Friday, February 23, 2018

Serge Lutens Chergui: Hay Heaven-Fragrance Review

Oddly enough, though I love both orientals and Serge Lutens fragrances on the whole, both of which I own a rather significant collection, I rarely reach for Chergui. I attribute this to its not finding it challenging enough or wistful enough; Lutens fragrances in particular either lure me with their pensive, introspective mode (Iris Silver Mist, Douce Amere, L'Orpheline and La Myrrhe...) or with their exultation of taking a chosen artistic direction to its natural apex (Fleurs d'oranger, El Attarine, Arabie, Sarrasins and Tubereuse Criminelle...). Chergui nevertheless enjoys the kind of popularity that makes me revisit it at disjointed timeposts...when something new and terrifying lies in the horizon or when I'm particularly congratulatory of a penitent interval.

Lutens promises the exoticism of the east with Chergui (ascending from the name onwards...) but delivers a quite restrained composition that is not too challenging. It melds with the skin and complements it, plus it's mildly sweet (very popular with modern audiences) and subtly powdery like a greige sweater that's comfy enough to hide one's melancholia behind.

The Lutensian story behind the fragrance is certainly highly visual:

"A fire fanned by the wind, a desert in flames. As if bursting from the earth, Chergui, a desert wind, creates an effect that involves suction more than blowing, carrying plants, insects and twigs along in an inescapable ascent. Its full, persistent gusts crystallize shrubs, bushes and berries, which proceed to scorch, shrivel up and pay a final ransom in saps, resins and juices. Night falls on a still-smoldering memory, making way for the fragrant, ambery and candied aromas by the alchemist that is Chergui."

The facet which is dominating on my skin is the coumarin (what we refer to as mown hay). Indeed hay absolute plays a prominent role in the composition, but it's still pertinent to stress that on my skin Chergui by Lutens is not a pipe tobacco dream oriental with masculine proclivities as sometimes described, but a cuddly roll in the hay that sticks on you for long after the deed. It's soft and warm and lasts for a full 48 hours, which is quite impressive and a good recommendation for people who have longevity issues with fragrances in general.

It has been remarked upon before but the shift from the rather medicinal opening (in the older formula) into the fluffier hay core is a point of tension. It's the one and major change that happens in a fragrance that remains mostly linear on my skin. Still it presents its own "a ha!" moment.

Chergui by Serge Lutens is dry, befitting the name but at once lush and dense, and it brings to mind a certain opacity to the proceedings which is typical for most Lutens fragrances, which could be easily attributed to an oriental character; even the florals! Chergui is redolent of oil paintings by Dutch masters, somber yet textured, and as if you can taste it. I find this a quality that resonates with Lutens buyers and therefore Chergui is probably a safe purchase.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Etat Libre d'Orange Une Amourette

One is prepped for interesting things, since Roland Mouret was intent on commissioning a perfume collaboration to the maverick French firm of Etat Libre d'Orange for some time, eyeing creative director Etienne de Swardt as a fellow pioneer.

Mouret consolidated his fashion imprint through the arc of several designs of his divising: the Galaxy dress, the Moon, Pigalle, Titanium, and others following those. To paraphrase Christian Dior, each and every one of them appears coming out of his perfume named Une Amourette and composed by refined craftswoman Daniela Andrier Roche; best known for her Prada opus, Andrier settled upon an illusory and deceptive contraption. Designs and dresses like that might look like they could be made by anyone, but actually entail high skills and imaginative powers.

In Une Amourette the patchouli is rendered in the modern "cleaned up" style (less of the animalic darkness and more of the minty, camphorous quality) that makes for an excellent folding material for the pepper-leather axis from one angle and for the neroli-iris (which comes across as starchy-tart) axis from the other. The balance is precarious, yet in typical Andrier style the effect in Etat Libre d'Orange's Une Amourette Roland Mouret is sublimely modern; clean, powerful, rather masculine in a cornucopia of ersatz fruit salads & cotton candy vats in the feminine fragrances aisle. It's a rather weird scent, nonetheless, that truly deserves its place amongst the sophisticated line-up of the Etat Libre d'Orange collection.

A fairy tale without a dragon; only cerebral and sensuous enjoyment.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Scented Waters: Beyond Clean

Our modern interpretation of water as a scent component, however, has nothing to do with the time-honored tradition of scented waters dotting many a historical manuscript or literary relic. It also bears no relation to the allusion to sea water notes which pervade a cluster of modern fragrances as well. Actually, "waters" are more or less the predecessors of alcoholic cordials as well as fine fragrance with an alcohol base, but using a complex process of preparation in order to render the fragrant final product.

"Without permitting anyone else to lay a hand on him, the lady herself washed Salabaetto all over with soap scented with musk and cloves. She then had herself washed and rubbed down by the slaves. This done, the slaves brought two fine and very white sheets, so scented with roses that they seemed like roses; the slaves wrapped Salabaetto in one and the lady in the other and then carried them both on their shoulders to the bed... They then took from the basket silver vases of great beauty, some of which were filled with rose water, some with orange water, some with jasmine water, and some with lemon water, which they sprinkled upon them."
~Boccaccio (1313-1375), Decameron 

The tradition of scented waters goes even further back in the times of Hippocrates.
You can read the rest of my historical article on this link on Fragrantica.

The winner of the draw...

...for the Neela Vermeire Creations giveaway of Pichola eau de perfume purse bottle pack, a scent created by Bertrand Duchaufour, is Cathy from Australia.


Congratulations and please email me using Contact with your shipping data so I can have this out to you soon!

Thanks everyone for the enthusiastic participation and till the next one.

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