At first sniff, Rose Oud (by Kilian, 2010) was evident in its treatment of rose in the oriental style, and I was ready to label it as ‘a plump rose wrapped decently in balsamic notes’. This is because a fragrance of this style, which is a Western imagination of Middle Eastern perfumery, is a dime a dozen. Off the top of my head I can recall Portrait of A Lady (Frédéric Malle, 2009) and Sa Majesté la Rose (Serge Lutens, 2000), two excellent compositions that set the bar for this genre. Yet, I felt compelled to revisit Rose Oud time and again.
Initially, it was not obvious to me why I kept coming back to this simple rose-oud pairing, but as I continued to wear it, the nuances and facets that lend Rose Oud its distinction became more discernible. I realised then that I regularly returned to it because, like any interesting compositions, it creates a personal fantasy. And funnily enough, Rose Oud conjures for me the delectable Viennese confection, Sachertorte, which is a chocolate cake soaked in tart apricot jam and glazed with a dark couverture. I particularly revel in the opulent contrast between a sumptuous rose and a plush oud accord, as it has the allure of bright jam juxtaposed with dusky chocolate.
Just as the bright notes of apricot lift up the hefty Viennese chocolate confection, the subtle embellishments add dimensions and depths to the rose accord. A hint of cardamom and cinnamon imparts a bright champagne-like effervescence. The overtone of ripe raspberry and musky violet confers jammy sweetness. An encounter with its scintillating rose feels like the very first bite into a moist piece of Sachertorte in which the glowing apricot note primes the palate for the ambrosial chocolate to come.
The underpinning oud accord is just as faceted as the complex notes of grand cru cocoa. From the suede note of saffron set against smoky woods to the animalic and vanillic accent peeking through, the accord possesses the same alluring inky edge of biter chocolate.
Perfumer Calice Becker, who crafted Rose Oud, is a mistress of disguise. The ostensibly simple composition belies its sublime layers. The dialogue between rose and oud remains focused throughout, with its shades and strata effectively lending polish. And whereas most oriental roses tend to have enough strength and diffusive power to perfume a dessert, this one explores the nuanced intimacy of rose and dark woods.
With its rich hues and accents secreted behind an unadorned pairing, Rose Oud possesses a certain je ne sais quoi that makes it seductive. This is all the more so with its impressive tenacity. Fans of this style will cherish the sterling essences and olfactory subtleties. Even if you find this style to be ubiquitous, at least give it a try and see whether it ignites a personal fantasy, like it does for me. Now, where is that recipe of Sachertorte?
Source: K.u.K. Hofzuckerbäcker Demel