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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Perfume Review: Serge Lutens Chergui

Review by Tom

When it was annoumced that Make-up Alley had chosen this as the new #1 fragrance of the top 25, I was reminded that I had never reviewed it (although both I and Colombina thought I did), even though I liked it enough to buy two bottles: one as a back-up against the day when it faded back to being an exclusive.

As you are all aware, Chergui is named for a Moroccan desert wind: there seem to be more names for desert winds than there are, well, winds in the desert, but never mind. On me Chergui starts off sweet: a smoky tea aspect with the barest hint of milk and sugar and a hay-like accord as if you were being served a bracing cup of sweetened lapsang souchong in a beit al-sha'r. A smoky tobacco note joins in, getting stronger and stronger as the scent wears, joined by leather. The smoky leather accord seems to peek in and around the sweet spices at various phases, as if carried on that desert wind curling around you nose in gusts. There isn't a lot of development past this phase, for me it basically stays here, doing its dance until the final drydown where the sandalwood and the musk are more pronounced and the sweet tea and hay are settled into balance with the leather and tobacco.

Chergui is (some say) still available at Barneys and Fred Segal In Santa Monica and West Hollywood but may be gone as of this writing, which leaves them only available at the Palais Royale in Paris, should you be fortunate enough to be going there, live there or have a friend in the EU willing to ship to you.

I would also like to mention that next week will be the first anniversary of Colombina opening out her blog to participants like me. I'm not sure what I am going to review for that anniversary, but I want to thank her in advance (and publicly) for allowing me to natter on for the past 12 months- it has been wonderful fun, and I look forward to more!

24 Comments:

Blogger je kiffe said...

Tom - I love your perfume critiques. There are seldom fragrence critiques that I read that are as articulate, meticulous, and as informed as yours. I am thankful that Columbina lets you write them. Your reviews - both in unique ways - make for high quality reviews. Thanks to both for your hard work.

10:32 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

je kiffe-

Thank you- that is incredibly kind of you, especially considering the generally high caliber of writing on these blogs. You honor me, and I truly appreciate it!

10:44 PM EDT  
Blogger Ina said...

Tom, I just mentioned Chergui in my post as the perfume that smells best in heat (which I discovered last year). Despite its seemingly heavy composition, it is indeed amazing in hot weather (desert wind, makes sense!) One of my fave Serge Lutens scents.

10:47 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Ina-

I read that, and I agree. Chergui and Fumerie Turque both bloom in heat in a way that they just don't in cold. I find Chergui almost too sweet in my office, which is kept at about absolute zero, but when I step out into the heat the tobacco and that sandalwood and the musk sidle back in and I could just bury my face in my own chest...

Chergui also has lasting power that's pretty fierce, and is one of those scents that I love to wear to bed

10:57 PM EDT  
Anonymous Maria B. said...

Hi, Tom, I'm sitting here enjoying the image of you burying your nose in your chest. What a perfumista image! Congratulations on your approaching anniversary. We're lucky that you're writing.

Chergui has sillage to beat the band. It's almost too much for me. One evening my husband walked into the house from work and called out, "What are you wearing?" I feel more comfortable in Fumerie Turque, being the understated type, but there's no denying Chergui's beauty.

1:50 AM EDT  
Blogger Faizan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Faizan said...

I like the first half of Chergui, where the sweetness is kept in check by a well executed hay note. The amber and other typical Lutens oriental amber-spice warfare do gradually take over this potion though. Still, I like it more than the other scary sweet orientals that so many on makeupalley like to bath in. Serge Lutens orientals in the summers? Hell no, especially not in my hot and humid neck of the woods (avg summer temperature 85-94)

4:16 AM EDT  
Anonymous Leopoldo said...

Chergui was one of my first SL loves, but I rarely touch my half-full bottle nowadays (the standard quest for ever new sensations I guess). Still, I love to wear it to bed too and will try it again, as soon as the heat returns to this wet little island of ours.

4:20 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

I wish it smelled like a bracing cup of sweetened lapsang souchong in a beit al-sha'r on me!! And it's not that it smells bad on me, not at all, it's just...simple and a little too robust...roses, amber, tobacco, sweetness, no development :-( This darn skin chemistry!

7:59 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Chergui really is brilliant. Wore it layered w/ Chene over the weekend at the beach and it made me extremely happy.
Congrats on your upcoming anniversary. Always love your posts! :-)

8:14 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp (Judith) said...

Love the review! I was somewhat surprised, though, that Chergui took first place on MUA (I really like it, but it wasn't in my top 25, and I would have thought that many people wouldn't be able to wear it). Glad the evil POTL is dethroned, though (I figured this would happen once the choices were ranked:)

I must try this in the heat, as you and Ina recommend. I really adore FT (which WAS in my top 25) outside in cold weather (say, when its cold enough to see your breath), and find it difficult to believe that this one is also better in the heat, but I will this too!

9:03 AM EDT  
Blogger Arhianrad said...

I *adore* Chergui, in fact, it's the only SL I own. It's everything I could ever want in a scent and more...thanks for the review.

9:20 AM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

Tom, I will wear my Chergui today in honor of your review. I do love it! I don't really pay attention to summer vs winter scents...I wear what I like EXCEPT when it comes to Andy's Lonestar Memories! LOL. I can't wear it in the heat! Oooh, and M7 in the heat is a joy! Have you tried it in the heat?

10:38 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Maris-

I sometimes forget about its sillage, but that keeps me from over-applying..

11:04 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

faizan-

Really, give it a try in the heat. I thought it was crazy too until I bought Fumerie Turque on a blazing humid day here

11:05 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Lee-

I admit that I have note been wearing this a lot lately- like Ina's 2006 post on Aromascope, I had neglected to do so far a while and rediscovered it thanks to that list. I was like "baby, where have you been?"

11:07 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

columbina-

That's too bad- I can see how it could get that way..

11:08 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Elle-

Were you the one who previously recommended that? I have to try that one..

Columbina, maybe this will work for you?

11:10 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Judith-

I can't believe it either, but like you I am glad that PoTL is off too. Play Doh. Gak...

11:11 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Arhianrad

Thanks! It is beautiful, isn't it?

11:12 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

kelley-

I've never tried M7 (hangs head)

11:14 AM EDT  
Anonymous Billy said...

I recently tried Chergui and Fumerie Turque and found that they smell almost exactly alike on my skin...and I only put the word almost in there to be diplomatic. The only difference I found was that Chergui had uh-MAY-zing sillage, whereas fumerie dissapeared rather quickly for a SL. Does anyone else find them remarkably similar--I mean more than the usual SL similarities (arabesque-honeyed-spicy mix)?

1:29 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

billy-

Yes, they are very similar. You are right, Chergui is definitely the sillage-monster of the two as well. I find that FT lacks the sweetness of Chergui and amps up the smokiness- and no, it doesn't have that all-day Lutens thing going, drat it. They were different enough that I got both.

6:15 PM EDT  
Blogger jitterbug said...

can anyone reccomend a SL fragrance good for oily skin that reacts poorly with sweet floral notes? love clean tobacco, sandalwood, musky scents.

1:03 AM EDT  

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