Willy Wonka would probably have loved Areej Le Doré‘s new Russian Oud. The chocolate and candy magician in Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book was noted for transforming sweet items into something fun outside of its usual structure. The same can be said for Russian Oud which puts an oriental twist on the famed sweets factory or, to view it in a different light, takes Willy Wonka’s magic factory and places it firmly in the Orient. Imagine Willy’s river of chocolate, but now slash it through with caramel and treacly labdanum toffee and transport it to Ali Baba’s cave of oriental treasures. The cave lies deep in the heart of a Hindi oud mountain, its carved walls emitting gusts of black smoke and heavy brown muskiness. Willy Wonka’s gourmand river now runs alongside tall river beds made out of resinous, smoky red sandalwood and brown-red earthy patchouli, and is watched over by Oompa Loompas clad in birch tar leather, their skin orange from a thin patina of spices, and Ali Baba’s forty thieves clad in myrrh and more leather. Together, they stir the molten river of chocolate, toffee, and caramel with long paddles made out of creamy sandalwood, oud wood, and buttered oud calfskin, sending it down into the heart of the mountain where it finally winds its way into an ambered pool of caramel muskiness flecked with a pinch of cocoa.
Names are suggestive things, whether in literature, art, or perfumery. In my experience, fragrances often fail to live up to the moniker bestowed on them but, sometimes, the good ones lead you elsewhere, evoking other images and worlds. With Ambre Loup, I never thought a golden wolf, but of dark, elemental, and wholly primal forces, encircling and bowing to a central core. Like dancers in an ancient ritual, they go round and round, faster and faster, until they turn into a mesmerizing blur, creating an intoxicating whole. That, in turn, brought to mind a perfumed version of Dances with Wolves, the famous film about Native-American Indians, or the ancient Navajo Fire Dance.
Close your eyes, and imagine the sun setting in a sky golden, hazy, and thick with heat. Blackness looms on the horizon, a drum beat rings out, and dancers begin to circle a giant totem made of tobacco. Ambergris, labdanum, vanilla, spices, aromatic cedar, the stickiest and blackest of resins — one by one they whoop and stomp, round and round, their feet beating up clouds of cinnamon and cloves, as the golden thickness of the dying sun hangs heavier and heavier atop their heads. The blackness crashes like a wave over the land, engulfing the dancers, merging with their aroma to create a blanket of rich, dark tobacco that is sweetened with vanilla, rendered musky with ambergris, and thick with labdanum. Village elders watch the dance from under the shade of giant cedar trees, puffing on tobacco pipes, and sipping rum or scotch. All of it swirls into one, all of it engulfs you, a cloud that is so thick and richly heady, you can feel it coating your skin, stroking you with heavy fingers of opulent darkness, caressing you, seducing you. This is the narcotic world of Ambre Loup from Rania J. Parfumeur.