With their headquarters in Paris and a number of privately owned sustainable plantations in Asia, Fragrance Du Bois are world experts in the protection and harvesting of oudh – sometimes known as ‘liquid gold’. And they have mastered the blending of this fabled ingredient, using some of the best ‘noses’ in the world.
Fragrance Du Bois are, quite unashamedly, so oudh-obsessed. And are we surprised? Derived from the dark resinous wood of the Aquilaria tree, oudh (often spelled ‘oud’) is an utterly fascinating material – a resin that occurs in less than 7% of trees, in the wild. Which explains why the material is so precious – and, sought-after. And not all oudh, it transpires, is harvested with the focus on sustainability that Fragrance Du Bois are renowned for.
In fact, so Fragrance Du Bois tell us: ‘Due to illegal logging, wild resources have been severely depleted. So, since 2004, all species of the Aquilaria tree have been protected under CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species].’
So Fragrance Du Bois have taken a stand by putting themselves at the forefront of condemning the use of oudh from illegal sources – and, beyond that, have made it their mission to educate the perfume industry and fragrance buyers alike. ‘Only pure oudh oil, produced from trees nurtured and managed on our own plantations, is used in our fragrances,’ they explain. ‘This means that we can absolutely guarantee that it is from a sustainable and ethical source.’
Because they use only oudh from their own plantations, the quality of the ingredient can also be assured – something that varies wildly from fragrance house to house, and with many supposed ‘oudh’ perfumes actually containing nary a drop of the actual ingredient. And what majestic blends the Fragrance Du Bois oudhs are – with something even for oudh ‘naysayers’ to fall in love with. The collection shows how utterly versatile this wood can be – in expert hands.
Wind-whipped waves crash on the seashore of perfumer Guillaume Flavigny’s Oud Bleu Intense, for example, cardamom, nutmeg and mandarin adding aromatic freshness to the cosiness that the organic vintage oudh offers in the amber-rich dry-down. For Oud Vert Intense, Oliver Pescheux enhances a surprisingly bright nature of oudh by fusing the sunshine of bergamot and ginger with a herbaceous heart of geranium and coriander seeds and a drift of smoky oudh in the cedarwood base.
For a complete change of direction, we get totally tropical with Oud Jaune Intense, Natalie Cetto bathing monoï, ylang ylang, pineapple and a bouquet of heady white flowers in a cooling, milky veil of vanilla and soft musk. The oudh here swirls seamlessly throughout, used as a seasoning to amplify the other accords, a dark seam of decadent pleasure that can be found throughout the Shades Du Bois collection. (And we’re especially thrilled to have discovered the Perfume Pens – gel fragrances that are brushed on from the chicest of containers which dispense the perfect amount of perfume to use on-the-go and for travelling, and available in all of the Shades Du Bois fragrance options.)
Urging the perfumers to explore their creativity without regard to the cost of the ingredients they chose was paramount to all the briefs that Fragrance Du Bois gave for the fragrances – but especially so in The Privé Collection, with each scent encapsulating the character of a particular place. Parisian Oud by Christian Provenzano is every bit as sophisticated as you’d hope, with rose, jasmine and leather echoing the birthplace of fine perfumery and the Grasse heritage of perfuming leather gloves. Meanwhile, London Oud (by François Merle-Baudoin) evokes misty mornings on the banks of the Thames, marine notes and spearmint fusing into lavender, jasmine and a patchouli-infused base.
The Nature’s Treasures collection focuses on single notes, showcased by an array of complementary materials, that can be layered to boost any other of their fragrances or enjoyed in isolation. For those that don’t want to stop there – and with fragrances this wonderful, why would you? – you can layer your living space with scented woodchips from their Bakhoor range, too.
Their commitment to sustainability doesn’t end with their careful custodianship of the existing trees. Because for every 50ml and 100ml bottle of Fragrance Du Bois perfume that is sold, they pledge, ‘We will plant at least two trees on one of our managed sustainable plantations in Asia – one teak tree under the Plant Genetic Conservation Project(an initiative supported by the Thai Royal Family Foundation) and one Aquilaria tree.’
Harnessing all the Asian exoticism of the oudh, with an exquisitely French refinement, there’s something from Fragrance Du Bois for all tastes. Prepare to be surprised – and delighted.