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Chergui – More than 20 Scents of Serge – September 7, 2012 New Fragrance Listing

Photo - Wikipedia - Aït Benhaddou, Morocco - Jerzy Strzelecki

I wake up out of a dream the morning after Labour Day, repeating a single word… Chergui.

It happens without fail at the end of summer, beginning of fall.  I try to resist, but it doesn’t take long before I submit, rearrange my perfume stash, polish up the bottles, and bring out the grown-ups, the Lutens.

Chergui is first. The Serge Lutens website describes Chergui as “crystallized saps”, which is kind of like describing the Sistine Chapel as a “painted ceiling”. (I think  Serge is messing with us, or his website needs a serious rewrite).

Serge Lutens lives in Marrakesh, in Morocco, and his aesthetic reflects this ancient Eastern culture – his signature accord of dark spices layered with sweet dried fruits, flowers, herbs and rare woods is unmistakable in the niche world. The smells of the markets crowded with people, food, animals, the smell of the gardens, the buildings, the desert – strange and sensual - they’re all there in the liquid art of Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake.

Chergui is named after the hot dry wind which blows into the coastal plains over the Atlas mountains in North Africa. If you’re expecting the iconic Lutens sweet spicy accord, you’ll be amazed to discover that Chergui is quite different.This scent is built around tobacco.  From the top, there is dry earthy iris wafting on top of honey still in its beeswax comb, vegetal and naturally sweet, slightly sharp and sweaty but delicately floral at the same time  – a hugely exotic accord. This lasts just a few minutes, and I have my nose glued to my wrist the whole time.

Then the iris begins its transformation into a moist aromatic tobacco leaf, scented from its soft leather storage pouch, which develops a smoky dark spiciness that is oddly unique. It’s not smoky as in burning, but smoky as in slightly burnt or caramelized. Perhaps it’s the addition of a sweet hay note, which appears as the scent moves into the heart - the coumarin - that does this magic trick, or it could be the incense, because once again the scent goes honey-gold, with a warmth like a perfect lazy summer day.

The heart reveals spicy rose, a deep red rose just starting to open, which forms a soft vanilla accord when paired with dark amber. The dry-down deepens into the basenotes, creamy sandalwood develops fully, incense and musk expand and warm the accords, and Chergui becomes part of my skin, wafting its sensuous magic for hours and hours. The accords weave in and out, the sweet organic tobacco and hay alternating with incense and scented woods.

Chergui is dry and warm, sweet but not syrupy, spicy, smoky, and there is an intoxicating quality to this frag that smells absolutely beautiful on women and men, yet it’s not what I’d call ungendered or androgynous. On my skin, I can smell the rose, on my husband the rose is in the background and I can smell the leather more – it’s different for each of us.

So here’s the difference in Chergui - it is one of the Lutens frags that does not list fruit as a note.  It is also a scent that is blended to absolute perfection, full, luxurious, layered, complex. It’s not fruity, or floral, or too sweet, or too woody or spicy, or girly or too rough – it is perfect, and much much more than crystallized saps. Designed with an artist’s vision by Lutens, and created by a Master nose, Sheldrake, Chergui is an Oriental like no other, an olfactory masterpiece conjured by its exotic name.  It is an extraordinarily different kind of scent, a romantic scent, a grown-up scent, and it is insanely beautiful.

Today, we’re adding Chergui to our decant listing. Decants are $5.00.

We've posted about, and list, many Serge Lutens fragrances on this site, and with the addition of Chergui, we now list more than 20 scents from his collection. To check out the fragrance descriptions for our Serge Lutens listings, click on the links below:

ArabieBois et FruitsBois de VioletteBorneo 1834

CèdreCherguiCuir MauresqueFille en Aiguilles

Five O'clock au Gingèmbre,  Fourreau Noir, Iris Silver Mist, Jeux

de PeauLa MyrrheL'Eau FroideMuscs Koublaï Khän,

Rose de NuitSantal de MysoreSarrasinsSerge Noire,

Tubèreuse Criminelle, Une Voix NoireVetiver Oriental