Of spices and souks

February 12, 2009 at 2:00 am 7 comments

Regular readers know that I occasionally rant and rave about designer brand perfumes and the loss of the classic scents. If you missed out and want to know what I ranted about, go here and here. But if you want a quick review, here it is:

* designer brand perfumes dominate with their synthetic funereal smells of gardenia

* these days apparently you don’t need to be a “nose” who has studied the science of scents for years and understand how scents work together

* basically, you can be some vacuous celebrity who throws a few ingredients together, tosses them in a bottle and sends off to the department store to be bought by women who all wish to smell alike.

So possibly I am about to shoot myself in the foot with this blog post by telling you of a perfume I have found. My secret will be out. I have long been looking for a unique stunner of a perfume as some of my long-standing favourites such as Coriandre and Parfum Sacre are getting harder and harder to find. A few years ago, I discovered Serge Lutens’, Ambre Sultan, and revelled in the heady spices that reminded me of my first trip to Morocco in the early 90s. I was going to accuse him of ripping off Féminité du Bois until I found out that this great perfume was created by Shiseido under his direction. Féminité du Bois is another favourite of mine. Both these perfumes have a blast of spices that is then tempered by amber, vanilla and sandalwood. Clearly, I am drawn to anything created by Serge Lutens as I have quite a few of his perfumes.

But reading perfume blogs, I kept seeing references to Andy Tauer and Tauer Perfumes. And the perfume usually mentioned was L’air du désert marocain – the air of the desert of Morocco. Intriguing! It was described as a scent of desire by women who were raving about it (and quite a few men too). So I tracked down the website of Tauer Perfumes and decided to send an email to Andy Tauer to ask him about his scent. He’s located in Switzerland.

Imagine if you fired off an email to Dior or YSL asking about one of their perfumes – you’d get palmed off to the marketing people and receive some auto response. This is what I expected from Andy Tauer but…quell horror….Andy personally emailed me, telling me all about L’air du désert marocain. I decided to buy it and Andy sent another email to me (as I was worried my PayPal payment hadn’t worked) to say the bottle was on its way and thanking me for buying his perfume. So the whole process started off really well with great personal service from the perfumer himself.

Then the bottle arrived. It’s a no fuss bottle, not really a collectible.

But I quite liked its minimalism and the graphic of the sand of the Moroccan desert. (I’m referring to the old design – the above is the new design for Tauer perfumes).I was expecting to smell warm winds spiked with sandalwood or cardamon. I imagined I’d be carried away by the scents of the spice souks. Perhaps a hint of vetiver or a touch of jasmine.

And this little bottle did not disappoint. On its first day, the scent had to withstand heatwave conditions (this is summer in Australia after all). This is when perfumes slip off and disappear on me. And I was skeptical because L’air du désert marocain is not a parfum (it’s eau de toilette intense) and so I thought it just wouldn’t cling. But…..12 hours later, the scent was bravely hanging in there. Even the next morning, hints of coriander were evident.

On me, it has a strong pepper smell so thank goodness I emailed Andy to find out what the notes are because there is no pepper in this wonderful scent. He suggests it could be cumin or coriander. Or possibly a hint of lavender.  But as Andy said what does it matter when the scent works so well for me.

This is the only perfume I’ve ever worn that garners so many comments from men. A man actually stopped me on the train station to ask what is that scent you are wearing?  During the dry down, the notes seem to change and I sense a touch of a flower scent, which is probably the jasmine. It really does not do justice to this perfume to break it down note by note because its elegance is best appreciated as a holistic scent. Better to describe to you the places and colours it conjures for me:

  • bright, sunny orange groves
  • cinnamon and cloves
  • lavender-tinged hot skies baking the swirling sands of a desert
  • golden shimmery heat that releases subtle floral fragrances of jasmine and rose
  • happy summer days spent with my grandmother who always smelt of roses
  • apricot-hued sunsets and anticipating the cool of the evening and the rise of a silvery moon.

Okay, getting carried away here, next I’ll be conjuring up a camel or two. But I think this perfume is so powerful that it literally carries you away and transports you to imagined places and spaces. I don’t think this perfume is for the shrinking violets amongst us because it’s a scent that will be noticed and remarked on. If you want to be a shrinking violet, go off and buy a Designer brand.

I wondered what Andy Tauer’s vision was when he created L’air du désert marocain – does a perfumer have a similar vision to the one a perfume wearer has? Well, this is how he describes his creation:

‘Imagine finding peace in a room, lying on the bed, exhausted from the heat of the day, with the window open, letting the cool air in which still is very dry and filled with the scents from the near desert and overlayed with the spicy scents of the streets below.’

This is one perfume I will be buying again and again.


Entry filed under: Perfumes. Tags: , , .

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. thinkingshift  |  February 13, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Andy Tauer has linked back to my blog post – I’m touched! he has a great blog too, all about his perfumes and how he envisions and creates them.

  • 2. + Q Perfume  |  February 16, 2009 at 12:13 am

    I am so happy you enjoyed Andy’s fragrances.
    My favorite is Lonestar Memories above all men’s fragrance.
    He is an amazing perfumer, amazing personality and I loved your review.
    check my blog in http://www.maisqueperfume.blogspot.com
    I am researching about Australia perfumery.
    I have a small link list but all the help I can get will be great!!

    fragrant regards, Simone

  • 3. thinkingshift  |  February 16, 2009 at 2:26 am

    Fragrant greetings Simone. Next up, I will be getting Vetiver for my hubby, but I’ll check out Lonestar Memories. Are you researching into individual perfumers here in Australia or gathering a list of perfume outlets (that still stock some of the classics?). I can help you either way hopefully.

  • 4. Grace  |  February 21, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    “This is one perfume I will be buying again and again.” Me, too! I found it in the same manner you did – it kept appearing in blogs and comments on blogs. When I finally tried it, I was bowled over. It’s simply perfect.

    Glad you found it.

  • 5. thinkingshift  |  February 22, 2009 at 12:51 am

    Fragrant greetings Grace! I am just hoping that as Andy’s perfumes become more & more popular, L’air du désert marocain still remains a bit of a secret. Today’s perfumes are so overloaded with gardenia and synthetic florals, maybe L’air du désert marocain will not appeal to a large majority (I can only hope, sorry to Andy!!). I want it to remain a well-guarded secret that I have only shared with readers.

  • 6. Jon  |  August 10, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    I’ve been testing both – mostly for winter. I love AS but I think it’s too “old lady” smelling from the heavy amber and vanilla. L’air is very interesting but I want something one would consider to be masculine. Is this too on the fence, or would this be nice on a guy?


  • 7. thinkingshift  |  August 10, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Jon I agree about AS – I love it and dislike it at times. I can wear it for days and then think its base notes are too vanilla. L’Air I’ve been wearing now for about 4 months. My husband actually wears it too – and it’s a wonderful scent on a guy. Sometimes if I don’t wear it for a week and switch to another scent, when I come back to L’Air I think it’s too masculine. It is a very heavy scent for a woman. A woman has to be confident, bold, almost fearless to wear it. But IMHO I think it’s a fabulous scent for a guy!


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