Oud Satin Mood by Maison Francis Kurkdijan is a big, fat Middle Eastern sweet, the kind that is doused in rose syrup, thickened with salep, aromatized with mastic, sprinkled with rosewater and pistachios, and then, finally, dusted with a thick layer or five of powdered sugar so thick your teeth leaves indents in it.
Which means, of course, that I love it.
How could I not? I live in a country so thoroughly marked by a Turkish occupation in the late 1500s that every second word in the food vocabulary is Turkish. And since Turkish cuisine is influenced also by high Persian cuisine, we have quite a few Persian words for food too. Lokum (Turkish delight), halva, tulumba (fried cakes doused in honey syrup), baklava, sutlias (rice pudding) and many, many others – well, you get the picture.
To be honest, I don’t like to eat that stuff – but I do love perfumes that are based on what they smell like.
To me, Oud Satin Mood is a real standout in the Middle Eastern “dessert” genre (if such a genre exists outside of my own head, that is). The opening smells like a thick jam of berries and rose petals stirred through a pot of condensed milk on the stove. We are preparing to make Kulfi here. As vanilla, milk, sugar, and rose petals are cooked down, the sugar and sweet milk combine to produce a sort of toffee-like note.
This sounds almost oppressively sweet, doesn’t it? But it’s not, I swear. There’s a shot of violet here too, which combined with the rose, injects the mixture with the powdery smell you get when you open a Chanel pressed powder compact. It smells, in short, like a Middle Eastern sweet crossed (and leavened with) a rich cosmetics powder accord.
There is also a very faint backbone of oud, and although it’s very subtle, it adds a medicinal woodiness that keeps the sugariness of the vanilla-milk syrup and rose jam in check. At this stage, it smells like MFK’s original Oud got together with Chanel’s Misia and had a baby. In a Middle Eastern pastry shop.
Oh, and the sillage, baby, the sillage!……this one wafts across crowded bars and noisy parties. A perfume as opulent and as powdered as this demands a generous bosom from which to radiate. Could a man wear this? I don’t see why not, as long as the man in question likes deeply sweet, powdery fragrances. He will be missing the cleavage, though. This perfume needs the cleavage.
It gets a bit too monotonously sweet in the dry down. The oud and rose disappear leaving only the hefty vanilla-amber and violet-y powder to do the heavy lifting. I wonder, with the amber and violet, if this smells anything like the fabled Guet–Apens by Guerlain? I’ve never smelled it, so I don’t know. Maybe someone can report back.
Anyone who dislikes powder or very sweet vanillas and ambers might have a problem with this. For a while, I could have sworn there was both caramel and white musk in this, so powdery and syrupy-sweet was the dry down, but I can’t see it listed in the notes anywhere. It must be the amber.
It reminds me somewhat of the crumbly butter cookies I smell in the far dry down of Tocade, but maybe even more of the oppressively-thick musk and caramel dry down of Dame Perfumery’s Black Flower Mexican Vanilla, which represents my own personal line in the sand when it comes to powder and sweetness. In short, I love most of this perfume except for the final last gasps, where it gets a bit cloying.
The price is €306 for 70ml, which is a bit too rich for my blood and especially for a perfume where the oud note – real or synthetic as the case might be – is simply too subtle to justify the cost. But there’s no denying that this is a real bombshell of a perfume and a standout in the Middle Eastern sweet gourmand/oud genre.