Where to start? Part 5 (10 Modern niche classics)

Now we come to “modern niche classics” and it must be noted that there are an astounding number of fragrances which could be considered “classics”.

The following suggestions are merely a direct reflection of my personal tastes, which also happen to be some of the most talked about and respected scents in the community.



Andy Tauer- L’air du desert Marocain

Notes: coriander, petitgrain (bitter orange), lemon, bergamot, jasmin, cistus, bourbon, geranium, cedarwood, vetiver, vanille, patchouli, ambergris.

Independent Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer’s best release to date, a mysterious and hauntingly meditative exotic masterpiece, made up of bone dry cedar and spices, sweet warm resinous amber and a deft dusty incense. Potent, challenging and as my friend once aptly described it “Burt Reynolds in a bottle” (meaning very manly, not cheesy!). Simply put, this one just works and is one of my Top 10 all time favorites.

‘Imagine finding peace in a room, lying on the bed, exhausted from the heat of the day, with the window open, letting the cool air in which still is very dry and filled with the scents from the near desert and overlayed with the spicy scents of the streets below.’ Andy Tauer

Rating: 9/10



Histoires de Parfum- 1740 Marquis de Sade

Notes: bergamot, davana sensualis, patchouli, coriander, cardamom, cedar, elemi, leather, labdanum

1740 represents the birth year of a Parisian gentleman, named Donatien-Alphonse-François, famous as the Marquis de Sade. Imprisoned many times for his licentious morals. This is a truly polarizing fragrance, in that you either love it or hate it.

It all comes down to your threshold tolerance for the Immortelle note, which has an almost curried maple syrup essence. The opening is very bitter and boozy, evolving into a wonderfully buttery leather/pipe tobacco. 100% masculine and manly, although equally enjoyed by women alike.

Rating: 9/10



Serge Lutens- Ambre Sultan

Notes: coriander, amber, oregano, bay leaf, myrtle, angelica root, sandalwood, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla

To many The Sultan reigns supreme as the reference amber. Opening with a richly resinous amber, glowing and mingling with exotic spices, whilst casting a bewitching spell. It smells almost exactly how you’d imagine it to smell, as it unfolds peeling off its medicinal and herbal layers, losing the brininess of the opening spices to leave a flickering scent trail, reminiscent of the smell of burnt embers (making it a very visceral experience). One of the flagship scents in a very extensive Serge Lutens line and allegedly the top seller in France for the house.

Rating: 9/10



Serge Lutens- Muscs Koublaï Khän

Notes: vegetal musk, roots of costus, labdanum rockrose, grey amber, vanilla, patchouli, ambrette seeds, pure Moroccan rose.

Muscs Koublaï Khän is named after Koublaï Khän, the Great Mongol ruler and Emperor of China. Another target for unwarranted gross hyperbole and conjecture, in that there is some exaggerated myth that this one smells either like “camel butt” or my favourite “the crotch of a homeless person”. A destined classic which is made up of a rich honeyed rose overlaid on a bed of smoldering amber, with a hefty dose of musk and every animalesque note you can think of. Polarizing to say the least in that it’s devilishly sexy to some, repulsive to others, though beautiful, unique and immaculate in its own right.

With that said, does it smell like the crotch of a homeless person standing next to the rear end of a camel? You be the judge!

Rating: 9/10



MDCI- Invasion Barbare

Notes: grapefruit, bergamot, violet leaves, white thyme, cardamom, lavender, ginger, cedarwood, vanilla, musk.

See full review here

Rating: 9.5/10



Chanel- 31 Rue Cambon

Notes: bergamot, patchouli, cistus oil, iris, aldehydes 

31 Rue Cambon is a chypre fragrance and is named after the address of Chanel’s Parisian couture workshop. A rich, smooth, elegant floral with a couture character, created by Chanel Master Perfumer Jacques Polge in 2007. The warm Chypre accord is set free and made luminous and modern with inviting notes of Bergamot, Patchouli and Cistus oil. What’s quite interesting about this effervescent modern masterpiece, is that although classified as a chypre, it’s lacking an oakmoss accord. Clever!

