Friday, August 31, 2012

Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido Serge Lutens Chergui

We used to discuss back in the day on the perfume forums what perfume we perfumistas would like to be embalmed with when we die - and that was of course all in jest, just to reassure my readers that I'm thankfully in good health, and have no intention of reaching that kind of heaven anytime soon. However, Serge Lutens Chergui is probably as close to that state of godliness as I could imagine being wrapped in--a cloud of blissful, finely powdered vanilla and spices, with a velvety hint of booze or chai, on a luxurious bed of sumptuous woods on the brink of cool and warm like the air under night skies walking through a late summer forest. The actual notes have little to do with my impressions, and they are as follows: honey, musk, incense, tobacco leaf, hay, sugar, amber, iris, rose and sandalwood. It is an Oriental Spicy fragrance, both dry and sweet, with hints of gourmand as I have also picked up in other Serge Lutens fragrances such as Vetiver Oriental which reminds me of kusamochi, but gourmand of a subtle, refined type (with the exception of Un Bois Vanille which is strictly gourmand, like a coconut cake). For lovers of Middle Eastern sweets such as Turkish Delight, these fragrances evoke a joyfully nostalgic candied essence without going the overly sugary route.

Chergui is the kind of perfume I once dreamed of creating, without having the background in perfumery it would take to achieve such a textbook perfect result: it is undoubtedly a fine perfume yet it has all of the elements of modern tastes, without ever going mainstream, without giving up the classicism that gave it structure. It is an artistic impression of the moment, a creative nose's take on the popularity of compositions featuring a full floral heart, incensey woods, vanilla, ambery woods and androgynous spices loved by most anyone, placing it olfactorily somewhere within the realm of a fragrance wheel's center: the Aromatic family. It can appeal to fragrance lovers of many tastes and walks, and yet it smells distinctive. To create both something universal and unique is a creative feat, and for this reason, not only for its gorgeous, delicious, an almost vintagey "parfum fourrure" scent itself, I regard it as a great perfume, probably my favorite Serge Lutens for the time being (but they are all worth smelling: Fumerie Turque, Un Lys, aforementioned Vetiver Oriental to name a few).

Chergui is as popular among perfumistas as celebrity perfumes are among less connoisseuresque perfume wearers. Many of them might prefer to wear Chergui in the cooler months, because it is a rich, sweet and savory scent fit for autumn and winter, but I enjoyed it immensely over the summer when it was still hot, and also now, here in New York where it seems to have cooled down earlier than usual. I'm not ready to give up my summer just yet, and so I will continue to wear Chergui and cherish every moment--come fall, I would like to review it again to see if my impressions have changed. If there's anything more I could add to this post, the dry down phase on me could be described as the kind of powdery vanilla I once found "perfumey" as a child when I'd smell it on my ballet teacher, or when I smelled Vanilla Fields on people at restaurants--but it's all comforting to me now, as more than a bed of roses, of all my favorite things united in one happy place.