Oud Ispahan, the latest release from Christian Dior La Collection Privée, is exactly what one expects from the name and the on-trend subject matter: a dark rose oud. Yes, another rose oud. Because there aren't enough of them on the market already. I had the same attitude through the first half an hour or so the first time I tested Oud Ispahan, and I'm still not sure why the creative powers that be at Dior couldn't have come up with something a little less obvious to commission from master perfumer Francois Demachy. However, I have to admit that after spending some quality time with it, I really really (really!) like Oud Ispahan.
The fragrance opens up like too many fragrances in the genre with a big dirty rose tinged with the unmistakable bitter and medicinal oud. It quickly gives an even bigger reason for me to roll my eyes as the equally big and dirty patchouli enters the scene. I can almost smell a phantom berry note and just call it Portrait Of A Lady with oud, but thankfully this Dior perfume evolves before I get my full crankiness on and becomes a far more pleasant as a soft wood and an edgy rose with an almost incense-like quality (must be the use of labdanum in the composition). The softness is borderline warm and fuzzy, but still has the backbone and elegance you want from a dark rose. There's a heady element in the dry-down as said rose becomes the true center of the show, allowing something a little sweet and narcotic to emerge from its folds.
Another key element here is the fullness of the wood notes. I don't know what kind or how much real oud or sandalwood got put into Oud Ispahan, but whatever is there is very pleasant to wear. It keeps the rose note velvety so doesn't go sour on my skin (one of these days I'll need to revisit Montale's Black Oud and see if it's still as unpleasant as I remember it).
Like many perfumes of this kind, Oud Ispahan has a sledgehammer sillage and the correspondent longevity, so minimal dabbing or a modest spritz is all that's needed for a full day's wear. If Dior La Collection Privée fragrances came in small 1oz (30ml) bottles I'd probably put it on my wish list, as my wardrobe is dearly lacking a perfume in this particular genre. But the Privées come only in large and larger sizes (and in Paris also in a huge jug), so I'm sticking with decants and bottle splits. They'll probably outlast you, me, and the cockroaches after a nuclear catastrophe.
Notes: labdanum, patchouli, sandalwood, rose and agarwood (oud).
Dior -Oud Ispahan and the rest of La Collection Privée ($155 4.2oz or $230 8.5oz) can be found at select Dior boutiques and top department stores around the world. In the US the only two locations are the Vegas Dior boutique and the newly launcehd Dior counter at Bergdorf Goodman. Also available now directly from dior.com(!!!).
Art: Original Persian Painting Gol-O-Morgh (Flower & Bird)via raika-design.com.