Tauer Perfumes PHI Une Rose de Kandahar

Dior Haute Couture 2007 by Galliano. Source: theberry.com

Dior Haute Couture 2007 by Galliano. Source: theberry.com

A jewel glowing orange, pink and red, nestled in the embrace of emerald green. A woman wearing the most feminine of opulent haute couture ball gowns. A Paris café whose decadent apricot tart is based in the richest of vanilla custards and lightly flecked with almonds. The faintest curls of smoke floating in the crisp fall air from a pipe whose tobacco is infused with sweetened fruit. Seemingly unconnected images, but images that are all rooted in one fragrance. 

PHI Une Rose de Kandahar (hereinafter sometimes just “PHI“) is a new eau de parfum from Andy Tauer, the founder and nose behind the much-adored Swiss niche house, Tauer Perfumes. PHI is one of Mr. Tauer’s “Collectibles,” a perfume that will be produced in limited quantities due to the rarity of some of its ingredients. As Andy Tauer explains on his website:

Phi is a luxurious scent, inspired by a natural extract of roses produced in Afghanistan’s rose region, Nangarhar. This rose oil is extremely rare and of highest quality. Inspired by these roses, growing in a dry and rough land, Phi is a rare gem, complementing contrasting lines, rich in natural raw materials that add depth and authenticity. Due to the limited amount of the rose oil, une rose de Kandahar is not guaranteed to be available all the time.

PHI. Photo: Hypoluxe.

PHI. Photo: Hypoluxe.

On Fragrantica, PHI is classified as floral, but it seems more accurate to me to call it a chypre with oriental and gourmand touches, or a hybrid. The Tauer website supports this impression, describing PHI as having both “woody and gourmand notes,” along with such chypre standbys as mossy patchouli, and such oriental highlights as ambergris. The perfume’s full list of notes are as follows:

Top: apricot, cinnamon, bitter almond, and bergamot;

Middle: rose of Kandahar essential oil, Bulgaria rose absolute, Bourbon geranium, and dried tobacco leaves;

Base: patchouli, vetiver, vanilla, tonka beans, musk, and ambergris.

Source: forwallpaper.com

Source: forwallpaper.com

I tested PHI three times, and, each time, it opens on my skin with a forceful, jewel-like glow of ruby reds, soft pinks, blushing peachy-orange, and emerald greens. The red and pink visuals come from the most concentrated rose essences, feeling sweet and spicy all at once. The soft peachy-orange is from the apricot, which is tart, juicy, and tangy. Apricot is a note that I rarely see used in perfumery, and I’m a bit of a sucker for it. Here, it’s absolutely beautiful, feeling like bushels of the fruit have been rendered down into a smooth, concentrated purée.

The two shining stars of PHI Une Rose de Kandahar are nestled in a cocoon of emerald green foliage that is pungent, peppered, spicy, and dark. The base is filled with notes that smell like soft, fresh, plush oakmoss, thanks to the effects of patchouli. Yet, to my surprise, something about it also has the darkly mineralized, grey, musty feel of actual oakmoss (or mousse de chene), even though there is no such note in the fragrance. Rounding out the imagery of leaves surrounding a flower is the geranium. It smells like the flower’s fuzzy, green leaves with their piquant, peppery, spicy, pungent aroma. 

Source: forwallpaper.com

Source: forwallpaper.com

The green accords are covered with a heavy dose of Mr. Tauer’s beloved ISO E Super. Though it was less dominant in some wearings than in others, it was always a part of PHI Une Rose de Kandahar. I will never (ever!) share Mr. Tauer’s views on the ghastly synthetic, but I’m relieved to say that it didn’t give me a headache in PHI, despite its sometimes heavy touch. In many ways, the aromachemical that he believes is the perfect photo-finishing touch does work here. It doesn’t smell antiseptic or like pink rubber bandages the way it sometimes can, but, rather, like something that is extremely peppery and a bit spiky. It underscores the feel of the other notes and amplifies, in specific, the geranium.

Source: Patisserie Deschamps, France.

Source: Patisserie Deschamps, France.

Five minutes into PHI’s development, the hints of vanilla that lurk below the surface explode onto the top. It smells just like highly buttered, rich vanilla custard. My skin always amplifies base notes, and I noticed that the vanilla was never prominent on a friend who I let try PHI. On her skin, the perfume’s opening was all rose and greenery, with very little apricot and absolutely no vanilla extract or vanilla custard. PHI was lovely on her skin, but I enjoyed the custard that showed up on me. Something about its combination with the apricot purée that is lightly sprinkled with sweet, spicy cinnamon brought to mind the glazed French apricot tarts that I would have when I lived in Paris. It’s a deliciously edible touch that just verges on the gourmand, and it adds a tasty richness to PHI.

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

The overall combination with the deep rose and the oakmoss also made me think of Amouage‘s new Fate Woman which is another rose chypre with fruited overtones and a slightly gourmand vanilla base. The two perfumes are very different in their notes and core, but something about them feels similar in the opening moments. They both have a very intense chypre start with concentrated roses and fruited notes over a dark green heart with touches of rich vanilla. They also share an opulent, luxurious, feminine character that is very sophisticated, and have great sillage and potency in their opening phase. From 3 small sprays, PHI bloomed in a cloud about 4-5 inches around me, perhaps a little more, and it remained that way for about 40 minutes. It was very potent up close, but always extremely airy in feel and weight.

Dried tobacco leaves. Source: colourbox.com

Dried tobacco leaves. Source: colourbox.com

Forty minutes in, PHI starts to change. There are quiet pops of vetiver in the base that add a different touch to the dark foliage around the floral-fruity notes. The base elements now feel a bit less pungent and peppered, more dry and woody. There are also the very smallest, faintest hints of dark, dry tobacco lurking about deep down. Neither note, however, is very prominent in an individual way at this stage, and they never detract from the main trio of apricot, rose, and patchouli-moss.

Around the same time, there is the first whisper of an almond note that will become increasingly more prominent in PHI’s development. The nut is bitter but sweet and fresh, and it adds another delicious gourmand touch to the vanilla and apricot purée. The vanilla has also started to change, probably due to the impact of the drier notes at the periphery. The note is now airier, softer, more like whipped vanilla mousse than thick, buttered, rich custard.

At the end of the first hour, PHI is a smooth bouquet with top notes of apricot purée, spicy rose, and mossy-patchouli-geranium-ISO E Super, and bottom notes of almonds, vanilla mousse, woody vetiver, dry tobacco, and musk in the base. The sillage has dropped, and the perfume hovers about 1.5 inches above the skin, though it is extremely potent and strong when sniffed up close. It’s a beautifully refined, elegant bouquet that is never too sweet and never quite as simple as it appears from a distance.

Source: rbgstock.com

Source: rbgstock.com

PHI remains that way for another few hours, never changing drastically in its core essence, though some of the notes (like the cinnamon) fluctuate in prominence. The notes blur and overlap, blending seamlessly into each other, with only the apricot and the rose really standing out as significant forces in a very distinctive, individual way. It feels very gauzy on the skin, and I must confess that I wish PHI were not quite so sheer and intimate quite so soon; I was rather entranced with it, and wanted more, more, more! Instead, it feels as though the apricot or the rose take turns peeking out seductively like a glimpse of the lace trim on lingerie under a beautiful, jewel-toned dress. I wanted less sheer lace and sheer silk, and much more heavy velvet, but it is a matter of personal preference. PHI is clearly intended to be an elegant, refined fragrance without a sonic, nuclear blast — and it succeeds in its goal admirably.

Source: rexfabrics.com

Source: rexfabrics.com

PHI continues to soften and change. Midway during the third hour, PHI turns into a skin scent of cinnamon-flecked apricots and almonds, atop a sheer vanilla base. The rose is still there, but it is secondary to the other notes and has retreated to the sidelines. Unfortunately for me, the ISO E Super remains like a haze over everything. At the 6.5 hour mark, a dryness creeps into the perfume as flickers of tobacco return. It’s sweetened and mild, like fruited pipe tobacco infused with a large dollop of apricots. There is also a quiet touch of cinnamon mixed in. The vanilla has largely disappeared, but its place has been taken by ambergris with its wonderfully salty, sweet, golden character. A sexy muskiness dances all around. The perfumed jewel now gleams with gold, bronzed apricot, and light brown. All greens and pinks have vanished, leaving PHI as a subtle oriental with dryness and just a touch of warm sweetness.

