, after Santal Blanc) and it’s a perfect vessel for this perfume. It holds 75 ml of eau de parfum. Do you think you could become friends with this one or would you rather stay away?