During the past 10 weeks I had enough time to go through my perfume bottles and samples, making an inventory of a kind. I ended up playing like a little kid with perfume and desert sand, and just sniffing certain fragrances made me close my eyes: I traveled in time and space to deserts I long for, or the ones I’ve always dreamt about.
I wanted to share them with you, and maybe inspire you to do the same, so here are the 5 desert-themed fragrances I wore the most this spring! I’m not (never) saying that these are the TOP5 ever or anything like that – you’ll make your own choices. I’ll try to explain why I singled out these five, and what makes them special.
Ah, the desert-themed fragrances! There are many interpretations, impressions, dreams, and fantasies of the desert. I’m sure that this inspiration shall never end!
Deserts…Think about The English Patient, wide skies, starlit skies far away from light pollution, the scent of your own, musky skin in the desert air, Sting’s Desert Rose, and think waaay back. Like, for example, Dune by Dior. I guess that for me, the whole I’m-dreaming-about-deserts thing must have started with Dune!
Dune and real, desert dunes, all the deserts I’ve visited and want to return to, and some more. I also attached the exact locations that these 5 perfumes remind me of.
I’ve also been told that my introductions, thoughts&musings are too long, so let’s cut the chase and go straight to the fragrances! Here they are, in totally random order:
L’Air du Desert Marocain, Tauer Perfumes / Andy Tauer
Let’s start with „the niche papa of all desert-themed perfumes“! As you can see, I don’t own the pentagonal bottle. It’s a decant that came from a split buy. Sorry, but that’s about the only way I could get my hands on it some years ago: Tauer Perfumes don’t sell where I live, Andy doesn’t ship directly to my country, and I wanted to get my hands on it ASAP back then.
What does LADDM smell like (if you haven’t tried it yet, and it definitely is something that can be considered an obligatory olfactive experience for any desert-lover out there)?
It’s an olfactory impression of one night in Morocco, like ones that you just enjoy while you’re experiencing it, and not giving it any special thoughts while you’re there. Then, one night you dream: and in your dreams, all the little details come alive, scents and sounds you didn’t even know that were safely stored in your memory, and the whole experience is relived in your dream – even more intensely…
The air is thick and saturated with the heat rising from the dry, ocher-colored ground, licking the ocher-colored walls of the town where you’re staying, somewhere on the edge of the Sahara desert. Not only everything is dusty-earthen-clay-ochre colored, including the sky after sunset, but it also feels like waves of amber rolling all over you. It’s a fine, deep, thick amber mixed with spices that swirl around in it, like in a thick, home-made brew. You can hear chatter on the streets getting louder as the temperature lowers.
As the night slowly, almost lazily rolls in, whiffs of warm wind bring the dry desert air along, just to remind you how close to it you are. Trails of incense are coming from a burning stove somewhere in the town, and an inky dark night hovers above the scorched, resinous smelling city roofs, expanding over the whole old casbah. Shifting shapes, just like LADDM on my skin. It’s a place where I want to keep returning to.
Andy Tauer is now making solid-perfume LADDM, so you might want to check this one as well – I guess it’s much easier to ship. And LADDM‘s little sister Au Coeur du Desert is also an option, so there you go with 2 desert-themed fragrances from one brand! LADDM is a very poetic, Rumi-like impression of a desert.
Notes: cumin, coriander, petitgrain; jasmine, rose; ambergris, vetiver, cedarwood. / Spicy Oriental/
Location: Ait Ben Haddou, Morocco.
Larmes du Desert, Atelier des Ors / Marie Salamagne
I wrote a review of 6 Atelier des Ors fragrances – Larmes du Desert included – some time ago, and you can find it here.
One of the „Black Collection“, Larmes du Desert is the fragrance that resonates deeply with this teme. All the desert tree „tears“ that became resins…it’s all about them. And incense, an airy, woody, elegant incense with a delicate touch of sweetness to counterpart olibanum smokiness, together with a lovely, warm amber to comfort you.
This is what one specific desert area smells to me like, and Larmes du Desert immediately transports me to the Sinai peninsula. The vast desert with scattered Joshua Trees alongside a bumpy road, fascinating scenery, my eyes wide open. It’s perfect for spring and summer, although I enjoy wearing this gold-amber-myrrh beauty all year-round. Larmes du Desert possesses the quality of smooth elegance and refined seductiveness that just draws you in.
Notes: incense, cypress, patchouli, guaiac, cedar, citrus, amber, myrrh /Smoky-Woody
Location: Mount Sinai (Jabal Mousa, Egypt).
