Mona Kattan wants you to smell like sexy smoke with Kayali's oud offering

mona kattan interview
Mona Kattan wants you to smell like sexy smokeKayali

I have the fragrance collection of a beauty journalist – meaning, it’s overspilling and follows no real pattern when it comes to notes that I like. Don’t get me wrong, I know the fragrances that I’m drawn to every day, but I equally want to and need to sniff everything to get a proper sense of the scent at play when a new perfume launches. So naturally, my collection has now stretched to the hundreds. I can surely bathe in it if I poured every 100ml bottle into my bathtub. Saying this, a brand that is always at the forefront of my collection is Kayali.

The brand, which launched in November 2018, has an excellent way of playing with notes to create scents that you want to smell again and again, scents that you want to keep spritzing, that transcend seasonal swings and can become your go-to year-round. When I found out that Oud was the next drop from the brand I needed to hear all about the launch first-hand.

“Oud has been something that I've wanted from day one to be a pillar for Kayali, because the brand is all about really celebrating Arabian rituals when it comes to fragrance and trying to make that a global practice,” Kattan told Cosmopolitan UK. “Oud specifically was so crucial for me, to the brand and our fragrance in general because it's such a powerful, strong scent. And it's so luxurious.”

This is the part that I wanted to delve into. Because Kayali fragrances across the board are welcoming and can make anyone feel confident, sensual and feminine they aren’t unapproachable. But as a scent lover, I find oud-powered scents the most intimidating because of how luxe-coded they are. Sampling oud scents when you’re a regular old gal can feel a bit like walking through Harrods with precisely £4.57 in your current account. But with the brand's latest launch, Kattan hopes to ease us in gently.

“I wanted to create a collection around it because I feel like we needed to offer an oud spectrum,” she says. “We have the vanilla, which is kind of like the introduction to oud. So, if somebody doesn't like oud yet, they can kind of start there. The café is a little bit more intense, the rose is a step up and then tobacco is more extreme. We wanted to create something on an oud spectrum for everyone, so everybody can try and find something that they love.”

Having worked on the launch for 5 years, Kattan wasn’t going to stop at just one fragrance and alongside the Oudgasm perfumes, Kayali is also launching perfumed oud wood to scent your surroundings and even your… hair? “It's very, very fragrant so people also put it on their hair. It's a great way to scent it,” she enthuses although is very adamant users are careful because, y’know, hair = flammable (we’ve all seen that Nicole Richie video). “The hair picks up sense so well, especially smoke. If you've ever gone to a club your hair smells like cigarettes you know or a barbeque it's the same thing. So, if you use perfumed smoke, the scent that gets trapped into your hair is like no other.”

She shows me the wood, which is encased in typically luxe Kayali packaging. “Have you ever tried burning wood before?” I feel totally uncultured. Candles and incense, sure but this is completely new to me. “I can't wait for you to try it. It's such a nice experience. Perfume smoke sounds amazing to a borderline pyromaniac like myself, but do you actually smell like smoke smoke? Kattan puts me straight. “There is a smokiness to it because even the smell of wood has a smoky effect sometimes so it's like there is a hint of smokiness but it doesn't smell like bad smoke. It's like incense, like gaiac wood, that smoky effect. It's like that. Sexy smoke.”

I can get on board with sexy smoke. It also feels like a bit of a departure from the sweet scents that dominate the Kayali perfume profiles. Kattan puts her note preferences down to being an emotional person.

“I feel my feelings strongly and sweet scents make you feel good. They make you happy. I think it all goes back to memories," she says. "You smell Vanilla 28 and you think of sugar, you think of cake. When you have your sweet treats you're happy, right? Usually, you're sharing a birthday cake together, having dessert after your meal. It's like a happy moment.”

Spoken like a person with an unrelenting sweet tooth. I can relate. “For me gourmand is happiness, and I want everyone to feel happy. And it's also a bit sexy too. I feel like when there's a touch of sweetness you just want to get closer to someone.”

The meld of the oud with vanilla and cappuccino keeps the Kayali sweetness stamp firmly on the new lineup and when I mention the layering of sweet with other scent families, it was a move she co-signs. “I feel like when you're layering different types of scents, you get the best performance in the end and the most unique outcome.” Kattan’s order? “Ideally start with something woody or musky because it's a great base and it will help with longevity. And then in the middle, I prefer florals. At the very end, I always add a gourmand because I'm a gourmand girl all the way.”

But don’t think you have to follow Kattan’s picks by the book, “I think one beautiful thing right now is everybody's really celebrating being an individual. What more would you want to be an individual of than your scent? Because the scent is the thing that people remember more than anything, right?”

Right, with that, I’m off to layer up the latest launches on all my pulse points. I’m having an oudgasm just thinking about it.

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