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: MDCI Invasion Barbare

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

MDCI stands for Marchal Design & Créations Indépendantes, after Claude Marchal, Parfums MDCI’s founder and owner. Wonderfully affable and a true gentleman, who recently was gracious enough to grant me a look into this houses extensive line; with the firm favorite being a modern master piece and one worthy of the infamous Luca Turin’s 5-star rating.

“Invasion Barbare is an elegant and soulful portrayal of a man of every woman´s dreams. He exudes warmth, intelligence and sensitivity as well as strength. Yet sensitive as he is, there is a barbarian hidden under his refined exterior. Like the ”Perfect Man” Invasion Barbare combines elegant understatement with lots of warmth and an unexpected, mesmerizing depth. The composition is built on the contrast of freshness and warmth, on the intriguing, almost peppery at the beginning play between citrusy notes, lavender, spices, vanilla and woods. The blend is extremely well crafted and as a result Invasion Barbare is a fascinating fragrance. A soft-spoken fragrance, there is nothing forceful about it, yet it possesses an almost hypnotic charisma.”

Formerly known as SB1, Invasion Barabre was launched in 2006 by perfumer Stéphanie Bakouche who set forth a stylistically modern aromatic fougère based on tried and true classical principles. What’s immediately apparent is the complexity and the quality of materials used in the composition, which exhibit a vague and comforting familiarity.

Wonderfully elegant, refined and well mannered in its opening; which is made up of a modern exuberance of crisp interplay between fresh lavender, violets and citrus and a warm contrast of subtle spices, which exude a gentle yet firm charm and radiance. Evolving into a more classical structure, cedarwood and musk add a solid masculine base, rounded off by a dry bourbon vanilla which ties in superbly and seamlessly with the zest and sweet warmth of the opening. Masterfully executed and presented, speaking with a firm and bold authority without ever resorting to being brazen, I would say that the name is half way between a misnomer and accurate. It’s all down to your perspective and how you perceive the overall concept. With that said, the fragrance is true to the demands of the brand: elegant, precious, masculine and extremely sophisticated.

Rating: 9.5/10
Longevity: 8/10
Projection: 8/10
Occasion: Semi-formal, Formal