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Group: Oriental spicy
Chergui - named after a hot desert wind in Morocco - is one of the two miniatures I currently own from the increasingly popular but so far still little available niche line, Serge Lutens signature of Christopher Sheldrake, perfumer of the house. As most niche fragrances are actually unisex, I got my partner to wear it too for a couple of days so I can evaluate it from both perspectives.
All 50ml editions of the Serge Lutens line come in sleek, tall, rectangular bottles that look simple, practical, yet elegant and stylish as opposed to the more decorative and old-style 100ml bell jar bottles that are clearly more fitting to the brand's image. I like both though.
Top notes: honey, tobacco leaf, hay
Chergui opens up sweet, joyful, aromatic and wonderfully exotic. Eastern promises are made as the hay that I first identified and tonka bean swirls with a filament of sugary sweetness that recalls your childhood. A few minutes later, a thicker layer makes it appearance and draws the dancing high notes towards itself like a honeypot, this layer is the tobacco. You have to know the tobacco note to recognise it as it's so rarely used in fragrances nowadays. Sample Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille where it's a lot more dominant though also sweet and fruity. I have a vintage Cherigan Fleur de Tabac where it's as good as they come, strong, unadulterated, mature and intoxicating.
Tobacco is a perfume note that's vegetal, highly aromatic, spicy, hay-like, slightly smoky (not as in a cigarette burning but in a spicy way!) resinous and incense-like, at least to my nose. In Chergui of course, it's only a hint with a tiny spicy - smoky core that serves as an anchor and adds depth to the tops notes to stop them from becoming too sweet and superficial. The wonderful, interesting and truly innovative blend of top notes lasted for an impressive half an hour to almost an hour on my partner's skin.
Heart notes: iris, rose
In the next few hours, the floral notes developed a slightly stronger presence without becoming dominating. Blending in with the sweet and smoky facets of the top notes, the result I was getting was a sort of hay-like, woody and smoky iris combined with a non-feminine, transformed rose that I would describe as dry and spicy whilst being jammy and edible, just like dried rose petals macerated in a jar of sugar syrup.
In fact, I found this accord similar to the jammy - spicy rose in Christian Lacroix's Tumulte. The difference is that the spicy jammy rose is paired with juicy cocoa and tonka bean in Tumulte instead of the powdery dusting of iris. The overall accord was extremely smooth, well-blended and worked well on both me and my partner's skin mostly retaining a spicy - powdery feel with a touch of jammy sweetness towards the end of the middle notes.
Base notes: musk, sandalwood, amber, incense
The drydown that emerged after a good 8 - 10 hours of wear was a mixture of gentle, subdued woods and musk that strongly reminded me of the final phase of Donna Karan's Chaos musk - sandalwood combination, except that in Chergui, the added presence of powder coming from the remaining iris and spices earlier made the fragrance softer, drier and dreamier.
A gentle but persistent clean, warm woody - musky sillage with a touch of powder and a hint of spice completed the sillage that stayed close to the skin and especially on clothes for at least 12 - 14 hours. It's a joy to wear such a long-lasting and layered composition, especially in winter. Its warmth and woody spiciness truly shine although it tends to become a bit flat at the end especially on clothing.
This fragrance doesn't have a conventional pyramid top - middle - base structure; it rather develops and displays all of its notes on a scale represented in a more or less intensive way throughout. This intricate play will showcase a given note at one point then blend it with another next and vice versa so however linear and 'simple' the fragrance may seem at first, it is actually ever changing and never becomes boring or bland.
Chergui - a hot desert wind in Morocco - is everything but its name; it's extremely soft on our skin, gentle, caressing and sweet without being cloying though it may be down to skin chemistry having a preference towards orientals. Somehow it works more as a cuddly comfort scent on me and more of a formal, elegant one on him. Apply sparingly though, especially if you're a man.
Chergui is the ultimate child of 'good taste - good manners - good perfumery'. It's elegant but approachable and versatile as well as being romantic, soft and cuddly. It obviously costs more than low quality mass market fragrances however you definitely get quality, craftsmanship and value for your money with Chergui.
Overall, a fine piece that doesn't shout and that you may think of it as quiet and unassuming, but once you get to know it, it will certainly grow on you, whether you're a man or a woman. I heartily recommend it for your significant other who is into refined, well-worked fragrances for special occasions or even for a wedding.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
On eBay, the hard to come buy miniatures can bid up to £15 - £20 / 5ml while with a bit of luck a 50ml full bottle will set you back around £40 - £45. The full RRP is £66 / 50ml EDP in department stores at Serge Lutens concessions.
Thanks for reading.
©powered by lillybee also posted on ciao.co.uk
Group: Oriental Spicy