The Blond is neither a Creed fan nor an oud enthusiast. Thus, when he first tested Creed Royal-Oud, last summer's release, his main observation was that Royal-Oud is not particularly oudy (a good thing) but still suffers from the curse of modern Creed perfumes, the lack of soul.
I actually kind of liked Royal-Oud even from that first sniff, though I admit I was not completely taken. Royal or not, it's not a dramatic fragrance. As Patty from the Posse observed, you can easily forget that you're wearing it until you notice something around you smells really really nice. The opening is the most dominant part-- spices and citrus that will appeal to many. I think Creed labeled this one as a masculine and the top notes are definitely geared towards that audience, but anyone who likes zingy and refreshing scents (not exactly "fresh" but very lively) will enjoy this.
I love the smoky medicinal heart that emerges underneath. It's somewhat murky and quite refined at this stage. I don't know about royalty and I won't speculate what Prince William and Prince Harry smell like, but Creed Royal-Oud does have a certain dignity that's lacking in many louder oud perfumes. It also lacks (thankfully) the sour rose overtones I often get from oud notes (that's you, Montale). As I said, this is more about spice than anything else, before a downward spiral into a too mellow ambery dry-down. The sweetness on my skin is very tame. It's not a vanilla bomb or anything creamy. I don't smell the promised sandalwood, just a general ambered-fossilized wood and perhaps some sap. It's nice, but not exciting at all.
All of the above makes Creed Royal-Oud better than I expected. It's easy and pleasant to wear, but it doesn't sweep me off my feet. I might disagree with the husband on the lack of soul, but royal or not, this is not Prince Charming.
Notes: Calabrian lemon, pink berry, Sicilian bergamot, cedar, galbanum, angelica root, Regal Indian oud, sandalwood and Tonkin musk.
Creed Royal-Oud ($300, 75ml EDP) is available from Creed boutiques, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.
Photography by Diego Porcel.