This year, Guerlain launches Oud Essentiel, the sequel to Santal Royal (2014) and Ambre Éternel (2016) in the Absolus d'Orient series. Oud Essentiel is described as a blend of saffron, pelargonium, rose, oud, cedarwood, guaiac wood, frankincense, and leather.

Like Les Déserts d’Orient (2012), Les Absolus d’Orient are destined for the Middle Eastern market, but at a significantly lower price than the former. Although the brand is now trying to conquer the entire planet with Mon Guerlain, the truth is that perfume tastes in the Arab nations differ vastly from what is popular in the West. What perfumers call oriental fragrances, softly sweet and balsamic compositions, are not favoured in the Middle East. Maybe due to the hot desert climate, which makes perfumes evaporate on skin within minutes, Arab men and women prefer muscular scents with rich wood, spices, resins and rose.

Oud, especially, a.k.a. agarwood, with its dense, musty-resinous, woody odour, is a highly prized perfume ingredient in the Middle East. It’s therefore no surprise that Guerlain’s Orient series would eventually include an oud fragrance. The oud note is uncommon at Guerlain, but it appears in a supporting role in scents like Habit Rouge EdP, Rose Nacrée du Désert, Santal Royal, L'Homme Idéal EdP, and Néroli Outrenoir.

The last decade has seen a popularization in the West of the Arab world's ancient scents, as evidenced by Serge Lutens' successful Moroccan niche fragrances. It was actually back in 2007 that Guerlain had first jumped on the bandwagon with two Orient-themed perfume oils, Oud Sensuel and Garden Sensuel by Randa Hammami, but they weren't very successful and were soon discontinued. The notes for Oud Sensuel were cardamom, neroli, geranium, oud, cedarwood, orris, and tonka bean.
(April 2017)

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