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When I was handed a decant of OUD Silk Mood a while ago, I delayed opening it for  quite a while. The “oud’ part in the name triggered a definite frisson, in a negatuve way like chalk on a blackboard, an acknowledgment that oud seems to be everywhere, including mainstream now. But the fact that it was from Maison Francis Kurkdjian prompted my inner Perfume Voice: “Open it, you fool! What are you waiting for?” 

Indeed. What was I waiting for? I knew it would be beyond good. Francis Kurkdjian is a master perfumer who has been creating fragrances for both mainstream and niche lines for over twenty-five years. Le Male for Jean Paul Gauthier, which was his first big hit, Eau Noire for Christian Dior, Narciso Rodriguez For HerIris Nobile for Acqua di Parma, Lady Vengeance for Juliette Has A Gun, are just a few that we have written about. With partner Marc Chaya, he has also built his own niche brands, Maison Francis Kurkdjian and Indult.  Absolue pour Le SoirBaccarat Rouge 540, and Reve en Cuir are some fragrances we've listed which showcase his prodigious talent for creating unusual swoon-worthy scents which are emblematic of the best of contemporary French perfumery.

Francis Kurkdjian released his fragrance named OUD in 2012, one of the first from the luxury niche brands that focused on this odd note that is so foreign to Western noses. Medicinal, damp, mushroomy, musty, almost sour, oud is distilled from the sap of agarwood trees infected with a specific fungus. It has been used for centuries in Middle Eastern perfumes, often paired with sweet floral notes in dense heavy oil-based attars (perfumes). 

On his website, he says: 

“Oud is the ambergris of the 21stcentury – animalic, mysterious, and yet vegetal… I chose a protected grade of Laotian oud that met my requirements and aesthetic criteria: a fruity facet reminiscent of peach, a saffron accent, a dry, waxy side, the famous animal note, and potency. Because oud wood resonates with intense, opulent flowers, not with the transparency of faint, fleeting accords. Intoxicating jasmine and sensuous rose above all are its preferred flowers…”

Kurkdjian’s OUD is different. Using the oud sourced from Laos, his OUD fragrance seemed to be lit from within, almost transparent, and it was an immediate success.

Following on this success, in 2013 he introduced the OUD Moods Collection, three fragrances inspired by the feel of different fabrics, Velvet, Cashmere, and Silk. OUD Silk Mood is the classic combination of oud and rose, and it is gorgeous. In the extrait de parfum version, the rose note is up front from the first whiff, cool and peppery-green with a fruity apple-sweetness from blue chamomile, which becomes more radiant as it warms on my skin, but this Bulgarian rose absolute is balanced by warm earthy oud as it moves into the heart. Before OUD Silk Mood becomes overwhelmed by the rose/oud accord, dry green-grassy papyrus gives it wings, so that as the scent dries down it seems to float above rather than settle firmly on my skin. The sensation is absolutely like the touch of featherweight silk, delicate and airy, but with a gentle warmth. 

I love strange notes in perfumes, which is why I like oud fragrances. One of my favourites is Black Aoud by Montale – oud, rose, leather – dark and Gothy, a fragrance which definitely demands the right occasion to work its magic. OUD Silk Mood by Francis Kurkdjian is an oud that draws outside the lines and brings oud into the light, revealing new facets of this ancient note. The extrait version, which I own, has a soft waft and lasts on my skin for eight to ten hours, and I love every minute of it. 

Honestly. What was I waiting for? OUD Silk Mood is definitely beyond good. It’s a whole new oud experience. And I think guys should wear it, too.

OUD Silk Mood is listed in our decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

Image - OUD Silk Mood - maisonfranciskurkdjian.com

 

 

 

Image - Pont des Arts, Paris - perfumeniche.com

I live with an architect who loves bridges. He’s fascinated with bridges of all kinds, like arched bridges, fixed bridges, covered bridges and, aqueducts. He’s tickled by ancient stone bridges, swoons over a lattice truss bridge, and more than once has been struck silent by the graceful power of the cables on a suspension bridge.

Over the years, we’ve had many discussions about which bridges we like and why. These discussions have sometimes gotten a bit heated. I remember a particularly lively discussion in a bar on a rainy day in Florence, over which was the better bridge: the Rialto or the Ponte Vecchio. That was the day we had to build a Bridge Over Troubled Water.

But there’s one bridge we both agree is our favorite in Paris - the Passerelle des Arts or Pont des Arts, the pedestrian bridge that links the Institut de France (a building many consider to be architecturally perfect) and the central square of the Louvre. Over the years, this charming wooden footbridge has come to have a special meaning for us. It’s the place we arrange to meet up with friends before going for a meal or a gallery together, it’s where we go if one of us is feeling blue, and if you are ever in Paris on New Year’s Eve, the Pont des Arts is the place to be.

The Pont des Arts is a beauty. Its scale is pleasing, you can feel the boards move under your feet when you walk on them, you can see the Seine below through the gaps between them and the views the bridge offers of Paris are, in my humble opinion, unparalleled. From the mid point facing west, you can see some of the Eiffel Tower. Turn to face east and you see the Pont-Neuf, Île de la Cité, and Notre-Dame.

We aren’t the only people who love The Pont des Arts. Back in 2008, people started loving it a little too much. Couples began writing or engraving their names and initials on padlocks and attaching them to the railings. Romantic gestures for sure, but over time the weight of all those locks caused part of the bridge to collapse.  The panels on the bridge have now been replaced with glass and the lovelocks are gone and while I do miss their glittery presence, truth be told, I like the look of a less-cluttered Pont des Arts.