Al Sahra, The Different Company / Emilie Coppermann
This is interesting and very different from the usual olfactory vision of Sahara – a fragrance that moves far away from amber, spices, dates, Floriental-Orientals, or any oud-infused stereotype: contrasting and modern Al Sahra by Master Perfumer Emilie Copperman.
Al Sahra opens with sharp, mineral, and metallic freshness of desert sand early in the morning, just before sunrise: cool and crisp, brilliantly clear. Deep inside the desert, among dried-up salt lakes, the air has a different quality: it feels crystal-mineral, with a well-balanced dose of Aldehydes that leaves a salty aftertaste in your mouth.
These cold tones crystalize into translucent flowers, imaginary floral mists above the desert, opening the way for warmer notes to follow. As these imaginary flowers turn bitter, their petals falling off to the dry ground, Al Sahra slowly reveals its Oriental side, one that’s been there all along, only you didn’t see it at first.
The incense used is dry and abstract, resins are softly painted watercolor impressions that are carefully dabbed with spices, and a fine layer of cyber-cool and warm at the same time – amber-patchouli-sandalwood base.
Al Sahra is a contemporary Mineral-Oriental that I visualize like contrasts of cold steel and glass of modern cities, and soft, curvy, and hot sand dunes of a desert that’s only a short drive away. Or wearing a completely white, long, and starched robe while walking upon desert sand dunes. A symbiosis of two opposites, functioning smoothly.
Perfect for spring and summer, abstract and funky Al Sahra is a new perfume launched in January 2020!
Notes: Mineral accord, Salt Crystals, White Violet Sand Lily, Cinnamon from Madagascar, Incense, Cistus Labdanum, Wind of the desert, Patchouli, Sandalwood / Mineral-Oriental
Location: the Western Desert near Al Wahat (Oasis) Al Kharjah, Egypt.
Sheiduna , Puredistance / Cecile Zarokian
Reviewed in 2016, and you can find my full review here. And yes, it’s a powerful Oriental with an impressive opening, sweet-smelling like dried fruits with honey, dipped in spices, with whiffs of dried tangerine and lemon slices.
Soft like orange desert sand you dip your toes into, warm and smooth. The geranium-rose is subtle and seductive, quite long-lasting – its pulse is strong and evenly beating. Everything runs so smoothly in this composition, shifts, and weaves in slow-motion, like desert sand dunes made of amber under the gentle wind of aldehydes. And deeper, below woods and myrrh, all the way to something Cecile knows well how to play with: vanilla and comforting musks.
As I wrote earlier, it takes me back to a very specific spot: the temple of Queen Hatshepsut in Egypt, and I keep thinking that this is how she might have smelled -the Queen who became the King. Sheiduna is royal.
Notes: lemon, tangerine, blackcurrant, aldehydes, Bulgarian rose essence, geranium, clove, vetiver, patchouli, amber woody, incense, benzoin, myrrh, tonka bean, vanilla pods, and musks / Oriental Spicy Perfume / Extrait: 27% perfume oil.
Location: Djeser-Djeseru, near the Valley of the Kings, Egypt
No. 11, Fo’ah / Michel Girard
And then there were – oasis. Lush spots of vegetation, surrounded by desert, and in them, there were…palm trees! The abstraction of blooming palm trees amidst the desert, this is what the perfume brand Fo’ah revolves around – reviewed here. Those bottles too!
Now, this is a feeling of an oasis close to the sea, so actually, you might consider it to be sand -beachy-fragrance, and an interesting one. Very refreshing in the opening, with gentle desert winds carrying the scent of sea inland. A lazy summer afternoon in the shade of a palm tree, with sun-kissed hair, salt on my skin, and waves of soothing, musky warmth.
Actually, like a day spent in one of the classy resorts at the near-desert seaside of the Red Sea. With a fantasy pear-accord and abstract composition, FO’AH No.11 is very refined, easy to wear, and it really lasts on my skin. Perfect for late spring and summer!
Notes: Sichuan pepper, citrus from Sicily, Lilly of the Valley, Palm tree note, amber, musks.
Location: I kept thinking about Marsa Alam, Egypt.
Note: In a few days Fo’ah will introduce a new fragrance in their line, so you might want to keep an eye on their FB or IG account @foahperfumes!
Just as I finished up writing this, we had a couple of rainy days. And after the rain, a thin layer of sand remained on cars – it was one of the typical “Sahara-sand” rains that often happen in May. Even when I can’t go to Sahara now, Sahara rains upon me!
The Plum Girl
Photos&Editing: Elena Cvjetkovic, Pexels
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