Stephan Matthews: Prosody's Oud Octavo

As many readers will already know, I’ve always found the “natural perfumery” side of the fragrance industry fascinating because the challenges that are experienced are not for the faint hearted. Synthetic ingredients are great at providing multifaceted layers and so the natural perfumer needs to be creative and knowledgeable in order to make their finished fragrance truly rounded. This can certainly be said of Oud Octavo by Prosody London. Created by Keshen Teo, it takes the star ingredient but presents it in a wonderfully accessible way that is missing from many of the other oud fragrances on the market.
Prosody London was launched in an effort to show that natural fragrances could take their place in the mainstream market by providing the complexity and longevity that customers have become used to. Many natural perfumes are criticised for having no lasting power on the skin or, when they do achieve a respectable time, that the base of the fragrance becomes weighty and heavy with very little nuance. This was the issue that Keshen Teo found himself having to work through and, in order to achieve it, he turned to Mandy Aftel for guidance and inspiration.

Mandy Aftel has become the “go to” expert when it comes to the art of creating natural fragrances. She has spent a career researching, honing, creating, and writing. The list really does go on and on. There is nothing about natural perfumery that Mandy doesn’t know and so she was the obvious choice for Keshen to study with. Learning how to work with the ingredients so that they delivered the results that he was looking for took time but, from day one, Keshen Teo was adamant that he would never “compromise his vision” and the results definitely speak for themselves.
Oud has been an incredibly popular ingredient for the last decade and shows no signs of disappearing any time soon. However, one of the issues that many people have with it is its strength. The fashion for the ingredient brought with it high doses and, to many noses, the overall scent was often described as “fashionably fecal”. It had always been used in perfumery but was just one of many ingredients and, used sparingly, added to the depth and richness of many leather and tobacco scents. With Oud OctavoKeshen Teo has wrapped the subject in woods and citrus and the results are spectacular.

Oud Octavo opens with a noticeably woody aspect and slowly reveals itself as it settles on the skin. A jasmine-esque floral quality seems to come through first, partnered with patchouli, and this is followed by bergamote, orange, and a galbanum-like greenness. The main scent of oud then shows itself but the addition of the resinous frankincense, dry cedarwood, and cinnamon keeps it enticingly bright. The sultry quality that may have been muted is reawakened with a touch of animalic labdanum and maybe the slightest touch of vanilla just adds the finishing touch. The bottle is as sexy as the scent, and I am smitten.
Find the full review here.

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