Andy Tauer L’Air du Desert Marocain : Perfume Review

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Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

L’Air du Désert Marocain created by the Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer is a great illustration of the affinity between amber and patchouli. The two notes both have contrasting and complementary facets, and while their marriage is fascinating, arriving at the right balance is tricky. In L’Air du Désert Marocain, the harmony is quite striking—the resinous darkness of labdanum is wrapped around the chocolate bitterness of patchouli, with accents of woods and spices lending the composition a radiant quality.

L’Air du Désert Marocain was launched in 2005, and among Tauer’s fragrances, it is one of the most successful. This popularity is not surprising, considering that not only does it weave an interesting story, it presents its oriental theme in all its opulent splendor. By contrast, most of the big oriental launches of the past few years have veered into the direction of fruity gourmand (Yves Saint Laurent Belle d’Opium, Jimmy Choo Eau de Parfum, etc.) Those who love the velvety darkness of classical orientals and miss it in the latest fragrance offerings will find L’Air du Désert Marocain to be a great discovery.

On skin, the amber-patchouli accord is noticeable upon the first inhale. The typical voluptuous aura of a classical amber (which is a combination of vanilla and labdanum) is very appealing in this context. Despite the richness of materials, L’Air du Désert Marocain has a surprisingly radiant quality. The citrus notes give it a sparkling lift at the top, while the cool woody accents dispel the heft of amber in the drydown.

There is an exotic quality to L’Air du Désert Marocain, and while it is a modern composition in its refined, streamlined structure, it hints at another era. It is not a fragrance to throw on mindlessly as one rushes about getting ready for work. It tempts one to slow down and apply the dark gold liquid with a few careful touches on one’s skin. And careful one must be, for L’Air du Désert Marocain is a potent blend with excellent tenacity. A couple of drops suffice to perfume me for the whole day and serve as an excuse to dream of sun warmed stones, jasmine crushed between hot fingers and other trappings of my own oriental tale.

Tauer L’Air du Désert Marocain includes notes of coriander, petitgrain, bitter orange, lemon, bergamot, jasmine, labdanum, geranium, cedarwood, vetiver, vanilla, patchouli and ambergris. Available at Luckyscent, First in Fragrance, The Perfume Shoppe, as well as directly from Tauer Perfumes. Eau de Toilette Intense 50ml, $125.

Sample: my own acquisition

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35 Comments

  • Debbie: Amber, patchouli, jasmine…this sounds like heaven to me. Thank you for a lovely review. I will seek it out – it may well become part of my autumn/winter perfume wardrobe if it smells as good as it sounds. September 12, 2011 at 9:16am Reply

  • Sharryn Stormonth: This is my favourite perfume, I have just ordered a full bottle. I can wear this anywhere, anytime to hell with convention. LdDM is a beautiful composition. The amber doesn’t get bedded down and heavy, it sings along all the way. Oh! did I say, I love it. I am getting some other samples to be fair to Andy, he is no one-trick pony. September 12, 2011 at 9:29am Reply

  • Suzanna: This was an immediate triumph and it has remained so. As you point out, it is unlike many modern “Oriental” compositions.

    A lovely Vera Klokova silhouette, I must say. Another triumph. Is it you? If not, it certainly evokes your image as illustrated in your lovely writing. September 12, 2011 at 9:43am Reply

  • Victoria: I am getting into autumnal mood, so these ambers are coming into heavy rotation! September 12, 2011 at 9:45am Reply

  • Victoria: This is my favorite so far, very elegantly constructed! September 12, 2011 at 9:47am Reply

  • Victoria: Many “orientals” today are so limpid (and usually far too sweet!)
    I am glad that you like this photo from Vera. I will tell her that she has another fan. 🙂 September 12, 2011 at 9:48am Reply

  • Elisa: I love this one! I wore it this weekend to go hiking and kept stealing surreptitious sniffs of my wrist. September 12, 2011 at 9:57am Reply

  • zazie: Me and l’air had a difficult start: I was expecting an exotic fragrance that bottled jasmin petals blooming at night and sahara winds, and all I found was an ambery labdanum that reminded me of all those niche scents called “amber [insert adjective here]”.

    After resetting my expectations I started to appreciate the pine-eucalyptus facet that lifts this heavy oriental, and I do find days, in winter, when I crave this comforting fragrance. September 12, 2011 at 11:47am Reply

  • Carla: This was incredibly tenacious; the beautiful amber drydown lasted on my sleeve forever! September 12, 2011 at 12:29pm Reply

  • Victoria: Sounds like a perfect context for it! 🙂 September 12, 2011 at 1:14pm Reply

  • Victoria: I admit that when I first tried LdDM a few years ago, I thought the same thing, but it is really much more complex and interesting than a typical niche amber offering. September 12, 2011 at 1:15pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, very tenacious! A drop is enough for me, otherwise I find it too rich. September 12, 2011 at 1:16pm Reply

  • dee: Another one that has been on my “to sniff” list forever! I think I will make it a priority for Fall; I get the feeling that, like RaJ, this might be a FBW scent (saving my pennies)! 🙂

    Lovely review, as always Victoria!!!
    xo September 12, 2011 at 1:52pm Reply

  • Victoria: Get a sample first, because I bet that it will last you for a while. My Luckyscent sample’s longevity took even me by surprise. September 12, 2011 at 1:57pm Reply

