Tag Archives: Incense

Andy Tauer L’Air Du Desert Marocain: At Last We Meet


I’ve seen perfumistas on many a board sing the praises of L’Air du Desert Marocain. I was curious to try a sample, but not curious enough to buy a full bottle. I remember all too well my eager foray into the equally revered Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens, only to dislike it quite violently.

 L’Air du Desert Marocain was quite the opposite, however. I’ve heard a lot about it. I’ve seen it around (in my friend’s scent stash at least) , and finally, today my wrist met the spray. It’s no coincidence that the immediate adjectives that come to mind are ecclesiastical: Divine and Heavenly were the first words that entered my head. This is a close relative to my beloved Comme Des Garcons Series 3 Incense:Avignon, the ultimate scent of Catholicism, with authentic guilt inducing price tag.

What Tauer has produced however, is less linear that CDG Avignon and more complex.  L’Air Du Desert Marocain has several layers and even after a first spray , has a lovely faded grandeur about it. It smells like a background smell. It’s not harsh or loud. If you met me right now you would ask me how Evensong went ( I would be infused with the smoke of incense), but probably not think I was wearing a scent at all.

Top notes are Caraway, Coriander and Petitgrain, but I must confess, all I get is incense and a whiff of hay. Middle notes include Rosehip and Jasmine, but I get no flowers at all. Base notes include Vetiver, which  is used beautifully and sparingly to add a grassy leather note, as well as Amber, which is also warmly noticeable, and Cedar, which I don’t detect at all.

This is the perfect Christmas Eve scent, and therefore totally out of step with today’s sunny weather. However, I am going out this evening, so all bets are off and I’ll wear what I like. And what I like is this. If there’s any left on my skin on Sunday, then even better. It smells like Sunday morning anyway.

Like CDG Avignon, this is playing hard to get in the UK, although samples and full bottles are available online from UK suppliers Les Senteurs.  I adore the smell of church incense, and I adore this. It would smell incredible on a man too, but if I did manage to get hold of a bottle, I can’t see me sharing it.


Serge Lutens Cuir Mauresque: Your Ever Changing Ways


 I haven’t always got on with Serge.  I’ve yet to review several of his scents so I won’t give too much away here.  However I will say that I am still indignant about Ambre Sultan, and non plussed with both Louve and Chergui, more of which anon.

However, with Cuir Mauresque (Moorish Leather) I have discovered one of those wonderful perfumes that changes the longer you wear it. From one phase to another, Cuir Mauresque kept my interest and was full of surprises. Christopher Sheldrake, I forgive you for hooligan juice Ambre Sultan. You have more than made it up to me.

When I first tried this amber fragrance (I mean the colour not the scent), it was immediately evocative of the smoke from joss sticks: both Incense and Smoky notes at the same time.  The Leather is in the background immediately, although it doesn’t take over. There is Spice too: Cinnamon and Clove take a back seat, but are still in the picture. What stops this smelling too Christmas Cake is the lack of sugar.  There are no sugary Vanilla notes, so what you have is an aromatic blend, rather than spiced cake or a gourmand.

What intrigued me about this is that about half an hour after spraying, it seems to turn into an early Twentieth Century vintage blend, say a Caron Tabac Blond, or even a staler Mitsouko. There was that dusty approach that complements “le Smoking”. But it’s OK if you don’t like that, because after that phase it turns into the dried Rose Petals of a pot pourri, sort of papery and peppery  but still with a ghost of dreamy Incense.

Finally it drifts away, leaving a faint trace of powdery Musk and Oud, and yes even a rather suggestive tease of Civet. There is a definite hint of unwashed body at the end. I like a fragrance that tells a story. I like a fragrance that grows and blooms and changes and gradually slinks off in a puff of smoke, job done.  This is complex and interesting. It’s also around £80.00 for 50ml, so I have to think very hard before saving up for a whole bottle.

Cuir Mauresque is like an ugly man with beautiful eyes, although I’m leaving the room,  I can’t stop myself from looking back.


Comme Des Garcons Series 3 Incense Avignon: Divine in every sense.


One of my favourite smells is the inside of an ancient Church or Cathedral. High Anglican Churches or Roman Catholic Churches are best for this as they use thuribles, or incense holders, often swung on a chain during procession. Combine this smell with ancient wood, slightly musty old stone walls, and a sense of humbling awe, and you have Comme Des Garcons Series Three: Incense Avignon. Image The fragrance was named after the commune of Avignon in the South East of France. Once upon a time, this ancient town was the Papal seat during the Catholic Schism  from  1309 until 1377 and today the Papal Palace is still there in the old walled town. The fragrance is from a series of five:

  •  Ouarzazate – Islam
  • Zagorsk – Orthodox Christianity
  • Jaisalmer – Hinduism 
  • Kyoto – Buddhism and Shintoism
  • Avignon-Catholicism

My only very slight misgiving about this outstandingly evocative scent is the question of whether I want my skin to smell like an ancient church? It’s unquestionably beautiful, but it jars very slightly that the smell on my wrist smells of bricks and mortar and ceremony.  But then again, I haven’t been able to get my nose off my wrist since trying it, so I guess we revert to the old perfume rule and that is:  There Are No Rules. This smells so alarmingly like a church that vicars should wear it when playing truant. You will always smell like you’ve just left Mass. And it will always make you feel a little bit guilty without knowing why. Image