One Thousand Scents

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Scentroulette Day 9: Serge Lutens Chergui

I was trying to avoid my usual trap of thinking and rethinking and overthinking, and as you can see, I failed: I had two days off, two whole days in which I could have quickly reviewed two, maybe even three scents, and I spent them contemplating Chergui, and even now I'm hardly any closer to knowing what to think about it, because it seems to be a different scent every time I wear it.

My first impression was that I liked it a lot, that it was very much in the Serge Lutens mold, which usually appeals to me: darkish, smoky, laden with tobacco. But as time passed it began to seem overly sweetened, not usually a problem for me; but this time it was a sweetness that was pervasive and even cloying. I put some more on a couple of hours later to get a second opinion, and now it seemed rather coarse and obvious, definitely a second-rate Lutens; where my first thought had been that it was something I might like to own, the second wearing turned me away from it entirely.

And yet I couldn't get it out of my head, and so I wore and re-wore it, kept applying it for two days, and it was another one of those mysterious scents that I just couldn't pin down. When I wear, say, Miel de Bois, I know what I'm getting, a complex scent that nevertheless always smells of itself, developing and evolving over time as most constructed scents do, but still true to itself. Chergui, though, never did settle down to become one thing; the overall feel of it was there, but the core identity seemed to be flickering, ever-changing. Perhaps this is deliberate, more of Lutens' wizardry; the name refers to a hot, dry Moroccan desert wind, and maybe the scent is somehow meant to emulate a wind that carries other unpredictable scents on itself. Or maybe it's just me.

I think it took me this long to come to terms with the fact that this scent is not going to be pigeonholed. It barely allows itself to be described. It is fascinating because of that, or maybe despite it. I am fascinated by Chergui. I have a tiny amount left, just a few droplets, and when that little bit runs out, well, what then?



  • I really wanted to love Chergui. The notes read like a list designed just for me: incesne, tobacco, rose, sandalwood! But I just got the too sweet aspect you mentioned everty time I tried it. A sort of soapy vanilla that reminded me of bubblebath from my childhood. I ended up buying Fumerie Turque because I love that sweet pipe tobacco. I still have some of my sample of Chergui, maybe someday I'll "get it."

    By Blogger Unknown, at 12:52 PM  

  • I felt much the same - I thought Chergui would be right up my alley. Turns out, though, I don't like sweet spices in my hay and tobacco.

    Instead, I fell hard for SSS Tabac Aurea.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:41 PM  

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