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Hajj – When East meets West – January 10, 2014 New Fragrance Listing

Photo - First in Fragrance - soOud, Hajj Eau Fine bottle

I’ve been intrigued by soOud, the small French niche line with the very unusual name, since I first read about it a couple of years ago. The oud note has been a star player in many new releases since 2010, and it’s a note I truly enjoy, but it was the concept behind the line which really grabbed my attention.

soOud was launched in 2011 by Stéphane Humbert Lucas from Nez à Nez, another French luxury niche brand, and his vision was to marry elements of East and West perfume cultures - the refined elegance of French perfumery with the exuberant sensuality of Arabic attars…resulting in soOud…“the bridge between Orient and Occident”…”when Dorian Grey meets Scheherezade”…

On the website, Stéphane Humbert Lucas describes himself as a “Painter synaesthete, Beaux-Arts Academy Paris, protégé of a Flemish master, [who] writes and sculpts aromas… “I am like Rousseau with his naive paintings, much less nomadic. I love to shut myself up in my studio creating beautiful things. In this way I am free to interpret the object described, to deform it without fear of compromise. Here then are my particular, hippy or anarchic creations”.

So armed with this information, the intriguing name soOud, and lovely sleek black and white bottles inspired by the Arabic veil, I expected the eight scents in the soOud line to be rich, dense, opulent Orientals– with oud. I was wrong. Only a couple feature the oud note, and as for the heavy Orientals? This is where Humbert Lucas followed his anarchic impulse and slipped some Dorian Gray into the Eastern formulas……

The scent I bought is called Hajj, and is described on the soOud website as “Le Sage – The Wise One”. It opens with a rush of fresh spices, ginger and star anise that are like puffs of spiced air, hovering over a bed of luscious sweet-citrusy mandarin. It’s a lovely accord, which becomes less tart with the addition of the nutty-sweet apricot osmanthus note, and as it develops into the heart rosewood and licorice notes add an exotic warmth. Ginger is still present, with a subtle pungency, and the dry-down introduces earthy patchouli, mixed with tobacco and balsam, lightly edged with vanilla, then vetiver. Never edging on gourmand, the effect is divine, the fruits, spices, leaves, and woods in perfect balance and harmony so that the dry-down has a luminous serene feeling to it. Lightly spiced, slightly sweet, an aromatic woody waft with hints of green, bathed in golden sunshine.....

Hajj is definitely a refined, elegant Oriental and although obviously complex in its construction, is quite restrained in its development – most of the action is in the first twenty to thirty minutes, and then there is a long aromatic drydown. I didn’t find many Aha! moments when a single note demands attention, I found lovely accords which segue into other equally lovely accords, producing many satisfying ahhh and mmmm moments.

So is Hajj truly the Wise One? The Hajj is the pilgrimage devout Muslims make to Mecca, and, according to Wikipedia, the word Hajj means "to intend a journey", both the outward act of a journey, and the inward act of intentions. I’m not certain that “wise” is the most apt description for this fragrance, but Hajj is serenely beautiful, a perfect scent to accompany your spirit on any kind of journey.

Hajj is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.