Suzanne's Perfume Journal

Updike’s quiet little story of defiance might be viewed as quaint, considering that it was written in 1961, but it still engages me every time I read it—and I think it gives an idea of what kind of fragrance Ouris is when I say that it's the olfactory equivalent of this girl whom Updike’s protagonist refers to as Queenie.  Those last two sentences that I excerpted: yes, that’s the perfect summation for this perfume nectar, but for those who like a more concrete perfume description, I’ll try and provide a little more detail.

The fragrance notes for Ouris include peach, plum, blackcurrant, honey, tagete, jasmine, white cedar, pollen accord, almond, iris butter, vanilla, sandalwood, tonka. I don’t smell the fruit notes individually—to my nose, the prominent scent is that of peach, and the little bit of plum that I can detect seems to underscore the peach and give it a bit of warmth and weight.  That said, Ouris is anything but weighty—if I’m to believe the press material, Ouris translates as “sublime” in Arabic, and sublime is a fitting physical description. A soufflé of peaches and sandalwood cream, touched by an almond note that makes Ouris smell a bit like coconut. It has a nuanced air of the tropical about it, which is the other reason I view it as a summery scent and why I see it as being more than just pretty.

Because I recently reviewed another perfume that I described as smelling like peaches and sunkissed skin, you might be wondering, how does Ouris compare with Viktoria Minya's Hedonist? I love them both but they’re as different as night and day, as Hedonist’s peach note is juicier, riper, and sultrier than the peach in Ouris. Overall, Hedonist is a fragrance that is deeper and more honeyed and straight-on sexy than Ouris. The latter is still a little bit innocent—or at least, poised to make you think that it is. Perhaps you’ll change your mind when you get close to it, for as lightweight and carefree as Ouris seems, it certainly knows how to command one’s attention.

She kind of led them, the other two peeking around and making their shoulders round. She didn't look around, not this queen, she just walked straight on slowly, on these long white prima donna legs. She came down a little hard on her heels, as if she didn't walk in her bare feet that much, putting down her heels and then letting the weight move along to her toes as if she was testing the floor with every step, putting a little deliberate extra action into it. You never know for sure how girls' minds work (do you really think it's a mind in there or just a little buzz like a bee in a glass jar?) but you got the idea she had talked the other two into coming in here with her, and now she was showing them how to do it, walk slow and hold yourself straight.


She had on a kind of dirty-pink—beige maybe, I don't know— bathing suit with a little nubble all over it and, what got me, the straps were down. They were off her shoulders looped loose around the cool tops of her arms, and I guess as a result the suit had slipped a little on her, so all around the top of the cloth there was this shining rim. If it hadn't been there you wouldn't have known there could have been anything whiter than those shoulders. With the straps pushed off, there was nothing between the top of the suit and the top of her head except just her, this clean bare plane of the top of her chest down from the shoulder bones like a dented sheet of metal tilted in the light. I mean, it was more than pretty.

SoOud Ouris Parfum Nectar:

The Perfume Version of Peachy Keen Skin, Distractingly Soft

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April 30, 2013:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more beautiful April than the one we had this year in central Pennsylvania. As I sit here typing this, we’re getting a much needed rain shower, but last week I was wearing shorts as I re-seeded my lawn and went on my daily runs. While I’m fully enjoying the beauty of spring and not trying to rush the season, part of that enjoyment is the anticipation of summer: already I can’t wait to renew my pool membership, haul my lawn furniture out of storage, and go on a little shopping trip for sandals. Maybe because I’m in that kind of mood, the perfume I’ve been wearing like crazy lately has been Ouris parfum nectar from SoOud Perfumes. Ouris is the very essence of summer because it reminds me of one of the things I love most about that season: lots of creamy bare skin on display.

Not that Ouris smells like skin, per se. It actually smells like peaches and cream: the most natural, sun-ripened peach you can imagine combined with a base accord that is so überly creamy, it reminds me of cool, unsalted butter. Ouris could easily be classified as a gourmand, but because its subtle sillage hovers close to the body and is coupled to this composition that makes me think of a peaches-and-cream complexion, Ouris thus becomes (for me) an olfactory representation of beautiful summer skin. Clean, soft, feminine skin that has been gently kissed by an expensive French tanning lotion. By way of these associations, wearing it makes me feel quite pretty in a girly kind of way—it’s the kind of perfume that has me longing to pull out my favorite sundresses and paint my toenails a delicate shade of pink.

While Ouris’s overall vibe is more lighthearted than sultry (there is nothing overly ripe or juicy or suggestive about this perfume), its base of orris butter, vanilla, sandalwood and tonka has such a buttery smoothness to it, I can’t help but view it as sensual. This is one of those perfumes that manages to be sweet and sexy at the same time…it evokes skin, and all of the pleasures of skin, but there is still an air of innocence about it. Trying to come up with an analogy for it, I found myself thinking of John Updike’s famous short story, “A & P”, about a nineteen-year-old guy who is working the cash register of a small-town grocery store when three girls come wandering in in their bathing suits. Remember that story? One of the girls was chunky, but had “a good tan and a sweet broad soft-looking can with those two crescents of white just under it, where the sun never seems to hit, at the top of the backs of her legs.” Then there was another girl who was tall and not bad looking, apart from her frizzy hair and long chin. Ahhh, but then there was “the third one, that wasn’t quite so tall. She was the queen”:

SoOud Ouris Parfum Nectar is available from LuckyScent.com, where a 30-ml bottle is $185. (There is also an “eau fine” version of Ouris which is equivalent to an eau de parfum, in terms of concentrations, while the “parfum nectar” is the parfum/extrait version), My review is based on a decant provided by my friend and fellow perfume-blogger Asali of Sounds of Scent.

Image of model Emily Didonato is from a Maybelline cosmetics ad.

Bottle image is from Luckyscent.com.

Excerpted from the short story “A & P” by John Updike, originally published in the July 22, 1961 issue of The New Yorker.