Last May when I started this project, many bloggers were participating in a charity project where, for each comment someone made, they'd donate a specified amount to the charity of their choice. Some bloggers, to sweeten the deal, also held drawings for perfumes. That was how I won my beloved Femme from Cait at Legerdenez. It's also how I won my bottle of L'Air du Desert Marocain from Andy Tauer when I posted on his perfumery blog.
Now, my experience in the niche perfume world was literally only weeks old at the time, so I had no idea what to expect of Andy's creation. Rochas Femme I knew, if only by name, but I knew Andy only as a blogger, not as a perfumer. Still, I thought it was thrilling to receive a perfume from someone who'd actually made it. I also knew I might not be up to the task of having anything to say; it's one thing to botch a post about a perfume when the creator has no clue about your post's existence, let alone your existence. It's something else when the perfumer has actually visited your blog. Andy and I corresponded briefly after I won. He allowed me to choose between the two scents he had available at the time, Maroc pour Elle and L'Air du Desert Marocain. When I chose the latter because I thought my husband might enjoy wearing it as well, Andy commended me on my choice. Then he mentioned Luca Turin has said some very positive things about the scent. I might have been completely cowed then, if I'd known who Luca Turin was. Oh yes, I was that green.
When I received the package, I sniffed it immediately and knew I would love it, but a couple of things happened: The first thing was summer. Atlanta decided to have one of the hottest summers its had since I moved here (from much hotter and just as humid Dallas) eight years ago. Not to give too much away, but this is a scent that can stand up to heat, but I believe it must be dry heat. The sweltering South does not compliment it. The second thing was the same problem I faced with Femme: I knew I liked it, but it felt like too much, like something beyond my grasp. My novice nose couldn't live up to it: I smelled spice, lovely heady spice, but I was enveloped as if in a fog, unable to make out the shape of any particular note. And so I put it away on the shelf.
The last few weeks we've had many cold days, and winter's pressing in on me in a way that makes me unable to imagine living in a harsher climate where this season is long. Today I had planned to choose between some fragrances I had worn last week in order to give one another go for a post, and when I went in to select a vial, the first thing that caught my eye was L'Air du Desert Marocain. Dramatic as it sounds, I thought: today's the day. I sprayed a bit on each wrist (I've stopped wearing perfume anywhere except my wrists during the week) and was immediately enveloped again by the cloud of warm spice.
The notes in L'Air du Desert Marocain are top notes of coriander, cumin, and petitgrain; heart notes of rock rose and jasmine; and base notes of cedar wood, vetiver, and amber. The sweet dirty depth of the coriander and cumin (cumin especially) take on a slight medicinal quality in the sharper presence of the petitgrain. By medicinal I do not mean medical; rather, it has an effect that's something like aromatherapy, something that lifts my attention and my spirit. I often get this same feeling when I smell eucalyptus (which I love). The herbal quality gives way gently to the floral heart. I do not think I have ever smelled rock rose, but the earthiness of the jasmine helps tame the top spice and bring it down into the woody depths of the base notes. This scent sits close; it cradles its wearer. The vetiver brings out the sharp, dry sweetness of cedar, while the amber smooths any ragged edge off the woods. And it lasts and lasts--all day, every time I've lifted my wrist to my nose, I've felt revived and comforted.
Dear Andy, if you should see this post, I hope I have done justice to your creation. I'm still learning my way, still learning to walk the walk and talk the talk as they say, but I can bet this becomes a staple scent for me, at least in winter. It may even, on its own, cause me to search out a colder climate, so our season together will be longer.
*photo from tauerperfumes.com