Perfume Review- Serge Lutens Chergui: The Desert Wind

africanduststorm

A fire fanned by the wind, a desert in flames.

As if bursting from the earth, Chergui, a desert wind, creates an effect that involves suction more than blowing, carrying plants, insects and twigs along in an inescapable ascent. Its full, persistent gusts crystallize shrubs, bushes and berries, which proceed to scorch, shrivel up and pay a final ransom in saps, resins and juices. Night falls on a still-smoldering memory, making way for the fragrant, ambery and candied aromas by the alchemist that is Chergui.

That is how Serge Lutens describes Chergui, a perfume for men and women created Cherguiwith Lutens’ favorite perfumer, Christopher Sheldrake. It was released in 2001 as a fragrance exclusive to Lutens’ Paris Palais Royal salon and was not available for export. In 2005, however, it was made available worldwide and became a monster hit.

In fact, in 2007, MakeupAlley apparently voted Chergui its #1 favorite perfume. It took that place above: Frederic Malle’s Musc Ravageur (#2), Hermès’ Ambre Narguilé (#3), Guerlain‘s Mitsouko (#8), Andy Tauer‘s L’Air du Desert Marocain (#10), Chanel No. 19 (#11), Chanel Bois de Iles (#12), Guerlain‘s Shalimar (#14), Chanel‘s Coco (#15), Guerlain‘s L’Heure Bleue (#19) and many other, much-loved fragrances. I don’t think I would vote Chergui my favorite scent, let alone of all time (vintage Opium will always have that spot), but I adore Chergui. It is absolutely lovely, and my favorite out of the seven Lutens perfumes that I’ve tried thus far. Until Chergui, I found myself admiring a Lutens fragrance more on an intellectual or theoretical basis, rather than an emotional one. I couldn’t find one that I would actually want to wear. Until now.

Fragrantica classifies Chergui as an “oriental spicy” and lists its notes as:

tobacco leaf, honey, iris, sandalwood, amber, musk, incense, rose and hay.

Dried tobacco leaves

Tobacco leaves drying in Virginia.

Chergui opens on me slightly differently than on others. There is an initial citric and lemon note that I haven’t read of others experiencing. The citrus accompanies a strong rose note along with smoky tobacco leaves over a leather base. The combination of notes reminds me a tiny bit of my much-loved vintage Montana by Claude Montana (now renamed Montana Parfum de Peau) as well as the opening of some chypre fragrances — so much so that, for a minute or two, I wonder if perhaps I received a different sample as part of my Lutens set. But, no, this is definitely Chergui. The tobacco leaves are unmistakable. This is not the tobacco of a cigarette or dirty ashtray, nor is it the fruity tobacco of a pipe. These leaves recall images I’ve seen of tobacco drying under the hot sun of the American South. They have a rich amberous, almost nutty element to them with smoke that goes far beyond the sort in mere incense; it verges into the more extreme, black, tarry aspects of frankincense.

Source: etshoneysupliers.

Source: etshoneysupliers.

At the same time, the opening exudes honey. It is not as strong on me, at this time, as it seems to be on others. In fact, I seem to have the reverse experience of a number of commentators who start out with honey, hay and tobacco, only to find a heart of spicy rose later on. On me, the pyramid triangle is reversed. The rose is upfront and on top, with smoke and woody notes following on its heels.

There is also a note of camphor which intertwines itself with the smoke. It’s almost a medicinal note which leads me to wonder if camphor is Christopher Sheldrake’s favorite ingredient for perfumes. The slightly chilled, cold, cool note it provides is interesting, particularly when combined with the rose notes, because it creates a strong similarity to the many rose oud fragrances currently on the market. In fact, I can definitely smell a woody, medicinal, floral oud note in Chergui, though no oud or agarwood is listed. (Then again, I continuously read that Serge Lutens doesn’t list all the ingredients in his perfumes, so who knows.) The note is subtle and not very strong, but it dances around the rose and honey opening, adding dryness and wood to the perfume’s richness.

The camphorous smoke accords strongly call to mind campfires, except you’re not in a forest as you are with oud perfumes. Here, the campfire is in a field of roses sandwiched between a Turkish tobacco bazaar and an ancient Greek Orthodox churchGreek Orthodox Censer that is billowing out incense and frankincense. Unlike so many others, I don’t get impressions of Morocco or the desert from Chergui. I definitely did from Andy Tauer’s L’Air du Desert Marocain, but not from this. On me, it was not spiced enough for Morocco. Instead, for some strange reason, I get persistent images of Istanbul. But all that is mere quibbling because, frankly, I cannot stop sniffing my arm!

