As the boisterous buzz of summer adventures comes to a close and the more structured schedule of fall takes hold, consumers long for a sensory escape from their routine, seeking out interesting ways to keep alive a sense of carefree excitement and exploration. This passion and intrinsic yearning to create compelling and engaging experiences has inspired the rise in popularity of fragrances with rich and exotic ingredients.
Fragrance has become an aromatic passport to a world of adventure. This way of thinking is the trend behind olfactory compositions containing notes reminiscent of the “world traveler”. Bold, vibrant accords with tribal accents and spicy, woody nuances are designed to capture the intrigue of faraway places. Specifically, oud or agarwood has begun to dominate the fall fragrance trends. Its sultry, mysterious and exotic character has made it the new ingredient star, taking the trend away from the cedars, sandalwoods and oaks seen in previous years.
The Origin of Oud
The dark, sweet, powerful and uniquely mesmerizing scent of oud is an ancient one that has been used for thousands of years in the Middle East and Asia both at home and in religious ceremonies. Coming from the wood of the Southeast Asian agar tree, this “Wood of the Gods” has been prized for centuries for its rich, smoky resinous and slightly animalic aroma.
Oud has many shades depending on its country of origin. Its diversity of character only adds to its alluring appeal, fueling fascination with this most exotic of ingredients.
This developing taste for oud reflects the predominant fall fragrance trends for intense, captivating, daring scents that tap into a desire to travel and experience other cultures.
Now the once relatively unknown ingredient reserved for the upper echelons of Arabian society has crossed over as a mainstream ingredient becoming a virtual commercial sensation in men’s and women’s fragrance as well as the prestige candle market.
Fall Fragrance Trends: In the Mood for Oud
Over the past few years, major brands, including Tom Ford, Christian Dior and Ralph Lauren, have seen a shift in consumer preference from overly sweet perfumes and colognes to heavier, more exotic scents, and have started creating standout scents that always turn heads including:
- Cartier Oud Collection – This collection is a tribute to faraway, exotic lands and includes three oud-based fragrances (Oud & Oud, Oud & Rose, and Oud & Musc.)
- YSL Oriental Collection – Yves Saint Laurent’s Oriental Collection of fragrances is meant to inspire an olfactory journey through the Orient, and two of its scents contain oud.
- Tom Ford Private Blend Oud Collection – No stranger to sexiness himself, Tom Ford has called oud “one of the most endlessly fascinating ingredients in a perfumer’s palette.”
- Acqua di Parma Colonia Oud – It’s a mark of oud’s popularity that even Acqua di Parma – an Italian company long associated with fresh, light, invigorating colognes should add an oud fragrance to their portfolio. Colonia Oud takes many of the elements associated with Acqua di Parma Colonia, in particular its sunny, citrusy top notes, and blends them with the deep, exotic richness of oud.
- Christian Dior Leather Oud – This concoction is potent, warm, animalic and downright sexy.
- Versace Pour Homme Oud Noir – This ‘oriental’ Oud is a variation on their signature Pour Homme
Oud also plays a starring role in several perfumes for women, including Killian Pure Oud Eau, Comptoir Sud Pacifique Oud Intense and Bond No 9 New York Oud, as well as several high-end candles from Jo Malone (Velvet Rose & Oud), Tom Ford (Oud Fleur) and Dolce & Gabbana (Velvet Desert Oud).
Oud to Opulence
Today, most perfume houses have an ‘oud’ in their line-up, and many have several. Oud adds beauty, depth and an air of mystery to any composition. Sophisticated blends of this wonderfully powerful material continue to see a meteoric rise in popularity shifting the fragrance focus to the exotic, sensual, opulent and the luxury of global travel.