The naysayers will argue that most oud renditions on the market are essentially rehashing two or three tired themes, so creativity with the ingredient has hardly been exercised. While this is true, I'll give Annick Goutal credit when it is due.
Her 1001 Ouds is not your typical oud fragrance. Just by looking at the notes you can easily dismiss it as another oud-rose combo. Judging a scent just by its notes is silly and 1001 Ouds also shows us how inaccurate it can be.
In other words, Annick Goutal's oud fragrance is not your typical oud-rose perfume and it is not your standard oud perfume.
When I first smelled 1001 Ouds I wasn't convinced there is any oud in there. I dismissed the fragrance as some sour rendition of something that is too soft to bother with. Still, there was something that kept nudging me to try it again.
It wasn't until my fourth wear that Annick Goutal's 1001 Ouds started to make sense. The oud was there and it was a version I'd smelled in a cruder form before. The notes said rose but I didn't get any. I got tons of papyrus, which gave the fragrance a bit of a muted, dated feel.
Even though I slowly started appreciating 1001 Ouds, I still found it too soft for my liking. I got a decent longevity (8+ hours) but the projection was nil.
Maybe this is the genius of Annick Goutal. She created a fragrance that appears nondescript, that you can easily dismiss and that can easily trap you. After all, it is a fragrance inspired by fairy tales and Arabic princesses.
This is what happened to me. I found myself coming back to 1001 Ouds. It wasn't that I found it more appealing or comforting. It stays rather dry and sour, almost austere but it has a certain aura that makes it appealing.
Regardless of its appeal, 1001 Ouds is a fragrance worth trying if not nothing else at least as an example of how an oud perfume could be different than the norm.
Dig Deeper: What Does It Smell Like?
1001 Ouds starts with a dry, sour opening. These first notes remind me of the oud accord present in Le Labo's Oud 27. The difference is that here they are more tamed and civil, while in Oud 27 they are let loose and wild.
A papyrus note appears from the very beginning and acts like a blotter. It cushions the sharpness of the oud.
The presence of the papyrus also gives the scent some muteness and a bit of a dry, dusty feel. It reminds me of some vintage fragrances from the 1800's that carry with them an aura of nostalgia.
I am happy with the opening and it sets the scene for something grander. That something, however, never comes.
While the dusty sourness is front and centre, I also detect a soft creamy woodiness in the background. It shows up to give some density to the scent and shave off some of the sharpness. It could be either an aspect of the oud note or another wood accord. It reminds me of Guaiac wood.
As time passes, the sour aspect of 1001 Ouds quiets down. This transition to the heart phase of the fragrance happens relatively quickly. It takes no more than 20 minutes for the top notes to settle and a softer, more floral accord to emerge.
It is only in retrospect that I realize the reason for the soft middle phase may be the rose note. When talking of rose here, we need to leave behind any preconceptions what it smells like. The rose and oud combination in this fragrance have nothing in common with the pair you'll find in most of the oud-rose fragrances.
It doesn't take long for 1001 Ouds to turn into a skin scent. Within an hour after application I can barely smell it on myself. I bury my nose in my shirt and inhale. This is the only way I can get a faint scent of musky rose.
Even here, when I say rose, I can't say this is what I am smelling. Based on the notes list, I assume this is what the soft floral scent would be. This is why, if you are looking for a rose scent, you'll be disappointed.
Despite its quiet performance, 1001 Ouds has a decent longevity. As I write this it has been approximately 12 hours since application. I can still smell the scent on my hand without much effort.
In terms of structure, 1001 Ouds remains linear. Once the top notes settle in the first hour, there isn't much to keep you on your toes. In a way this is a good thing if you like how the middle phase of the perfume smells.
Despite all its virtues, 1001 Ouds leaves me asking for more. I am happy with the opening and it sets the scene for something grander. That something, however, never comes.
How to Wear Annick Goutal 1001 Ouds
1001 Ouds is an easy fragrance to wear. Its versatility is due mostly to the fact that its projection is minimal. Two sprays on the neck and one in your hair would probably give you enough oomph to get your through the day. The issue with 1001 Ouds is not longevity but projection.
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The trick with projection is that even if you put on more, the blast will last the same time. After that, it will go down to its normal quiet whisper.
1001 Ouds is a fall/winter/spring scent. I don't see myself wearing it in the summer.
1001 Ouds is a good perfume for the office. It is civil and polite enough to keep you scented without offending anyone.
I've worn it casually on the weekend too and have enjoyed certain parts of it. I'll be hardly pressed to think of a special occasion that will call specifically for 1001 Ouds. In its own way, this makes the fragrance good for pretty much any occasion.
I don't see too many people gravitating towards 1001 Ouds. It is an elegant fragrance but in a manner that reminds me of an old lady. It is classy and well-mannered and a bit old school. I don't see many people under 30 making it their choice.
The Experts Say...
Elena Vosnaki from Perfume Shrine
"1001 Ouds in Les Absolus d'Annick Goutal managed to not fulfill the desire for apostasy that ran in the back of my mind."
Star Rating: None Given
Read Elena's full review here.
Thomas Dunkley for Escentual. A Fragrance Critic
"1001 Ouds really does feel like an Arabian fantasy. It centres around a supple and velvet-like rose-oud accord that is both heavily textured and transportive, creating the idea of an olfactory magic carpet, with a tapestry richly embroidered with intertwining threads of the sour, medicinal and funky tones of oud."
" This isn’t the most exciting oud out there, but those that want something traditional, high quality and infinitely wearable will find 1001 Ouds right up their street."
Star Rating: None Given
Read Thomas's full review here.
I Make Scents. A Fragrance Blog
"Even after a thousand oud perfumes, I would still be happy to have this add to the one thousand and first oud. Nicely done."
Read the full review here.
The Bottom Line
1001 Ouds is a different rendition of oud and rose. Annick Goutal deserves praises for their creativity and original approach to an overdone accord.
Despite its originality, 1001 Ouds feels incomplete to me. It starts to tell an interesting story but it never develops to its full potential.
Would you buy 1001 Ouds?
It's a nice fragrance but hardly compelling a purchase. 1001 Ouds 2.0 may be worthy of a consideration.
Would I get compliments wearing 1001 Ouds?
Don't count on it. This is not a fragrance that people will notice on you. If not for the soft projection, it is for its mostly nondescript character.
What rating would you give 1001 Ouds?
After wearing it several times, I succeeded to see the evasive goodness in this fragrance. I've upgraded my original rating of 2 out of 5 to 3 out of 5. Not being a hard ass, I just don't see it as a complete fragrance. I am really hoping for a 2.0 version of this perfume.
The groundwork has been laid. Now, Annick Goutal needs to build the house.
Oud, Rose, Pimento
Oud, Birch, Guaiac Wood, Myrrh
Bottle Size: 75ml
Concentration: Eau de Parfum
Where to Buy: LuckyScent
*Price is subject to change.