As time passes in the opening hour, the leather starts to bloom, alongside subtle hints of sandalwood. This is not the cold, black leather of scents like Robert Piguet’s Bandit or Montale’s Aoud Cuir d’Arabie; nor is it the pale suede of Chanel’s Cuir de Russie or Etat Libre d’Orange’s Tom of Finland. This is warm, soft leather that is caramel, nutty and smooth. The accompanying sandalwood is faint, but never synthetic. And the whole thing is cocooned in a backdrop of rich honey. There is great sweetness, but it is never cloying or like the sugar bomb perfumes that are currently saturating the commercial market. This is not diabetes in a bottle; there are no cupcake or dessert similarities here.

Thirty minutes in, the camphorous notes have receded a little, as have the woody oud-like notes. The sandalwood increases its presence, as does the element of sweet hay from what is said to be a healthy dollop of coumarin. (See the Glossary for further details on coumarin and its notes.) To be honest, I really don’t get a hell of a lot of sweet hay at this point but, then again, my perfume triangle seems to be reversed. The strong coumarin accord comes later, about four hours into the fragrance, and its straw-like sweetness is a perfect counterbalance to the different, richer kind of sweetness coming from the honey.

The smoke, sandalwood and florals call to mind several different perfumes. Again, L’Air du Desert Marocain is not one of them. There is, however, a surprising and peculiar impression of YSL‘s Opium made light — a comparison also noted by the blog, That Smell. To some extent, that’s not surprising as Opium is the ultimate benchmark for all spicy orientals with incense and frankincense. But Chergui is much lighter and sweeter than (vintage) Opium with its powerful eugenol cloves, its opening blast of citrus and orange, and its muscular sandalwood, opoponax and balsams. I haven’t tried (yet) Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille which some say is similar to Chergui, but what I think it sometimes resembles is Molinard‘s Habanitaamazing Habanita, one of the original sweet tobacco and leather fragrances which dates back to 1921. Chergui lacks its very strong citric opening and its constant, very powdered vanilla character, but there are similarities especially with the rose, leather and sweet tobacco accords of the opening hours. Chergui is more honeyed tobacco leaves, while Habanita is more powdered tobacco paper, but there are similarities.

As time passes, Chergui continues to develop. At the two hour note, the tobacco has become softer, the incense milder, the sandalwood smoother and the whole thing takes on a creamy aura. I have a definite impression of creamy tea due to a milky note that is lovely and cozy. And the honey accord is getting stronger now that the powerful incense and wood accords have retreated. The leather is very faint, if it’s there at all. Interestingly, I’ve read a surprisingly large number of comments that say the leather seems stronger on men than on women, with these reports coming from women whose husbands or boyfriends also wear Chergui.

Source: Visual Photos

Source: Visual Photos

After 4.5 hours, Chergui is all honey with some soft tobacco and loads of sweet, dry coumarin. It really smells like bales of hay in a barn, only coated with honey! Those notes constitute the essence of the dry-down phase for me and they remained for several more hours to come.

In terms of sillage and longevity, Chergui became close to the skin after about four hours, but its longevity is impressive. I could smell faint, minute traces of it on my skin after 8 hours and, again, my body consumes perfume voraciously. On others, I’ve read it lasts forever and ever. Also, as a side note, I’ve read a lot of people say that this is a perfume that can actually improve in the heat and in summer, so it should not be considered solely as a winter perfume.

Chergui has many admirers, but some detractors as well. On Basenotes, it has 102 positive reviews, 13 negative ones and 28 neutrals. The 13 negative comments focus on how it is either cloyingly sweet or uninteresting. On Fragrantica, the negative reviews are greater in number with the primary complaints being: 1) it smells too powdery; 2) it’s too sweet or too “old man”-ish; and 3) it opens like “bug spray.” I don’t smell any powder in Chergui and, given how I’m not a huge fan of the note, I would mention it if I did. I can see, however, why some may get the impression of “bug spray.” I think it’s the camphorous element in the opening. According to Luca Turin, in the old days, camphor notes (like that in patchouli) were used as bug repellent. The more common criticism of Chergui — that of its sweetness — is something I don’t personally agree with given the extent of the very dry smoke, incense and coumarin, but I can see how this would be far too much for someone who isn’t into honey perfumes or who generally prefers light, floral, or less heady scents. This is definitely not the scent for them!

