Review: Belle au Parfum de Oud by Esteban

A gorgeous plummy, woody perfume for winter. Belle au Parfum de Oud

Belle au Parfum de Oud by French niche fragrance house Esteban is the first in a new line of fragrances that the firm will issue through the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 – Empreintes. 

The idea of Empreintes is the trace of memory that things leave behind – a concept that’s easily teamed with smell, which as we all know, brings back memories more than almost any other sense. 

Belle au Parfum de Oud means Beautiful Woman Perfumed with Oud – a title that works much better in French – and oud being the latest perfume ingredient to take the industry by storm. Also known as agarwood, it is a dark, sappy reaction of trees of the aquilaria species to infestation by a fungus. One of the most expensive natural perfume ingredients in the world, in the West it is often reproduced by synthetic means, though the natural compound is prized for its sweet, deep, resinous aroma. 

In this perfume, the given notes are: head notes of mandarin, cistus and saffron, heart notes of ylang-ylang, lily and nagamotha, and base notes of patchouli, oud and labdanum.

When I sprayed it on, I got a major dose of patchouli and perhaps oud (I don’t know what oud smells like, but the smell was certainly woody…). This then burned off fairly quickly and the fragrance settled to a warm, woody, plummy composition.

I have only once smelled Lutens’ Bois et Fruits but I would have loved it on hand to check Belle against, as it felt very Lutens-like, though much more prune-like than Féminité du Bois.

It’s an extremely long-lasting perfume. I sprayed it in the morning at about 11.00, and it lasted through a bath, the rest of the day and was still discernible in the morning despite only wearing one spray on my left wrist. At the last it settles to a skin scent, and becomes more powdery, though this fragrance is definitely unisex and could just as easily be worn by a man as a woman. 

I was very impressed by the packaging, too, which is very elegant, and means the perfume would make a lovely Christmas gift. It’s very dark purple matte card with silver flowers, and the clear blob of glass on the front of the bottle (meant to evoke resin?) pokes out through a little window at the front. The card, like most of the rest of Esteban’s range, wraps round the bottle and is held shut with two black-satin covered elastic straps, so it feels very special to unwrap it, though I daresay it could get annoying if you were doing it every day.

The remainder of the bottle is a frosted flat square.

This is a lovely perfume that makes me keen to try out more of Esteban’s range.  

Belle au Parfum de Oud costs 80 euros for 50ml from



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