Originally, I intended to review both Oud Luban, and Sepia in one post. I thought that although I enjoyed Oud Luban, I didn’t have enough to write about it. So I planned to take both of Aftelier’s oud fragrances and pair them.
I was wrong however. I started with my review of Oud Luban, and could have written pages more. As usual, what happens with me when I start writing, I understood this fragrance more than any other time I’ve tried it. I will be honest, before this review I had only tried Oud Luban a couple of times, and always whilst trying other fragrances – mainly from my Aftelier sample box, and I never gave it the attention I needed to gather my thoughts properly on it.
Wearing it solely for the last hour now (I wrote my review below before this), I feel I’ve been able to understand (and transcribe) Oud Luban in its full, kaleidescopic colour.
Oud Luban is a solid perfume. I haven’t had that much experience with solid fragrances aside from the cheapies at Lush. I do like solids though – not as much as a spray, but they make a nice little intimate change and they seem to behave differently on the skin.
Handling even my little sample of Oud Luban is like holding something that I feel is too out of my league. I’m extremely delicate with it and apply it like it’s some kind of magic potion :’)
Firstly, I love the look of this solid. The natural essences have all left their little imprint on the perfumed wax, with little darker and lighter specks scattered throughout. It looks just as lovely as a brightly coloured liquid.
Oud Luban slides onto the skin with a brilliant, rich orange and a dash of tangy frankincense. It feels bright and elating, with the incense providing a delicate chain into the much darker base.
Oud Luban already has the aroma of oud surrounding the top, like it has all the higher notes enveloped in an invisible grip - giving them their chance to shine before pulling them back in. Becuase of this, the top is like a moment of unexpected surprise, like you’re catching this rare glimpse of the most wonderful almost resinous orange peel and frankincense – your nose forces you to appreciate it whilst it lasts.
After swirling around in this perfect blend to begin with, the (8 types of) oud’s personality(s) come forth. The aroma is warm and inviting, but with this contrasting cool almost camphorous edge. It has a beautiful cleanliness coming through from the citric stain of the blood orange, whilst holding a typically sublime dirty aspect – a slightly (excuse my unoriginal description) barnyard odor that somehow feels as comfortable as the scent of human skin. The medicated aspect of certain ouds does peek out, giving us that familiarity with the synthetic ouds that most of us are much more familiar with, but it feels indescribably richer, smoother, almost as though it’s making a joke out of the fact you buy into these harsh chemical “oud” explosions. Whilst the oud sounds like it is a nose singeing powerhouse, it is not at all. All these qualities are wrapped up in this fragrant blanket of surrounding benzoin and rounded out with a super smooth opoponax. These create a sheer, vanillic cover for the oud, keeping it tame, but in perfect balance.
Oud Luban is quiet, but it shouldn’t be any other way. It melts into the skin so perfectly and the scent becomes so familiar and welcoming after the first wearing, it is instantly transcending and serene. The nude hues of the fragrance are only kaleidoscopic once you can connect with them: wear and understand Oud Luban and it turns from the colour of skin to a glowing prismatic arrangement. I imagine owning this would be an almost idealic comfort, as to me at least, it is both extremely joyful and somehow so absolute it becomes almost somber. Oud Luban is a release, an emotional surge that is almost impossible to understand at first, if ever – but it is both calming, and almost forgiving in its complicated muteness. “Muteness” because as I have already said, the composition is so clear and collected in nature that in time, it becomes what I’m sure Mandy Aftel intended – an intimate, divine part of your skin, that is no longer difficult to understand.
Oud Luban 1/4ounce solid Aftelier Perfumes – $210 aftelier.com