The origin of the name perfume as derived from the Latin “per fumus” has always seemed right to me. The history of adding scent to a person came through capturing the smoke in your clothing. We no longer must stand over a brazier to add fragrance to our lives. I am atavistically attached to the concept. When a perfume attempts to evoke it, I am happy to experience it; Van Cleef & Arpels Oud Blanc achieves this.
Oud Blanc is part of the Collection Extraordinaire subset of the brand. It is a companion to the earlier release this year of Santal Blanc. In that case the wood was surrounded by white linen as the source of “blanc”. Perfumer Anne Flipo chooses a set of white musks for her “blanc”.
Oud comes to the perfume world from the practice of burning it in Middle Easter households. It has become a more familiar scent to Western audiences through its use in perfume. Most of the time it doesn’t try to go back to its original use. Mme Flipo wants that to be the oud she represents here.
The opening is a dried fruit ingredient of dates. Mme Flipo uses it so that it feels like it has a scented chewiness to it. It also is a fruit indigenous to the region where oud has come from. The oud comes next in persistent waves of smokiness. Oud can have some rough edges. In this case Mme Flipo has rounded off many of the sharper ones. It leaves something which moves in slow waves across the dates. Then the white musks and aldehydes appear to blow things up. They add an expansiveness to the oud. Simultaneously vanilla partners the dates to create a sweet gourmand-like baseline underneath the cloud of oud.
Oud Blanc has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
I enjoyed this interpretation of oud quite a bit. I think it is because Mme Flipo took me into the smoke as it was in the beginning.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Neiman-Marcus.