THE ROSE OF ISPAHAN ~ Oud Ispahan Christian Dior


The old blind soothsayer’s breath fell upon the sands that were spread over the silver plate. The glittering grains moved slowly, almost imperceptibly. The Princess, daughter of the Caliph of Baghdad leaned closer to the shifting sands to see a shape begin to appear, the shape of a perfect rose.


“The sands foretell my princess, the one who will win your heart and your hand; he shall be the first to touch the rose.”

The thief Ahmed perched in the highest branch of an agar tree that stretched out over the palace walls watched his beloved receive her fortune. She whom he loved from afar since his eyes first beheld her veiled beauty in the bazaar of the silk merchants, she who was so far above him, she whom he dare not dream of.


“The rose?” the Princess looked up into the face of the blind man.

“Yes the rarest rose in the garden of your father, the Persian Rose of Ispahan.”

The Princess glanced across the garden of her father and beheld the perfection of pink and perfume which was the very rose the soothsayer spoke of. There by the palace wall near the old agar tree set in a planter made of sandalwood it bloomed in the sun. Its beauty only surpassed by its magical aroma that filled the garden.

 ispahan rose

Ispahan Rose

“How can that be?”  The princes looked back to the old teller of impossible tales. “No man but my father is allowed near his precious rose. It is forbidden to all but him.”

“There is one, I see him, and he is very near. Even now my Princess, even now he knows of this rose. The having of it is the key to unlock your love. He will bring the rose to you in the lowly leather satchel of a thief.”

The Princess laughed and dropped three silver coins in the hand of the soothsayer. “A thief? You are mad my dear old one. Sweet and full of fantasies but quite mad. Now off with you and come back tomorrow to tell my fortune again.”

Ahmed watched as the ancient blind one was lead away by the princess’s servant. He watched as the princess walked though the garden past the green patchouli and the fragrant labdanum flowers. When she came to the Rose of Ispahan she bent down to smell it and as she did, one tear fell from her cheek onto the perfect petal of the rose.

“If only it were true.” She whispered. “Allah, please make it so.”

That night in the cover of a moonless sky with only the light of the stars to guide him the thief Ahmed again climbed the agar tree. With the aid of a magic rope he had stolen from a magician in the marketplace he dropped silently into the garden of the Caliph. He easily moved along the shadows of the blue night to where the rose grew. In one swift moment he snatched the bloom from the bush and gently placed in into his leather satchel

“Who’s there?” a voice rushed across the darkness. The Princess stood at the gate of the garden holding a sputtering golden lamp. Ahmed turned and smiled.


*                      *                       *

Oud Ispahan by Christian Dior is a tale from the Arabian Nights. The perfume that Scheherazade might wear to tell her tales to the King and in so doing weave an even more enchanting spell over him. It is also the perfect rose scent for a thief of Bagdad to steal and wear to woo a princess. It is magical.

In this floral oriental there is all the beauty and splendor to be found in the gardens and bazaars of the Near East. The rarest and most romantically pungent and intoxicating oud is at the center of this fragrance. For it is all about the oud and the tale it tells here in conjunction with the other notes. This base note is the solid foundation upon which all else is presented. The perfume opens with the lush and overtly sensual labdanum (the very scent Madame de Pompadour used to seduce King Louis XV) it is rich and wonderful and smells of sexy warm flesh. A garden of exceptionally wonderful patchouli comes in to warm the middle and plays counterpoint to the song sung by the labdanum. Up then from the base floats the beautiful Damascus rose and very fine sandalwood.

Damascus Rose

(The Damascus Rose used in Oud Ispahan)

This rose, sandalwood and oud are fantastic together.  Out of the bottle or sprayed on a blotter it is beautiful. When it hits the skin it is a perfume of resplendent rose and agar wood oud of the most perfect creation.  It is miraculous.

The perfume has a wonderful life that lasts on my skin for many hours and even the next morning it lingers close to the skin in the most delightful and inviting way. As if calling you back for one more night in the garden of the Caliph. The projection is good but not overwhelming if you apply it with restraint; which is hard to do since it is so delicious upon the first application.


The entire Dior Privée Colletion

For me this is one of the top perfumes in the truly magnificent presentation by Christian Dior of the Privée line of fragrances. A masterpiece by a house I am coming to love even more with every new foray into each of their perfumes.




  1. Beautiful post! And Scheherazade is getting a lot of action these days! 😉 Have you tried By Kilian’s Rose Oud? If so, how do you think this compares? Also, do I dare ask the cost of one of Dior’s Privée line of fragrances? Totally OT: Persian roses are truly supposed to be the best. Then again, I am Persian (by birth) myself, so I may be slightly biased. 😉

    • No I haven’t tried Kilian Rose Oud but I sure would like to. Collection Privée is expensive 4.37 oz goes for $145 and the huge 8.5 oz bottle goes home with you for $230 . However when you compare the cost per oz with some other houses, especially the nice houses it becomes more affordable.
      Yes I have heard that Persian Rose are the most wonderful in the world and with such a history how could they not be?

