Monday, May 23, 2011
Wodka sales have exploded in recent years, while the market for other spirits, such as Scotch, is stagnant. "Vodka is odorless, colorless, tasteless, and highly mixable. You need a strong image because it's fairly commoditized." says a beverage exec in a Business Week piece on the trend. Oud seems to be fast becoming perfumery's wodka, or shall we say, the development this Asian elixir long prized in the Arab world is taking under the hands of Western commodifiers resembles the slippery slope from a complex Scottish single malt bursting with character towards a neutral spirit which only differs from water in being alcoholic. It's the Wodkafication of Aloeswood, Aoudh, Eaglewood and what else it is called. When Montale started to make this potion accessible to Westerners (after a bold early exploration in YSL's M7) it provided a respectful rendition of the real thing, particularly in the flagship Black Oud. Strong, not quite as wild or good as high end natural ouds, but beautifully blended with rose, rather static, yet highly intriguing and pleasing. When the big players (Givaudan, Firmenich et al) started offering "instant oud" bases, the usual trend cycle kicked into gear, everyone and their grandma suddenly issuing Ouds. But just how oud are they? Bond's signature anniversary fragrance was unfortunately not odorless, but certainly oudless, smelling more like a cheap drugstore perfume than bottled luxury (white musk from hell). By Kilian's Pure Oud is neither pure nor oud, but the umpteenth rehash of Comme des Garcons' once avantgarde incense series, a papery-grey-velvety iso-e-super soup so utterly banal that Calice Becker must have put it together during a five minute coffee break. While sipping really bad coffee. In a sour mood. With a hangover (you get the point... and please note that experts disagree). Wodka popularity and oud corruption, as well as the fact that my bill at the grocer's today ran € 6.66 are clear indications the end of the world is near (or was that last Saturday?) or at least that culture as such is still continually in decline - but being an open midend skeptic rahter than a cynic, I hope Mona di Orio's new Oud will live up to intimations that it's a really heavy hitter and thus prove Spengler wrong once again.
Above picture showes Vodka Extreme EdP for Men by Paris Elysées, which may or may not smell cheap, but at least is so.