Comme des Garcons are well known for their explorations of woody and resinous notes: their Incense Series and 2Man are fantastic examples of what can be done with incense resins and woods. Wonderoud is the latest launch by the brand in wide distribution, flankering (and amplifying the oud note in) 2010’s “woods gone mad” Wonderwood.
Oud is the heartwood resin from the infected Aquilaria or Aloeswood tree, native to the Asia-Pacific region, which has been used in incense for hundreds of years by Asian and Arab cultures. Since YSL’s M7 launched in 2002, Oud has been popping up more and more in Western perfumery, and the Oud peak doesn’t appear to have reached us quite yet.
The tenth perfume created by Antoine Maisondieu for the brand, Wonderoud opens with characteristic woodiness from his former colleague’s (Antoine Lie) Wonderwood: creamy, warm sandalwood, with dark, rooty vetiver. Also obvious from the get go is the resinous facet – hovering around the sweetness of opoponax and frankincense – and a piquant black pepper note, yet with the typical cherry-tobacco facet found in ‘early’ oud accords. An incredibly smoky undercurrent of gaiac and a tarry leather accord blends with the arid wood shavings note imparted by cedar, whilst the animalic, honeyed resin stays core to the fragrance throughout.
The whole effect itself smells as though a tree is right in front of you, being chopped into with its fragrant heartwood exposed, being readied to perfume a nearby fire. I applaud Comme des Garcons for avoiding the obvious rose-oud combination that we have come to expect in perfumery, and sticking to what they do best: interesting , wearable explorations of resins and woods. They’ve even got the packaging spot on: the box hints at the precious, expensive Oud resin by using gold foiling in place of Wonderwood’s black.