      • Actually, given some of the prices I’ve been seeing lately, $145 for a huge 4.37 oz seems almost cheap! I mean, 4.37 oz!!!!! A private line and an Oud scent on top of it. Wowzer. I’m definitely going to put this on my list of things to try out. I am determined to find an oud scent I really love, esp. after being so badly traumatized by Montale. I suspect that YSL’s M7 in original version would be it, but since it’s not easy to find, then….

      • Yes I still have to try that Montale, but with great trepidation thanks to you! You can find M7 on Ebay but at such an exorbitant cost! It is something I would love to smell as well.

  2. Rich and so magical… I love the way you write, Lanier.
    I would love to know the price of the Privee collection, as well. The house of Dior is one I’d like to reside in. Ha!

    • I just posted the cost in the comment above yours. It is really an amazing line. Hardly a one that I don’t like and a few that I love…Like this one, the magnificent Oud Ispahan.

  3. Ended up loving this one, too! I layered with L’Art et la Matiere Rose Barbare Guelain with unusual note of fenugreek.

    • Oh Mary you are amazing! I never know how to layer and usually end up doing it quite by accident when I am trying different perfumes to review. But I really like what happened today. Oud Ispahan over Mitsouko!

      • Ooooh, mixing a rose oud fragrance with a rose-fruity chypre like Mitsouko…… genius! I imagine the final result must have been utterly divine. Now you make me want to fly over to SF to sniff you! 😉

      • It was an accident! LOL. But I love the outcome.

  4. Oud Ispahan, so damn good. thanks for reminding me Lanier,
    Portia xx

    • Always happy to be there to remind the lovely Portia of perfumes that are so damn good! xoxo

  5. You make everything sound wonderful. It sounds like the rose is rich and full and not one of those roses that gets sour after a little while. The bottles are big so I don’t think the price is all that bad really. They are definitely big enough for a nice split too because although I love quantity since I tend to spray a lot on I know most people use scents a bit more sparingly. I haven’t tried any of the privée collection but the ones I’ve seen reviews on seem worth a sniff.

    • Oh yes they are so worth a sniff! And even though the price point seems steep you sure get a lot for the money you plunk down. About the rose, it is a wonderful rose and I am not a big rose fan in perfume. It never goes south on me but rather stays lovely all the way through. It is now about twelve hours after I put it on and I woke to lovely traces of Oud Ispahan on my wrists this morning. I really love this perfume.

  6. A rose of ancient lineage – Damascus via the crusades to France in the medieval era. The Damask rose is thorny and tall (hm…) and hardy. It blooms intensely only once a year on branches arched with the weight of its fragrant blossoms. Lanier! I love this story! Merci à mon très cher ami!

    • A rose is a rose is a rose buy any other name would smell as sweet. LOL.
      Hugs Miss Lester

    • Oh and Miss Lester, thank you for the history of the Damascus Rose. I think by your description we had them in our garden in Riverside when I was a kid.

  7. A Damascene rose by way of the thief of Baghdad via a Caliph’s secret garden and the pen of a master.

    What a right royal review. I do hope the fragrance matches the fine words and incandescent images.

    I’ll have to steal a bloom as soon as I can from the scented gardens of Selfridges.

    • I hear there are fearsome dragons and desert Jinn who guard the scented gardens of the Caliph of Selfridges. Be ye careful when thou stealest into the gardens of the mighty Caliph lest your purse be lightened by the crafty merchants of the perfume bazaar.

  8. Loved the story! I haven’t had a chance to test this one yet but I will eventually.

    I think Dior’s Privée line is great and not that expensive if you count a price per ml. Though I’d still peferred to be able to buy 30 ml (or 50 ml mostly) in official bottles.

  9. You know I enjoyed this post tremendously, Lanier—I love a good Oud!

  10. I agree Lanier…this scent is divine…trés elegante! I was lucky enough to be given a lovely little sample of this in Paris (in its miniature white cylinder box)…it is rich, heady and magical! Just beautiful…j’adore !

    • I have the little sample too and it is like a treasure in its little round box.

    • Oh I love your blog! And what is this you are no longer writing it?

      • Merci beaucoup Lanier. No more Paris blog I’m afraid…my lungs didn’t like the cold and dampness in Paris. We stayed for 9 months (and it rained for about 8 months)…but Paris, as you know, is a ‘moveable feast’…so I’m now home in warm, sunny Brisbane, Australia. Have to find something new and wonderful to blog about. In the meantime, I’m just enjoying yours! A bientot, Robyn.

      • Thanks Robyn, I am still going to explore your Paris Blog and I am sure what ever you blog about next I will be there too.
        hugs from Chilly San Francisco.

  11. Admiring the hard work you put into your blog and detailed information you provide.
    It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same
    unwanted rehashed information. Great read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

    • nosniki reklamy lubin thank you so very much. What kind words and a good heart you have. I look forward to seeing you again.

  12. Dear Lanier, I love this. I love how you took me back to a land of my past –my imagination…and wonderful fantasy of what this could be. I will have to give this a go. I would love to try this out when I hit the Dior counter in late May. There is a already a great story to what sounds like a lovely perfume. Thank you for you lovely description!!!

    • Maryam thank you so much. We will definitely get a sniff of the magical Rose of Ispahan when we hit Nieman’s in May. Big HUG…coco coco coco

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