Among the many rave reviews for Chergui, a few stood out to me. One was the absolutely beautiful review by Victoria from Bois de Jasmin who wrote:

it is an Arabian Nights vignette in a liquid form.

The candied quality melts in the smoke whispers that fill the arrangement, like incense smoke seeping through the carved screens. The floral accord folded into the smoky layers of Chergui lightens density and sweetness, lending a voluptuous silky quality. The fine cured Virginia tobacco notes overlaid on the smoky leathery base give the composition a slightly masculine character, counterbalancing the sweet notes….

If Chergui is an oasis, it encompasses not only the romantic elements of such a vision—dark black tea served with sugar cubes on the side, narghileh smoked inside leather tents, heavy silks carried by the caravans. The camels resting in the shade are suggested by the animalic sweetness underpinning the honeyed base. Like in an intricate Persian miniature, Chergui is a tale that spills from one story into another.

It maintains the suspense despite the fact that the development of the composition from the top accord to the bottom is not particularly dramatic. Instead, the hints of what is to come—whiff of tobacco, curl of rose petal, creaminess of sandalwood—are suggested in the preceding stages, resulting in the harmony of the narrative. At the same time, the intrinsic romanticism of Chergui fits with the philosophy of Serge Lutens’s work. Like Delacroix, a French painter, was fascinated with the Moroccan scenes, Serge Lutens’s fragrances allow a glimpse into another world through the eyes of an outsider.

I think that may be one of the most beautiful reviews I’ve read for any fragrance! But an equally noteworthy one — albeit less romantic and much more amusing — came from a commentator on MakeupAlley. There, “ThreeJane” gave a wonderful, very down-to-earth review of how Chergui can make one average, harried, stressed-out woman feel:

Chergui is a WOMAN’S scent. You’d better be a mature woman…all curves, breasts, buttocks, and satiny toffee-colored skin to wear this. You can pin a man from across the room with your smoky eyes, beckon him with a narcotic-laced toss of your hair, bend his will to your whim, and break his heart with an indifferent glance. Your clothes meld to your curves, and men can’t say why you are so intoxicating… […]. Women want to be you, men want to possess you.

That’s how this scent makes me feel, anyway. Not like a harried housewife with four homechooled kids and a messy (not dirty! Just cluttered!) house that has dogs bouncing off the walls and a perennial dish or three in the sink. Some days I just drag around in yoga pants and a t-shirt (it’s really a pajama tee from Target, don’t tell) with my hair haphazardly twisted up in a bun. I’m 41, with some wrinkles and sagging skin, standard mom issue.

But when I wear Chergui, I magically transform into Catherine Zeta-Jones in “The Legend of Zorro”, Angelina Jolie in “Original Sin”. Lush, luscious, sensual, unforgettable. After you get past the first almost acrid, medicinal blast of herby incense (about 10 minutes)…almost eyewatering, really…the scent melds into a spicy, honeyed, slightly sugary amber that’s saved from cloying-ness by a fresh bite of tobacco, iris, and I guess it’s hay. There’s supposed to be rose notes in this, which unfortunately, rose never shows up on me. But it’s not needed or missed.

Hours, and I mean HOURS, later, the drydown maintains the amber and slowly includes a woody edge…I guess that’s the sandalwood. I can see the guy from “The Most Interesting Man in the World” beer commercials wearing this. But it’s not manly, oh no. If my florid, overblown prose didn’t spell it out above, it’s verrrry feminine (all dependent on chemistry…always).

[…] There aren’t a lot of things that can elevate me from my rather humdrum hausfrau existence, so when I find something that lifts me up, I’ll take it and exploit it every chance I get. Just lovely.

The two reviews could not be more different and, yet, I think they both manage to capture the gist of Chergui. Try it for yourself, and see where the red desert wind takes you….

