Midnight at the Oasis: Tauer Perfumes L’Air du Desert Marocain
As many dedicated fragrance fans know, independent Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer has taken the world of niche perfumery by storm with his innovative fragrances, combining originality with first-class natural ingredients to come up with one hit after another. Each carries his unmistakable signature, a kind of “Tauerade” that lets you know with one sniff that it’s one of Andy’s - and that it’s really, really good. Andy’s scents have an intimate immediacy grounded in his dedication to using only the finest materials, bringing them to brilliant life for those fortunate enough to experience the results of his creative explorations.
I reviewed Incense Extrême previously, and I mentioned two of his other fragrances in passing in that piece. This time I am putting the spotlight on my favorite of his creations that I have tried so far, which has become one of my all-time favorite perfumes, period: his very first one, L’ Air du Desert Marocain.
This would be an impressive achievement from any perfume house; for it to be the debut fragrance for a one-man operation is truly amazing. Either men or women can wear it, though I think it was meant to be more of a masculine scent. (Le Maroc pour Elle is the only designated feminine perfume Andy has done to date, and it is beautiful in a different way.) Fortunately for me I ignored this division and tried it on myself, and rarely has a fragrance taken my breath away like this does.
I can only describe this in an emotional way, since I was so taken with it the first time I ever tried it. Conceived as an homage to the scents of the Moroccan desert, to me it tells a story in a manner few other scents can match. It begins with an incense warmth like sunrise both dry and sweet, awakening the senses as the landscape comes alive for the dawning day. As it develops it gets even drier, echoing the shimmering heat of the midday sun as it mercilessly parches everything under its power. This phase last a very long time; the longevity of this fragrance is truly impressive. Deeper and deeper it becomes, until the spice profile is revealed, and the coriander and cumin combine with vanilla and cedar notes to create the feeling of the way the desert comes back to life in the early evening, with aromas of cooking and wood fires. I can almost see the billowing tents with their faded stripes, fragrant from years of spicy feasts consumed within their confines, and hear the laughter and camaraderie from afar in the crystal-clear air of nightfall as the bonfires flicker down to glowing embers.
It would be just fine if it stopped there, but it doesn’t. Delving deeper into its base, at the very end, many hours after its initial application, the sweet, soothing incense becomes balsamic and slippery, and the patchouli and vetiver start to cool things down. Deserts get cold pretty quickly at night since dry air does not hold heat very well. The very end of this perfume is like being near an oasis late at night, with a whisper of moisture rising off the verdant life-giving spring as the denizens of daytime sleep under the stars and the night creatures begin to stir. You can catch the fleeting sweetness on the air from the jasmine and Bourbon geranium, as well as the beautifully refined incense and ambergris. The final fade is of vetiver root, deep in the cooling earth as it slumbers in wait for the next fiery day. It can take up to twelve hours to get to this phase, so plan on putting this on early in the day to get there. Maybe others’ skin chemistry will produce a different result, but on me it’s pure magic – and to think, I used to wear nothing but florals!
Andy Tauer calls this “the scent of desire” and I can certainly see why, but it’s not an overtly sexy scent in the conventional sense; there is no dirty leather or musk and there is nothing overwrought or blatant about it. I would put it on a level of greatness right up with the animalic monster Yatagan by Caron, but it is not anything like that one at all. Instead it is more romantic, a true memory fragrance, piercing the heart with longing for things both remembered and never possessed. For me it reaches into the past more years than I care to count and somehow brings back the vivid sensations of a great love affair in my life, which was both long ago and far away; warm copper skin smelling of cedarwood and spices, a galaxy of stars that seemed close enough to touch in the darkest sky I had ever seen, and sublime nights spent under rough blankets permeated by wood smoke. I will never see him again, but when I put on L’Air du Desert Marocain I can be back there in my dreams. No one really knows how it is that an aroma can affect us so profoundly, but I for one appreciate this gift that a great fragrance made by a masterful perfumer can give us, and I can say without hesitation that this one is a masterpiece to me.
In the U.S., Andy Tauer’s perfumes are available online at Luckyscent and its Los Angeles retail store The Scent Bar; and now they can be found in Canada too
from The Perfume Shoppe in Vancouver, BC both at the store and online. L’Air du Desert Marocain comes in Eau de Parfum, $100 USD for 50 ml and worth every penny.
Image credit: Sahara desert sunset scene from Wikimedia Commons.