In its final moments, PHI is merely a nebulous blur of sweetness with abstract dry, woody touches, and a hint of something vaguely fruited. All in all, it lasted just short of 7.75 hours on my perfume consuming skin with 3 small sprays, and around 6.5 hours with less. The sillage starts off as extremely strong, before dropping with every hour to something that is quite soft in feel. And I enjoyed every bit of it, despite the ISO E Supercrappy. Andy Tauer’s exquisite Une Rose Chyprée remains my absolute favorite from the line, but it has very close competition with this new PHI Une Rose de Kandahar. Both of them are absolutely beautiful fragrances whose sophistication always evoke Haute Couture elegance to me. I would absolutely wear them myself, and I say this as someone who isn’t particularly enamoured with rose scents to begin with!

If you’re a man and think that all this sounds too feminine for you, you might be surprised. Though PHI is too new to have a lot of reviews out, one blogger found the perfume to be a masculine rose with a gourmand touch. The Scented Hound wrote:

WHAT I SMELL: PHI goes on with a rather flattened apricot with tinges of cinnamon and almond.  It’s kind of a muted sweetness in that when you smell it, it seems layered with the cinnamon hovering on top.  At this point, I’m thinking PHI is nice (nice = just OK), rather personal and relatively close to the skin, and more apricot than rose which I think is a bit strange.  Then at about the 10 to 15 minute mark, the rose begins to bloom.  And bloom it does.  It’s like the rose suddenly opens its petals and unleashes its glorious fragrance.  I don’t think I have ever experienced a rose fragrance that literally unfolds on my skin that way PHI does and I love it.  The rose is rounded and deep, and to me more masculine than feminine and rather gourmand.  But wait, we’re not done yet, after some more time, the rose becomes creamy.  Still further, PHI reveals its patchouli, making the fragrance a bit sweeter and more heady as its mixed with vanilla and amber gris.  Hours later, add in some tonka for a bit of a growl that helps to take the edge off of the sweetness.  In the end PHI ends up big, but not loud.  This rose is no wallflower, but she’s demure enough to be a bit coy.

The other blog review already out for PHI is an unequivocable rave from I Scent You A Day who writes:

PHI Rose de Kandahar has a Middle Eastern richness to it. Initially it’s honeyed Roses and Almonds and dried Apricots: it reminds me of a scented Souk. At first this edible combination was very Turkish Delight, just for a moment.  But what happens next is that it transforms into, unless I’m mistaken, something not unlike a good Arabian Oud.  I often find Oud too strong for me, but in Rose de Kandahar it’s like a robust backdrop to something altogether more delicate. The irony is that there is no Oud in it, but the combination of Tobacco, Ambergris, Vetiver and Patchouli gives this a very rich and almost prickly base.  It’s like serving an aromatic Bacchanalian feast on a rough granite table.

I think that “prickly” edge that she references is the bloody ISO E Super that Mr. Tauer loves to stick into everything. It also explains why she associated PHI with oud, since the synthetic is used by many perfume houses to accompany their agarwood or woody creations. (Montale, I’m looking at you in particular, but Parfumerie Generale, you’re almost just as bad. And Amouage, you’re not off the hook either, after Opus VII.)

Early reviews on Fragrantica are equally positive. One commentator writes how PHI “is a very unique apricot rose scent. I’ve never smelled another rose like it and I have dozens of rose perfumes in my collection.” Someone much less fond of rose perfumes is equally enthusiastic, saying: “I often find rose scents either too sweet,too watery or too green and wan but no-one does the deep, dark sensual fragrance of a rose like Andy. His roses are blood RED and seriously velvety. […] I will be ordering myself a FB asap.”

Source: RGPeixoto on Flickr. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Source: RGPeixoto on Flickr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/rgp-sep3/4122641355/

I share their enthusiasm, and am considering getting PHI as part of Mr. Tauer’s new Explorer Set. While the perfume costs $141 or €105.30 for a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle, it is also available as part of a set of three 15 ml bottles for $138 or €102. (See the Details section below.) You can choose between a number of different Tauer fragrances, and I have to admit that Une Rose Chyprée is calling my name just as much as PHI. Whether you get one 50 ml bottle for $141 or a total of 45 ml of three different perfumes for a little bit less, I think it’s quite a decent deal given the quality and richness of the ingredients.

All in all, I’m a big fan of PHI. Its apricot-rose chypre opening is elegant, sophisticated, full-bodied, and opulent; its gourmand stage is delectable, creamy and smooth; and its oriental finish is sexy with a touch of masculinity. It’s lovely — from start to finish.

DISCLOSURE: My sample of PHI Une Rose de Kandahar was provided courtesy of Hypoluxe. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, my opinions are my own, and my first obligation is to my readers.

Cost & Availability: PHI Une Rose de Kandahar is an eau de parfum that comes in a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle that is currently exclusive to the Tauer website where it costs Fr. 130.00 / USD 141.70 / EUR 105.30. [UPDATE 1/25/2015: PHI is out globally and has also returned for a second season, while supplies last. In the U.S., you can buy it from Luckyscent which also ships worldwide and sells samples. Indigo Perfumery and Twisted Lily both sell the perfume and samples. In Canada, it’s sold at Indiescents, along with a sample. Internationally, the perfume or samples are available from First in Fragrance and the other usual Tauer vendors. Buying it directly from Andy Tauer’s website is often a tiny bit cheaper, but he doesn’t ship to every country.] The perfume will remain a Tauer online exclusive for 2013. (See note below at the very end for a special exception in the UK.) Tauer Perfumes sells a sample of PHI in a 1.5 ml glass vial for: Fr. 6 / USD 6.50 / EUR 4.90. There is also a Sample Set of any 5 different Tauer perfumes in 1.5 ml spray vials, including a sample of PHI. The set costs: Fr. 31, $33.80, or €25.10, and there is free shipping to most places in the world. Finally, there is now the new Explorer Set of 3 perfumes of your choice (including PHI Une Rose de Kandahar) for USD $138/ Fr. 126/ EUR 102. Each perfume comes in 15 ml spray bottles. Tauer ships the set to more places, because the 15 ml size passes many countries’ postal regulations (which have problems with full bottles). The exceptions, unfortunately, are Italy, UK, Russia, Spain. For full bottles, Tauer ships to France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria, but not “Great Britain, UK, Russia, Belgium and the Czech Republic.” Complete shipping information is here.
UK Availability: you can order a sample vial of PHI, or pre-order a full bottle from Scent and Sensibility. It sells the perfume for £115, with samples available for £4.50.
Samples: As of 11/21/13, Surrender to Chance now offers samples of PHI, starting at $3.99 for a 1/2 ml vial.

Tauer Perfumes Une Rose Chyprée: Bewitching Opulence

“‘Tis the last rose of summer,” once wrote the famous 19th-century Irish poet, Thomas Moore, in a poem that later inspired everyone from Beethoven to Felix Mendelssohn. The line definitely comes to mind when I wore Une Rose Chyprée, a spectacular chypre-oriental hybrid that features an autumnal, amber rose. Yet, that is only one part of the story.

Source: npr.org

Source: npr.org

At the same time, Une Rose Chyprée also conjured up everything from a coquettish, youthful, warm Audrey Hepburn in the 1960s, to thoughts of a woman’s warm, heated flesh as revealed by an opulent, dramatic dress cut low enough to seduce. It is a scent that is surprisingly playful and welcoming for a chypre — normally a very cool, haughty, aloof fragrance family — but Une Rose Chyprée is graced by an oriental seductiveness as well. I’m not one who goes weak in the knees for chypres, let alone scents that are primarily rose-centric in nature, but Une Rose Chyprée may be the best rose I have smelled in years and it completely swept me off my feet.

