Oud Stars by Xerjoff
Oud can be challenging. Sometimes pure oud oils smell too animalic, too funky, too smoky or too rough. Many of the “Western” interpretations don’t smell like “oud” at all. Xerjoff, in their newly released “Oud Stars” line, has designed fragrances in which the scent of oud is clearly recognizable, yet they give a big nod to Western sensibilities by pairing oud with familiar notes that are more accessible, alluring and addictive!
In alphabetical order:
Al Khatt is based on Laotian oud, and clear vanillic notes testify to its Indo-Chinese pedigree. The Jasmine sambac is lush with berried fruitiness not always in jasmine absolutes, which can sometimes smell like tea, soap or heavily indolic. The subtle herbal dryness of oakmoss, the resinous succulence of benzoin and the velvety nuances of cashmeran add complexity and ornamentaion to this enticing Oriental bouquet.
Italian Bergamot, Jasmine Sambac, Cashmeran, Vanilla, Oakmoss, Laos Benzoin, Oud Laos
Fars is a province in Iran, its capital the beautiful city of Shiraz, known as “the city of gardens”. Fars is a symphony of flowers, herbs and woods. The smoldering smokiness of cade makes me think of agarwood chips burning in a bejeweled mubkhara; the almost chocolate-y scent of patchouli is often present in the ouds from Indonesia, and the drydown of sweet nagarmotha is so similar to some of the notes found in oud that it is often used to adulterate it. The presence of bergamot, lavender and geranium makes this perfume seem a little lighter, brighter and greener than some of the other blends in this collection.
Italian Bergamot, French Lavender, cade , Egyptian Geranium, Jasmine Absolute, Cedar Atlas Amber, Santalwood, Patchouly, Haiti Vetyver, Indian Nagarmotha, Oud wood
Gao- I love the way the plum-y leatheriness of the oud oils is offset by the exotic, bitter powderiness of saffron, the dryness of patchouli, the smokiness of cade and the glowing warmth of golden amber. A blend that is arid but welcoming, smoky yet powdery soft, and gourmand without being cloyingly sweet, is quite unique. I think this is more of a masculine scent because it’s very woody, but women who enjoy scents like Zafferano might really enjoy it.
A blend of Spanish Saffron with a touch of Iranian Saffron, Gurjum, Bois de Cade, Nagarmotha, Indonesian Patchouly, Amber, Blend of Thai Pratchin Oud with Oud Laos (Udomsai)
Oud from India is considered to be amongst the most fecal, but in Mamluk it’s as tame as the caramel that takes center stage. This perfume is practically dripping with brown sugar, and when it’s combined with both vanilla and amber you can imagine that it easily falls into the dessert, rather than the desert, category. There’s a hint of naughtiness- sweaty bodies- contributed by the musk- and more than a little peach nectar from the osmanthus. I would think that most people who enjoy gourmand fragrances wouldn’t be partial to oud scents, but Mamluk succeeds in combining these unlikely bedfellows in a way that gourmand AND oud lovers could both happily indulge their passion.
Italian Bergamot, Honey, caramel accord, Jasmine Garndiflorum, Osmanthus, Laos Benzoin Vanilla MAdagascar, Indian Oud, Crystal Musks, Amber
Najaf saw much devastation during the US invasion of Iraq. Perhaps this sweet composition is an expression of the perfumer’s wish that it experience a happier future. Osmanthus is the dominant note. In this juicy composition it smells more like apricot than peach, and a very faint bitterness reminds me of the pits hidden within an apricot’s delicate flesh. The tobacco and herbal notes are barely discernable; vanilla and tonka add a subtle booziness, and musk contributes a furry warmth to this opulent, exotic perfume.
Woody notes, Sweet and Herbal notes, Osmanthus, Cedar and Patchouli, Santalwood, Vanilla, Tonka, Tobacco and Musk, Oud Wood
“Zafar” means “victory” in Arabic and Xeroff has certainly succeeded in creating a perfume that is as sensuous, multifaceted and provocative as many of the Arabian perfume oils that are popular in the Middle East. Oud really stands out in this blend. No attempt has been made to tame or disguise it so its primal energy is unmistakable. To combine it with rose and musk is very much in the “Arabic” tradition, and for that reason this perfume seems especially “authentic”. The animalic snarliness of oud and the sweet earthiness of patchouli are the most prominent components of the scent, however they aren’t so strong as to obscure the crimson headiness of rose, the heavy sensuality of white flowers or the cool, herbal breeziness of vetiver. I began this review by saying that “oud can be challenging”. “Zafar” is a challenge worth meeting head on- it’s dark; it’s bold and it’s daring. Xerjoff has earned the laurels for creating this perfume, but I intend to share them by wearing it!
Rose, Green Apple, Black Pepper, Neroli from Morocco, Oud Laos, matured over 15 years, White Flowers, Cedar, Incense from Oman, Vetyver Haiti, Musk
Oud Stars can be purchased from Luckyscent and MiN New York
Images, Detail of Interior of the Tomb of the Persian Poet Hafiz, Shiraz, Iran; Detail, Sheikh Lutfullah Mosque, Isfahan, Iran and Detail of the Dome of the Theological College, Isfahan, Iran, are by Robert Harding, allposters.com.