Today I sprayed on Chergui, another fabulous scent from Serge Lutens and his perfumer supremo, Christopher Sheldrake. I adore Lutens and his oeuvre, and have written about Tubereuse Criminelle, Douce Amère, La Religieuse and Bas de Soie on these pages, but this is only a small snippet of the perfumes I love from his collection.
Chergui was the perfume that ignited my interest in scent and olfaction. Before smelling this arid, dusty beauty I had worn perfume merely as an accessory, not with intent and interest. I was highly influenced by marketing. I either admired the face of the fragrance or thought that the perfume house was worthy of my attention. My sense of smell was highly under developed.
I’d had flings with Chanel No 5 EDT for my friend’s wedding where I was the bridesmaid and we both wore the same scent along with the body lotion. I’d worn Opium by Yves Saint Laurent in my teens that now looking back seems highly inappropriate. Flirtations with Body Shop favourites White Musk and Dewberry were endured when I lived in the UK. L’Eau d’Issey and CkOne were worn to death in the 90’s. My boss bought me Bulgari Black. I had no idea this was a great perfume. In more recent times I’d fallen for Balenciaga Paris due to my girl crush on Charlotte Gainsbourg.
My connection to these once cherished perfumes was brushed aside once I discovered Serge Lutens while living in France. Smelling his fragrances in the local Sephora opened up a whole new world to me. Chergui was the first in the Lutens range to haunt me. I’d never encountered anything in the scented world that had made me go weak at the knees before.
I still love it, although it doesn’t smell as bewitchingy strong as it once did. My nose has become accustomed to more intense and challenging perfumes, and it now seems like a softer, cuddlier perfume. It’s been emasculated somewhat with my perfume journey to weirder places.
Yet I continue to fall for the dryness, the desert wind and the tobacco. The sweetness from the honey that lends humility. The hay and the ambered flourish.
It’s the scent that holds a special place in my affections. Chergui was my first love in the perfume world and I’ll never forget it, nor be without it.