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the price of gold, which is how its epithet ‘liquid gold’ has come about. For many, the most authentic translation of oud into Western perfumery is Roja Dove’s Aoud series. These are statement scents – deep, dark and long-lasting, one with notes of amber, another with musk, a third called simply ‘Aoud’. Dove says: “I fell in love with the perfumes of the Middle East when I was working there. Many of the gum resins, which have been used for millennia, originate from there. I wanted to see how far it was possible the push the note of Aoud from its traditional route and create something totally unexpected.” Other perfumers have been adding an ingredient cherished in Arabia – the rose – to create new visions of oud. Jo Malone’s Velvet Rose and Oud is spiked with clove, opening into damask rose, wrapped with earthy oud, offering a warm, rounded, fragrance. Secret Oud by Caron plays on the sensual theme characterising the oud experience, adding rose absolute and spicy saffron. Lancôme’s L’Autre Ôud swathes Bulgarian and Turkish rose with a subtle leather and saffron accord, presented in a bottle laced with gold, referencing Arabic calligraphy. A series of three fragrances by Aramis titled Perfume Calligraphy interprets tradition with a contemporary twist and combines two art forms. Their presentation features distinctive logos created by a modern designer, Tarek Atrissi, developing the ancient art of Arabic calligraphy, one of the most highly regarded elements of Islamic art. Clearly this perfumed love affair with oud appeals to sophisticated Arab consumers, who spend five times as much on scent as their Western counterparts. Arab males have three bottles on the go at the same time, one in the car, another in the office, the third at home; while Arab women layer up to seven scents simultaneously, creating their own signature ‘sillage’ or trail. When they travel, visiting the perfume halls of stores like Harrods, they enjoy trying new variations of a familiar fragrance like oud. Recent interpretations, which especially appeal to Western customers, include ‘fresh’ notes like citrus, a top note in Creed’s Royal Oud and Acqua di Parma’s Colonia Intensa OUD; or flowers as in Van Cleef and Arpel’s Precious Oud; or leather, a note evoking global second quarter 2014 Arena Culture L’Autre Ôud by Lancôme: rose with a subtle leather and saffron accord gentlemen’s clubs found in many oud-based scents such as Versace’s Oud Noir; and even tea with an Earl Grey bergamot accord in Atkinson’s Oud Save the Queen, referencing both English customs and Scheherazade Orientalism. Whichever one of these seductive perfumes you choose, be prepared – once you’ve been bitten by the oud bug, there’s no turning back. Juliet Highet is an author and photographer specialising in travel, the arts and culture www.global-briefing.org l 51


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