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Aoud Cuir D'Arabie – In a lather over leather (October 25, 2010 New Fragrance Listing)

Just on the northern edge of Place Vendome in Paris is Parfums MONTALE, where Pierre Montale sells his juice. Montale is interesting because he has two distinct perfume lines: a line of regular perfumes and one based on ouds; the latter is what he is most known for. When I last visited the shop, I asked the SA what was their best seller. She told me it was Black Aoud, so naturally, I bought Aoud Cuir d’Arabie.

I do have a thing for oud (see Al Oud), that dark resin that forms in the heartwood of Aquilaria trees that have been infected with mold. But it has to be treated right, or it can be too medicinal, harsh and pungent. When it comes to oud scents, you gotta be choosy. So what made me choose Aoud Cuir d’Arabie? Two words: leather and oud – OK, technically that’s three words, but it’s really just two important words.

Some things were just meant to be paired together: gin and tonic, macaroni and cheese, fish and chips, and leather and oud. And while everyone can have their own take on these pairings – more gin than tonic for me please, only cheddar in my mac and cheese, and I prefer halibut thank you –  when it’s done right, it can’t be matched, and Aoud Cuir d’Arabie is done just right.

It opens with a strong leather/animalic note. To me this is the smell of sweaty, dirty, worn leather – raunchy, carnal and bawdy. Alongside it is that gorgeous cold, medicinal note of oud. The leather really stands up to the pungency of the oud here, giving the scent a skanky character right from the start. Just as it gets to the outer limits of ‘skank’, a note of tobacco shows up and adds richness to the blend and there’s a woodiness here too. These rein it in.
As it blooms, Montale’s signature rose note appears – soft and floral and the classic pairing with oud. At the drydown, the leather morphs from raunchy to refined and the oud softens, becoming warm and resinous – each complementing the other in this phase as they do in the opening so that they both shine - a perfect pairing. Sexy and sensuous, this is an intimate scent that stays close to the skin. Great to wear on a cool autumn day but I wear it whenever I want to.

Aoud Cuir D'Arabie  is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.