  • Lavanya: This is a beautiful perfume. As I’ve mentioned before, personally I find this difficult to wear but it smells gorgeous on my mother’s skin, so I gave my sample to her. She must have forgotten about it, because a couple of days back, I was speaking with her on the phone while she was looking through all the samples that I’d given her and she picked one, smelled it and thought it was lovely. She tried reading the label and asked me which House this perfume was. Turned out it was L’Air..:)

    I don’t know why I find this difficult to wear, because in theory I shouldn’t..lol..I’m wondering if it is the Amber/ambrox – I have a similar problem with Andy’s eau d’epices – there is one note which I find difficult to wear. This same note is there to a much smaller extent in Pure Distance M – but here it is rounded and softened enough that it is perfect on my skin.. September 12, 2011 at 5:10pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: What a coincidence! I am wearing L’Air du Desert Marocain today! I often find amber perfumes rather dull and flat, but this one is amazing. I like its smoky, dry feel, as if the amber had been turned into incense smoke. September 12, 2011 at 5:44pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, that could be it. Some people have difficult with these sharp ambery materials (sweetlife-Alyssa cannot wear many Annick Goutals, because of its amber base.) September 13, 2011 at 8:47am Reply

  • Victoria: I also like this aspect very much, it gives it such a surprisingly fresh feeling. September 13, 2011 at 8:47am Reply

  • civava: One of my favorite perfumes! September 13, 2011 at 8:54am Reply

  • green jean: yes, victoria! more ambers. September 13, 2011 at 9:03am Reply

  • Cristine: I adore this fragrance– it is a beautiful work of art. I put some on the other day, not having worn it all summer, and my husband stopped me to tell me how good I smelled. He rarely ever does that.

    I ordered my bottle directly from Andy Tauer in Switzerland and when I opened the metal case it came in, there was a note thanking me– personally written and signed by Andy Tauer himself. I was amazed! What a gentleman. September 13, 2011 at 9:07am Reply

  • green jean: i’m also glad that you warned of its power, since i will just be sampling it and don’t want to try to take it off. September 13, 2011 at 9:08am Reply

  • Olenska: I agree that L’Air du Desert Marocain isn’t one to spritz heedlessly – in fact, I reach for it deliberately when I feel rushed or anxious, to encourage that little slowdown. It could almost be a meditative tool. Great review! September 13, 2011 at 9:22am Reply

  • hongkongmom: Uh Oh….and the beginning of another lemming created…Well done! September 13, 2011 at 9:46am Reply

  • Victoria: It is very well-made! September 13, 2011 at 1:36pm Reply

  • Victoria: I have a few more that I haven’t reviewed yet! September 13, 2011 at 1:36pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love such care and attention to detail. It makes the whole experience of wearing a perfume even more special. September 13, 2011 at 1:37pm Reply

  • Victoria: Just start with a little and build up, if you need to. It is very tenacious. September 13, 2011 at 1:37pm Reply

  • Victoria: A meditative tool is such a good description! I cannot agree more. September 13, 2011 at 1:38pm Reply

  • Victoria: 🙂 Glad to inspire some other quest (plus, it is very appropriate for fall.) September 13, 2011 at 1:38pm Reply

  • Lavanya: I was thinking of getting a small decant of Poivre 23- is that one similar to L’Air..more pepper, less amber (hopefully)? Thanks, V! September 14, 2011 at 12:01am Reply

  • Eric Brandon: I won a bottle of this from one of Tauer’s generous giveaways and I was so disappointed! I love the man and think he’s phenomenal but so far, the body of work I’ve sampled (admittedly a small handful) have not greatly impressed me. I did like Zeta, maybe enough to buy a decant, but that’s for another thread.

    This one,though, is the olfactory equivalent of a tuba blasting one note for 12 hours very close to your ear. :[

    Again, I really admire Mr. Tauer (and have high hopes for the Pentachords) but this one… I sold the bottle. September 14, 2011 at 5:16am Reply

  • Cynthia: This was a gateway perfume to the world of perfumery for me. It seemed like a work of art to me.
    Eric, I think body chemistry can’t be overstated. Andy’s perfumes universally smell good on me, but other lines, not so much. I have been reading good reviews for JM Bluebell but when I sprayed it I smelled nothiing. Absolutely nothing. I put it down to body chemistry. September 14, 2011 at 11:06am Reply

  • jen: This is one of my favorite scents. I love ambers, but appreciate the dry-ness of this one. It’s warm without being overheated. Great composition! September 14, 2011 at 6:12pm Reply

  • Darryl: It took me a loooong while to warm up to this one – my first sampling experience left me nearly suffocated by the opaque amber drydown and strangely sour incense (on my skin, anyway, which does strange things to incense notes). I kept my sample, though, and having re-tried it after a few months, it seems to finally “click” for me. (The cold weather helps.) I agree that L’Air absolutely conjures what a modern-day oriental should smell like, rather than those cloying “fruitchoulis” like Belle d’Opium and CK Euphoria flying under the oriental banner. The 21st century school of perfumery has allowed us to be practically transported to a different time and place with one spritz, and L’Air truly (and eerily) evokes dusty desert winds, burning incense, velvet and brocade, heady floral aromas on a humid night, and exotic, sloe-eyed sensuality. It’s both clear and dense, opulent yet arid, and on the skin it shimmers and changes shape like a desert mirage. It’s an experience as much as a perfume. November 22, 2011 at 8:09pm Reply

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