So, what does all of this have it do with perfume? In large part, it’s a rationale for a blind buy. Stay with me….

One of the reasons Kay and I started this blog was to offer people the opportunity to test fragrances before they buy them so that wasted money and tears of disappointment can be avoided. But when a Parisian perfume house called Ponts des Arts was launched last year, I knew I was going to buy one of their three inaugural fragrances sometime. At first, I just wanted the bottle with the name ‘Ponts des Arts’ on it and the gold cap that looks like the bridge. Then, when I learned that two of those fragrances were signed by Bertrand Duchaufour, later became sooner and I rolled the dice and blind-bought À Ce Soir. Gentle reader, I could not be happier.

À Ce Soir opens with tangy lemon and fruity, floral green mandarin. Bamboo, green and earthy, starts to creep through the citrus fruits. A note of leather gives it a smooth sensuality. A note of boozy rum makes an appearance and calls to mind another Duchaufour favourite, the long-gone Havana Vanille. Here the sweet, aromatic rum is warmed by cinnamon. Blackcurrant bud adds a light, fruity, woodiness and along with rosy-scented pink pepper, ushers in one of the most gorgeous floral hearts I have ever smelled: rich, erotic ylang-ylang and heady, narcotic narcissus gently brushed with powdery, vanilla-tinged orchid. Lentiscus, smells herbaceous, resinous and balsamic swirls through the flowers, giving them depth, making them even more voluptuous. The base is sweet from vanilla, amber, and Benzoin of Siam and tempered by earthy, green and woody vetiver.

The drydown is elegant and sophisticated, with a cozy sweetness and balsamic woodiness that are perfectly pitched, creating a come-hither quality that draws you close. It’s also as gorgeous on a man (the architect) as it is on a woman (his wife).

One of the things that makes À Ce Soir so beautiful and a pleasure to wear is the way it transitions from stage to stage so seamlessly, like crossing a bridge.

À Ce Soir is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $8.00 for 1 ml.
 

Welcome to perfumeniche.com

"She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight."

                                                                       Raymond Chandler

We are Gwen and Kay, two perfumistas making our scent journey in the cool, clear North.  We are also BFFs - we hang out together a lot, travel together - so we try, buy and share fragrances.

What started out as a shared interest grew into a hobby, and has now become our obsession.

We’ve spent many evenings with a glass of prosecco, a little cool jazz playing in the background, spritzing, sniffing - “How does this smell on you?” and, sadly, sometimes scrubbing.

We’ve tested and tried hundreds of samples over the years, and when we deemed a fragrance ”full bottle worthy” (FBW), one of us has tracked it down and bought it. We now own a lot of really great perfumes, and we continue to buy bottles of what we think is the best of "niche" as new scents are launched.

Also, we include many perfume "classics" that are the foundations of modern perfumery - like Shalimar, Chanel No.5, Eau Sauvage - plus other perfume "gems" that have been discontinued, or were ahead of their time when launched but now fit perfectly in the Niche category. 

With so many exciting discoveries, we can’t help but talk about our passion with other friends. Wherever we go, people ask “What is that perfume you’re wearing? Where can I get that?” So we end up sharing a bit of our “juice” with friends. But the circle has grown, so we've started this website to let others buy and try samples from our collections and experience the fragrant beauty we write about.

WHAT WE DO

We blog

We blog once a week and post a story about a scent from our collections, and add it to our Decant Store. We're not scent critics, so these aren't negative reviews. We love all our fragrances  - that’s why we bought them! But we describe how we think they smell, and share our stories about why we love them - maybe you’ll rediscover an old flame, or fall in love with a new scent.

Or we post conversations about whatever has grabbed our attention recently. Or we write about a specific perfume note,  and offer a Decant Pack, which allows you to explore new territory by trying 3 or 4 fragrances in a special pack at a special discount price.

We sell

We sell 1 ml. decants - .7 ml volume once you allow for the stopper in the vial - filled from our own bottles in our collection because the only way to experience a fragrance is to try it on your own skin. We take the fragrance from its original bottle and decant it into a smaller brand-new, 1 ml sterilized glass vials so that you can try it on your skin to see if you like it.

Through our Decant Store you'll have access to some of the world’s greatest niche scents, hard-to-find fragrances, and classic favourites. 

When you click on the Decant Store tab you’ll find our personal descriptions of each of the fragrances we currently offer from our collection, then you can add them to your Shopping Cart.

Let's be clear (this is a disclaimer!!)

  • We don’t sell full bottles of any fragrance - just .7ml decants. We only sell decants  from the perfumes we've bought.... because we love them.
  • We don't re-sell manufacturers samples.
  • We don’t represent any perfumers or distributors, so we don’t have every scent from a whole line of perfume.
  • We aren’t being paid to promote any product or scent.

If, after sampling a fragrance, you decide that you must have it, i.e. it is FBW (full bottle worthy), and you can’t find it, e-mail us and we will direct you to the best source we know – retail store or online source.

We provide

A place for you to learn about scent, and to share your fragrance experience with others. Click on the section called Resources, under My Perfume Notes (see top right), where  you'll find a Glossary, and fragrance FAQs. You'll also find two great tools we've created - Handmaps and My Sample Perfume Notes - so you can keep track of, and record your own scent experiences.
 
We hope you enjoy perfumeniche.com, and visit us often. Leave your preconceptions behind, look around, see what’s on offer, read the Blog, share your experiences and discoveries, and join the circle.

It’s just us.