Details:
Cost & Availability: Chergui is currently on sale as the “Deal of the Week” at Beauty Encounter where the 1.7 oz/50 ml bottle is priced at $85.65 and free shipping is available. I don’t know how long that special will last. At all other times, you can find Chergui on the Serge Lutens Chergui Bell Jarwebsite. In the famous bell-jar shape, it costs $280 for 2.5 fl oz/75 ml. However, in the smaller size and regular bottle, it costs $120 for 1.7 fl oz/50 ml. Serge Lutens is sometimes available at fine retailers like Barney’s, but I don’t see Chergui listed on a number of department store sites. Chergui is also available on Penny Lane and Lucky Scent for $140 for the 1.7 oz/50 ml bottle — which is $20 more than it costs on the Lutens website. In the UK, you can find Chergui at Harrods where it costs £69.00 for a 1.7 oz/50 ml bottle. You can also find it at Les Senteurs (or perhaps just at their Elizabeth Street shop) where that same bottle costs £79.00. The site sells samples of Chergui for £3.50. In Australia, I found it on the Grays website where the 1.7 oz/50 ml bottle retails for AUD $124.50. For other countries, you can use the Store Locator on the Lutens website. Sample vials to test it out can be bought at Surrender to Chance (but not Lucky Scent) starting at $3.99. Surrender to Chance also has a special Lutens sample pack of 3 non-export perfumes which includes Chergui (and Borneo 1834) and which starts at $11.50 for the smallest sized vials. Surrender to Chance has the best shipping rates, in my opinion: $2.95 for orders of any size within the U.S., and $5.95 for all international orders under $75 (otherwise, it’s just a tiny bit more).

67 thoughts on “Perfume Review- Serge Lutens Chergui: The Desert Wind

  1. I love Three Jane’s description!! I have been eyeing a full bottle purchase of this for some time. As always, I think you might have just blown me in the right direction. I have a sample sitting here which I need to give another try!

    • Wasn’t her review wonderful? I loved the honesty about the dishes in the sink and all the rest. It added weight to her comments about Chergui, in addition to being refreshingly candid. As for Chergui, if your 2nd try makes up your mind for you, then that Beauty Encounter deal is just perfect for you. I know you like Penny Lane, but there is almost a $40 difference, even with the $25 off from Penny Lane! I’m close to succumbing myself; I find a really good bargain extremely hard to resist! LOL. xoxo

  2. How versatile do you find it Kafka? I often find Luten’s fragrances (at least the ones I’ve smelled) to be great pieces of art but hard to wear. What’s your take on that?

    • If someone likes warm, sweet, and rich scents, then I think this is versatile. Much more so than some Lutens, but perhaps not as much as something like Un Bois Vanille or (for rose lovers) Sa Majesté La Rose. Those two and, oh, A La Nuit too, are all lighter fragrances and thus, perhaps more versatile for the average person. (Though some won’t last long at all, like, for example, A La Nuit which is an absolutely superb jasmine soliflore but which really doesn’t last long at all, imo.)

      I think Chergui is at the edge of that range of versatility but, for someone who likes that sort of spicy, warm, resinous scent, then it’s definitely possible. I would wear this a lot, though given what I do now, I can’t see me wearing any one thing every day nonstop. In contrast, I don’t think Tubereuse Criminelle, Serge Noire or Borneo 1834 are things you could wear every day or, even, a few days a week. They are rare occasion scents, in my view, though Borneo less so than Tubereuse Criminelle. I don’t know if that helps clarify things or just confused things even more. LOL. Don’t hesitate to ask if I didn’t clear things up. 🙂

  3. I have a sample of this on the way. I can’t wait to try it now. I hope I feel the way everyone else does about it. Then again, my wallet would be better off if I didn’t.

    • Ha, that eternal dilemma between wanting to like it and wanting to be free of an expensive yearning that will kill your wallet! The good news is, if you do end up liking Chergui, there is a special deal at Beauty Encounter for a short while where it’s only $86!! I don’t know how long it will last though. Promise you’ll let me know what you think when you get it and try it?

  4. When you say Chergui is all honey after 4.5 hours…is that honey in a good way? Or something that would becoming annoying. I’m getting ready to place another surrender to chance order, is this worth adding to it. I think I’m overwhelmed by the choices available..I want to order everything!lol Help! Any suggestions or must haves? I value your opinion. I’m still in love with Coromandel, disappointed with Angel leather. For some reason I thought the leather would give it an edge but it doesn’t. I actually used it as an air freshener!lol I like Angel, I just don’t like to smell like angel. Weird right?

