It took me three attempts to “get” Serge Lutens Chergui but when I did, it was worth the journey. My first attempt left me thinking “meh, Patchouli again!”, my second was, bizarrely, “Raw Pot Noodle or Soup Powder” (Don’t ask, no idea), and finally, on a third attempt, it dawned on me that this is actually as beautiful as everyone says.
I was starting to think it was a case of Emperor’s New Clothes and that I “should” like it, just so I wouldn’t be the odd one out. But no, it truly is the real thing. The Patchouli is high pitched but stops just before being eye watering (Amouage Jubilation could have stopped around this stage instead of becoming an asthmatics nightmare). There is smoky incense, but not quite cigarette smoke, more a hint of pipe tobacco or aromatic dustiness. After about an hour I had a memory of a shop I had long forgotten. In my student days in Exeter, Devon, there was a marvellous shop in Cathedral Close that sold dried flowers. The shop was full of products from nature and everything was dried. I think it was called Hay Fever. The smell of dried flowers, Hay, Papery Leaves and hessian sacks of Pot Pourri was arrestingly gorgeous. That smell drifted up from Chergui and took me back there so vividly. I checked the notes, and there it is: Hay.
There are supposedly notes of Iris and Rose in Chergui but I didn’t get any floral or petal notes. This is a very masculine scent, although designed to be feminine or unisex. It’s dry and non girly and non frilly. It’s a serious contender, maybe too much for the office or casual wear. It would be like wearing a floor length black velvet coat on a commuter train. Very beautiful indeed, but in the wrong place, impact is lost.
It may sound expensive, at over £70 a bottle, but it lasts so long that used sparingly and kept correctly, it could last well over a year, especially if you have other fragrances in your scent wardrobe.
It’s darkly glamorous, rich and aromatic, long lasting and mysterious. It’s after-hours seductive. Wear Serge Lutens Chergui to a Jazz Club at 2 in the morning. Wear it on a first date. But only if you want a second date.