Source: Tauer Perfumes

Source: Tauer Perfumes

Une Rose Chyprée (sometimes written as “08 Une Rose Chyprée“) is an eau de parfum released in 2009 by Andy Tauer, the founder and nose behind the much-adored Swiss niche house, Tauer PerfumesOn Fragrantica, the fragrance is classified as chypre floral, but it seems more accurate to me to call it a chypre-oriental hybrid. The Tauer website supports this impression, describing Une Rose Chyprée as:

An exclusive oriental rose on a vintage chypre chord.
Une Rose Chyprée is a modern vintage perfume. It reaches back to the craft of traditional high perfumery, using a luxurious setting of raw materials. At the same time, I wanted it to be a rose of today, that speaks our language.

According to Luckyscent, the notes in Une Rose Chyprée include:

Rosa Damascena Absolute and essential oil, Bay, Cinnamon, Bergamot, Lemon, Clementine, Bourbon Geranium, Labdanum, Oak Moss, Patchouli, Vetiver, and Vanilla.

Geranium pratense leaf, close-up. Source: Wikicommons

Geranium pratense leaf, close-up. Source: Wikicommons

I tested Une Rose Chyprée three times, and, each time, it opens on my skin with a bouquet that’s so sultry and exquisite, it feels like a growl that eventually turns into a sensuous purr. There is smoky incense intertwined with the peppery, spicy bite of fuzzy, green geranium leaves, followed by tart, green, unripe lemons and rose. The rose begins this journey as something green and mossy, but soon takes on a bubblegum, fruity undertone. There are momentary flickers of a purple grape underlying the flower’s tightly closed bud, perhaps from the patchouli or something like methyl anthranilate, but they are soon replaced by hints of sweet clementine.

Photo: Arbyreed on Flickr, (Website link embedded within, click on photo.)

Photo: Arbyreed on Flickr, (Website link embedded within, click on photo.)

Every part of the citrus is there: the sweet, sun-ripened, heavy pulp; the squirting oil of its zested, slightly bitter rind; and the candied flesh, crystallized with hints of dark, earthy, chewy, black patchouli. The smorgasborg of notes swirls into the geranium, adding brightness to its piquant verdancy in a combination that has me utterly enraptured. Sweet but peppered, orange but green, zesty but spicy, sun-laden warmth but fuzzy, leafy darkness. It’s a chiaroscuro of light and dark that weaves its intoxicating, unexpected, and original thread throughout a good portion of Une Rose Chyprée’s early hours, and I can’t get enough.

Source: wallpapersnatural.com

Source: wallpapersnatural.com

At the heart of Une Rose Chyprée’s tapestry is the rose. It swirls all around you in a veiled shimmer of greens, garnet red, earthiness, and mossy trees — all rolled into one. This is a green rose whose petals were crushed into the damp, wet soil of the forest floor; a rose that lies nestled amidst fresh, just slightly mineralized, faintly bittersweet mosses; a rose infused with the concentrated essence of a thousand dark green, slightly spicy, peppered leaves, then sprinkled with hints of alternatively tart and zesty citruses. It is a rose that is fruited, but spiced with cinnamon, and wrapped with the tendrils of black incense. It is a rose that smells like bubblegum at times, like grapes once in a while, and even like bananas or earthy mushrooms in different tests.   

Une Rose Chyprée is a swirling kaleidoscope of all those things, and then some. This is a fragrance with so many facets and dimensions, it made my head spin. It made me test the perfume twice, doubting that it was possible that I was accurately smelling such nuances (bubblegum? mushrooms?), and it left me quite awed. It was so fabulous, I have worn it for a third time, almost draining my sample that a very kind, generous reader of the blog — the lovely “Dubaiscents” — gave me as a gift. I even went to see what The Ultimate Perfume Snobs — aka, my parents — thought of it, and if you think my reaction is fervent, you should have seen theirs! My father actually put Tristan und Isolde on pause to ask about the perfume — and few things distract my father from his Wagner.

Source: hqwalpapers.com

Source: hqwalpapers.com

I think the real appeal of Une Rose Chyprée is that it’s not a haughty fragrance. A number of classic or vintage chypres keep you at a distance with oakmoss that can be coldly pungent, fusty, or slightly dusty, or with galbanum that can feel as sharp as the crack of black leather whip. Une Rose Chyprée is almost a coquettish chypre that beckons you with a sweet smile, despite the emeralds and rubies glowing around her elegant, rosy throat. The perfume’s opening is that of a chypre suited to Audrey Hepburn whose slim elegance and classic style never hid her sparkling, elfish beauty and approachable warmth. From Eliza Doolittle going to the ball in a tiara, to Holly Golightly, to Audrey herself in her perfect little black Givenchy dress with a radiant smile, Une Rose Chyprée combines the refined elegance of a classic chypre with a warmth that is open, modern, bright, and always approachable.

It’s not all a bed of roses, however. There are thorns in the form of a synthetic or two that lurks in the perfume’s base. At first, around the 40-minute mark, there is merely a sharp note that is hard to pinpoint, but which gives me a dull ache behind my eyes. It feels woody, but not exactly like ISO E Super at first. Soon, unfortunately, the aroma-chemical’s telltale peppery, humming buzz makes itself noticeable, along with a rhythmic jack-knife drilling through my skull. It lasts for hours and, since I don’t always get an ISO E Super headache unless there is a hell of a lot of the synthetic at play, I rue one more time Mr. Tauer’s love for the bloody note. (No, Mr. Tauer, not everyone thinks it serves as a wonderful photoshop-like finishing touch!) Given the forcefulness of the synthetic carrion vulture circling around my head, I suspect that there is something else going on as well, like Ambroxan. Whatever the specific synthetics in question, it’s a testament to Une Rose Chyprée that I don’t care in the slightest. That says a lot. Regular readers know that I think the rampant use of ISO E Super in perfumery is akin to an outbreak of the Bubonic Plague, and that I despise the majority of fragrances that include it. But Une Rose Chyprée is special.

Around the same time that the devil’s chemical minions pop up their blasted head, Une Rose Chyprée starts to slowly morph. First, it’s just a question of feel, as the notes start to blur and overlap each other. Then, the fragrance starts to turn more gauzy, like a sheer veil of garnet red and mossy green gliding in the air like a kite. Yet, despite the breezy weight of the fragrance, Une Rose Chyprée is incredibly potent and pulsates its bouquet out across a room in a beautiful juxtaposition of airiness with strength. Perhaps the best way to describe it is like a cloud that billows out several feet around you, with notes that reflect brightness, lightness and dark.

Vanilla Custard. Source: Sacchef's Blog.

Vanilla Custard.
Source: Sacchef’s Blog.

Another change is that Une Rose Chyprée starts to manifest faintly gourmand undertones. Vanilla starts to rise to the surface; it’s beautifully creamy, rich, and custardy, with such a ripe sweetness that it almost takes on a banana custard aspect on occasion. At the same time, a sugared, floral powder quality creeps into the scent. When it combines with the vanilla custard, the sun-sweetened clementine, the rose, geranium, and the cinnamon, the result is something that actually smells of pink bubblegum. One reason may stem from the patchouli which feels fruity on occasion, but whatever the cause, there is a definite candied, pink, bubblegum tonality to the rose that manifested itself on all three occasions that I tested Une Rose Chyprée. Somehow, it adds to the fragrance’s playful, flirtatious open side, underscoring once again what an unusual sort of chypre this is and how it straddles different perfume families.

"Rose Reflections" by HocusFocusClick on Flickr. (Click on photo for website link which is embedded within).

“Rose Reflections” by HocusFocusClick on Flickr. (Click on photo for website link which is embedded within).

Yet, despite the quiet, fruited undertones, Une Rose Chyprée is still primarily a rose scent with green notes that are wrapped up in a ribbon of black smokiness. A third verdant element pops up around the 90-minute mark: vetiver. It’s simultaneously a bit earthy, musky, and rooty all in one, a swirl of dark greens and browns. I suspect that it’s responsible for the occasional mushroom nuance I detect, but what makes it really special is the way it interacts with the vanilla. Vetiver and vanilla are an old, established combination in perfumery, but it’s done extremely well here in conjunction with the other notes. It works particularly well with the flickers of spicy, peppered geranium leaves and the fading whisper of juicy citruses. And, somewhere in this complicated, unusual, multi-faceted mix is a hint of beeswax from the labdanum.

