In the seemingly endless torrent of 'oud' scents pumped out by the mainstream, every now and then, something vaguely interesting raises its head above the water. Versace's Oud Noir is one such effort. Don't get too excited: it's far from being a masterpiece. But at least it makes an attempt to veer away from the utterly exhausted cliches of so-called Arabian roses and leathers. Not unlike Francis Kurkdjian's Oud from last year, it tries to attain originality by combining the olfactory codes of the east with those of the west. So, on the one hand, it presents an oud note, and on the other, it offers lavender and various other aromatic herbs. In other words, it's an oud fougère. As far as ideas go, there's absolutely nothing wrong with this one, but sadly, the execution leaves something to be desired. The problem, surprise surprise, lies with the agar. Excessively woody and synthetic, it is far too faint and mono-dimensional to convince that it's been anywhere near the Gulf. That said, as a dose of ersatz Arabia - think: a dishdash picked up from a fancy dress shop in Camden rather than a souq in Cairo - Oud Noir isn't totally devoid of merit.
[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Versace in 2013.]