Sunday, February 6, 2011

By Kilian Arabian Nights "Incense Oud": new fragrance

Periods and continents diverge to give birth to a new oriental collection By Kilian. Kilian Hennesy, grandson of the founder of LVMH and cognac heir, is well known among perfume enthusiasts for his eponymous collection By Kilian which includes such fragrances as the glorious rosy floral of Dangerous Liaisons and the more masculine woody Cruel Intentions or the more extroverted Love, Prelude to Love or Love and Tears.

The “Arabian Nights” is Kilian's newest project, composed of 5 perfumes, 5 olfactive harmonies, all built around essential oils with strong symbolic values from the East: Oud, Rose, Incense, Amber and Musk.
Pure Oud, Rose Oud and Incense Oud are the first stopovers of this olfactive trip, with Incense Oud to come out shortly.

Oud is an extremely rare and precious oil found in Agarwood, the resinous heartwood of the
Aquilaria tree from southeast Asia and is possibly the strongest trend in perfumery in the last two years, mainly thanks to developments in synthetic replications. (You can read a comprehensive article on oud/agarwood on this link on Perfume Shrine). Still some companies use the real stuff to extend the effect.
The natural oil itself is dark in coloration and has a complex scent, being warm and woody, yet strongly animalistic at the same time. In many Middle Eastern countries, Oud is believed to be worth more than its weight in gold. To echo this belief, the Kilian Incense Oud bottle has a gold plaque engraved with the name of the perfume and the box is decorated with a gold plaque on the top.
Incense, a mystical aroma whose smoke was said to be one of the links between mortals and Gods, is combined with oud, giving birth to a fragrance that is mysterious and warm, yet modern.

1.7 oz/50ml PURE OUD spray $ 395
1.7 oz/50ml ROSE OUD spray $ 395
1.7 oz/50ml INCENSE OUD spray $ 395

Points of Sale:
Bergdorf Goodman
, select Saks, Lucky Scent Bar, MiN (and online at,, and

some info via press release


  1. I just got through posting an article on the uncanny similarity between Diptyque's "Musc" candle and Lutens' "Ambre Sultan", and, still in an Arabian Nights mood, I then saw that you'd done your own Arabian Nights post -- and good news it is indeed! Incense and oud, by Kilian -- now that's a combination with my name written all over yet; going to need to try it ASAP. But alas, the competition is very, very stiff on the incense-and-oud front; we'll see if this new one can measure up, and indeed offer up something novel as well.

    Thanks for posting!

  2. It's interesting to see Oudh becoming a trend lately in the west. Being an Arab, and from the Arabian Gulf, Oudh is considered an essential, and as you said, very expensive perfume, in any house in this part of the world.
    For ages we've been using it in two forms, as Oudh Oil, and Oudh wood, which we use as bunred incense around the house and for clothes. It became a symbol of Arabian hospitality, where we present our guests with expensive burned Oudh wood and Oudh oil. Pure Oudh oil could cost anywhere between $300 to $1500 for a (tolah) which is around .5 grams, and the wood pieces are just as expensive.
    The two main countries that produces Oudh nowadays are India and Cambodia, but the Indian is known for its superior quality.
    I remember wearing Oudh oil when I was a student in the US, but my some of my American friends would be annoyed by the strong smell. I should've known better; when in Rome do as the Roman do :)

    The first Western brand that we, here in the UAE, started seeing using Oudh was Tom Ford's around 2 years ago, and after that many brands started following. Tom Ford's Oudh became very popular in this part of the world because finally we can use Oudh in it's third form; spray.

  3. Michael,

    thanks for dropping by! Hope you're well :-)

    Incense and oud is a great combination, if only because it evokes a mystical mood that is also deepened into non ecclesiastical nuances. Not that I have anything against the ecclesiastical incense vibe myself (adore it!) but several people have very specific associations and can't disentangle themselves from them. I think niche companies have cottoned on to that and thus bringing out several variations, some of them oud-laced etc. Since incense does have a "spiritual" vibe to it re: intended audiences and oud is the latest craziness in the niche-buying world, it made sense to combine the two. As you succinctly point out, there is stiff competition though, so it's always interesting to see how fares better in that game!

    Haven't thought about AS and Diptyque's Musc in that light (ha!) so I should probably heed your advice and compare side by side, so to speak. Thanks for the suggestion!!

  4. El Shahlab,

    a most interesting comment! Thank you!

    Some of my Arabian-heritage students had discussed the use of oud fumigation to me a few years back and it had made a very marked impression. I find the habit of sharing the fumes a very endearing one, if not very US-friendly, LOL A few brought me Yemen-hailing oud oils for my sampling pleasure, which was an experience worth the time.

    It's interesting what you say about Tom Ford's Oudh, though, I didn't know it was popular in the Emirates, how fascinating! Do you sense that they use natural oud in it? I can't really recall my impressions, I think I have only briefly sampled that one.

    The first brand that came into my attention proclaiming the use of oud was Montale (the French niche brand), but I found most of their wares rather "westernised" and synthetic. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, as long as it's clear and upfront. ) Now there's oud notes at every price point across brands, which obviously hints at the use of powerful synthetics (and which I happen to know ARE being used).

  5. Hi,

    I am not sure whether they're using natural Oudh, but personally, I didn't like any Western perfume that had Oudh in it. They do smell good, but not as good and authentic as the Oudh oil and natural Oudh woods we are used to wearing. As you mentioned, they usually contain a western twist to them.
    We're familiar with Montale here, and is very popular too, but personally, I like the old fashioned Oudh, and sometimes I mix it with my favorite western fragrance; which happens to be Sycomore from Chanel exclusive collection. I don't usually wear women's fragrance, but I find Sycomore to be more masculine and Arabic than other Western Oudh-containing fragrances.
    Armani Prive collection's Bois d'encens, although not containing Oudh, but became very popular when was released here few years ago. We fumigate mystic gum as well, but it's used mainly as home fragrance, and its smell is exactly like Armani's Bois d'encens's. Maybe that's why it became popular.


  6. El,

    fascinating, simply fascinating!

    I should think that the westernised spin would be essential from a marketing point of you, because it would be idiotic to try to market oud to the middle east as the first line of attack (a bit like selling milk to cows or gold to a maharadjah). It was propably a very calculated move.

    Bois d'Encens is possibly the best Armani fragrance (certainly in the Prive line). It's very deep and mystical.

    As to Sycomore, how wonderful you love it too! I find it beautiful and very unisex: There is a chocolate edge to the smoky vetiver which surfaces some times, possibly due to a little patchouli or a woody-creamy note. Mixing it with real Oud sounds like Jannah has landed on earth!


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