Friday, 30 July 2010

Review Showcase: Tauer Perfumes

Andy Tauer's creations have just been added to the lines stocked at London's Les Senteurs, which makes this is a perfect time for a retrospective review of one of the most highly-respected niche brands around today.

Confidently taking up its position as the brazen matriarch of the collection is Le Maroc Pour Elle, an intensely spiced rosy patchouli which unveils its unmistakable presence from several metres away. As you'd expect, it evokes images of pungent souqs in Marrakesh, but there are also times when this potent juice tips over the edge and reminds me too much of the interior of an Asian grocery store. Exercise restraint, go for a more judicious application and marvel as a delectable powdery softness emerges.

Standing arm in arm with Madame Maroc is the scent which made the perfumery world sit up and pay attention to a certain corner of Zurich: L'Air Du Désert Marocain. I'll go out on a limb and risk incurring the wrath of thousands of bloggers by confessing that this isn't my favourite Tauer. It is undeniably an elegant, beautifully balanced piece of work with an utterly compelling amber drydown (that works best on fabric or in colder weather), but it's also fairly even-tempered, and I tend to be drawn to extremes...

... which brings us neatly to Lonestar Memories, a carnal blaze of birch tar and leather notes that takes you completely by surprise before slowly settling down to an exquisite accord of dry florals. Most people seem to agree that this scent conjures up scenes of cowboys, camping and the great outdoors. Well, I wasn't brought up in the western hemisphere, I've never spent a night under a tent and I've never been to Texas, so those olfactory references are lost on me, but I'm not complaining for one moment, because this stuff never fails to get under my skin, captivate my soul and remind me of the visceral power of smell. If I had to choose a favourite from this collection, it would unquestionably be Lonestar.

On the other hand, Rêverie Au Jardin takes me to the opposite end of the spectrum. If you like the idea of an unusual, almost unrecognisable lavender, then you may well love this - and apparently there are thousands of buyers in Russia who'll share your enthusiasm - but I can't get past a leery, melting plastic note that makes this the least comfortable of Andy's scents.

Thankfully, the record is redeemed by Incense Extrême and Incense Rosé, two stylish essays on the smoky seductiveness of frankincense. As its name implies, Rosé includes a well-judged floral note which moves the fragrance away from Arabia and into the heat of the Aegean, whereas Extrême remains firmly in ancient history and long-forgotten Biblical landscapes. They're both equally enticing and right up there with Andy's best.

Vetiver Dance is another departure from the world of curvaceous orientals and attempts to present one of perfumery's most enduring raw materials in a decidedly green setting. Give it a try if you like the clinical precision of Malle's Vétiver Extraordinaire, but if you prefer your khus with a healthy dose of dirt, then this one probably isn't playing your tune.

The ghosts of all the old, bewitching Guerlains are to be found in Une Rose Chyprée, a pitch-perfect manifestation of pure sensuality. My initial reaction to it was to let out a gasp of astonishment and exclaim, "I don't think I've got enough noses with which to smell this." Yes, in simplistic terms, it's a rose, but then, as we all know, a rose is a rose is a rose... Earthy and sparkling, this is a substance of gilt-edged richness, which also accomplishes the feat of remaining unabashedly unisex throughout its development.

Finally, there's the scintillating Orange Star, about which you can read a more thorough review by clicking here. Cheerful and insanely tenacious, it's an impressive marriage of Andy's interest in orientals and his dalliance with more translucent fare, moving from its clean citrus opening to its ambered base with enviable grace.

Those who follow Andy's blog (absolutely essential reading for anyone with more than a passing interest in perfumery) will know that he's not an idle soul: he's constantly working on new scents, three of which are about to be released to the general public over the course of the next few months. Of these, I was fortunate enough to obtain a sample of Une Rose Vermeille, and although my detailed review of it won't be uploaded till early September, I will just say that if you like your roses sweet and tasty, you're going to want to save up your pennies for this one.

Almost entirely hand-made in Andy's own house, his fragrances are the result of painstaking dedication to his craft and meticulous attention to detail. In an industry that is all too often driven by the dubious findings of market research and the quest for the lowest common denominator, his work displays tremendous charm and individuality. If you consider yourself a perfume lover, but you haven't yet delved into the world of Tauer, I cannot urge you strongly enough to order some samples straight away and get sniffing!



  1. I generally agree with your assessment, although I think I personally enjoy Incense Extreme a bit more than Lonestar. I couldn't stand Reverie Au Jardin or Vetiver Dance - both were sickly sweet and strangely artificial and herbal to me, in a bad way. Which is strange, as all the others are great. I had to give both my samples away, but love the others. Now I need to try Orange Star.

    Hope you're enjoying India.

  2. Hi Michael,

    You really should try Orange Star soon... and then you'll have to review it, 'cause I'd be very interested to find out what you make of it.

    India's been wonderful so far, thanks. I keep meaning to write a little blog entry about the trip so far, but I can't bear to spend time at the laptop when I could be out there seeing new things!

  3. I associate Le Maroc Pour Elle with Led Zeppelin's Kasmir. Both evoke emotions I lack the words to express, both so beautiful tears flow. And no, I'm not being dramatic.

    1. Elle, I can very easily see that Le Maroc would generate powerful emotions. It remains one of Andy's boldest, most striking compositions.


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