People have differing opinions on the use of criticism in any creative field. After all, a glowing review from a critic doesn't mean people will automatically love the creation, and the tide of public opinion often goes against what critics believe. But once in a while, you find that magical intersection of opinion where critics and a mass of the public come to the same conclusion: This thing is outstanding.
Such is the case with Andy Tauer's L'Air du Desert Marocain, featured in the Olfactif Warmth collection. We've mentioned that this perfume received a rare five-star review from perfume critics Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. Among the thousands and thousands of perfumes that have been released since perfume became a commodity, only a handful have gotten this designation. (Who are Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez? Without getting too deep into formal bios, we'll say that they are two people who have thought deeply, for many years, about perfume and scent from both scientific and artistic angles. And they're exceptionally entertaining writers.)
Here, we share with you the review of L'Air du Desert Marocain from their book The Little Book of Perfumes: The Hundred Classics not because it's a definitive take on the scent but because it may open up for you a new perspective on this instant classic. And because good writing is like good perfume: It takes you elsewhere, even if for only a moment, and shows you the things right in front of you that you hadn't seen before.
"The sweet smell of amber, the foundation of the classic perfume oriental, has long been weighed down with vanilla and sandalwood, decorated with mulling spices, bolstered with musk, made come-hither, ready for its close-up, and we are quite used to it—but this is not amber’s first life. Perfume meant first “through smoke,” named for fragrant materials burned to clean the air and therefore the spirit. If, as Carlos Santana claimed in his Grammy acceptance speech, the angel Metatron delivers messages to the world via rock guitarists, it only makes sense that the as-yet-unnamed angel of perfume speaks through an unassuming Swiss chemist from Zurich with a mustache and a buttoned shirt. L’Air du Désert Marocain is talented perfumer Andy Tauer’s second fragrance, after the rich oriental rose of Maroc pour Elle. One hale breath of Désert’s vast spaces clears the head of all the world’s nonsense. There is something about the ancient smell of these resins (styrax, frankincense) that on first inhalation strikes even this suburban American Protestant with no memories of mass as entirely holy, beautiful, purifying, lit without shadow from all sides. Even without the fragrance’s name to prompt me, I would still feel the same peace when smelling it that I’ve felt only once before, when driving across the southwestern desert one morning: all quiet, no human habitation for miles, the upturned bowl of the heavens infinitely high above, and the sage and occasional quail clutching close to the dun earth. Each solitary object stood supersaturated with itself, full to the brim, sure to spill over if subjected to the slightest nudge. Wear this fragrance and feel the cloudless sky rush far away above you." —TS
From The Little Book of Perfumes: The Hundred Classics by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez
Ah. Now wasn't that nice?