    • It’s honey in a good way, Jackie. It’s nothing sweet, artificial or excessive like the Angel line. (I had to laugh at you using Angel Leather as air freshener and your lin, “I like Angel, I just don’t want to smell like Angel.” ROFL!!) So, no Tom Ford even after a week? That opening blast of Black Orchid must have really terrified you, honey. 😉

      In terms of samples, I would recommend the Chergui, Ormonde Jayne’s Tolu (get a 3 sample set if you can, so you can also try Woman and then either Ta’if or Orris Noir as all 3 have super reviews. I have Woman and Orris Noir, and need to do a review soon). I’d also throw in Hermès’ Elixir de Merveilles (not the Eau or the Ambre!). If you like florals, then perhaps Fracas. For more oriental, amber stuff, perhaps Alahine by Teo Cabanel or if you want a very cozy amber, then Hermes’ Ambre Narguilé. I still haven’t completely pinpointed your taste or perfume profile, to be honest, other than knowing that you have the good taste not to like synthetic, cloying, super sweet sugar bombs from commercial perfumes.

      • Ha ha! Yes and no, I’ve been battling a cold so my nose hasn’t been too reliable.
        However, I did try it tonight and again that opening blast is something! Very dramatic, complex and for me a tad bit overwhelming at times. I can smell florals (jasmine, but is there iris too?) right from the start and it’s strong, which throws me off a bit. Actually it making me a bit nauseous.
        There are moments when I like the perfume and then a few minutes later I find it obnoxious. So confusing, but after an hour or so it does settle down and becomes warm almost creamy with some tiny hints of sweetness but it’s still has a heavy spicy earth scent. Patchouli?
        After two hours Black orchid has given me a headache and I can’t help wondering if it’s from the florals because certain mixes tend to do that to me. I just wish I could pinpoint which ones do that.
        I’m praying this scent does last long on me but with my luck it will be one of the few perfume that will last forever. Lol!
        My thoughts so far on Black Orchid is that it’s not for me. Its dark and dramatic , spicy yet mysterious and playful at times. I will give it another try and then had it off to my mom…it reminds me of her! This is right up her alley.

  5. I like Chergui. Probably not a FBW “like” (but who knows?) but enough to wear it from time to time from my sample. Once it’s gone I’ll be thinking if I need more. But it’s a very pleasant scent.

    • I was surprised by how much I liked it, perhaps because most of the Lutens that I’ve tried thus far have been impressive to me mainly on an intellectual basis. Just out of curiosity, when you get samples, are they all of a medium to big nature? Mine generally aren’t, as I almost never get 5 or 10 ml size decants but only enough to test things out and then decide later. I think I would be a lot less tempted to get a full bottle of Chergui if: 1) I had something like 10 ml; and 2) if there wasn’t a fabulous deal on it right now. I’m a sucker for a really good bargain….. 😉

      • My last year resolution was to stop buying samples (because I got so many untested ones that it was insane to keep spending money on new samples) so I turned to 1) buying decants (5 ml) at cost (splits) for those perfumes I smelled in the store, liked but didn’t get a free sample – 5 ml decant from a split often costs not much more than a tiny vial from Luckyscent or a decanter site; and 2) swapping decants with blogo-friends. For example, once the feeling of the novelty of your bottle is gone (if you get it,Imean) – come and we’lltalk some friendly exchange. If you want.

        • Splits and the like seem like such SANE ideas that I wonder how I never heard about them before late last year! Really, it makes so much sense. I’ve been spending frightful amounts on samples from Surrender to Chance and have about 40 things as a backlog to test out! They’re all small sizes to make things more financially practical, but it definitely adds up. Still, there is so much excitement in always having something new to try. But to get a 5ml vial for just a little more than a tiny 1ml vial…. that definitely appeals to the bargain hunter in me. 🙂

          To be frank, much of this whole world is new to me. I would just buy bottles of everything — or else, just yearn for what was too much out of reach. There is, after all, a limit to how many bottles of perfume one can buy in one year! I got intrigued by perfume reviews because I found myself constantly seeking analysis of things that I would see at great prices on eBay or trying to find out what stuff had been reformulated and how it was now. And…. I somehow ended up here. Blogging. LOL.

          If I get a full bottle, I’d be happy to talk splits. 🙂 BTW, I got my sample decant box from that site you recommended. But, I packed it away carefully in the corner until I can get the guts to try out a few test runs and then do it. I don’t know why I find the prospect so intimidating. LOL. But thank you for the wonderful post on the subject. I will work up the courage soon. I want to send Mr. Hound some Elixir de Merveilles, Habanita, and some of my vintage stuff. Totally OT, I was underwhelmed by the Ambres de Merveilles too. I smiled when I read that comment from you. Have you tried the Elixir de Merveilles? MARVELOUS stuff!! One of my favorite non-vintage things in years and something that made me buy a full bottle IMMEDIATELY. That is extremely rare for me!

