Last time, in Part I, we looked at the issues and methods that Feel Oud used to make its high-end artisanal oils, so today there will be 9 reviews covering the actual scent profiles of a range of different ouds and sandalwoods. What surprised me in several cases were the amazing number of complex olfactory facets and nuances that a single piece of wood could manifest, resulting in a bouquet that was really more like a fine French perfume with evolving layers and stages, rather than a mere distilled oil. It’s due solely to the things we covered in Part I, the complicated, laborious way in which that one piece of wood was treated in order to extract the maximum number of scent molecules. When more than one type of wood was used or when a rich floral essence was added to the mix, the result could be quite mind-blowing indeed, and I say this as someone who doesn’t always have the greatest degree of comfort around oud.
Today, I’d like to take you inside the world of high-end artisanal oud oils, as glimpsed through the experiences and work of one distiller, Feel Oud. For the men working at this level, whether it is Russian Adam of Feel Oud, Ensar Oud, or Agar Aura, oud is more than a mere scent they enjoy; it’s a life-changing passion and labour of love. It’s blood, sweat, tears, long hours, attention to every microscopic detail, high cost, tropical jungles, and the need to possess both the vision and the soul of an artist.
Superstitious is the latest fragrance from Frédéric Malle, created in conjunction with the great couturier, Alber Elbaz. Monsieur Elbaz is perhaps best known for his stunning work at Lanvin in the 2000s, but what is less well-known is that he had his start when Yves Saint-Laurent‘s partner, Pierre Bergé, handpicked him in the late 1990s to take the helm of that august fashion house where he successfully carried on the Maestro’s style, albeit with his own twist.
At first glance, this might seem to be nothing more than an irrelevant factoid or bit of biographical background, meaningful only to those of us, like myself, who continue to worship Monsieur Saint Laurent (a god, a total fashion god!) because, let’s face it, there is usually no olfactory connection between a couture house’s design style and how their perfumes actually smell.
Superstitious, however, is a rare exception. You could have knocked me over with a spoon when I tried it because the early hours of the scent reflect not only Monsieur Elbaz’s sleek, bold, streamlined, seamless, and incredibly sophisticated personal design aesthetic but also, and above all else, the Yves Saint Laurent olfactory signature as exemplified by its early floral-aldehydic fragrances like (vintage) Rive Gauche and Y. Superstitious was intentionally created to be both vintage and modern in feel, but where it stands out for me is in its early hours when it is a perfect rendition of the grand old style of the YSL classics. I’m unenthused by the fragrance’s second chapter when the Ropion olfactory signature kicks in and Superstitious dissolves into something wholly modern, structureless, and excessively clean, but those early hours were the boldest that I’ve seen from a Malle fragrance in a long, long time.
Panthea and Wish Come True are the latest releases from Stéphane Humbert Lucas‘ 777 line whose name is often shortened to SHL 777. My Reviews En Bref are shorter looks at fragrances that — for whatever reason — didn’t work for me or didn’t seem to warrant one of my detailed assessments which typically cover a scent from head to toe, from its official description to quoting other people’s thoughts in comparative reviews.