Rating: 9/10



Chanel- Sycomore

Notes: vetiver, sandalwood, cypress, juniper, pink berries

A rich-wood fragrance with a noble character — like the Sycomore tree that inspired it — created by Chanel Master Perfumer Jacques Polge in 2008. Elegant and dignified almost to a fault, this is a whimsical sumptuous blend of smokey vetiver on a bed of rich sandalwood and incense, for an earthy, warm and enveloping, yet subtle presence. Much more than the simple sum of its parts, this one is simply remarkable and mandatory testing.

Rating: 9.5/10



Frédéric Malle- Musc Ravageur

Notes: bergamot, tangerine, cinnamon, vanilla, musk, amber

See full review here.

Rating: 9/10



Montale- Black Aoud

Notes: red rose, aoud, labdanum, sandalwood, mardarin, musk

Considered the most popular and flagship scent in Pierre Montale’s line-up. Black Aoud is an abject lesson in Middle-Eastern perfumery, with some classical French sensibilities. The opening is potent, with an almost overwhelmingly sharp and medicinal oud note, overlayed with a plush velvet rose in its simplicity. This is a seriously tenacious fragrance, which quite literally can last for days. You’ve been warned!

Rating: 8/10



Maison Francis Kurkdjian- Absolue pour le soir

Notes: Infusion of benzoin from Siam, cumin, ylang-ylang, Bulgarian and Iranian rose honey, incense absolute, Atlas cedarwood and sandalwood.

See full review here.

Rating: 9/10



See also

Puredistance- M (full review)

Amouage- Jubilation XXV (Mini-review)


Review: Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour Le Soir

Notes: Infusion of benzoin from Siam, cumin, ylang-ylang, Bulgarian and Iranian rose honey, incense absolute, Atlas cedarwood and sandalwood.

Fresh from absorbing the gratuitous nudity and riveting plot of the abstract cult classic The Dreamers, where Academy Award®-winning director Bernardo Bertolucci portrayed an erotic tale of three young film lovers brought together by their passion for movies and each other; I couldn’t help but draw some parallels between Absolue pour le soir and this cinematic master piece, in which they both portray an engaging and seductive cast of characters, intertwined with a liberal dose of decadent Parisian eroticism.

Arguably one of the best releases (if not the best) of 2010, criminally talented perfumer Francis Kurkdjian took an inspired departure from his usual minimalist and elegantly understated style, which forgive my heathenism (cue elevator music) was starting to stray a little too much towards safe and accessible territory.

                                                                                                                                                                                               (This is what Eva Greens character Isabelle must have smelled like)*


Rich, opulent and deliciously decadent with uninhibited carnal sensuality; As with most of my favorite scents, it’s polarizing in that you will either swoon with exotic bliss, or recoil grimacing in sheer horror, questioning the sanity of anybody with enough reckless abandon to want to smell like this on purpose. I fall firmly into the former category, but would advise those to not buy into the hyperbole and unwarranted conjecture, after all this is not Secretions Magnifiques darling.

Captivating and immediately apparent is despite the seemingly out of character stylistic detour, the composition manages to maintain FK’s elegance and smooth seamless blending, maintaining the integrity and house signatures which Mr. Kurkdjian is renowned for. Bravo…..

(Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian)*

APLS (a scent for the evening) opens bestially sweet, in parted by a beautifully rendered accord of warm honey and resinous benzoin, underpinned with a rapturously camphoraceous Atlas-cedarwood and cumin. There is no foreplay here, the composition for the most part stays dense and direct, leaning towards the realm of linear. After the fervent and tumultuous start, the scent becomes enriched with an enchanting floral blend of ylang-ylang and Iranian rose, with some deft touches of incense, adding a further characteristic depth and ethereal quality.

Always voluptuous, bestowing the wearer with a warm and sophisticated glowing aura, there is a enough challenge to afford the fragrance connoisseur a chance to revel in the scents slightly uriness glory, wearing it like a sophisticated badge of pride.

For the most part the journey is rather linear, as the bestial shadow slowly unwinds and loses it’s fangs; stripping down to something more civilized, akin to it’s predecessor Cologne pour le soir. A kissing cousin to both Musc Ravageur and Muscs Koublai Khan, in which although vastly different from each other, they share a common theme and story. Therefor if you’re a fan of the latter, then chances are you’re going to revel in this one. Another prime example of a gender neutral fragrance, which works equally well on either sex. All in all another one for mandatory testing, highly recommended.

Rating: 9/10
Longevity: 9/10
Projection: 8/10
Occasion: Semi-formal, Formal, Romantic.