5/25/14

Chergui (Serge Lutens)



So much has been written about Chergui, the Tunisian island and the perfume, so my disclaimer is that this isn't really a review, as much as a recategorization. Broadly, this fragrance is considered a typical Lutensian oriental, loaded with sweet, resinous, ambery accords. Luca Turin (or was it Tania Sanchez?) claimed the perfume was inspired by Turin's suggestion to Serge that he explore hay absolute. I don't doubt that such a thing occurred, but it isn't hay at the heart of Chergui. This perfume is all about coumarin, good 'ol coumarin.

Chergui is in no uncertain terms a classical fougère after Paul Parquet's 1884 original. Many articles on Fougère Royale mention its odd, hay-like sweetness, which is none other than coumarin, and the reboot possesses a very similar note. Lutens took the same idea and used a massive honey/lavender accord in a more au courant nod to eighties powerhouses like Boss Cologne and Lapidus Pour Homme. When I smell Chergui, I recognize a classical form dressed in late twentieth century clothing. Yet there's a uniqueness here, the richness of tobacco and luxurious smoothness of sandalwood, both of which spell in large Helvetica letters: MAN.

Remember the 1950s? I don't either, I wasn't around then. I have it on good authority that men in the '50s were intentionally archetypical, staid, traditional, family-oriented, sexually insecure to misogynistic levels, routine-oriented, and always willing to impart the false sense of security coveted by their kitchen-dwelling, totally dependent housewives. I've never been told this, but I think it's a safe bet to suppose that most men, especially American men, didn't wear cologne or fragrance of any kind, opting instead for their secretary's perfume rubbing off on their collars, and whatever after-smell a few packs of unfiltered cigarettes baked into the rest of their shirts.

Every so often though their wives (or mothers in law) went to a department store and tried to make these poor guys into better men by buying them grooming kits of aftershave and cologne, which they wore only to church and weddings. These were warm, rich, simple smells, like English Leather, Caron Pour un Homme, Arden Sandalwood, Preferred Stock, and Fougère Royale. Well, Chergui would have been right at home in medicine cabinets back then. Serge's creation is the olfactory equivalent of a Buick with 150,000 miles on it. It imparts a solid message with its soft, enveloping lavender/honey/coumarin sweetness: "I'm with my family now. Your shit can wait until Monday."







No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment. It will be visible after approval by the moderator.