30 Days of Scent 2.0, Make-up day: Jo Malone Velvet Rose and Oud Vs. Armani Prive Rose d’Arabie

velvet roserose d arabie

After noting the similarities between Jo Malone’s Velvet Rose and Oud Cologne Intense and Armani Privé Rose d’Arabie, I had to try them head-to-head (or nose-to-wrist, I suppose). And since I’ve slacked horribly on finishing up the 30 Days series, I figured I’d do a makeup post that compares the two.

Oud is an interesting note. It’s a resin that the agarwood tree produces when it develops a bacterial or fungal infection. Sounds appealing, right? But it has been used in fragrances in the Middle East and traditional medicine in Asia for centuries. It gives an earthy character that really sets off a rose fragrance. I make no claim that either of the scents I’m writing up here is a quintessential rose-oud perfume, as the oud is more subtle in both, but it’s a classic combination in Middle Eastern perfumery that has only become popular in the West in the past 5 years or so.

In one corner, wearing the gold cap and label, we have Armani Privé Rose d’Arabie, a 2010 release available in limited quantities at high-end department stores. The scent features notes of rose, oud, vanilla, and patchouli. It comes in a 100ml bottle for $290.

In the other, we have Jo Malone Velvet Rose and Oud Cologne Intense, also available at high-end department stores. Released in 2012, its notes are rose, oud, praline, and clove. It also comes in a 100ml bottle, retailing for $155.

At the opening, they’re almost identical, with the rose dominating and the oud very mild, just keeping the rose from being too sweet. As the scents dry down, however, Velvet Rose and Oud stays sweet from the praline note, with the clove coming in to give it some warmth. With Rose d’Arabie, however, the oud and the patchouli collide to make an earthy, almost sharp kind of smell that I don’t particularly like, with the vanilla almost entirely disappearing until late in the drydown. Once the vanilla comes back in, I enjoyed it, but I wish it hadn’t been overpowered by the patchouli.

Overall, I think that despite the higher price of the Rose d’Arabie, the Velvet Rose and Oud appeals to me more. They’re both excellent quality, but I just can’t see myself wearing Rose d’Arabie. My verdict: Jo Malone wins this one, no contest.


30 Days of Scent, Day Sixteen: Armani Code For Women

I feel like I may have been a little hasty in my judgment. Yes, the new formulation of Armani Code for Women ($45-82, Ulta) is slightly different from the original, but I think I got a little too caught up in “old Code” the first time I tried the current version, and gave up on it when it didn’t smell like my magic juice from seven years ago. I didn’t give it a fair chance, until today.

The scent opens up with bitter African orange, sweet Italian orange, and jasmine. This is the part where I was kind of iffy the first time I tried the new version, because the top notes linger on me a bit longer than they did in the original formula, and I wasn’t expecting quite as much citrus. It’s actually very pretty at this phase, just different from what I’d expected. Approaching it with the attitude of experiencing a new fragrance, rather than “but it’s just not the same,” I really enjoy the change. The heart is made up of orange blossom, jasmine sambac, and ginger, giving it a heady sweetness that is a little much for outdoor stuff during the summer, but I work indoors in the air conditioning, so it worked great for me. The very best part of Code, though, which hasn’t changed at all and is every bit as beautiful as I remembered, is the honey-vanilla-sandalwood base.

Code is a fairly close-to-the-skin scent, but the lasting power on it is pretty good. It stuck around today for about seven hours, which isn’t spectacular for an EDP, but it’s above average. I love this scent, and I shouldn’t have been so quick to write it off just because the top notes don’t give way as quickly anymore. I’m going to give it 8.5/10, and will definitely be getting a full bottle of this at some point. (Also, as a side note: if you wear fragrances marketed to men, Armani Code For Men is one of the sexiest of the bunch. Too much for the heat this time of year, but it’s FANTASTIC.)