Gucci Oud is one of the latest additions to the fragrance offerings by the fashion house of Gucci; it is at one level an oud-strong twist on Gucci by Gucci from 2007.
Smelling it in the beginning you think that it feels like Gucci by Gucci, only with an oud overcoat. Trying the scent on skin brings out however a more complex re-take on the original. The three main points of evolution are: 1) an addition of oudh oil 2) a reworking of the gender personality of the scent 3) an homage to a classic of perfumery...
The oud oil comes from Central Laos and is said to be 100% natural having undergone a careful process of selection, cultivation and purification for the house. The oud wood was distilled and then "an additional special processing" was undertaken.
The house have stressed that this is now a unisex fragrance and indeed, it is no mere broad appeal as a perfume fit for both men and women. It really does waft of a much more angular and square Gucci by Gucci. Where the original evoked the feminine sensuality of a harem, this one blurs the line of gender. It comes across as a seriously thought-out unisex composition. The house artistic director Frida Giannini alluded to the change as a mood-guided evolution,
"There are some things that are not defined by gender, but by mood. Gucci Oud is one of these. I wanted to create a fragrance that would evoke the sense you get when in a mysterious, captivating and unfamiliar land - when you are seduced by a curious experience, and dream of it afterwards."
More concretely, the composition does play with gender perfumery codes. This initial impression is mitigated after a while by habit, and I have to say that it might be a skin thing, but you tend to forget that it felt newly unisex, as the core personality of the composition is reaffirmed. This is undeniably a flanker meant to reassert a recognizable olfactory signature.
Oud by Gucci, while borrowing some of the vocabulary of Gucci by Gucci, is much drier and less sweet. It evokes the expanses of an imaginary desert more. As its aromatic sternness prolongs itself, it ends up smelling of dry aldehydes, and you come to realize that there is a reference to Chanel No.5 in this opus. Citrusy nuances mingle with the whiteness and fizziness of aldehydes. Giannini has expressed in the past regarding the original Gucci by Gucci that her model of success in the perfume world is none other than No. 5 by Chanel,
"What I want out of this fragrance is that it becomes a classic and that it has a long life. I want it to be like a Chanel No. 5 - OK, that's a grand dream, but it's better to think big,"
Conceptually, this translates as a tongue-in-cheek homage to No.5 almost as if you were smelling the perfume in an art gallery where a dozen of artists would have been asked to do something of their own with No.5, in their own way and as a free exercise of cutural quotation. There is a conceptual sense of borrowing and a dose of humor going with it.
Gucci by Gucci is now part of the "Classics" of the house. This might be no more than a political stance after 7 short years of existence but I have to say that re-wearing the perfume made me realize that Gucci by Gucci, oudified or not, fills a gap in the market which was once held by the original Miss Dior with its popcorn and strawberry accord. Both are fruity chypres, but more essentially, they both offer a unique sense of whimsy and levity, which is rare. Miss Dior the original is alas no more but its witty and very pretty spirit lives on in a perfume like Gucci by Gucci.
And yes, going back to gender issues, why not think that men too can enjoy wearing oh-so-pretty fragrances? Now, that, to me, is the sound of a gender barrier which just fell flat down in the dust.
Fragrance notes: Pear, Raspberry, Saffron, Bulgarian Rose, Orange Flower, Oud, Musks, and Patchouli.