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The Spread Of Oudh

A fragrance that is so intrinsically Middle Eastern has caught the imagination and fancy of top international perfume brands. In his third of the four-part series on oudh, Abdulla Ajmal talks about the global perspective


For a perfume that originated in the heart of Asia and travelled via the exalted closets of the rich and famous of the Arab world to its current destination—top notch international perfumeries—it would be right to say that the exotic Oudh has come a long long way. Mapping the trend of its growth can’t be done in isolation without taking into account its complexities.

Oudh is a dark and intense fragrance that is extremely popular in the Middle East. Given the huge impact that oudh has had on the evolution of fragrances in the last five years, French perfumeries are also beginning to acknowledge its potential. As a result of this increasing popularity, the Middle East has emerged as a lucrative market for the international brands that are keen to reach out to more consumers and oudh seems to be the route that they have chosen in order to make this breakthrough .

A few years ago, Tom Ford launched his signature line, the Tom Ford Oud range: Oud Wood Moisturizer, Oud Wood Body Gel, Oud Wood eau de Parfums— it became such a huge hit that other top international brands also realized the real potential of this magical ingredient.

Gradually, oudh is emerging as a popular trend just like fruity fragrances or floral fragrances that still reign the choice-list of perfumers in several parts of the globe. The pace at which the use of this fragrance is progressing internationally indicates that oudh usage is a trend that will continue and soon settle down as a mainstream ingredient in the near future. Though the perception of this fragrance is very different for the people in the west and their counterparts in the Middle East. For the westerners, it is a strong fragrance but for the people in the Middle East, Oudh is the comforting element of their olfactory world.

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Abdulla Ajmal

However, the interesting thing to note is that while international brands are trying to cross the threshold of the Middle Eastern market, the western world is also opening up to the possibility of using oudh based perfumes. The big brands are launching new lines and the western customer has shown the keenness to experiment.

On the other hand, for the Middle Eastern customer, reasons for buying an oudh based perfume are not the same. They already are familiar with its potency and smells. Therefore their curiosity lies in experiencing the interpretation of French perfumers when it comes to creating oudh fragrances.

Currently, there are very few companies like Ajmal perfumes that have more than sixty years of experience and expertise to interpret the complexity of oudh as an ingredient and are helping French perfumers understand the same. Though the French perfumers are still in the process of interpreting the true potential of Oudh and understand it’s use in their fragrances, the trend is steadily growing as there are a lot of bands making the effort. This clearly indicates that the oudh is all set to take center stage to evolve as one of the key ingredients that will play a pivotal role in the perfumery industry in the times to come.