My issues with oud are partly to do with its austere scent - at its worst tipping over into Band-Aid / Germolene territory, as with some Montales - and partly the fact that oud is integral to that whole Arabian Nights-spice route school of perfumery, of which I am also a little weary, though my attachment to all things Taif rose-related remains as strong as ever. But oud I can take or leave.
Then the other day, completely unprompted, Liz Moores of Papillon Perfumery sent me a full bottle of Coty's Jōvan Intense Oud. I am familiar with Jōvan Musk, bottles of which may be seen languishing in plastic baskets by pharmacy tills up and down the land. Indeed, the forlorn and paltry range of scents in my local chemist prompted a blog post of its own a few years back. I had not come across this oud scent by Jōvan though, which was part of a trio of launches in 2012, along with Silky Rose and Secret Amber. Liz thought Jōvan Intense Oud such a bargain at £15 that she felt I had to try it. She considers me something of a bloggers' champion of budget fragrances, and figured I might be interested in another corner chemist coup from Coty!
|Papillon-themed card from Liz on my new pinboard!|
Given that I am actively trying to divest myself of perfume at the moment rather than acquire more bottles by any means, I was initially apprehensive about receiving a whole bottle of an oud fragrance, of all things. After all, when Matthew Zhuk of Exidolo offered me one of Thirty-Three on a blind basis I declined, explaining that I might not like it and I hated waste - and I'm pleased to say he did just send me a sample in the end.
But in the case of the Jōvan, my worries were unfounded. Okay, so the gold ribbed top is a trifle gaudy, but what can you expect for £15? Plus the perfume itself is a smooth, classy number all right, to the point where I have taken the trouble to add the horizontal bar accent over the 'o' - and as regular readers know, there are not many perfumes for which I will put myself out in that way, typographically speaking. And I am also embracing this new acquisition despite the bottle being a whopping 88ml! 88ml?? There's another thing to love right there - a blithe disregard for standard pack sizes.
Without further ado, here is the sales blurb about Jōvan Intense Oud, from NST:
"Delight in the darkly enigmatic Intense Oud, a powerfully alluring woody floral. The scent opens with a delicately spiced blend of saffron and lemongrass before building to an addictive heart of cistus labdanum and Turkish rose absolute. Combined with patchouli and sandalwood, Oud wood sensually embraces the whole fragrance, creating an overall experience of distinguished opulence."
So how does it smell to me? Well, in a nutshell - and this may be some reassurance to any other readers who are pretty indifferent to oud - Jōvan Intense Oud isn't particularly dark or powerful, opulent or intense. Rather, it smells like the 'comfy jogging pants' of the oud world, to quote Tara's masterly description of the drydown of Penhaligon's Tralala. Who knew such a thing even existed! Intense Oud is smoothed off and sanitised - that's 'sanitised' in the sense of 'toned down', rather than in the sense of Dettol wipes etc - it's just a gentle hum of oud on your skin. And because Intense Oud isn't intense at all, it needs frequent refreshing, which is no hardship given such a large bottle. Yes, just as Lidl Suddenly Madame Glamour is like a weaker version of Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle, so Jōvan Intense Oud is a watered down take on By Kilian Rose Oud, or something of that ilk.
One of the few reviewers of Intense Oud on Makeupalley exactly sums up my own thoughts on this scent, and its appeal:
"Jovan/Coty have done a very clever thing - they've taken fragrances that are often bagged for being too strong and diluted/twitched notes to make something really wearable. Jovan Intense Oud is a prime example....This is oud, unmistakable as the trendy note going around, but it's friendly, soft, warm. I very much liked this, not least because it makes oud so easy to wear."
|They may mean 'oud' the instrument, but never mind ~ Source: Amazon|
Now I am not sure I could say a lot more about Intense Oud, as it is well blended and doesn't really progress as such, apart from a fleeting sharpness on first application. I do detect some rose, a whiff of saffron and a generally resinous/woody/oud-y vibe, bolstered by occasional puffs of patchouli, but I wouldn't overegg my perception of the individual notes. And for a formulation that must have cost literally pence, this is not obviously cheap or 'chemically' at all. In a blind test I could well imagine it was at least high end designer, say.
Then I happened to be over at ex-Mr Bonkers' this morning (as in my old house), to pick up a couple of pieces of mail that had washed up there despite my having been gone three years. One was a pouch containing freeze-dried Neapolitan ice cream that you can keep - and eat! - at ambient temperature. Such was our combined curiosity that we ended up polishing most of it off while I was there. If anyone is interested, it had the texture of polystyrene, but if you let it melt in your mouth it tasted just like ice cream - or ice cream that is warmed by a hot sauce, say.
And I also took the opportunity to get ex-Mr B to sniff me wearing the Jōvan perfume, as he really doesn't care for perfume as a category - and has even been known to ask me to leave the room during some of the more febrile testing sessions at the start of my hobby. Intense Oud he described as 'inoffensive' and 'a bit like luxury soap'. Much like Sarah Jessica Parker's Lovely, then, and pretty much any perfume I put before him that doesn't precipitate instant recoil or outright gagging.
So yes, as ex-Mr Bonkers' response attests, this is a smooth, entry level oud, oud with training wheels, office-appropriate oud, jogging bottoms oud - however you want to term it. It won't break the bank and it won't smell of plasters. Nor will its bottle grace your dressing table, it must be said. Not that we should really be keeping our perfume there, as we all know...
|As eaten by astronauts! Not bad, but I'll stick with Häagen-Dazs|