          • Start with making a couple of spray decants of perfumes you wear often to use yourself as a travel/purse sprays. After that it’ll be easier. Just do not jump into commercial splitting or swapping with people you do not know. And do not start with anything irreplaceable (e.g. vintage perfumes). Elixir de Merveilles is a perfect guinea pig.
            Speaking of guinea Elixir de Merveilles. No, I haven’t tried it on my skin yet but I will – as soon as I get to it in a store.

          • I really appreciate the suggestions. Thank you. You can be sure I would never use my vintage stuff. I hoard them away like crazy and almost never even use them on myself! (Which probably explains why I have an almost 1/2 full bottle of an Hermes chypre from 1985! Not to mention a vintage 24 Faubourg and a whole host of other stuff that is at least 25 years old. lol) Vintage is one of my big perfume passions, though I don’t have enough money to indulge in it the way I would like. Plus, there isn’t usually much point in writing about what other people can’t find easily.

            You will have to let me know what you think of the Elixir after you try it. It’s my favorite bi-polar perfume. (It really is completely bi-polar but in the best way possible!). I’m so glad that I found you through Mr. Hound/Steve. Thanks for all your kindness, Undina.

      • So I tried my Chergui sample and liked it. It reminded me of other perfumes — V&R Spicebomb (promising rookie), TF Private Blend Tobacco Vanille (brash, irresponsible, know-it-all) and Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille (sophisticated and distinguished) and Chergui (sensitive and intellectual). I don’t see a FB in my future, but I wouldn’t mind a 5-10mL decant as I do like it. (Also not buying a FB of this because my brain (and nose) is stuck on Guerlain Gourmand Coquin…have you ever tried it? OMG! I only have the teeniest tiny sample from a very stingy / reluctant Saks SA. Since I have play money from Nordstrom, it may very well end up being my 3rd Guerlain this month (not a typo).

        • Possibly your third in a month?! Well, now I know one of the brands that owns you, heart and soul! 😉 I haven’t tried Gourmand Coquin but if that has enraptured you so much out of the lovely ones you mentioned, then it must be amazing! I’ve been pondering whether Chergui is “sensitive and intellectual.” Really interesting description there, Hajusuuri. I have samples of the Tom Ford and Guerlain SDV that you mentioned in comparison, but I haven’t tried them yet. Once I do, I’ll let you know if Chergui seems sensitive and intellectual in comparison. 🙂 Thank you so much for letting me know your experiences with it!

          • Heart/Sou//Wallet – Hermes is still tops, followed by Chanel. I just started with the FB Guerlains this year (where have I been?). By the way, another adjective I would use for Chergui is Poetic.

          • Ha! The wallet part made me laugh. Hermès is one of my favorites too. Guerlain sometimes is. (Which reminds me, I need to test out Cuir Beluga soon.) I’m much more a fan of their old scents, not this light sort of thing that they did with their Un Ville, Un Parfum line/Voyage Olfactifs stuff or their numerous Acqua perfumes. But I haven’t tried their richer niche, prestige lines, so I probably have a distorted impression of things. I really want to explore their l’Art et La Matiere perfumes and the Desert d’Orient ones. So, which Guerlains have made you succumb to a full bottle? 🙂

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  8. I tried this one this evening! Absolutely awesome! Reminds me of a “cousin” of Coromandel (decidedly different), so I’m not surprised I like it. Can’t stop smelling my arm! I agree with one of your comments though, in particular, I don’t get “desert” from this either, and while I’ve not yet been to Istanbul, that seems more apropos. Great scent!

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  12. A few months ago I would have never thought that I would be a fan of honey, but it turns out that I am! Crazy! I smell honey from start to finish but it’s never overpowering or sweet on me. And tobacco leafy, another surprise! I’m having a hard time trying to pick up the rose note…it’s funny I either hate rose or I’m indifferent to them. I guess your right it just depends on what its paired with. I do catch a bit of a sharp or bitter scent? But it’s only there every once and awhile and its like a flash. Amber & musk can be strong( which I love ) on me but with Chergui both notes are more soft and creamy. This perfume is light, airy with a touch a spice…it’s somewhat intoxicating. Which I find a bit odd since it’s not a loud in your face scent to me. I’ve tried it three times and each time I couldn’t stop sniffing my arm! lol . For me this is a perfume would fall into “my use year round” list, even though I would probably use it more often in the summer. I think I’ve fallen in love with it! So glad I took your advice:) Which means, sometime soon I’ll be ordering a bottle of it! I think I just heard my credit card scream. Haha
    xo, Jackie