Source: fr.123rf.com

Source: fr.123rf.com

The beeswax heralds the arrival of the final, and most substantial, change to the fragrance. One hour and forty-five minutes into Une Rose Chyprée’s development, the amber becomes prominent, lending a golden hue to the rose’s glossy garnet and mossy, emerald gleam. The labdanum here doesn’t have any of its usual, typical characteristics; it has no leathery, nutty, animalic, musky, masculine or dirty undertones. Instead, it’s merely a smooth, rich glow, infused with that sweet vanilla custard and a tinge of fruited patchouli. Resinously deep, it sweeps through the fragrance like a coursing river of molten, amber lava flecked with hints of cinnamon, beeswax, vanilla, and earthy vetiver. As the sweeter, warmer elements surge forward, the geranium-oakmoss-clementine trio weaken in strength, and Une Rose Chyprée loses some of its youthful, coquettish playfulness. Slowly, the fragrance starts to turn into an Oriental that is more seductive and openly sensual.

The labdanum grows stronger and stronger until, at the start of the fifth hour, it completely transforms that mossy, smoky, slightly bubblegum, fruited rose. Une Rose Chyprée has become primarily an amber scent, emitting a caramel tonality mixed with vanilla custard, patchouli, and a hint of floral powder. The rose is almost wholly abstract now, feeling like a supporting player on the sidelines. The green notes have receded or faded completely away, leaving a scent that is resinous and almost chewy in feel. The patchouli that was once almost fruity has now turned into my absolute favorite kind: black, dark, faintly spiced, lightly musky and smoky, and completely chewy. It folds and melts into the amber and vanilla custard, creating a very sexy, sumptuously rich scent.

Dior Couture. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier for "Dior Couture," a  book by Ingrid Sischy, Patrick Demarchelier.

Dior Couture. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier for “Dior Couture,” a book by Ingrid Sischy, Patrick Demarchelier.

Something about the fragrance’s dramatic opulence and warm, sensuous creaminess makes me think of the suggestion of a woman’s golden, musky, voluptuous flesh languidly spilling out from a deep décolleté. Une Rose Chyprée is no longer a gamine, playful Audrey Hepburn rose. Instead, it’s now an oriental seductress in an amber and patchouli haute couture ball gown tantalizing you with suggestions of heated warmth and musky, sweet abandon. And the fragrance remains that way until its very end. Around the 7.5 hour mark, the fragrance turns into a hazy blur of golden sweetness that hovers right above the skin. Powdery touches (that I really don’t like) come and go, until the 9th hour, when Une Rose Chyprée begins its final change into a simple wisp of lightly powdered amber.

All in all, Une Rose Chyprée consistently lasted over 12 hours on my perfume-consuming skin. During the first test, I applied 4 large smears of the scent, and the perfume lasted well over 16.5 hours. The sillage was monstrously huge, wafting a good 2-3 feet across the room, and it remained that way until the 5th hour when it dropped to about 3-4 inches above the skin. Even when Une Rose Chyprée was closer to the skin, it was still extremely potent. In fact, the fragrance only became a skin scent on me around the middle of the 9th hour. All in all, the longevity was utterly astounding, especially given how voraciously my skin eats perfume, but it is also further proof of the synthetics underlying the mix.

The second time around, I applied my usual quantity of two large smears, and Une Rose Chyprée lasted just over 12.75 hours. There was a difference in the perfume’s development, as the ISO E Super seemed substantially more prominent, and the top notes (particularly the geranium-moss-clementine accord) were significantly weaker. By the same token, the perfume seemed much smokier and a wee bit more spiced at a lower dosage, while the fruited notes were more muted. In addition, the powdery quality to the fragrance crept in much sooner, as did the resinous amber undertones. In short, if you use a small quantity of Une Rose Chyprée, your skin may not bring out the fragrance’s top notes in quite the same way and the fragrance may lose some of its more beautiful nuances. Other than those small issues of strength and timing, the core essence of Une Rose Chyprée remained unchanged. With the lesser dosage, the sillage dropped faster, and the fragrance became a skin scent around the 6th hour, but it was always very potent in feel and it still lasted an incredibly long time.

My experiences with Une Rose Chyprée differs from that of a few people. For one thing, there are dramatically polar opposite accounts about the perfume’s sillage and duration. On both Luckyscent and Fragrantica, a number of people think the perfume simply doesn’t last and has weak projection. In fact, going by the votes on Fragrantica, the majority find the Une Rose Chyprée’s longevity is merely “moderate.” Even more people, combined, think that the perfume’s duration is “poor” or “weak.” My response to that is the same as one disbelieving reviewer’s reaction: I “can’t believe what im seeing.” The explanation may lay in the quantity used. My own experiences, and the 2nd test in particular, make me think that applying a very drop or two of the fragrance will curtail its potency, in addition to hiding its nuances and layers. Still, skin chemistry is a tricky and deeply individual thing, so be warned that some people have problems with Une Rose Chyprée’s projection and duration.

As for the fragrance itself, general commentators seem split on its appeal, with some finding it to be too heavy and old, while others think it is the most beautiful, “extravagant” or “3D” rose they’ve encountered. It will all depend on your benchmarks. I wouldn’t recommend Une Rose Chyprée to anyone looking for a light, fresh rose fragrance, nor to those looking for something edgy, revolutionary, or quirky. Une Rose Chyprée was intentionally created to be a modern twist on a very classic, traditional style of perfumery, and it succeeds in that goal beautifully. This is a fragrance with a heavy, vintage feel, so those who want a light, youthful, simple fruity-floral should not bother one iota. But, if you’re looking for an over-the-top glowing jewel of a rose that throws out more notes than a diamond hit by the sun, or if you’re looking for an opulent scent with a wickedly sensuous, seductive, “come hither” allure, then Une Rose Chyprée is for you. I’d also like add that anyone who was deeply disappointed in Frederic Malle‘s much-vaunted (and, in my opinion, hugely over-hyped) rose fragrance, Portrait of a Lady, should run to try Mr. Tauer’s stunner. This is how it’s done!

Ava Gardner.

Ava Gardner.

If you think all this fuss is from a blogger with an over-active imagination, you’d be mistaken. For one thing, as I said at the start, I don’t particularly like rose fragrances to begin with, and chypres are not my favorite category. More importantly, however, reviews from everyday perfume users gush just as much about the fragrance as do all the bloggers out there (and trust me, the bloggers lose their knickers for Une Rose Chyprée). On MakeupAlley, where the fragrance has a perfect 5.0 score with 8 reviews, one apt description of the scent succinctly reads:

This fragrance is gorgeous and dark. It is sexy, animalic, and gutsy. If I had to give you a visual, I would say Ava Gardner in her prime.
Haunting, fascinating, utterly gorgeous.

I personally would go with 1950s Audrey Hepburn for the fragrance’s chypre opening stage, but let’s not quibble. She’s absolutely and completely right about Ava Gardner for the middle and end stages.

That said, don’t interpret these comparisons as something that feels dated and old. Another raving MakeupAlley review talks about how the scent felt just as appropriate in a grunge pit and jazz club, as it did at the opera:

I tend to avoid roses as they are often too pink and polite to my nose [….]. Une Rose Chyprée is different. Despite its wide range of notes that feel like a salute to different fragrance families, it is a unique interpretation that does not have a futile attempt to satisfy the chyprée and gourmand lovers at the same time- how horrendous would that be! On the contary, it is a tremendous blend that hints at an intelligent crossroad but does its own thing in a versatile way. On me, the oakmoss base gives a fantastic depth to the vintage rose but the result is just like modern classical music sounds to my ears. I am a music lover and I have worn this to the opera. I felt like I was dressed in velvet. I wore it to a couple of grunge and noise gigs with deep V necks and felt super accessible and unreachable at the same time. It also goes well with jazz clubs. My next plan is to stock this masterpiece, be forced to declare bankruptcy and feel completely untouchable at the courtroom i.e. I am addicted.

