Recognized perfumers charge thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars for bespoke perfumes.
Many of them are outgoing personalities who offer classes, attend big events, mingle in perfume crowds, and give talks.
Others are like me.
I’m a private person who seldom shares his inner workings. (Maybe I’ve been bit one time too many? Maybe too many strangers have invaded my private space then tried to call it their own?)
Despite countless requests, I’ve also been reluctant to do collaborations, offer any courses or training programmes, and you’ve seen me keep my oud tech-talk mostly under wraps as of late.
I prefer to do my own thing.
Enter Covid-19, and I find myself relying on the noses of others to smell my own creations. Composing perfumes I have yet to smell myself, crafted long distance with my colleagues where we go back and forth, smelling and resmelling, formulating and reformulating—them trying to capture a scent that’s in my mind.
Having been able to cross continents at a moment’s fancy for most of my career, lockdown got me down. Hard. I can neither distill the oils I have been dreaming to distill, nor can I chase after rare harvests of the world’s aromatics.
Looking out at a sea you can’t step foot in, worried about family you can’t visit. Eid you can’t celebrate. The Greek islands right in front of you, yet off limits (swimming to Castellorizo has actually crossed my mind).
It’s like we’re looking at yesterday, wishing tomorrow would be just like it. Normal.
So, I’ve been thinking…
Maybe I should engage more. Maybe I should take people up on their requests to do something collaborative. Imagine a hands-on collaboration where you get an intimate look at the process of how an EO perfume is made.
So, here it is—an open invitation to join me in crafting Homeros.
HOW IT WORKS
The hard work has been done for you, so you get to pitch in for the fine-tuning (and then, if you wish, experience the effect your ideas have on my composition first-hand). It’s here, in the details, where real art is made.
We have five perfumes—candidates, if you will—that are in their final stages:
The compositions were inspired by scents surrounding the Greek islands, and in many ways they’re a homage to the Mediterranean as much as they’re an Oud Man’s odyssey back to the distillery; an imprisoned perfumer counting the days till he can take his first spritz.
(Many of you may not be aware of this, but I have yet to smell the official release of Crime & Punishment. Both it and Tigerlust were composed long-distance, and my bottles are still on the reservations shelf at the atelier. The perfumes are already famous as far as Beijing, Tokyo, and Seoul. As for me, I have yet to smell them.)
Each of the five is a complete perfume in its own right (to me they’re in their final stages, but many will consider them finished pieces), with a shared DNA that runs through them. We get to explore them together, as you smell them for me, and discover how these notes culminate in the finished perfume: Homeros.
This is an opportunity I’ve denied my closest colleagues and followers. Renowned perfumers and critics have asked me to collaborate, but my reserved nature has always held me back.
Today, the invitation goes out to one and all: fellow perfumers, critics, reviewers, long-standing fragheads, new perfume junkies—anyone and everyone. Join me, and let’s critique Homeros together.
The poet is blind. The perfumer anosmic. I’m composing my song, and you are the audience. Come to my show. I want to hear you cheer… and jeer, if you want!
Of the five, tell me which ones you like most, what you would or wouldn’t tweak. Which one is closer to becoming Homeros? Ithaca or Cythera? Are Zante’s top notes too loud, too soft, too anything? What about Ithaca’s base? Is that enough chocolate for you? Enough coffee-laced-citrus-zest?
I don’t have a specific platform in mind. Take your time, sit down with the fragrances or take them for a walk, and jot down your notes. Email, PM, or DM me your thoughts. We’ll bounce ideas off each other, and learn from the impressions of fellow sailors.
The point is this:
I want to hear from you. I want you to smell these new perfumes and really dive in. Sniff the marrow out of them. Insult them, praise them—tell me how we can make them better. Which elements to keep or pursue and which ones to ditch. Let’s make Homeros the perfume of the year—together.
Not only do you get the chance to be part of this odyssey, the chance to engage with the perfumer like no one has before, but once Homeros is finally official, you’ll also automatically qualify for 20% off the listed price. In addition to that, you'll enjoy lifetime semi-bespoke access to your recipe of choice (if it is not selected as the definitive Homeros).
I’ve been flattered by how many people insist I should offer perfumery or oud-distillation courses. Folks pay thousands of dollars for mere introductory lessons on perfumery, and these often exclude any ingredients.
The Odyssey Collab is not your typical course.
