The Kingdom of Resins
And leave me behind, like everything that is different… Those like me, who are regular visitors to ZARA, will have noticed that the Spanish brand has recently increased the number of launches of new perfumes and entire collections on the market. Before Christmas, we witnessed the releases of the series dedicated to tobacco (TOB/), water (EAU/), wood (WO/) and finally leather (LTH/), each composed of three distinct scents. And a few weeks ago, a new series dedicated to metals, Sensitive Metallics. In recent days, ZARA has added new pieces to the collections already released in the past, including one in Chapter No. 4 Oud, and two in Chapter No. 7 Vanilla, namely Angelic Vanilla and Sensual Vanilla. Even a brand new series named Infusion is now on the shelf. But it is precisely about Sensual Oud that I want to tell you something today. After seeing the description on the official website, I already knew that it would be an exceptional fragrance and a delightful combination of oud, patchouli, and rose that I would not despise. For this perfume, the master perfumer did not hold back in dosing the precious resin. I can say that I was wrong when I thought “Bohemian Oud | Zara” was the hardest of the collection because Sensual Oud dethroned it by taking first place on the podium.
Sensual Oud is a demon full of warm spicy, leathery, woody, earthy, floral, and animalic accords, which immediately fills the air with a true camphorous, medicinal, and barnyard leathery oud, reminiscent of the scent associated with medicinal balms or liniments. Saffron is rough and arrogant, with strong leathery and animalistic hints, dirtied by a warm, bitter, and spicy clove; a bed of oud that will always remain present supports this prodigious mixture. There is little of the gentle flower and a lot of the rocky dried red pistils, with its characteristic tarred nuance, a little medicinal, astringent. The blend of these two spices is the closest thing to cough syrup, very sour but not citrus fruit, more in a camphoraceous way. The camphor-like smell is bold, though it is smooth and does not itch the nose, not to be confused with mothball odour. For admirers of light perfumes, Sensual Oud might be scary at first. It is powerful, brazen, like a punch in the stomach, more in your face. It is difficult to identify the bergamot, while underneath there is a strong oud sap, one of those that makes their edges feel more skanky and barny. Virile is the opening, and the perfume has a masculine momentum in the first stages of life. The projection is powerful, and the strong opening point is the saffron and oud pair.
The camphor nuances slightly fade after several minutes, revealing a glimpse of rose petals and patchouli leaves. The rose gains strength. It is dewy, dry, powdery, and at times decadent, without a single hint of gelatinous and mellifluous notes, thanks to the contribution of the dirty patchouli which dampens its gourmand edges without being too dominant. This combination is by no means unique, but together with saffron and oud, they offer something that continually changes and evolves around a sensual sphere. Even though I can recognize it, the rose remains in the background and never takes centre stage. This is not the prominent rose we find in “Perpetual Oud | Zara”. Meanwhile, in the backdrop, the medicinal and camphorous scents of the opening spices persist. The stage is all for them. Besides the rose, I sense another indolic white flower, which I bet is the night jasmine. There is also a woody and creamy facet, courtesy of a smidgen of precious blonde sandalwood. In the central phase, the chords alternate like a seesaw between the masculine and the feminine. Now the oud competes for the stage with a dirty and rosy patchouli.
As the scent settles in, landing on a soft, sensual, leathery, amber, musky base. The dry-down highlights the leathery aspects that take the place of the spicy and floral ones, combined with the majestic oud resin. Projection is still fairly strong, but the fragrance has now settled into something smooth and well-rounded, a wonderful blend of wood, floral, and amber sweetness. You can sense the smooth and savoury aspects of amber and the woody aspects of musk, much more tending towards powder and less towards soapy. Perhaps even a whisper of vanilla pushes forth. The trail that remains is mostly composed of leather and oud, sensual, camphoraceous, and musky.
There is no doubt that Sensual Oud is a polarizing perfume that captures the essence of forbidden desire, mysterious and deep. The spices provoke and tempt, the flowers and woods add a timeless charm, and the leather creates an intoxicating trail. Saffron oud camphor pod made from pure camphor creates a positive aura and connects to spirituality. It is a fragrance that requires cold weather to be appreciated, to be used in the evening and night events of late autumn and mid-winter. A fragrance that feels good both in contact with the body and on clothes, scarves and coats. For an intimate dinner, or a crazy night. Perhaps the duration is not amazing, yet enough for an event, but the projection is intense in the first hours after the application.
I’m basing my opinion on a bottle I’ve owned since February 2024 (BC 32220).