Before you scream in horror at the sight of that dreaded three-letter word, let me tell you one thing: No. 10 White Oud is an oud which doesn't even pretend to contain any oud. For their tenth fragrance, Agonist's Christine Gustafsson and Niclas Lydeen decided to subvert the much-derided oud trend by commissioning a fragrance which would express an imaginary, alabaster oud, as opposed to the gravestone heaviness of a real-world, 'black' oud. To make the project more exciting, they stipulated that the scent shouldn't contain any agarwood oil.
I must say, I admire their forward thinking. For several months now, critics and industry figures have stated that 'oud' will soon be little more than an idea, a notion from the realms of make-believe.With that in mind, it's encouraging to see these particular non-mainstream players muster up the bravery to make a virtue out of an oud-less oud and use its 'un-realness' as the very focus of their next release. In other words, it's great that someone is finally trying to play fast-and-loose with the possibility of a purely conceptual oud.
That's all fine and dandy, but what does the stuff smell like? Well, I'm very pleased to say that, for the first few minutes of its development, No. 10 succeeds in conveying compelling images of abstraction. Snow fashioned from leather. A flame bleached of all heat. Animalic fervour locked in an ice cube. They're all in there, rendered with commendable balance. But then the equilibrium begins to wobble: the synthetic musks - which lend the scent its intriguing coldness - grow in stature until they obscure almost everything else. The more-ish weirdness of the opening turns into the strident whiff of countless fabric softeners. 'White oud' morphs into 'pale blue Lenor'. All in all then, No. 10 represents the formulation of an interesting idea, but its execution doesn't quite succeed. Still, nice try.
[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Agonist in 2015.]