The opening is of substantial heaviness and density, with a bright but slightly resinous cumin pairing with a very nicely done coriander. A certain softly spicy sultriness lies over these initial moments, and this all is very finely counterbalanced by a carefully intertwined petitgrain that is just adding a whiff of freshness that is an exquisitely employed counterbalance to the other, richer top note components. Beautifully done.
The drydown predictably turns floral, jasmine predominantly with a touch of rose, and is less complex than the too notes are. The base is woodsy mainly, but a synthetic ambergris tries to add variety. To stay in the marketing image conjured up - rightly or wrongly - this could be construed as a slightly fresh-salty breeze from a salt-crusted chott lake across the hot lands.
The perfomance is superb with fairly strong sillage, excellent projection and a marvelous ten hours of longevity on my skin.
Overall the too notes are a masterfully crafted composition, whilst the rest is not on the same heights as he beginning. Quite overtly synthetic at times, the sublime first part and the great performance secure it a top score with ease. 3.5/5.
I ordered this as a blind buy some time ago, based on the nearly universal praise it gets (Luca Turin wore it for his wedding ffs).
I agree it's a very beautiful composition. Rich and balanced, but not at all aggressive. It has that oldschool "full bodied" quality, with dry notes of vetiver/patchouli, soft and rich citruses and smokey woods and resins. All tied together by sweet musk/vanilla. (I must emphasize that last part, there is a LOT of vanilla, for me it works but if you don't like vanilla you may want to keep away).
But i am failing to see why everyone is THAT excited about this? It's likeable, well mannered and very nice. But to my nose it's not unforgettable or irresistable. A great perfume should have one of those two qualities, a masterpiece should have both.
What first comes to mind is being at a medina in Marrakesh surrounded by stalls and vendors selling a vast array of spices and wooden trinkets. It is midday and the sun is beating down. Warm gusts of wind pass through the medina levitating dust from the ground and mixing it with the smoky, comforting aroma of pipe tobacco drawn and exhaled by wandering old men. A few yards away from the spice stall is a cookie vendor;
the essence of vanilla drifts over the various spices displayed upon sun-baked wood. A luxury 3rd world.
There’s nothing in this world that smells quite like Andy Tauer’s L’Air du Desert Marocain, except for, well, the actual air above the desert that inspired it, I suppose. Trying to describe how it smells is almost as challenging as wearing it.
The best way I can put it is this: it smells like someone went out to the desert, collected a pile of rough, ancient amber resin, boulders, fallen meteorites, and minerals, sandblasted them all down to a fine dust, loaded it up into a canon and shot it into space. Now imagine you are floating above the earth’s ozone layer, just where the daylight of earth fades into the deep navy of outer space, and you breathe in this space dust. L’Air du Desert Marocain smells like this. Not directly of the sandblasted materials themselves but of the thin, dry, almost electric air surrounding the particles.
Then, later on, it smells of hot, arid paper, with its cedar and vanilla-resin notes.
You are standing in a paper factory. The air conditioning machines are short-circuiting and are blowing the stacks of A4 printer paper off the tables and into the air. The employees look up in dismay – their work for the day, thousands and thousands of sheets of paper floating around their heads! But they breathe in deeply, unable to resist the peculiar pleasure there is to be had in huffing the smell of newly-minted paper and the slightly sweet, dry smell of drying chemicals and lignin it leaves on the air around them.
L’Air du Desert Marocain is a masterpiece of modern perfumery, and perhaps the first perfume I’d recommend to anybody wishing to experience what perfume beyond the shelves of their local Sephora can be. It is an evocative, beautiful travelogue perfume that’s scaled to Laurence of Arabia proportions.
As a personal perfume, though, I find it to be kind of difficult to wear on a regular basis. Its dry spices and resins are so monolithic and all-encompassing - so full of its own personality - that it doesn’t allow me to impose any of my own.
There’s also a sweaty moment in the perfume that always sneaks up on me unawares – the cumin and coriander, I guess. It smells specifically of a male sweat. It’s not unpleasant, just startling. Timbuktu has a similar, ghostly apparition in its development, a lurch so sudden towards the smell of a male (or a male aftershave) that I keep looking around the room to make sure that I am, in fact, still alone.
But I own this beauty, oh yes I do. Sometimes, I just take the bottle cap and huff it throughout the day, like a junkie in withdrawal doling out teaspoons from a bottle of cough syrup. Other days, I commit myself 100% to its mood-shifting, transporting character and put six to eight sprays of it on, all the time knowing that this is all I will smell of for the next 48 hours. Either way, there’s no middle way with a perfume as uncompromising as L’Air du Desert Marocain.
Airy, dreamy and peaceful. A meditation. Perfect construct of amber, spices and incense. Truly unique and one of my very favourite fragrances.