By Francis Kurkdjian, perfumer
In the intimacy of
Oud

My fragrant notes are a new monthly invitation to focus on the art of composing, explore a raw material or share with you my insider vision of the perfumer’s world. This first edition is devoted to oud wood, an ingredient put to fame in two of my latest creations and one amongst the most astonishing raw materials in my perfumer’s palette.

How strange is the scent of decomposing wood reminiscent of a cage of wild animals! Known as agarwood, or aoudh in Arabic, the oud tree belongs to the Aquilaria genus native to Southeast Asia. Its fragrance only develops when the tree is infected by a fungus. As a defense mechanism, it secretes an aromatic resin, used as an essential oil. In oud wood, nature has unveiled one of its precious mysteries. People have worshipped it since ancient times, and several religions burn it during meditation rituals, like a fragrant message sent to a god. Indeed, its aromas are as complex as the intricacies of the human soul.

Oud is the ambergris of the 21st century - animalic, mysterious, and yet vegetal

Between a divine sensation of warm honey and suffocation caused by its vacillating animal odors, oud is a wild beast to be tamed. In 2012, I initiated my olfactory dialogue with oud by comparing different samples from suppliers. I chose a protected grade of Laotian oud that met my requirements and aesthetic criteria: a fruity facet reminiscent of peach, a saffron accent, a dry, waxy side, the famous animal note, and potency. Because oud wood resonates with intense, opulent flowers, not with the transparency of faint, fleeting accords. Intoxicating jasmine and sensuous rose above all are its preferred flowers. The spices and woods that blend with oud are powerful and bold. With its robust notes, oud wood opens up an unprecedented avenue of expression and allows extremely sensual compositions, revealing the secrets of certain olfactory territories.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s OUD collection includes this powerful note from my olfactory alphabet. It introduces a new path in French perfumery and rises to the challenge of remaining harmonious rather than caricatured. It pays tribute to my Occidental conception of perfume: elegant, distinct, sophisticated.