Years ago I read a novel set in the 1960s, in Japan, about a love affair. There was a beautiful passage in the story about the scent-trail of the woman in the story that could only be experienced when in close proximity, yet her scent was so intoxicating that he searched for it everywhere and caught himself smelling it on his own clothes after spending time kissing and embracing her. Her scent was natural, as if she’d stepped out of the forest, yet it also carried a gentle scent of musk and incense that seemed to emanate from her hair. In short, her perfume was mysterious and erotic and unforgettable. Long after she was gone, he remained haunted by her perfume.
I wanted to create that perfume like no other and it was to become my obsession for many months. I asked my dear customer Kumiko in Tokyo to help me choose a name for this fragrance and we both agreed, Kodama was exactly right. Kodama; the spirit of a tree.
Kodama eau de parfum is in the final stages of maceration. This maturing process will continue to develop over years to come, but the first stage is almost ready for release into the wild. I have been nervously/joyfully testing it every day, eagerly anticipating the alchemical changes that unfold like a fertilised egg just starting to rock back and forth, revealing fine hairline cracks on the surface. New life.
There is a very large amount of Vietnamese oud in Kodama, more than 75ml. It features two cultivated varieties that I have come to really love. One is sweet, and the other is the combination of an intense leather note with a deep green forest scent. The oud content truly is the spirit of the tree. It envelops the wearer, not with brutality, but with a haunting, gentle pervasiveness that wraps its arms around you and causes you to sigh with contentment and happiness.
As mentioned before, I’m stopping the expansion of my range of fragrances at Kodama. In the interest of sustainability and to relax and enjoy the fruits of my fragrant labours, Kodama is my full stop. That decision may change in the distant future, but for now it’s the ground.
My oud perfumes, Zeeba, Hussar, Tallemaja and Kodama have deeply satisfied my desire to produce several different examples of how real oud can be incorporated in modern natural perfumery. It is the hybrid style that marries eau de parfum with Arabian attar. I’m certainly not the first, nor the only perfumer to do so, but I believe I have succeeded in blending four beautiful examples of the genre.
I chose the cultivated oud varieties, for two very simple reasons: cost and sustainability. The beauty and prestige of such incredible rarities as Kynam/Kyara (very precious, supremely high quality aged, wild agarwood) and wild Cambodian oud is, in my humble opinion, a mysterious force of nature that should not be messed with. This is the scent of wealth, real wealth, the sort of wealth that owns entire city-scapes and harbours, the infinite wealth of multi-national corporations and land ownership that stretches across the globe. It’s not the imagined lotto-winning dreamed wealth of schmucks like me that own nothing (except a lot of fine fragrance). Kynam is the perfume of oil barons, royalty, and vastly wealthy Asian businessmen. Collectors and investors own this breed of oud. If I ever had some, I would never attempt to mix it with anything. It is sacred unto itself.
The beauty of working with cultivated oud, however, is that I can mix it. I have been very fortunate in benefiting from a generous wholesale price for the oud that I include in my fragrances and incense from Trent and Liliane at Grandawood. They are very good to me. Even so, the high cost of Vietnamese oud included in Kodama is substantial. Nonetheless, Kodama is not an overpowering cloud of oud. Kodama is nothing like the synthetic oud (*cough*) perfumes produced by designer brands and sold for very substantial sums in department stores. Kodama is a magnificently delicate leather floral.
I’m excited, not only to share Kodama, but to wear it and witness the journey of its continued path of light and shadow as it takes me deep into the forest of my dreams.
Model Jack Gregan for TRNP ©2018