Oud by Robert Piguet is a veritable animalic fest. It seems almost too much to bear at first, before you decide that, well, no actually, you are changing your mind, and will have another helping of that excessive potion. Perfumer Aurélien Guichard of Givaudan who is the house nose for Robert Piguet has not shied away from letting loose those beastly echoes of ourselves in a concoction which is intense, musky - powdery somewhat - and as dark as a resurrectional cave. For we know that beyond the subterranean darkness, there will be a life-affirming principle of some sort...
A trace of green crosses the fragrance horizontally adding a fresher counterpoint to a mostly pitch dark work on olfactory light. You could think of Bandit and Futur by the same house as playing on this type of black-green contrast, Bandit being particularly iconic of what galbanum can do to leather, and vice-versa.
Reading the list of notes confirms that the intention was to be intense and thickish: the spicy head note of saffron lured you in with its supple, exotic seductiveness and polish; the heart notes of fir balsam, styrax and myrrh explain the juxtaposition of dim green light onto black light with its nuance of suds, a cultural connotation derived from the popularity of Badedas foam bath which has a fir balsam note. The base notes of gaiac wood, oud and patchouli make certain that a black light shine throughout the perfume.
The overdosed musk accord in Oud is reminiscent of Muscs Koublaï Khan by Serge Lutens, with its insistence on suggesting the most strategically placed carnal parts of the human body. It might recall to some also the Parfumerie Générale sensations found in L'Ombre Fauve. The raw leathery accents of the fragrance further suggest something as plausible as the hard leather armor of a mounted warrior.
The Man with the Golden Helmet, Rembrandt, ca. 1650. Source: Wikipedia Commons
The patchouli note, once you smell it, you are invited to focus on. It is delicate when it finally emerges from the saturated shadows of the perfume. It adds an almost scintillating quality, like a moon-and-stars dust, which patchouli aficionados will particularly appreciate. It is that subtle sensation of smelling fragrant traces of patchouli leaves on a luxurious woolen cashmere shawl as its shifting folds let go of refined nuances. There and then you attain that level of perception which you can call "luxury". It confirms to those of us who hesitated still that luxury is most efficiently conveyed when it is discreet, almost unassuming, yet unmistakable. This is not the club-like effect on the head of an overdose of expensive materials but the finesse of a refined scented trail signing off a more brutal and bold, we could say, abrupt barbarian elixir -- a more physical take on the genre of the Oriental. When the humid mustiness of patchouli suggestive of ancient mossy stones surfaces, the patchouli lover becomes even more appreciative.
The goals of the Nouvelle Collection by Robert Piguet were to be "ultra-luxe" and "distinctive". I would prefer to use the terms "bold" and "strong" rather than distinctive as the latter term involves more flagrant originality to me, but then would agree about the rewarding sensation of luxury found in the jus. Oud, as one of the scents in this new library, represents well a program which rests on a mix of refinement and intensity, the latter coming first and the former imposing itself in the end, as the composition softens. The intensity is never very far off though.
There have been a few official oud-patchouli based compositions recently, one for instance by Bond No.9 for Harrods. We are seeing the creation of a new classical duet of beloved East-West notes. Of course, there is also the pairing of oud with leather here, which makes you think of Leather Oud by Dior.
We wager that personalities like George Sand, a patchouli devotee, would have been seduced by this novel combination, more potent than that of the milder marriage of amber and patchouli.
We are currently bearing witnesses to the encouraging liveliness of statement-perfumes in some realms of the contemporary perfume world like chez Piguet, as well as the intensification of some of our traditional notes, thanks to newcomer oud. Oud will allow us willy-nilly to keep in touch with the dark sides of our soul.