Finally, if any of these references or photos make you think that guys can’t pull off Une Rose Chyprée, think again. But don’t take just my word for it; the award-winning blogger, Persolaise, thinks so, too. In a comment on Basenotes (where Une Rose Chyprée has a 91% approval rating), he gives it 5-stars and writes:

The ghosts of all the old, bewitching Guerlains are to be found in Une Rose Chyprée, a pitch-perfect manifestation of pure sensuality. My initial reaction to it was to let out a gasp of astonishment and exclaim, “I don’t think I’ve got enough noses with which to smell this.” Yes, in simplistic terms, it’s a rose, but then, a rose is a rose is a rose… Earthy and sparkling, this is a substance of gilt-edged richness, which also accomplishes the feat of remaining unabashedly unisex throughout its development.

I completely agree. Une Rose Chyprée is unabashedly unisex with the luxurious, opulent quality and elegance of a vintage Guerlain, while still retaining a very modern drama and oomph. It’s got a refined elegance that turns into a deep-throated growl of sensuality. And it has enough prismatic nuances that you will, indeed, think you need a few more noses with which to smell it.

Source: hdwallpaperes.com

Source: hdwallpaperes.com

One downside to the fragrance is that it’s not cheap for the small size at $140 for a 30 ml/ 1 oz bottle. That said, it is an eau de parfum in concentration, and a tiny amount of Une Rose Chyprée goes a long, long way. Plus, the ingredients are extremely expensive. At the fragrance’s launch in 2009, Mr. Tauer said that each hand-packaged bottle contains one pound of steam-distilled rose petals, as well as rosa damascena absolute. In one of his recent blog entries, he wrote that his rose base “comes to 450 Francs per kilo. That’s the price you have to pay for a real rose base. Actually, compared to the rose absolute per se it is a bargain (rose absolute sells for about 4000 $ [.]” That costly rose damascena absolute is a big part of Une Rose Chyprée, as well. In short, the reason why the fragrance costs so much is the same reason why the rose glows like a jewel: it’s got the real stuff in there, and in huge quantities to boot.

I could write several thousand more words about the beauty of this scent, and why it feels so special. I’ll spare you that. The bottom line is that Une Rose Chyprée may be, at its heart, an essentially simple green-then-ambered rose, but it’s greater than the sum of its parts. To expand on the line from the poet, Thomas Moore, ’tis the last rose of summer whose refined green-red brightness has now given way into autumn’s sultry red-golden amber. It’s also the sexiest, most compelling, addictive, mesmerizing, bewitching rose-centric scent that this rose-skeptic has smelled in a long, long time. I bow down at Mr. Tauer’s feet in utter admiration.

Cost & Availability: Une Rose Chyprée is an eau de parfum that comes in a 30 ml/1 oz bottle that costs $140 or €95.60 (if purchased from the Tauer website). In the U.S.: you can buy Une Rose Chyprée from Luckyscent or MinNewYork, as well as directly from Tauer Perfumes where it is cheaper at $128.60. (See further details down below in the Tauer section.) Luckyscent also sell a sample vial for $3, and MiN for $5. Samples are available from The Perfumed Court as well, starting at $8.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. It is not sold at Surrender to Chance. Outside the U.S.: In Canada, the full line of Tauer Perfumes is available at Saltridges which sells Une Rose Chyprée for CAD$168. I think Saltridges may be the exclusive Canadian vendor for Tauer, but I’m not sure. In Europe, you can find Une Rose Chyprée at France’s Premiere Avenue for €99, while Germany’s First in Fragrance sells the perfume for €105.00. It too carries samples. In the UK, Les Senteurs sells Une Rose Chyprée for £99.00, along with samples. In Italy, you can find the fragrance at Vittoria Profumi which sells Une Rose Chyprée for €104. In Russia, the Tauer line of fragrances is available at 1st Original. The Tauer website’s store locator also provides locations in over 10 countries — ranging from France and the Netherlands to Russia, Singapore, the UK, Poland, Romania, Spain and more — where its products are available. You can find that list of stores here.
Cost & Availability from the Tauer Website: The Tauer Perfumes website lists the cost of the 30 ml/1 oz bottle as: Fr. 118.00 / USD 128.60 / EUR 95.60. Tauer Perfumes also sells a sample 1.5 ml/ 0.05 oz glass vial of Une Rose Chyprée for: Fr. 5.00 / USD 5.50 / EUR 4.10. Though they used to ship to most places in the world, you need to know that they can’t ship to a number of places in Europe right now. The website explains that they can only ship to customers in Switzerland, France, Germany and Austria and cannot ship “Great Britain, UK, Russia, Belgium and the Czech Republic.” As a side note, the Tauer website also sells a sample Discovery Set of 5 different Tauer perfumes (for free shipping to most places in the world) which you can choose at will for: Fr. 31.00 / USD 33.80 / EUR 25.10. The website provides the following information:
Free selection: It is your choice to pick a set of 5 DISCOVERY SIZE perfume samples in glass spray vials. 1.5 ml each (0.75 ml of 0.75 ml of UNE ROSE CHYPRÉE or UNE ROSE VERMEILLE or CARILLON POUR UN ANGE) are at your disposal. Pick any scents from the Tauer perfumes range. The amounts of 1.5 (0.75 ml) are minimal amounts. Usually , we will ship around 2 ml (1ml). The DISCOVERY size vials are spray vials and will allow you to enjoy our fragrances for several days.Packaging: The DISCOVERY SET comes in a glide-cover metal box for optimal protection.Shipment: This product ships for free within 24 hours after we received your order world wide. Exceptions: Italy, United Kingdom, Russia, Belgium, Czech Republic.

Perfume Review – By Kilian Musk Oud: Cardamom Rose

Kilian Hennessy. Source: Metro.co.uk http://metro.co.uk/2012/11/27/kilian-hennessy-the-perfume-industry-is-too-obsessed-with-packaging-549545/

Kilian Hennessy. Source: Metro.co.uk

Consider me surprised. I actually like Musk Oud, a fragrance from the luxury house, By Kilian. I don’t think it’s a fantastic, complex, original, nuanced — let alone impressive — fragrance, but it actually smells really good. And that is truly a first for anything that I’ve tried thus far from Kilian Hennessey, the grandson of the founder of LVMH. Of course, since it is a By Kilian fragrance, my feelings come with all sorts of huge qualifiers regarding sillage, longevity and an even more ridiculous price than usual, but you could have bowled me over with the feather when I kept sniffing my arm appreciatively.

The newly released Musk Oud is the fifth (and last) in Kilian’s Arabian Night Collection of oud perfumes which first launched in 2009. Unlike all the rest of its siblings, Musk Oud was created by the legendary perfumer, Alberto Morillas, who was recently awarded the very first FiFi Lifetime Achievement Award from the U.S. branch of the Fragrance Foundation. He’s a fantastic perfumer and co-created my favorite oud fragrance thus far: the spectacular (and sadly discontinued) forerunner of the whole oud trend, YSL‘s M7. The Kilian website describes Morillas’ latest project as follows:

An animalic perfume with a sensual feminity

Musk Oud is a perfume built on the contrast between a liquorish Rose and an animalic Oud accord of great sensuality. In the opening, the Lemon and Mandarin bring a ray of light warmed by Cardamom and Coriander. The heart is an explosion of Roses made syrupy and intoxicating thanks to the Rum extract CO2. A trace of Frankincense and Indonesian Patchouli bring a smokey facet to the composition saturated with dry woods.

Source: Luckyscent

Source: Luckyscent

Musk Oud’s full list of its notes, as compiled from LuckyScent, is as follows:

Lemon, mandarin, cardamom, coriander, cypress, Bulgarian Rose, geranium, davana, Rum extract, frankincense, Oud accord, Musk accord, patchouli.

Musk Oud is the furthest thing from complicated and, on my skin, it is also the furthest thing from either an animalic musk fragrance or a true oud one. It opens on my skin with a rich, beefy, dark red rose that drips thick, jammy juices and which is lightly infused with lemon and a touch of orange. The whole thing is covered with a heavy layer of gorgeous cardamom, and sits upon a quiet, woody base of cypress tinged with patchouli.

