Did Patricia de Nicolai really had to make two oud perfumes and give them identical names to some very popular By Kilian ouds? I guess she did. Probably because every semi-luxury brand these days has an oud perfume or seven displayed front and center on counters around the world, and barely-trained SAs eagerly shove them at you declaring their brand's product to be so much better than all the others because they're the only ones on the market using real oud. All Natural. From Laos. Nobody else does. Here, try it.See? The people in the next counter/boutique next door are lying and hyping their perfumes. Can you smell it? What a difference!
If I weren't such a Nicolai fan I'd go the cynic route and say that this is just their way to stay in the game and offer something for people entering the boutique and asking for an oud perfume (preferably one that smells just like every other so-called-oud fragrance they've ever smelled). But I prefer to think that Patricia di Nicolai actually was inspired to add something new to the oud conversation, and wanted to do it her way. Did she succeed? Kind of.
The first thing to notice about Nicolai's Amber Oud and Rose Oud is that they don't smell very oudy. This is neither the very brash and loud synthetic version offered by Montale and their various immitators, nor the stunning barnyard shock you get from the likes of Soivohle Carpathian Oud, from David Falsberg's work or Mandy Aftel's Oud Louban, to name my favorites. Nicolai's oud perfumes are also very gentle and lack the medicinal characteristics you find in most famous big ouds (Kurkdjian and Mona di Orio, to name a couple). These are very Westernized oud perfumes, easy on the nose (and the pocket), and very eager to please.
Amber Oud doesn't smell particularly ambery, especially compared to the Oriental fantasy of Kilian's perfume with the same name. It's actually a very herbal-aromatic concoction, like a darkened and deepened fougere that still maintains the bones of a great and classic men's cologne. It took me a couple of testings to really find the oud in this perfume, but it's there, hiding right behind the spicy front put by saffron and cinnamon. It's instantly likable, decidedly fresh, and very refined. Amber Oud probably suits and appeals to me more than it does for women. I just wish it wasn't so safe.
Notes: Lavender, Thyme, Sage, Cinnamon, Saffron, Agarwood, Cedar, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Tonka bean, Styrax, Musk, Castoreum, Amber.
Rose Oud is my personal favorite, and I'm not even that big of a rose fan.It's a sweet gourmand rose, more creamy than jammy-- like a rich Middle Eastern pudding enriched with the highest quality rosewater and decorated with fresh red fruit. The rose is also a part of a huge floral bouquet that tries to camouflage the warm skin. There's a peach skin muskiness in the base and even less oud-as-we-know-it than in Amber Oud. This is one sexy perfume (though my own husband is kind of "meh" about the rosiness of it all) and I bet it's a massive compliment-getter for those who wear rose well.
Notes: Raspberry, Davana, Osmanthus, Rose, Lily of the valley, Agarwood, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Musk, Amber.
Parfums de Nicolai- Amber Oud & Rose Oud ($78 for 1 oz EDP each, larger size also available) is sold at Twisted Lily and Luckyscent.
Photo by PawlowskiCreations on Etsy.