Today, I wanted to take a look at two fragrance oils from Ensar Oud: Aroha Kyaku, an appealing, deep, dark, and velvety oil that smells primarily of vetiver, tobacco, leather, and smoked oud chips; and Sultan Leather, an utterly gorgeous and sumptuous attar that pairs the best Cuir de Russie leather that I’ve ever encountered with a plethora of chypre and oriental notes, including beautifully lush roses.
There is an exciting, bright new talent on the perfume scene, John Biebel, a man who reminds me a bit of Slumberhouse‘s Josh Lobb in his creative, bold, unusual, and very modern voice, a man who has quietly released two of the most accomplished and striking fragrances of 2017 and a third pretty one. They demonstrate a remarkably deft mastery of complex fragrance structures, an eye for good quality raw materials, and an innate talent but, above all else, his fragrances feel authentically original. Like Mr. Lobb (and also Serge Lutens), Mr. Biebel has the rare ability to combine unusual notes or aromas that might sound odd on paper but, thanks to his talent and skill, come across in the most interesting ways that leave you sniffing your arm again and again, wondering why no-one had thought of the idea before. At other times, though, he takes a classical composition and manages to make it feel modern and fresh but also dramatic. In both instances, I think that the result is bound to be somewhat polarizing, but then original, thought-provoking, impactful, and sometimes challenging fragrances usually are.
There is an 800-pound scented gorilla in the room, and its name begins with an expletive. Fucking Fabulous is the latest release from Tom Ford, a limited-edition eau de parfum in the Private Collection that has people in a tizzy, half of them thinking it’s the coolest thing ever as they rush to buy the scent, half of them decrying the name as being too vulgar for their tastes. I’m not a prude and I don’t care enormously about the name, per se, but I am immensely annoyed by the blatant manipulation underlying it. I’m not keen on the insulting implication from Tom Ford himself (as well as from some fans) that you’ll only find the name to be offensive if you’re a prude, but what really sets me off is the sheer brazenness of their marketing manipulation and the underlying assumption that either you’re too stupid to see it or so “cool” that you don’t care. Amidst the dollar signs in Estee Lauder and Tom Ford’s eyes, layered between their own quoted words, there are loaded assumptions, cynical calculations, dismissals, glibness, generational differences and, worst of all, obnoxiously blatant disingenuousness.
Today, I’d like to look at six luxury oud oils from Ensar Oud which cover a spectrum of agarwood varieties and scent profiles. Some smell of the best Islay single malt scotch poured over leather and smoked mesquite; others transport you to the heart of a green forest, have stages redolent of lilacs and peaches framed by fresh vetiver, or smell of fruits, honey, and jasmine. No two are identical, but they are all smooth, high-quality, interesting, and highly nuanced.