Crimson Rose by Karen Betts. Source: redbubble.com

Crimson Rose by Karen Betts. Source: redbubble.com

Seconds later, like a crocodile’s tail moving in muddy water, there are tiny ripples of animalic musk. To my slight unease, it smells very much like dirty, unwashed hair. However, the note is not only incredibly subtle, it essentially vanishes for most of the perfume’s development. It subsequently pops up only two more times, gives a brief bow for a few minutes, and then disappears completely. I was actually surprised by how evanescent it was since one blogger (who admittedly loathes anything animalic) was completely traumatized by the note in Musk Oud. Since my skin actually amplifies both animalic and base notes, I’d fully prepared myself to be overcome by every possible filthy, dirty, raunchy, unwashed, fetid aroma imaginable. Never happened. Not once. And if it should happen to anyone, it should happen to me with my wonky skin that amplifies animalics. Instead, there were only the most minuscule of stirrings in the brown waters of Musk Oud’s base. Perhaps a more accurate analogy would be to compare it to a mosquito in water instead of a crocodile’s tail.

Cardamom. Source: kitchenheadquarters.org

Cardamom. Source: kitchenheadquarters.org

The primary, overwhelming impression of Musk Oud in the first hour is of a cardamom-rose fragrance with other notes just dancing in the sidelines. The richness of the rose is accentuated by a darkly liqueured note, while the cardamom… oh, what cardamom! It’s sweet, nutty, a little dusky, and very spicy. So much so that it almost feels as though it’s accompanied by a fiery red saffron. Undoubtedly, that is just my mind interjecting things, since saffron is often the third twin to the rose-cardamom combination, but Musk Oud does feel as though there is saffron in there, too. As for the dry base, the cedar is lightly sweetened by patchouli and entwined by subtle tendrils of black smoke. There is absolutely no oud at first, and it takes ten minutes for the note to show its face. It’s slightly medicinal but, like all the other elements in the base at this stage, it is extremely muted and serves only to add indirect depth and body to the overall fragrance.

Things start to go down hill a little near the end of the first hour. It took all of 40 minutes for Musk Oud to become a complete skin scent on me. I tried the perfume twice — which wasn’t hard to do, given the usual, below-average longevity that I experience with all Kilian fragrances — and the second time, I applied double the quantity. This time, Musk Oud took one whole, whopping hour to become so glued to my skin that I had to inhale at my arm like a rabid animal to detect its nuances.

Frankincense Smoke  via iStock photos

Frankincense smoke via iStock photos

And, in truth, those nuances were few and far between — in both tests. Just over an hour into the perfume’s development, the base notes come to the foreground as frankincense and oud emerge as the dominant duo. However, neither note is very rich or deep. There is still a heavy sprinkling of cardamom, but the rose note has receded somewhat to the background. Occasionally, it will pop up and become more noticeable, then vanish, then come back to take over the whole scent for about five minutes, then retreat…. and so on. The animalic musk makes a brief appearance around the 90 minute mark, but quickly decides to throw in the towel completely. So, those simple, repeated notes with their varying fluctuations are really the sum total of Musk Oud. The citrus notes had departed long ago; ditto for the cedar; and there was never any geranium or davana to begin with. As for the rum and patchouli, both are essentially undetectable in any distinctive, individual way, except in helping to create that liqueured base to the rose.

After a brief period of time as an oud fragrance with tablespoon of cardamom, a teaspoon of rose, and a pinch of smoke, Musk Oud turns into a simple, more abstract, woody fragrance. There are subtle flecks of oud and cardamom with just a light whisper of jammy rose, but the whole thing feels quite muted and is extremely hard to detect given the nonexistent sillage. Then, Musk Oud dies entirely, having lasted no more than 3.5 hours with my usual dose and 4.25 hours with my larger one. Neither number is very impressive.

I had been curious to what extent Alberto Morillas’ co-creation of the fabulous M7 might have influenced the smell of another spicy agarwood fragrance. The answer is none at all. With the exception of the citrus, cardamom and oud, the two fragrances have no familial olfactory resemblance at all. To my surprise, it is a wholly unexpected perfume house which comes to mind: Guerlain. Kilian’s Musk Oud really evokes early parts of Guerlain‘s Rose Nacrée du Désert from Les Déserts d’Orient Collection. The first hour of Rose Nacrée has the exact same sort of rich, darkly liqueured, jammy, beefy rose infused with cardamom that dominates Musk Oud. Of course, the two perfumes eventually part ways, with the Guerlain turning into an overly syrupy, sugared, almost gourmand fragrance, while the Kilian turns into frankincense and oud. I’m sure there are even more cardamom-rose fragrances out there that resemble Musk Oud (especially from Montale) because, the truth of the matter is, it’s not a very inventive fragrance. It smells great for what it is, but it treads some well-worn ground.

Going by my experiences, the name “Musk Oud” feels like a misnomer. For one thing, on my skin, there was almost no musk in it. For another, the quantity of agarwood was hardly enough to render the scent a true oud one. It reminded me Kilian‘s Amber Oud which, to my nose and on my skin, had virtually no oud in it at all. Musk Oud has more of the note, but it’s all relative. In fact, given how the fragrance is such a skin scent, what little oud there is may be even harder to detect.

There aren’t a lot of in-depth blog reviews out there for Musk Oud. The fragrance is so new that I couldn’t even find a Fragrantica entry for it. However, out of the two comments on Luckyscent, both focused on the musk issue. One poster loved the scent, writing that Musk Oud was “[j]ust the right balance between the oud and the musk, neither too animalic nor too clean.” The other tried hard to be polite and mask his disdain:

Not impressed. I love rich, deep musk scents. My favorite perfume is Musc Ravageur. So when you name something Oud Musk, well I’m expecting something rich and dark and almost dirty. There is nothing unique about this. It’s not a clean musk mind you, it does have the dirtiness but its done in an oddly sheer way. I will say however, that that is probably perfect for some people. A polite, dirty musk. I guess there is a place for it.

Both commentators thought that the perfume had outstanding longevity and wrote that it “lasted all day.” I think that may be the first time I’ve ever seen that said about any Kilian fragrance, but, hey, I’m happy there are exceptions.

How you feel about Musk Oud will depend solely on two things: how you feel about animalic notes, and how your skin deals with them. The second review on Luckyscent is significant because it underscores that point. If you’re someone who loves a scent like Frederic Malle‘s Musc Ravageur (or, even more extreme, Parfum d’Empire‘s Musc Tonkin), then Musk Oud will be disappointing child’s play. If you’re someone like me whose feelings about musk can depend on its treatment, you may greatly enjoy Musk Oud, especially if your skin chemistry decides to play nicely with the note. But if you’re someone who can’t stand any animalic notes whatsoever, then Musk Oud may be a nightmare regardless of chemistry.

That was the case with Lucas of Chemist in a Bottle whose traumatized account of the fragrance reads, in part, as follows:

The opening act of By Kilian Musk Oud is a tidal wave of musk on my skin. I smell raw, animalic if not a fecal kind of musk. It has that dense, powerful structure that will be definitely too much for those who are not infatuated and obsessive by this raw perfume material. I definitely don’t belong to that group! Couple of minutes later I start to smell trouble. Double trouble because here appears the oud. In the whole oud fragrances trend I am quite lucky that oud notes don’t manifest themselves too bold on my skin. However Musk Oud doesn’t classify as one of those. As I write this my arm is almost dripping with oud. No joke! [¶]

[Later] I was attacked by a hard to describe smell that to me, in the closest comparison, was a mix of unwashed, sweaty clothes and sticky, greasy hair. So gross and so off-putting.

As you can see, a wholly different experience from either myself or the two chaps on Luckyscent. The odd thing is that my skin normally amplifies both musks and agarwood to the point where it can overwhelm a perfume, while Lucas — in testing the exact same fragrance — can find them to be completely minute and tolerable. So, I’m not quite sure what happened here to flip the situation so much on its head but, for me, Musk Oud was neither a musk fragrance nor an oud one. (It certainly was nothing like my experience with Opus VII, the animalic, musky oud fragrance from Amouage!) Where my experience does parallel (a little) that of Lucas is in terms of sillage and longevity. Musk Oud lasted 6 hours on him, and he found the sillage to be very low.

Musk Oud, 50 ml bottle. Source: Aedes.

