Leather and oud are two of the most popular notes in niche and even designer/mainstream perfumery at the moment. Of course leather has been a popular theme for fragrances for many years for both men and women—the Russian Leathers/Cuirs de Rusie, the Knize Tens and the Cabochards and Bandits all attest to that. Oud is a little different—long used in middle eastern perfumery, oud really hit the mainstream awareness with Yves Saint Laurent’s oud-focused M7 (2002), and has been off to the races ever since. It is now so over used—often utilizing synthetics instead of the real thing to cash in on its current popularity—that it is considered a little vieux jeu. In other words, if you are only now getting around to putting out an oud scent, you have missed the boat.
The venerable house of Floris, that bastion of Jermyn Street that has been providing ladies and gentlemen with high quality English fragrances since 1730, is not a trendsetter. Although they have made great efforts in recent years to take their fragrance offerings to a new level, mixing tradition and heritage with a more cutting edge style, they remain one of the most traditional British fragrance houses and it is no surprise that it took them until 2014 to launch a series of oud fragrances. This line up included Amber Oud, Honey Oud and my favorite, Leather Oud.
Leather Oud is a perfect gateway oud, in my opinion—it has all of the secure, comforting aspects of a traditional fragrance—in this case a beautiful, classic leather note as well as other mainstays of masculine perfumery, such as vetiver and carnation—and uses it as the launch pad for an oud that is pure and deep. According to Floris, it is “created with Oud oil from a certified sustainable source of agarwood, this oil is among the most expensive in the perfumer’s palette – with deep qualities found in no other oil.”
The listed top notes are leather and bergamot, the heart notes are carnation, geranium, oud and patchouli and the base notes are more oud, vetiver and amber wood.
The first thing you notice is the expensive leather—not too long from being in the tannery and workroom and then on to the deep, oily darkness of the Oud, underscored by the vetiver, amber and patchouli. The floral notes of carnation and geranium are so subtle that they play a true supporting role; as the name asserts, this is all about leather and oud.
Gentlemanly enough to stroll down Jermyn Street, Leather Oud also has the dark and oily glow, edged with a dirty humanity that oud is so famous for. This boy may be wearing a bespoke suit and polished bench-made shoes, but there is some funk going on here. This is for the enfant terrible of St. James, the punk rocker of Savile Row who goes commando in his custom tailored suit. And is it just for the boys? I think so—it has too much of a well-bred testosterone note to be anything other than masculine. That said, on a woman with a taste for pinstripes this could be head turning.