Last year, Caron issued two new oud fragrances contributing to or rather joining the current Western perfumery movement of appropriation of a traditional Middle Eastern material also known as aloeswood and agarwood.They are exclusive launches reserved to the Caron boutiques and in-store perfume counters in Paris, not even listed on the brand's website. They are called Oud by Caron and Secret Oud. This fact, together with the release of Dior Leather Oud (2010) and other oud compositions of note, is an invitation to update the trend report on oud perfumes we listed we had to realize... already in 2009! It feels more like it was yesterday, in 2010. So, please expect to see a Part II which will include new fragrance titles from 2010 and 2011 as the Oud Wave is breaking upon us and we are most definitely awash in oud perfumes...
From my olfactory notes, both Oud by Caron and Secret Oud contain an oud accord as promised, but what is very interesting I find in these two cases is how the house of Caron have managed to use the ingredient oud as a vehicle for their brand identity, olfactorily speaking. With Caron's works, we are not so much faced with a general, Western adaptation of an Arabian genre as with the alliance of Caron's signature accords blended together with oud. It's a little bit as if in-house perfumer Richard Fraysse had received a shipment of oud from the Middle East and experimented by throwing in some of it in the vats of caron perfumes in the laboratory to see where it worked best.
Oud by Caron is simply and without any qualms, the juxtaposition of oud with a floral base filled with powdery carnations, roses, jasmines, that makes up the chalky, vintage-y signature of the house's old-fashioned Edwardian bouquets with the word "demure" taken out of their vocabulary.
Secret Oud is a little bit more complicated in that it starts with an even more obvious note of pungent oud, which soon takes on a more accentuated leather-y inflection...before giving way to a 3-D effect of a Caron rose, both fresh and carnal, very capable of suggesting the natural thickness and heft of rose petals. Even their curly hems, so naturalistic it is. It calls to mind in particular the rose of N'Aimez Que Moi. For it to be called "Secret Oud" can only be considered a mischievous labeling because it is rather the rose that hides behind the oud, not the reverse.Or it is a movement of secrecy which feels like a retreat rather than a constant hideaway.
The fragrances obviously target the faithful and select Caron clientèle, offering them, truly, ouds by Caron, in the sense of containing familiar echos of perfumes much loved but with an oud flavoring on top. The lingering notes expressing themselves in the sillages are testament to the traditional glory of the house rather than voyages to the Orient.
Photo: © The Scented Salamander