    • What a lovely, spot-on assessment of Chergui! I’m so, so incredibly happy that you love it and that it is working for you. Even better, you think you’ve found something you could wear every day. I love the thought of you not being able to stop sniffing your arm! As for a full bottle, I bought mine on sale about 10 days ago at BeautyEncounter for $75 with free shipping and no tax! It’s currently sold out there but I found it for $71 on LilyDirect which is a site that I’ve heard other people have ordered from in the past without problems: http://www.lilydirect.com/Serge-Lutens-Chergui-Unisex-Perfume-by-Serge-Lutens–17-oz-EDP-Spray-New-In-Box_p_4952.html?gdftrk=gdfV25891_a_7c2352_a_7c8975_a_7cSLUSLC17EDPUR

      My apologies in advance to your wallet…. 😉

      • Thank you for the link:) $71!!! thats a great price point, so my wallet has no say here!
        Another thing I love about this perfume, no one else over here will have it!lol I like to be unique 🙂

        • Nothing gives me greater joy than to lead people into perfume temptation. LOL! I didn’t check to see if the site ships to Canada but I assume they do. Hopefully, you can see via a quick Google search if there are any discount codes floating around on the internet to make things even cheaper! xoxoxox

          • Temptation can be oh so dangerous and sweet all at the same time!!haha
            Funny that you mention shipping… I just sent them an email about that! Fingers crossed they do. But if they don’t I’ll just use the parcel service in Pembina, ND. That’s what Canadians ( winnipegers) use for companies that don’t ship to Canada:)
            Where there’s a will….

  13. I’ve probably mentioned it, or you realize it already, but this is one of my all time SL favorites, along with Cuir Mauresque. I think there’s a bit of my soul bottled up in Chergui… the honey, the spices, the desert air and incense. It evokes a lot of what I love about the desert Southwest too, even though I know that it springs from another place.

    I’m so glad you love this one too!

    And hm, you’ve make me think I need to find some vintage Habanita, which is a fragrance I’ve never smelled.

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  16. Thanks to the most generous perfume loving fairie a gal can have I am sniffing Chergui right now on the upper portion of my arm…LOOOVVVEEEE it! Why ,however, am I detecting a mint note? This one is definitely full bottle worthy and perfect for cooler fall weather. fantastic review!

    • I’m SOOOOOOO glad you love it so much! Isn’t it a fabulous, amazing scent?! Absolutely one of my favorites from the Lutens line, and a beautiful scent as a relative whole.

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  24. I just received my FB of Chergui, after having read reviews about it forever… OMG!! Is it the most exquisite thing I’ve ever smelled? No. But… It IS still developing, unfurling on my arm, one hour after I dabbed it ( was slightly AFRAID to spray after I uncapped and took a whiff! ). And surely but slowly, since the initial cinnamon, camphor, and amber blast has receded, I keep catching these soft, feminine, vaguely honeyed amber as I move my arm around. Unfortunately, my skin is gonna eat this stuff alive, so it’s ever so faint in sillage on me. At least, I THINK it is!! :). But when I put my face into the crook of my arm and inhale deeply, I can smell, all at once, the spices, the honey, hay, tobacco… Oh, at this very rough time of my life, when I’ve just endured job loss and personal loss, I’m sucked away instantly, and in that instant, I’m GONE!!! Nothing else but bliss fills my mind for that fraction of time. I think that I’m going to be gravitating towards Chergui often, it is my own personal aromatherapy.
    Now, I only have to find a way to finagle the absent finances in order to procure some Kalemat. Wish they sold samples!!
    Wishing everyone good health as we prepare to slog through the upcoming holidays!

    • Chergui as personal aromatherapy…. I love it! I’m SO glad it’s worked for you, Lexi, but I’m very sorry to hear about the rough times you’ve been going through. It sounds like a lot, all coming from different sides and angles. I know what that’s like, and sometimes, you just have to hold on tight, breathe, and wait for the storm cloud to pass. Sometimes, it seems like they’re refusing to budge, so just hang in there, okay? And, yes, perfume can be a wonderful protective shield and armour. I hope Chergui ends up being that way for you. 🙂

      As for the sillage, it can turn very soft, but once you adjust to the opening phase, maybe you can go to town a bit more in terms of the quantity you apply. And remember, spraying increases both duration and projection!

