Ombre Nomade: Louis Vuitton’s expedition into the Middle East

Patricia Abaroa

The first unisex fragrance by the luxury firm is a tribute to the "oud", a tree with an aroma that evokes remote and exotic places.

Ombre Nomade, the new unisex fragrance from Louis Vuitton, is master perfumer Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud’s ode to oud. Derived from the Southeast Asian agar tree, oud (or oudh) is recognizable to anyone who has lived or traveled through the Middle East. Now making its way around the world, it’s picking up momentum in the fragrance universe.

To create its first ever unisex scent, Louis Vuitton sourced oud (or agarwood, as it is also known) from a Bangladeshi oud plantation. The plantation is a family run business where oud has been cultivated for hundreds of years. Oud is the wood’s reaction to mold. While it may not sound pretty, the results are worthwhile. The lengthy process yields a raw ingredient that is worth more than solid gold.

Ombre Nomade, de Louis Vuitton.
Ombre Nomade, by Louis Vuitton.

Fragrances, like food, fashion or music, can transcend individuals and represent cultures. Much like the scent of Chanel No. 5 triggers memories of France, or sushi transports us to Japan, oud takes us to the Middle East. There, perfumery is an intergenerational art form that merits as much reverence as jewelry making. References to oud in the Middle East can be found as far back as 1400 B.C.E. in the Sanskrit Vedas.

The scent of Ombre Nomade is rich in character: it is both masculine and feminine, spiritual and sensual. Your nose initially finds the oud spicy, leathery and woodsy. Hints of raspberry and rose cool the perfume. Benzoin (often used in incense) is also discovered, adding a sense of mysticism.

Ombre Nomade, de Louis Vuitton.
Ingredients in Ombre Nomade.

In recent times, and around the globe, oud has grown in popularity as a select ingredient in haute perfumery. Louis Vuitton joins an established group of heritage firms that are using the rare, dark resin in their creations. Other firms include Tom Ford, Cartier, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.

The unisex fragrance launched globally August 3rd, trailing another first for the firm: earlier this year, Louis Vuitton debuted its first men’s fragrance collection, also crafted by Cavallier-Belletrud. Similar to Ombre Nomade, the five fragrances were also influenced by adventurers and wanderers.

Ombre Nomade’s bottle, designed by industrial designer Marc Newsom, resembles those that hold the fragrances from the men’s collection (and the firm’s 2016 women’s collection). The simple shape remains the same, but the colors tell a different story, paying homage to Middle Eastern worlds. The glass is darkened, and the letters are gold, reflecting a dimming sunset over sandy dunes.

Louis Vuitton’s Ombre Nomade is available in refillable, customizable bottles in 100 ml and 200 ml. The perfume can also be housed in a leather case, which can be engraved with the initials of your choice, crafted at a Louis Vuitton workshop. A travel sized 7.5 ml option is also available.

Ombre Nomade is a perfume sure to appeal to world wanderers enamored by the aromas and extravagances found in the Middle East. Louis Vuitton, whose spirit speaks to world travelers with a taste for high quality, has created a scent true to its heritage. Ombre Nomade might become your newest travel companion. ■

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