Everyone has a favorite vampire. Liz Zorn of Soivohle is a purist who prefers Bram Stoker's Dracula, especially as played by Gary Oldman. Mine is Spike, AKA William The Bloody, the vampire who fought to regain his soul, killed two Slayers, loved a third with every ounce of his non-beating heart, and sacrificed his life for her. The theme of love and redemption is an important one in Spike's story, so I hope Liz Zorn would forgive me for connecting her vampiric Carpathian Oud to my undead of choice. William The Bloody Awful Poet didn't come from the Carpathian Mountains, but let's face it: neither does oud. Nevertheless, the darkness and depth (of both) catches you by surprise. Especially if you've become a little too accustomed to vampires who sparkle in the sun and cleaned up department store fake oud perfumes.
Soivohle Carpathian Oud comes in two concentrations: a demi-absolute (basically an eau de parfum) and a cologne. They are slightly different in the way they highlight various aspects of this intriguing oud. The demi-absolute is dirtier and more barnyardy, while the cologne has a sparklier and decidedly more floral opening. The latter also smells a bit spicy, especially on the husband's skin, though it dries down to the animalic raw oud of the demi-absolute, just not as dense. The floral notes here are pretty abstract, though I can distinctly smell carnation. I do get a gothic impression, dim-lit rooms where someone or something is waiting and lurking in the shadows, ready to turn your world on you, no matter if you surrender willingly or not.
The sense of danger and carnality is very strong in the dry-down. While the demi-absolute becomes one with the skin, wrapping it in its old and tattered coat, putting the lights out and allowing you to fall into a trance-like sleep, the cologne maintains the alertness of oud. Perfumer Liz Zorn has created a magnificent interpretation of this note. It's sensual and hypnotic, a dark temptation at its best. On my skin the animalics make a statement that's a bit beyond perfume. The husband wears Carpathian Oud more elegantly, I think. He finds it hard to decide if he prefers the demi-absolute or the cologne, though I think that the one we both gravitates toward the cologne a bit more (it's long lasting as all good ouds are and should be).
Notes: wild mountain poppy, laurel leaf, rhododendron leaf, dianthus, blood cedar, oakmoss accord, violet/orris, black amber, soft earth, oud/agarwood oil, including Indian oud and Laotian oud, and a custom house blend of oud notes.
Soivohle By Liz Zorn- Carpathian Oud ($35 for 11 ml cologne or $50 for 11 ml demi-absolute. Larger bottles and samples also available) can be purchased at soivohle.com. The samples for this review were sent by the perfumer.
Photo of James Marsters as Spike via some Buffy The Vampire Slayer fan site.