Serge Lutens Chergui: Smoke and Velvet in a Dark Corner


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.

6 thoughts on “Serge Lutens Chergui: Smoke and Velvet in a Dark Corner”

  1. Dear Ms Aday

    What a lovely review – I do so find that the fragrances that take a while and then open a door to the past are so much the ones worth waiting for and worth most.

    Hay and tobacco are two of The Dandy’s favourite notes, so a revisit here seems a necessity now.

    Thank you for your thoughts and that little glimpse inside “Hay Fever”.

    Yours ever

    The Perfumed Dandy

    1. Dear Mr Dandy,

      Thank you for your kind interest and support, it is deeply appreciated. May I say how original and entertaining I find your own blog? Sadly “Hay Fever” has gone now, but Chergui brought it back to life more vividly than any photograph could. Isn’t it odd how a smell can jolt a long forgotten memory and bring it back in glorious technicolour?

      Warm wishes


  2. Mmmmmm, I love Chergui. It’s so warm and enveloping and it smells a bit of horses and dogs to me. Probably my strange wiring there, but horses and hay makes sense, I suppose. 😀

    1. How funny, I got horses from Cuir de Russie, but not so much as a hoof and a saddle from this one. Chergui makes me think back to the times when you could smoke in nightclubs and stay out until the sun was coming up. This is not to be worn with twinsets and court shoes.

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