Blog post by Gwen

Chergui – spicy and dark and rich

Photo: perfumeniche

There’s something about Serge Lutens’ fragrances that speaks to me. I’m fascinated with the backstory and the inspiration behind each one, especially concerning his love of Morocco. A Lutens fragrance has the power to transport me with just a breath of a scent. That’s how I became besotted with Chergui years ago, and I still wear it to this day. My current bottle of Chergui is from 2020, the bottle with the black label, and it’s not my first from that year.

Lutens first visited Morroco in 1968 and discovered a new world of desert, mountains, heat and sun and the exciting smell of spices, fruits, flowers and rare woods that fill the air. By 1974, Lutens was living in Marrakech and creating fragrances that reflected its rich ancient Eastern culture, fragrances like Chergui.

Chergui is an Arabic word that means ‘coming from the east,’ so the perfume is named for the hot, dry, easterly wind that emanates from the Sahara Desert and wafts over the Atlas Mountains onto thesouthernmost part of Morocco. The air of a chergui is so hot it shrivels shrubs, fruits and berries, creating saps, resins and juices that are swept up with plants, insects and debris and carried over the land. The experience of a cherqui is here, in liquid form, in a bottle of Cherqui.

It opens with a hot, dry spiciness that pulls me right in into the fragrance. It’s balanced with a note of honey, sticky and thick, joined by musk. I’m used to musk at the base, but here it's powdery, earthy, a little sweaty and a little sweet. It adds complexity to the opening, making it exotic and alluring. As Chergui builds, I catch a whiff of dried red berries – a little wink from Lutens. Incense adds smokiness that makes Chergui smoulder, so when a note of immortal flower comes along, its caramel aspects extend the honey beyond one-noted sweetness with its creamy, toasty smell. The immortal flower has honey, resinous, hay, and tobacco facets and acts as a bridge between the honey and incense and notes of the green, earthy hay and warm, herbaceous tobacco leaf. The tobacco smells of smoke and leather as if it's been kept in a soft leather pouch. It’s a smell I find haunting and compelling. I could linger here for hours, but then I’d miss the flowers: iris and rose. The iris is powdery and sweet with vegetal and earthy aspects that echo the hay. A soft note of lush rose joins it and bolsters the floralcy that balances the fragrance. Over time, the iris blooms, becoming more powdery and more pronounced. Sweet, warm amber and creamy, aromatic sandalwood at the base gives Chergui a dark, rich, exotic finish. 

Chergui dries down to an elegant, refined fragrance that beckons with the promise of a new experience.

For many people, it’s a cold-weather fragrance. I get that, but I like to wear Chergui in hot weather, the way Lutens experienced chergui winds blowing across the desert. That’s when it really blooms into a sultry seducer.

Check out Chergui in our Shop.