That you’re reading this means you already know your top-heart-base theory and you’ve smelled your fair share of ouds, attars, and perfumes. Your friends probably think you’re a touch mad because of your infatuation with scent—and they’re right. And that’s EXACTLY what I’m looking for. A bit of crazy…
It’s folks like you who genuinely LOVE fine fragrances who won’t see this as homework or boring sniff sessions of generic lab aromatics. I’m not going to tell you about the differences between linalool and limonene, about how you should use vetiverol and not citronellol, why habanolide is just as bad as every other ‘lide’ if you ask me. You won’t learn about ten different kinds of rose substitute, either.
So, don’t worry, I’m not gonna put you through that.
Instead, you’ll hold a bottle in your hand, take a spray, and all I’m asking you is to search for the scent of real mandarin cloaked in chocolate absolute. To smell it and delight in it. Or, if note nit-picking isn’t your thing, then simply to share your naked impressions: I love the sweetness of Ithaca… but love the drydown of Ogygia even more. Taste can be captured with a This is nice. So, don’t let anything hold you back from giving your feedback.
This is your chance to dive right into the composition of a perfume and move the rudder. The Odyssey Collab puts you in the apprentice’s seat, right alongside the perfumer.
With some tweaks at the end based on your feedback, out of the five compositions, only one will become Homeros. The other four will remain semi-bespoke fragrances that will only be available privately to those who enrolled in The Odyssey Collab. So, you’ll still have the chance to order any of the five in the end, made personally for you, if your chosen recipe is not selected as the definitive Homeros.
Access to the five candidates, the chance to participate in creating Homeros, to voice and share your impressions with me, and have a real say in how this story unfolds, exclusive access to the recipes of any of the five once Homeros is official—all of it is only half the gain.
This hasn’t been done before.
The Odyssey Collab gives you front row seats to a landmark moment in perfume history.
First editions are one thing. Vintage legends are another. Folks who collect early Guarlains often do so as much out of a longing for a return to the robust natural perfumes they represent as they do for the fact that they’re originals.
Lockdown has forced my hand and created this unprecedented collaboration project you have a chance to partake in. The Odyssey Collab will be remembered because this time will never be forgotten. Homeros was born during lockdown, because of lockdown. And you had a say in its composition because my nose was muzzled.
One day, soon I hope, when I actually do smell Ithaca, Ogygia, Zante, Achaea, and Cythera, then we’ll have our reunion. And I’ll finally have the chance you have right now—to smell these and decide what becomes of them.
I’ve always made perfumes for me. Composed fragrances I would like to wear myself. This time was no different. But I’m not even one-eyed, I’m blind, and just like Crime & Punishment and Tigerlust will be remembered as the blind poet’s epics, The Odyssey Collab and Homeros will be remembered as OURS. You and I, and our fellow frag addicts who will one day look back at this time thankful to have been here and a part of it.
And it doesn't end here. By enrolling in The Odyssey Collab, you not only gain lifelong access to any of the five perfumes in the course, you also have the opportunity to refine any of those recipes to cater to your own aesthetic.
So, if you want to delve deeper with me in further developing any of the five listed recipes into a fully bespoke fragrance done to your tastes, I will happily rework it with you until it matches your aesthetic.
Crank up the florals or buff up the base to design a completely bespoke perfume made privately only for you. You will have exclusive rights to that recipe, and you can name it as you please. (The recipe remains the copyright of Ensar Oud, of course.)
(As long as the ingredients are in line with the current composition in terms of costs, your bespoke perfume will be priced the same as The Odyssey Collab. If you insist on a perfume that’s half Tasmanian boronia and half Siberian musk, the price will obviously be higher. But as long as we’re in the parameters of what went into The Odyssey Collab perfumes, there won’t be any difference.)
This is an exclusive offer only to those who have joined me on this journey where we’ll enjoy the fruits (and flowers!) of our unique voyage together.
I look forward to seeing you on deck!
Ships 10 July.
DISCLAIMER: The recipe of Homeros is the property of Ensar Oud. You agree to smell these perfumes and give feedback as a guest in my atelier, and fellow olfactory sojourner. Ensar Oud will not be held liable to any claims that Homeros was the idea of someone other than Ensar Oud, and rights and ownership of the final recipe of the five perfumes sold in this course, along with Homeros, remains that of Ensar Oud. The Odyssey Collab is a tour into the mind of an artist who aims to instruct, rather than benefit from, the participants.