Musk Oud, 50 ml bottle. Source: Aedes.

I very much enjoyed the cardamon-rose aspects of the fragrance, but I would never buy Musk Oud. I think it’s ridiculously over-priced for what it is, and simply isn’t special enough. Kilian’s prices are high to begin with, but the Arabian Nights Collection takes it to ridiculous levels given the generally uncomplicated, bare bones, and sometimes mundane nature of the scents. (Yes, Amber Oud, I’m looking at you.) Normally, Kilian charges $235 for a small 50 ml/1,7 oz bottle of one of his fragrances, like the recent Flower of Immortality. However, Musk Oud — like all the oud scents in the Arabian Nights Collection — retails for $395 (or €295), with the “cheap” alternative options starting at $185 for a refill bottle. Until Mr. Hennessey corners the world supply of either jammy roses, cardamom, musk or oud, I see nothing in this simple, relatively linear, fleeting, and sometimes impossible to detect fragrance that is worth $400 (more, with tax) for a tiny bottle, or even $185. There are half a dozen fragrances from Montale alone that are based on oud, rose, cardamom, frankincense and/or musk; they cost $110 for the same size bottle, have projection, and last forrrrrrrrrrrrrrrever!

That said, I do think Musk Oud is pretty enough to be worth a sniff or a small decant. However, given the sillage, longevity, cost, uncomplicated and non-oud nature of the fragrance, it may not be worth more than that.

Cost & Availability: Musk Oud is an eau de parfum that costs $395, $235 or $185 (depending on the form in which you buy it). The lovely lock-box version is 1.7 oz/50 ml of fragrance and costs $395; the refill bottle is $185; and the travel option is $235. In the U.S.: Musk Oud is available at Bergdorf Goodman (in all 3 options), Saks Fifth Avenue (2 options) and Aedes (just the $395 lock box). All 3 options are available at Luckyscent, along with samples for $5 for a 0.7 ounce vial. Outside the U.S.Musk Oud is available on By Kilian’s international website where it costs €295 (with VAT included) for a 1.7 oz/50 ml bottle. The site also has the more affordable options. In London, you can find Musk Oud at Harvey Nichols which carries the 50 ml/1.7 oz size lock box version for £265.00 or the 50 travel refill for £110.00. Harvey Nichols stores around the world, from Dubai to Hong Kong, also carry the Kilian line. In Paris, the Kilian line is carried at Printemps. As for other locations, By Kilian’s Facebook page lists the following retailers and/or locations: “HARVEY NICHOLS (UK, Honk Kong, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Koweit, Turkey), Le BON MARCHE (France), TSUM (Russia), ARTICOLI (Russia) and HOLT RENFREW (Canada).” Samples: Samples are available from Surrender to Chance where prices start at $4.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. 

Perfume Review – Lonestar Memories by Tauer Perfumes: Mad Max Meets Sticky Orange

Mad Max the Road Warrior. On an arid desert road, he takes out a flame thrower to burn rubber, asphalt and cars, then relaxes in victory on some very expensive, myrrh-infused, leather car seats before eating some orange sticky toffee pudding and napping in a vanillic-amber haze. That was the essence of my experience with Lonestar Memories from Tauer Perfumes, a fragrance that is actually intended to be an ode to the Wild West and cowboys. For me, it was Mad Max, and then the Queen’s tea. And, surprising as this may sound, it actually works a little.

Scene from Mad Max 2 via cinemasights.com

Scene from Mad Max 2 via cinemasights.com

Lonestar Memories (sometimes written as “03 Lonestar Memories”) is a unisex fragrance by Andy Tauer, a molecular biologist with a PhD who left the world of science in 2005 to become a perfumer. Lonestar Memories was his second creation and released in 2006. It received a 4-star rating from the renowned perfume critic, Luca Turin, who described it as a “wonderfully warm… smoky carnation” in Perfumes: The A-Z Guide.

andy-tauer-03-lonestar-memoriesOn Fragrantica, Lonestar Memories is classified as a “woody chypre” and described as a call to the American West, leather and old jeans. The Tauer website adds more detail:

An ode on birchtar: True and unique, rich and lasting
The scent of a lonesome rider, wearing old jeans and leather jacket, after a long day on the horse in the dry woods, preparing his coffee on the open, smoky fire.

Lonestar Memories’ notes include:

Geranium, Carrot seed, Clary sage, Birchtar, Cistus [or labdanum], Jasmine, Cedar wood, Myrrh, Tonka, Vetiver, Sandalwood.

Silver birch tree. Source: my own photograph.

Silver birch tree. Source: my own photograph.

Birch is a big part of Lonestar Memories, as are the geranium and clary sage. According to Fragrantica, the odor of birch is that of “cooked” wood, and is “a phenolic, tarry smelling ingredient mostly used in the production of leather scents, some chypres and some masculine fragrances.” Clary sage also has a leather undertone, but it is a herbaceous plant that often smells like lavender.

Lonestar Memories opens on my skin with burning rubber, burning orange plastic and the smell of soldering. I’d read repeated references to the odor of electronic soldering — the taking of a high-intensity flame to meld together either pipes, wiring or electronic components — in comments on Luckyscent, but I hadn’t quite believed them. I certainly do now. The comparison truly does apply:

  • Solderingthis one smells like my electronics class – lots of burning plastic and soldering irons
  • the smoky smell is reminiscent of an electronics class (specifically solder smoke)
  • Lonestar Memories absolutely reminds me of the air-exhaust of a laundromat- which I love, so I might buy a bottle.

The source of the smell is the combination of that tarry, smoky birch tar with pungent geranium. The two notes go hand-in-hand for much of Lonestar Memories’ opening hours, though in the opening minutes, the birch tar rules all. It’s not mentholated or camphorous, the way it is in Santa Maria Novella‘s similar Ambra, but, rather, just like black rubber that has been singed along with soldered electronics and plastic-coated wires. My skin cycles through notes rather quickly, so, on me, it only lasted 15 minutes but it seems to have lasted considerably longer on some other people. The overall effect is to make Lonestar Memories not a call to the Wild West or Brokeback Mountain cowboys by a campfire, but, rather, to Mad Max in some futuristic, post-apocalyptic world of asphalt, metal, leather and black rubber.

Mad Max 2.

Mad Max 2.

Accompanying the tarry note is strong, slightly bitter geranium, followed soon thereafter by cedar wood and some syrupy, sweet note that feels like myrrh mixed with tonka, tar and smoke. The sweetness grows with every moment, as syrupy myrrh spreads its resinous, ambery touch. At times, there is almost a vanillic touch to the syrup.

Clary Sage. Source: TreeFrogFarm.com

Clary Sage. Source: TreeFrogFarm.com

Lurking to the side is clary sage, feeling very herbaceous and very much like lavender. The combination of notes creates an odd dichotomy: pungent, floral geranium and herbal lavender, countered by syrupy amber and singed black rubber. Thanks to the growing sweetness from the syrup, the tarry birch accord soon softens and the black rubber begins to transform into the scent of expensive, leather car seats.

The effect of that syrupy myrrh resin on the bitter, pungent geranium creates the key characteristic of Lonestar Memories: an orange accord. At the start, it is slightly bitter and extremely similar to neroli. When combined with the lavender note from the clary sage and the now smoky aspect of the birch tar, the overall scent strongly parallels that of Santa Maria Novella‘s Ambra. There are differences, however, especially with that key orange accord. In Lonestar Memories, the note is sweetened and more akin to actual orange, with just the faintest touch of a bitter edge from the geranium. In Ambra, the note actually does stems from neroli (or bigarade); it is primarily bitter, not to mention quite woody as if petitgrain were used. Lonestar Memories is significantly richer, denser, heavier and thicker in feel and notes than the more airy Ambra which is an eau de cologne. Ambra is also much dryer, much less sweet, and has a mentholated aspect to the birch tar which Lonestar Memories lacks.

Source: Simplyrecipes.com

Source: Simplyrecipes.com

By the end of the first hour, Lonestar Memories is a rich, complex orange amber. It is triggers visions of orange — sticky, sweet, herbaceous, but also bitter, and backed by leather. It feels a lot like an English sticky toffee pudding sauce, thanks to the sweet, vanilla-infused, balsam-like resins which soften the edges of the aromatics and woody notes. Even better, the tarry feel from the birch has largely dissipated, replaced by a smoky woodiness. The changes lead me to think that Lonestar Memories is much more wearable and versatile than I had initially thought.

