Montale and this blog have a past. About a year ago, very early on the Montale controversy I wrote a post about how intriguing Pierre Montale’s person/persona was and how I liked the line and its attitude towards customers. That post has become my Nemesis as it is the one post that simply won’t die. Of all the reviews I have written, of all the personal memories I have shared in this blog, this is the one post that attracts the most readers and at a constant rate. As much as I love Montale fragrances this has put me off reviewing more for some reason. I was tired of all the futile speculation on:
- whether Pierre Montale is the real perfumer who created these or not
- whether Pierre Montale is a French or an Arab
- whether Pierre Montale has been the perfumer to the Saudi Royal family or not
- whether Pierre Montale exists or not
My intention when I wrote my post was to express my views on the company and the perfumes, not to play detective and I felt so tired of all these hot headed discussions (especially on Basenotes) about this person/persona when everybody was missing what was essential: the perfumes are still out there for everyone to wear and review. All this and the fact that it takes a lot of focus to properly review a Montale has made me postpone reviewing some of my favourites. But now I think it is time to tackle the beast.
Of all the fragrances that I have worn very few can be massive and delicate at the same time. Black Aoud has this rare intangibility to the extreme. Just a tiny spray is enough to let you enjoy a wrist wear for hours and hours through its complex development. The opening is a strong affirmation of oud. Whether this is real or synthetic I am not the most competent to say because I have never smelled real oud. The prices suggest that it isn’t natural but my nose also can tell you that this is not the abundant, sweet oud that has flooded the world of mass market perfumes (and several very expensive niche perfumes) after Montale trod the European asphalts with it. It is dry, woody, medicinal and the proverbial band-aid similarity is there, but I have to admit that I liked the smell of band-aid even before I smelled Montale. The best way I can describe it is as the smell of professional hairspray with an undertone of freshly cut wood. This is what almost all Montale ouds smell for the first half an hour or even more. In each perfume the other notes start coming through and developing an individual character. In the case of Black Aoud the first notes that I feel cutting through the oud are a jammy rose and delicate honey. What was a very dry, woody scent for the first half hour starts sweetening up and become more alive. The sweetness remains minimal and there is no way this can be classified as an oriental fragrance. As the hours pass, and I am being very accurate when I am talking about hours, the rose becomes fresher and livelier. The deep red rose jam turns into a fresh, wild, pale coloured rose. The longer I wear Black Aoud the fresher the rose becomes. It sheds the weight of the difficult medicinal note but a hint of oud is always there, as the spirit of freshness.
Black Aoud is not a fragrance one would spray hastily by the perfume counter and fully appreciate it. It is more the fragrance that haunts you when you come home after a perfume shopping spree with a handful of nameless blotters you sprayed earlier and dismissed. But then at home one of them smells like heaven and you don’t know which one of those bottles that turned you off this was. Ever had this happen to you? Well, it was Black Aoud! The transition from medicinal oriental oddity to fresh, cool, rather masculine rose is slow, dramatic and captivating. Sprayed on skin Black Aoud is a tattoo fragrance: it will stay there till after you shower. Sprayed on clothes, it will sent delicately your entire closet. And most importantly, it is one of the few fragrances that I continue to smell while I am wearing it. My nose never really get s tired of it. The others also appreciate the sillage. Of all the perfumes I own this is the only one that people notice and comment on, very favourably. Right now I am two hours into my wearing and the rose has just started to breath and radiate. Amazing stuff!
Notes from Fragrantica: rose, french labdanum, musk, patchouli, mandarin orange and agarwood (oud)
Notes from my nose: band-aid, white woods, rose jam, wild rose
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