Review: Creed Royal Oud
By now, it’s apparent that the niche perfume market has grown enamored agarwood in fragrance, what we commonly refer to as ‘Oud’. Everyone has seemingly jumped aboard the bandwagon with their individual take on the fragrance, each set to offer something ever-so-slightly different or unique. And the entries range from the Rosewood and Spice variation done by Tom Ford, to the heady Rose and Plum laden interpretation of Bond No. 9, to the earthy and raw aroma in Le Labo’s Oud 27, through the 24 different variations of Montale Paris with literally hundreds in between. That doesn’t include the fragrances that use other elements to resemble Oud, By Kilian’s Incense Oud being notable.
Suffice to say, it’s a long and growing list, and almost every niche perfumer has a hound in the hunt.
Except for Creed, which waited until late 2011 to release its own interpretation of the note in a fragrance. And for some time, it seemed to show a reluctance to join the fray, suggesting they might not chase this particular trend or viewing the market as already having more than its share of entries. When it was announced that Creed would produce an Oud scent, there was already an expectation that they contribute something different given their late arrival to the party. They also had more than their share of detractors in so doing.
Given the threshold, the question I’d asked was whether a Creed Oud would offer something both unique and worthy of the Creed label. My contacts at the house were kind enough to provide a pre-release sample for testing, and I was also among those to receive the first bottles released in the US. How did it compare against the growing population of Oud perfumes?
Creed Royal Oud (2011): First, a bit of a disclaimer. Whether someone likes an Oud-fragrance depends highly on their view of Oud as an element (purist) or how they view the totality of the composition. Having said that,Creed Royal Oud is not a purist’s Oud fragrance. Oud itself can seem rather sweet and complex in pure form, but is so expensive that a pure concentration of agarwood oil is rarely found given the high price and effort involved in cultivating and extracting the resins. I’ll submit that most perfumes are nota “pure” Oud but use Oud as a component to achieve some end result.
This is certainly the case with Creed Royal Oud. It is an amalgam of woods, spices and other elements that follow the signature of the house to achieve its outcome. The top notes include pink berries, lemon and bergamot, which then blend into the heart of the composition and its angelic root, cedar and galbanum notes. The base is comprised of Indian Oud combined with sandalwood and other woody notes, along with Tonkin musk for its outcome. The result is a fougere that exudes a very warm quality and refinement. I’ll touch on “Creed-worthiness” momentarily.
The first moments after application tend toward a sharp, slightly edgy and dirty opening, probably attributable to the bergamot and lemon for the fresh pitch and the earthy berry scent blending together. It is not altogether unpleasant despite that earthiness, and it fades within a few minutes to open the way for the heart and base elements to poke through. What remains is a truly refined and warm scent with excellent longevity and a fairly linear profile as it mellows into full dry-down mode. Sillage and projection are well-controlled but noticeable within a conversational range. A cocktail conversation likely will elicit the question of “What is that elegant perfume I’m smelling?”
It smells rich. It smells luxurious. It smells refined. Metaphorically speaking?
Bond No. 9 New York Oud is the party boy enticing his flavor-of-the-month on the Manhattan Club scene. Le Labo Oud 27 is the bad boy wearing the leather jacket, that man that women want to tame. Tom Ford’s Private Blend Oud Wood is the Wall Street Trader by day, ambitious and bright, out to make his mark on the world. Creed Royal Oud?
Old money. Wealth that you know exists, but doesn’t need to call attention to itself. The CEO emerging from the backseat of the Mercedes, heading somewhere with a purpose in mind. The man in charge, always in control. That guy you envy. Creed Royal Oud is that character.
And it isn’t simply because Creed Royal Oud is the world’s most brilliant Oud fragrance, because others can stake their claim to being a more ‘pure Oud’. It isn’t ground-breaking or trend-setting by most measures. This isn’t a revolutionary fragrance or a game changer. None of those descriptions would be apt. So to the bottom-line and our rating: what makes it noteworthy?
Rating: 5/5. Highly recommended. Creed Royal Oud is just bloody exquisite. It’s sophisticated, well-executed, and a phenomenal scent that maintains a classic profile. As a scent, it’s signature caliber and delightful. The target for this is more an established man (or perhaps woman who feels comfortable with the scent profile) who prefers a scent that carries a high degree of refinement versus something trendy. In short? This is absolutely Creed-Worthy and a brilliant addition to the house’s line. And while many of Creed’s legacy fragrances are being retired, Royal Oud may be the curtain call for Olivier Creed’s work as the reins are handed over to Erwin.
And it would be a stunning conclusion to a storied career.
Available at Creed Boutique, 794 Madison Ave, NY, NY, 212-439-7777. Price: $300 for 2.5 oz/75 ml.
Images courtesy Creed.