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L'Air du Désert Marocain - Inspires my inner artist - May 28, 2010


Image - When the Sun comes up in the Moroccan Desert - Wikipedia

Smell fascinates me. It has all my life, and I think the reason for this fascination is that I seem to have a more acute sense of smell than most people. What amazes me is that scientists don’t even really understand, or agree, on the physiology of how we smell. Our other senses - sight, sound, touch, taste - have been well-studied, mapped, and catalogued, but smell has not.

Two current “how we smell” theories think that the nose/brain connection either identifies the shape (molecules) or the movement (vibrations) of each scent.  Regardless of how we do it, smell is the first sense to kick in – we take our first breath, we smell, we smell our mother, and immediately learn that Mother’s smell means FOOD – and survival.  As we grow, smell helps us understand and organize our environment – “smells good, smells bad”. We learn to identify danger through smells – “Something’s burning!”  How does this happen, how do mammals “know” smells? We can’t touch them, or see them..........or can we?

Psychologically, scents become memories through the experiences that are attached to the act of smelling something, or someone. Do I smell the same thing as you do, if I smell it when I’m happy, and you smell it when you are sad?  No one can say for certain since science has no way of proving it.  As a result, smells, and our perception of them, are highly experiential and personal, connected to moments in time and place, and remembered as images and emotions. We do, in fact “see” and “feel” smells.

The perfumer’s art form is smell, and the canvas is the juice in the perfume bottle. But unlike the painter or musician whose unique creative vision is complete once committed to canvas or a score sheet – red is red, a B flat is a B flat – the perfumer’s artistic vision can change when we apply the perfume to our skin. Our individual skin chemistry reacts with the liquid as it vaporizes and releases the perfume notes, our brains sort the personal memories attached to the smells we perceive, and we join in the creative process.  Each of us becomes the artist, in a sense, when we catch a whiff of a perfume – we  immediately create our own “perfume experience” through the images and emotions our brain retrieves. And this is what gives a fragrance value.

And if the fragrance is the creation of a masterful nose, then the fragrance has tremendous value. For example, indie perfumer Andy Tauer of Tauer Perfumes is fairly new to the perfume scene – he started in Zurich with one fragrance in 2004, which was commissioned by a friend to sell in his book store. A scientist (molecular biology) by training, and a perfumer by choice, Andy says on his website:

“I create perfume; using the best ingredients I can get. With passion and love, to share what I consider beautiful, and exciting. I want to create perfumes beyond the ordinary………create fragrances without compromises………”

L'Air du désert marocain is his second scent, and it is remarkable. I can't think of another perfume from any perfume maker which smells like this one - dry, warm, earthy and subtly complex.  It opens with top notes of coriander, cumin, petitgrain, bergamot, on a bed of rock rose (labdanum) and white jasmine. Then the dry, warm resins emerge – cedar, geranium, vetiver - grounded by the wonderfully lush base notes of vanilla, patchouli, and ambergris.

But this perfume is not about the notes – it’s about the pictures it evokes. A masterful creation,  the EdT Intense stays on the skin, a seamless swoon that floats past your nose for hours and hours, swirling images, sights, sounds, memories.

Andy’s words:

“When I created L'Air du désert marocain, which still is my personal favourite, I had a picture in mind, a hotel bed in Marakkesh, in the early evening, the sun gone. The moon would rise soon and I imagined myself being in this room, lying on the bed, exhausted from the heat of the day, with the window open, letting the cool air in. A soft and dry wind coming in, carrying the scents from the near desert, and the spices of the busy streets below. Laying on the bed, dreaming of a moon raising over the sandy hills of the Saharan desert, I dreamt the fragrance of a Moroccan night.”

L’Air du désert marocain inspires my inner artist to recall an evening from over 30 years ago, driving in the desert with my young husband – the dry exotic scent of the purple air, the sky orange and red, the moon hanging, rising….. I see it, I smell it, I’m there once again on my honeymoon.

L’Air du désert marocain is listed in  our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.

Read more of my thoughts about this extraordinary fragrance here.