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  27. Coming back to this thread to mention that I participated in a split of Chergui from the NST Splitmeet and yay, I can now spritz away which I did today – 4 spritzes (one of a few perfumes where I need to spritz away — I am looking at you Safran Troublant). It became a skin scent after 2 hours and then gone at around hour 5 or so, then re-emerged again later around hour ten when I was warmer after my 1+ mile walk to Penn Station. I’ll probably layer it with Vanille 44 or Mitzah or even Kalemat.

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  33. I have been wearing Chergui on and off for about two weeks now (thanks to a great deal on a decant purchased on ebay-surprised?) and my first impression upon spraying it on my skin was that it was soft & beautiful. It immediately reminded me of APLS, and I suppose it’s the honey that made me think that. This is a very office friendly fragrance to wear, and APLS, IMO, could be layered on top of this one in the evening. Am I crazy to be reminded of APLS?
    My father still raises cattle, so I know what hay smells like & I got that note. As soon as I identified the note, my mind pictured the round bales of hay in the middle of a sunny pasture (with no cow droppings in sight). It was a fresh, clean scent that undercut the sweetness that never became cloying.
    You mention a camphor note & I’m thinking that’s what, to me, smells like a concentrated ball of freshness in the middle of the honey & tobacco. I didn’t think “camphor,” but I did think “fresh.”
    Longevity is terrific, but the sillage is really, really soft on me & that’s my only issue with it. I have read that Chergui was stronger before reformulations & that the liquid was originally green. I don’t know, but it’s definitely fb worthy, especially since it’s available for one penny under $60.00 on a popular discount fragrance website (with a 25% off coupon).
    I also agree with those who think this would work well in the summer because of that fresh/cool note that keeps it from becoming too sweet. All in all, it’s a lovely perfume, and, although I don’t need it, I want it.

  34. I’m in love with Chergui-and it arrived earlier today. I sprayed my arms and neck, then had to go outside in the bitter cold to run some errands. Despite being layered in clothing, I could still smell it wafting itself from my body heat. Inside I kept.smelling my arms. The opening is similar to something I’ve smelled. You mentioned Chypre fragrances so that could be. I get hay, honey, tobacco, something ambery, creamy-spice. To my nose, I do get a hint of rose. 🙂 I’m so thrilled. My wallet isn’t thrilled, but I’ve been lucky on the discount sites. Next to try: Serge
    Noire, Cuir Mauresque-not discounted…my ever growing list. Fun, fun.

    • Wonderful. I’m so glad to hear that it works on you and, even better, that you’re not having projection issues like another reader recently did. I hope the other Lutens that you try work for you as well.

  35. So badly wanted to like this but can’t (and I own a FB – let’s not go there!) It reminds me of when I was younger and worked in a nursing home bathing old ladies. Makes me feel old and too tame. I’ll give it to my mother.

    • Oh dear, was it a blind buy? Those are rarely a good idea. I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you, Cerulean. I hope your mother enjoys it more.

      • It was a blind buy, Kafka. Where I live in my far little corner of the world, small samples cost the earth to have sent from overseas, so generally speaking, it makes more sense to do one’s homework well and take a gamble on a FB. (Except in the case of the 10ml decant of Ambra Aurea, which should last me a whole year or two it is so potent.) Yesterday I had a rare day off and decided to give Chergui another chance. I sprayed it instead of dabbing. That alone made it smell slightly different, as in nicer (if I am not imagining it, there would be a scientific explanation.) Then I had visitors a couple of hours later, who both said, “What’s that exotic smell?” – “Exotic? Really?” – “Yes!” After they left, you will like this, I sprayed one spray on the cat’s back and rubbed it through her fur. This morning I woke to this heavenly smell. Half asleep. ‘Chergui’ fell off my lips. Sniffed my wrists. Nothing. Was I dreaming? Then I realised it was every time the cat walked past me! I’ve a feeling the story between me and Chergui has only just begun.

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  37. I love this fragrance, and mine is the 2013 version. Never tried the older formulas, but this is wonderful already.

    Lately I have been torturing myself looking at threads for reformulated SL fragrances and don’t often find talk of them.

    I want to not care, yet I worry when I pick up Borneo 1834 and Fourreau Noir, that I may not get what I have smelled from samples. (although my samples are from 2014, so probably won’t make a differencd)

    Maybe I shouldn’t care and just get the fragrances for what they are now, because 20 years from now they won’t be anywhere the same.

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