November 9, 2016
John Singer Sargent Fumee d’Ambre Gris, 1880
“Perfume and Incense brings joy to the heart”- Proverbs 27.9
Mihrap by Osman Hamadedi Bey 1901
For years I have been sampling and collecting oud oils and have filled several small boxes with ¼ tola bottles from various parts of the world. I love the heavy Assams, so animalic and redolent of barn and sweet hay. I cherish the light fruity, vanillac oils from Borneo and the plumy, woody Cambodies, both wild and cultivated. Most of my little bottles house pure oils but some, I believe, are adulterated and a few are downright fakes. But no matter, as long as they smell “oudy” I will love and use them all.
Bazaar Gossip Market 1888 Charles Robertson
I also crave incense, especially frankincense, myrrh and sandalwood as well as various aromatics and resins, including styrax, artemisia and galbanum. These plant materials have been bringing intoxicating, olfactory pleasure, beauty and wealth to generations of people everywhere.
Burning Katlyn Breene Mermade Arts Incense photo by Michelyn /Digital Art Mc
For centuries kingdoms and economies have evolved from and revolved around trade in aromatics. Poets have written and continue to write about incense, the wisps of fragrant smoke that color our visions of paradise. In the West, perfumistas often take for granted how beautiful a raw material real oud is, as it has become ubiquitous- from luxury to mainstream.
Patricia de Nicolaï at Esxence with the aptly named Oud Sublime photo by Darryl Do for CaFleureBon
In 2013, Nicolaï Parfumeur introduced two oud-centric fragrances, Rose Oud and Amber Oud. Early this year the beautiful Oud Sublime debuted at Esxence 2016. The House’s latest oud perfume Incense Oud, debuted in September 2016 at Pitti in Milan.
Oud smoke flower digital art by MC
Incense Oud opens for me with a soaring, almost breathtaking green accord of artemisia (Artemisia tridentata or ludoviciana), davana (Artemisia pallens) ambrette seed and coriander. The davana adds a liquored presence to the artemisia while the ambrette seed rounds and warms the initial crisp, herbal atmosphere. This first green “incense” gradually evolves to a second smoke – the centerpiece of the fragrance. Here the davana works its magic again, augmenting the fruity quality of the Cambodian oud while the cypriol and atlas cedar enhance its woody profile. The Cambodian oud in this composition is much lighter and more ethereal than pure oud oil, more a breath of oud than dehn al-oudh – incense rather than an oil.
Algerian Girl 1888, Frederick Arthur, Bridgman
The sensual oudy heart is quite tenacious, lingering for several hours before drying down to a spiritual fume of Omani frankincense and styrax.This third phase clings closely to my skin, eventually fading, after almost ten hours, to a sweet suggestion of leather, amber and musk.
Parfums de Nicolaï Incense Oud is a beautiful and fresh approach to classic and contemporary oud based fragrances. Both the brilliant perfumery of Mme Patricia de Nicolaï and the high quality, sustainable fragrance materials she uses, serve to capture the fleeting presence of incense and the rich exotic nature of oud in one complex aura of scent.
Youth Holding a candle and incense burner 1640 Savavid period Persia
“Where youth and beauty never age
Where Hafiz pitches his tent
There is the scent
Swirling among the revolving worlds…” – Hafiz of Shiraz (1325-1389)
Fragrance notes: Artemisia, davana, ambrette, oud, coriander, cypriol, cedar, rose, patchouli, castoreum, amber, styrax, musk and incense.
Disclaimer: Many thanks to Twisted Lily for my sample of Parfums de Nicolaï Incense Oud. My opinions are my own.
Gail Gross – Sr. Contributor
Art Direction: MC
Thanks to the generosity Patricia de Nicolaï of Parfums de Nicolaï, we have a 30 ml bottle of Incense Oud EdP for one registered reader worldwide (be sure to register or your comment will not count). To be eligible, please leave a comment with what appeals to you about Incense Oud based on Gail’s review, where you live and if you have a favorite Parfums de Nicolaï fragrance. Draw closes November 14, 2016.