Serge Lutens Chergui ~ fragrance review

Serge Lutens Chergui, doubled

Dallying with Tom Ford Private Blend Tobacco Oud sent me looking for my sample of Serge Lutens Chergui. It had probably been a couple of years since I’d smelled it. When it took more than a minute to find the tiny vial in a shoebox of samples, I wondered why I was going to all the trouble. Chergui is tobacco and hay. A nice spicy oriental. I know what this one is all about, right? Wrong.

As I’ve been discovering lately with other fragrances I’ve haven’t smelled in a while, Chergui is not exactly what I remembered. Maybe it’s because I’ve sampled so many perfumes between now and the last time I sniffed Chergui and so have a larger frame of reference. Or maybe my taste is changing. But today Chergui to me smells much more complete and complex than I’d remembered…

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Tom Ford Private Blend Tobacco Oud ~ fragrance review

Tom Ford Private Blend Tobacco Oud

I’ve never been tempted to smoke, but I love the smell of tobacco. Years ago I lived in an apartment whose former occupant smoked Dutch Masters cigarillos. I found a few empty packages — plus an envelope crammed with skull x-rays, go figure — in a cupboard. When the seasons turned, the fetid aroma of long-dead cigarillos wafted from the sheetrock. Delicious. Where I now live, on warm nights my neighbor settles into his backyard hot tub after swing shift at the sewage treatment plant and watches movies on his laptop while he smokes cigars. I like smelling the hint of smoke that made it as far as my bedroom window.

But, for me, head and shoulders above these smells is the aroma of pipe tobacco. Maybe it’s because one of my grandfathers smoked a pipe (when he wasn’t burning through packages of Winstons, that is), or maybe it’s the romantic idea of things associated with pipes — wood-paneled libraries, fireplaces, and cocker spaniels — that allures me. Whatever the case, I’ve longed to find a perfume that captures this fragrance without being too sweet or on-the-nose precious.

Could Tom Ford Private Blend Tobacco Oud be it? I ordered a decant unsniffed…

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House of Cherry Bomb Cardamom Rose & Tobacco Cognac ~ fragrance reviews

House of Cherry Bomb Tobacco Cognac

House of Cherry Bomb is a collaborative project between Maria McElroy (of Aroma M) and Alexis Karl (of Scent by Alexis), two New York-based independent perfumers. The first pair of Cherry Bomb fragrances, Truth or Dare and Rebel Angel, were both vanilla-based gourmands created for younger female wearers. Cardamom Rose and Tobacco Cognac are the first two fragrances in the line’s exclusive “Atelier collection” (available through the Aroma M Atelier in Brooklyn), and they seem aimed at a more grown-up clientele, one with a taste for unconventional (yet wearable) blends.

Cardamom Rose is “an enchanting scent to be worn in all seasons…with subtle spice, trails of Moroccan flowers and traces of smoke.” The mention of Morocco seems important here — perhaps this fragrance is meant to evoke a stroll through the streets of Tangier and the mingled scents of fruit stands, flower markets, spice shops, and smoke drifting out of cafés…

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Coqui Coqui Tabaco, Orange Blossom, Rosas Frescas, Rosas Secas & Coco-Coco ~ fragrance reviews

Part of the Coqui Coqui Spa & Residence Resorts of the Yucatán (with hotels in Mérida, Tulum, Valladolid, Cobá), the Coqui Coqui Perfumería produces perfumes, massage and bath oils, bath salts, hand soap, shampoo/conditioner, body cream, linen spray, diffuser oils, candles…and mosquito repellant! The Coqui Coqui line of fragrances was inspired by the horticultural work of the Franciscan monks who came to Mexico following the Spanish conquest. These monks, guided by Mayan experts, used the fragrant plants of southern Mexico to create medicines and scented products for domestic use and export to Spain.

Coqui Coqui’s Eaux de Cologne and Eaux de Parfum are “simple;” the fragrances are streamlined (without being boring), and I imagine they would hit the spot in hot and steamy climates (like in Yucatán, where they are used to fragrance Coqui Coqui hotels). Today, I’m reviewing my favorite fragrances in the extensive perfume line-up…

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Diptyque Volutes ~ fragrance review

curl of smoke

Volutes, it’s a shape and a scent, intimately linked: the volute1 and tobacco. It’s also the scent of the labyrinth of waxed corridors and panelled lounges, the mysterious, and elegant ladies leaning on the ship’s rail smoking their Khedive cigarettes.

I have an abiding fondness for the French niche line Diptyque. They made three of my early perfumista favorites, all of which are still regulars in my rotation: Philosykos, Tam Dao and L’Ombre dans L’Eau. Olène and Oyedo are old friends that I still visit when I’m in the right mood, and if I had not long since drained my decants of Virgilio and L’Eau Trois, they’d get an occasional nod too.

All of those fragrances, of course, are pre-2005. The newer Diptyque fragrances have not moved me to open my wallet;2 as I said when I reviewed Eau Duelle,

Since Tam Dao, Diptyque has become a kind of go-to house for muted fragrances on familiar themes. They’re well done, in fact some of them are fantastically well done, but they aren’t often surprising, and with the current glut of niche fragrances — it’s hard to think of a single theme, vanilla included, that hasn’t been explored to the heavens and back again in the last year or two — a little surprise is a welcome thing.

Eau Mage had a bit more heft and personality than some of the brand’s recent offerings, but never made it to my buy list, and nor did 34 Boulevard Saint Germain or Eau Rose.

Which brings us to Volutes, the brand’s latest…

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