Unfortunately, that’s when the headache kicked in. I rarely get headaches from fragrances, not even from the ISO E Super which I despise. The few times it does happen, however, the culprit is always a synthetic. And something in Lonestar Memories’s amber base triggers an enormous, insistent throbbing in my temples that eventually leads up to a burning sensation in the bridge of my nose. I have to wonder if there is something like Ambroxan or a similar amber synthetic that is to blame. Whatever the reason, Lonestar Memories gave me a headache on both occasions when I tried it. And I am not alone. On Luckyscent, someone had a similar experience, writing: “the amber drydown is almost metallic, and that gave me a headache.” On Fragrantica, a commentator got a headache but from a very different triggering aroma: “smoky yes but I have a very strong boxed laundry detergent smell that is giving me a bad headache….two advils to heaven.”

Despite the headache, I enjoyed the finish and drydown of Lonestar Memories. The orange note fades a little in prominence to include some vaguely abstract floral element with smoke, vanilla, and caramel-y amber. In the last hours, Lonestar Memories turned into a custardy vanilla with benzoin over the lightest tinge of orange. The sillage of Lonestar Memories was quite strong in the first hour, then it softened and became relatively moderate. It turned into a skin scent about 4.5 hours into the perfume’s development. The longevity was good, too, lasting approximately 9 hours on my perfume-consuming skin. On others, I suspect Lonestar Memories would last for a significantly longer stretch of time as it can be quite a potent fragrance, depending on how much you apply. I would recommend using a light hand if you’re going to be wearing this to a conservative office environment.

There are very split reactions to Lonestar Memories, though the majority on both Luckyscent and Fragrantica seem to adore the fragrance. I think it will all depend on how you react to that difficult opening and, perhaps, how you feel about smoky barbeques. Some of the varied, quite polarized descriptions on Fragrantica may help you decide:

  • The initial burst of barbecue spice and heavy wood smoke quickly mellows into a fantastic earthy accord that is smoothed by myrrh and sweetened with jasmine.
  • Lonestar Memories smells like an Oilman wearing an amber fragrance at a barbecue (well, sort of). This is quite a challenging composition. It opens with a blast of spicy-smoky leather that smells halfaway between tear gas, tar, burnt rubber and, yes, barbecue. Myrrh and amber make their appearance right away adding a consistent dose of sweetness while the smoky feel remarks its presence throughout.
  • Tar, carrot seed, clary sage and wood with flowers place Lonestar Memories somewhere beyond leather. Knize Ten and Etat Libre’s Rien are mild in comparison. LM has a much more burnt quality than these two. ‘Tar’ and ‘burnt’ do to an extent add up to notes of snubbed cigarette and charcoal but the scent ultimately LM brings to mind is burnt wood. Not the smoke of burning wood, but old campfire. LM is nowhere near a daily fragrance for me. I honestly can’t even say that all moments of LM are pleasant. But it’s worth the experience of the top notes to get to the basenotes which lose the feel of charred things and petrochemicals. The base centers on a handsome severity that only a unsmiling, unsweetened floral can give.
  • Does not remind me of American West. Has a medical/hospital opening that I just cant get past. Bad stuff, stay away!
  • Hot afternoon sun in Texas, dust and dirt, melting blacktop tar, burning tires, smoke, and motorcycle exhaust. Sorry – but I think this is a Tauer fail for someone to actually wear.
  • Lonestar is a difficult perfume to understand. It is brash and in your face, but it also tells a story of the Wild West and Cowboys. Although the notes do not mention leather, there is a strong accord of smokey barbeque meat, and you can almost touch the embers on the fire. Like any wood fire, it can become choking at times but it also mesmerizes the wearer.  [¶] If this perfume were a person, it would swagger and wear ripped jeans.
  • If I would have met a man who wears THAT perfume I ve done everything to be his girl!! I smell all the fine things from the beginning: adventure, finest saddle horse leather,smoke, wood, incense, some wild jasmine.. and that man is taking me in his arms only to throw me on his mustang and then he d jump on that horse too and off we go … through the deserty dusty plains, the pine woods not far away along the the route and I get a feeling, that all my wishes will come true..we arrive at a camp fire and my man is sweating a little so his smell becomes sweeter and more cedar-like and I m melting in his arms again, my nose buried in his neck..and the mustang is giving a soft blow through his nostrils and I m in my smokey leathery horse heaven..Oh that perfume!

My experience was different from many of those described. On me, that difficult, tarry, smoked rubber, leathery opening didn’t last for very long, and the perfume was primarily a sticky orange amber. True, there was occasional bitterness from the geranium, along with smoke from the birch, subtle undertones of leather, and occasional dryness from the cedar wood, but none of those notes changed the primary essence of the fragrance.

As a side note, despite the many references to the masculine nature of the fragrance, there are a number of women who really enjoy Lonestar Memories. Yes, it skews a little more masculine than some unisex fragrances, especially with that tarry, burnt rubber opening, but the essence of the fragrance feels very unisex for me. I suppose it all depends on how the smoke, leather and rubber elements from the birch manifest themselves on your skin. It’s definitely an interesting scent to try, but also not one to buy blindly without a test. If Lonestar Memories doesn’t work out, but the underlying elements intrigues you, there is always Santa Maria Novella‘s woodier, dryer, airier, and more herbaceous, lavender-y, neroli Ambra to try.

Have you tried Lonestar Memories? If so, did the opening transport you to a cowboy’s barbeque on the range, or to Mad Max’s Thunderdome?

Cost & Availability in General: Lonestar Memories is an eau de toilette. In the U.S., you can buy a 1.7 oz/50 ml bottle for $125 from Luckyscent or MinNewYork, as well as directly from Tauer Perfumes where it is cheaper at $102. (See further details below in the Tauer section.) Luckyscent also sell a sample vial for $3. Samples are available from Surrender to Chance as well, starting at $3.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. In Europe, First in Fragrance sells the perfume for €95.00 for a 1.7 oz/50 ml, or for €190.00 for a 3.4/100 ml bottle from. It too carries samples. In the UK, Les Senteurs sells Lonestar Memories for £87.00, along with samples. The Tauer website’s store locator also provides locations in over 10 countries — ranging from France and the Netherlands to Russia, Singapore, the UK, Poland, Romania, Spain and more — where its products are available. You can find that list of stores here.

Cost & Availability from the Tauer Website: The Tauer Perfumes website lists the cost of the 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle as: Fr. 96.00 / USD 102.70 / EUR 77.80. Tauer Perfumes also sells a sample 1.5 ml/ 0.05 oz glass vial of Lonestar Memories for: Fr. 6.00 / USD 6.50 / EUR 5.00. Though they used to ship to most places in the world, you need to know that they can’t ship to a number of places in Europe right now. The website explains that they can only ship to customers in Switzerland, France, Germany and Austria and cannot ship “Great Britain, UK, Russia, Belgium and the Czech Republic.” As a side note, the Tauer website also sells a sample Discovery Set of 5 different Tauer perfumes (for free shipping to most places in the world) which you can choose at will for: Fr. 31.00 / USD 33.50 / EUR 25.70. The website provides the following information:

Free selection: It is your choice to pick a set of 5 DISCOVERY SIZE perfume samples in glass spray vials. 1.5 ml each (0.75 ml of 0.75 ml of UNE ROSE CHYPRÉE or UNE ROSE VERMEILLE or CARILLON POUR UN ANGE) are at your disposal. Pick any scents from the Tauer perfumes range. The amounts of 1.5 (0.75 ml) are minimal amounts. Usually , we will ship around 2 ml (1ml). The DISCOVERY size vials are spray vials and will allow you to enjoy our fragrances for several days.
Packaging: The DISCOVERY SET comes in a glide-cover metal box for optimal protection.
Shipment: This product ships for free within 24 hours after we received your order world wide. Exceptions: Italy, United Kingdom, Russia, Belgium, Czech Republic.