How Saudi Arabia inspired the designer fragrance the world's been waiting for

Louis Vuitton's latest perfume has been made specifically for the Middle East, and trust us... it smells as good as it sounds
How Saudi Arabia inspired the designer fragrance the world's been waiting for

Venturing into the fragrance world in 2016 with a whopping seven perfumes - each taking you on a different olfactory journey - Louis Vuitton’s Master Perfumer Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud has since been spending some of his time on our Middle Eastern shores, now bringing us an exquisite new oud creation especially produced for our very own region.

Last month, Fashion & Beauty Editor Charlotte Blair caught up with Jacques in his hometown of Grasse, which just so happens to be the fragrance capital of the world, to find out... why us?

"I learned when I was very young that people from the Middle East were so good at creating very special fragrances. So 20 years ago I decided to visit Saudi Arabia, Dubai of course, and Oman and learned what I know today about oud and where to select the best type, which, at the time, was from Saudi."

Jacques' latest creation is based around the Middle East's favourite perfume ingredient, oud, and wanting to pay homage to true lovers of the stuff, he sourced the best oud Assam plantation in Bangladesh. It harbours strong leathery, spicy and woody accents, and mixing with sweet benzoin resin and a tendril of black incense, Ombre Nomad was born. 

"I wanted to celebrate the oud and the heart of perfume in the Middle East through this collection and the perfume Ombre Nomad. Or Nomadic Shadow. Good perfume for the Middle East should last on your skin for up to five washes. And this still smells on your skin after five showers." he explains.

As the world’s biggest spenders on fragrance, the Middle East is an important market for any perfumer – we purchase on average a new bottle every two months according to statistics – something that Jacques attributes, in part, to the heat and the effects it has on the power of scent.

"I learnt a lot about the habit of perfumes when I was in the Middle East, and why you love perfume so much. It's a cultural thing. You don’t leave your home without using perfume, no way. Even when you are a kid."

Explaining the statistics to us, he says, "In France, on average the total population buy 100ml of perfume a year. In the Middle East you buy three litres. You see the difference?" This all comes down to the art of mixing perfumes, that we happen to do so well, Jacques tells us.

"Middle Eastern women are masters of layering perfumes. A woman is able to mix two, three or sometimes five perfumes together and make [them] smell very good." An art, in Jacques' eyes.

Citing memories of his time in the Middle East and what fragrance means to our aromatic region, Jacques gushes, "You can smell Middle Eastern women in Paris or in the streets of London just by following their perfume. Just landing in Dubai airport, before the doors even open you can smell the beautiful perfume."

Launching first in our region on 4 May just before Ramadan, Jacques reveals, "My dream is that the Middle East adopt this fragrance, mixing it and making it their own."  An inevitability, surely?

  • Ombre Nomade Eau de Parfum is available in refillable, customisable bottles of 100ml for Dhs1,500 and 200ml for Dhs2,200, as well as a 7.5ml travel set of four for Dhs1,500, available at all Louis Vuitton boutiques across the Middle East from 4 May. 

Photos: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton