New Perfume Review By Kilian Pearl Oud- Free to be Oud

Like many of the ultra-luxe perfume brands By Kilian has gone the route of city exclusives. I maintain these are highly annoying decisions when after working to get a sample I find I really like it. By Kilian also understands this frustration and like many other brands who do this offer an infrequent opportunity to buy them outside of their featured cities. By Kilian has released six of these exclusives. As a whole they have been solid perfumes which have a definitive connection to the city where they are sold. None of them had grabbed me so much I felt the need to own a bottle; then I tried Pearl Oud.


Kilian Hennessy

I generally have been pretty satisfied with the majority of the perfumes which make up the By Kilian collections. Creative director Kilian Hennessy has expanded the brand aesthetic in positive ways. My favorite collection is the Arabian Nights Collection. Over eight perfumes released from 2009-2014 oud has been explored thoroughly. Rose Oud had been my favorite. It is one of my “formal” scents as it is one of the most refined rose and oud combos I own. One of the biggest differences between Rose Oud and Pearl Oud is the former is an oud accord of cypriol and cedar while Pearl Oud starts and finishes with authentic Indian oud. That oud accord is particularly used when looking for a more approachable oud. Pearl Oud wants none of that this is an oud construct which revels in its rough edges.

christian provenzano

Christian Provenzano

Perfumer Christian Provenzano was asked to provide a fragrance which represents Doha the capital of Qatar. With Pearl Oud he echoes some of what I like so much in Rose Oud while striking out in a generally more adventurous direction. This ends up making Pearl Oud a more satisfying perfume for that adventurousness.

The Indian oud is present right from the first moments right through until the very end. This is an authentic oud source and it seems like it is here in decent quantity. The most telling difference between the real thing and the accord is the depth of the natural material. It is that depth that M. Provenzano uses as a place to hang different notes throughout the evolution of Pearl Oud. The first pair is a mixture of spices in black pepper and saffron. The black pepper picks up on the spiciness in the resinous core of the oud. The saffron plays off of the subtler aspects adding a dusty warmth. The heart is a trio of florals although really only two rise to prominence. Rose, orris, and ylang-ylang are there but it is the first two which are the driving force. Turkish rose continues the exploration of the spicier side of oud. The orris is a special surprise as it powders the oud attempting to paper over some of the rough edges. For a short while it seems like it just might tame the beast. That is until M. Provenzano adds castoreum to make sure this beast is not domesticated. The final hours of Pearl Oud are an animalic oud accord which stalks like a caged animal.

Pearl Oud has 20-24 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Pearl Oud is a city exclusive and as such is not considered a part of the Arabian Nights collection; but it surely is kindred to those perfumes. I think this is the best oud perfume from By Kilian because M. Provenzano lets the oud free to be itself. I have taken advantage of the current worldwide availability of the By Kilian city exclusives for the summer to make sure I have a bottle. If you have been a fan of the other Arabian Nights fragrances this is one you should sample to see if it is as compelling to you.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Penhaligon’s As Sawira- A Proper English Oud

It is nice when brands have an identifiable aesthetic that mostly rings true. It allows for me as a consumer to have an idea of what I’m getting if it is consistent. One perfume brand which has this kind of consistency is Penhaligon’s. It has always stood as the epitome of British style. The great majority of the collection possesses a refinement that somehow seems very English to me. It might be the same infatuation many Americans have for things from Britain but I just like the style. When it works it really works. The latest release in the Trade Routes Collection, As Sawira, applies this aesthetic to one of the more recalcitrant notes out there; oud.

As Sawira is inspired, as are all of the Trade Routes collection are, by the old shipping trade when it was transported by tall ships. For As Sawira perfumer Christian Provenzano was asked to interpret the city of Essaoiura which was the first seaport in Morocco. M. Provenzano assembles many of the more exotic Eastern ingredients in perfumery; saffron, davana, cardamom, myrrh, and oud. At the time of these great ships crossing the oceans these provided an interpretation of the rest of the world most would never see. M. Provenzano takes As Sawira and provides a very British re-telling of a trip to Morocco.

christian provenzano

Christian Provenzano

Before M. Provenzano gets down to his tale he pours himself a glass of absinthe and the boozy licorice starts things off. In fairly short order the darkly woody davana and saffron join it. It immediately sets this as coming from the East. The saffron really does a nice job at taking the wood and licorice and making it seem alien. The heart is centered on a beautifully poised jasmine. M. Provenzano has used a source which has only a trace of indoles, sort of cleaning up his story for English audiences. The three notes which surround this jasmine are clove, cardamom, and peach. The cardamom adds a spicy green effect to the jasmine while the peach makes it creamier. Clove is almost a stand-in for the missing indoles from the jasmine. This all leads to a base of oud and myrrh. M. Provenzano uses the myrrh as a foil to the rougher edges of oud. He has done a fine job as he dresses up the oud in bow tie and blazer before unleashing it on society. The first time I wore As Sawira I kept expecting the oud to tear the tie off and throw the jacket on the ground as it would eventually take over the final stages of development. Instead, M. Provenzano keeps it completely well-behaved allowing it to interact with sandalwood, and amber for the very end stages.

As Sawira has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage. One of the least projecting oud fragrances I have tried.

When a perfumer undertakes the effort to modulate the effect oud has in a perfume very often it leads to one of the better oud creations. In As Sawira M. Provenzano has done an excellent job of making oud behave like a gentleman and the perfume is much the better for it.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke