Other reviews below have described. Chergui well. I have recently jumped on the vintage fragrance bandwagon, and as a result my former Lutens favorites, such as Chergui, feel too sweet, gourmand and powdery oriental to my nose. A little goes a long way and it's better to dab than to spray. Oddly, unlike, Ambre Sultan, FT, Bois etc., I don't see myself layering chergui to counter the sweet powderiness.
Sillage wrote in her review below 'sweet smokey spicy amber . . .' I agree with all of that except I think it would be greatly improved to have the bite of carnation or clove or something to counter the honey and sweetness. It's all shapeless, warm base notes to me.
Lutens layers well and serge apparently provides layering suggestions. I have been layering jeau de peaux with Ambre sultan (AS is a universal ingredient in my layering), and the result is a cross between Etro Heliotrope and Caron farnesiana. I think one of serge's official suggestions is chergui and a la Nuit (a non indolic, somewhat straightforward and powerful jasmine) but I never had the courage to try it, and recently my bottle of A La nuit smashed on the granite floor. . . BTW, when the entire 50 ml bottle smashes, spilling the entire contents, you do get a whiff of indolic, go figure. . ..
Finally, I was reading BoisdeJasmin on Layering Lalique Amethyst, and some readers commented on other successful layering combos, specifically, Chergui and Bulgari Black. . .
It took me awhile to write This review. I've been wearing chergui from a little sample a kind SA gave to me & trying to "figure out" This scent. When i first apply it, i immediately get pipe tobacco & honey. I imagine this Is how honeyed tobacco would smell. That goes away and the tobacco goes to the background & i get something dry & almost grassy but not green grass, it's a dry grass with honey. It's the strangest smell i've ever smelled but it's a warm cosy smell. This stage lasts about an hour then i get the smell of roses, dry roses and powder pierces by wisps of Tobacco & creamy honey. The entire scent Is like a honeyed, creamy,rosy, baby powder with that dry grassy scent that stops this perfume from becoming boring. This Is the drydown i get & then it becomes a lightly honeyed creamy, dusty skin scent. I loved this perfume! Sometimes i wished there was a tiny bit of spice in there to cut through that creamy powder phase but i love it! I Can imagine this smelling hot on a Guy.
I own 5 Serge Lutens fragrances, and I enjoy them in this order: 1) Chergui, 2) Jeux de Peau, 3) Un Bois Vanille, 4) Filles en Anguilles, 5) Feminite du Bois.
EDIT 9/24/14: I now like them in this order: 1) Filles en Anguilles, 2) Feminite du Bois, 3) Chergui, 4) Jeux de Peau, 5) Un Bois Vanille.
I love all of them -- I think they're *brilliant* perfumes.
Here are the notes of Chergui, per parfumo.net:
Amber, Hay, Honey, Iris, Leather, Musk, Clary sage, Rose, Sandalwood, Tobacco leaf, Juniper berry, Frankincense
Sweet amber, basically. It's complex & deep & kind of resiny but also quite sweet, let me emphasize that -- they were generous with the honey (the third listed note). I ordered Chergui unsniffed, based on reviews, and when I received it, I was a bit disappointed at how *sweet* it is -- nevertheless, it's still very good.very surprised at how sweet it is.
Sweet-smoky spicy amber, and I'm wearing it now. Has almost a sweet pipe tobacco quality, to my nose. A relative of Youth Dew, Cinnabar, Prada, Must de Cartier Classic, BPAL Snake Oil, Ciara, Laura Biagotti Venezia, Escada Collection -- all in the same broad general category, I think. No patchouli in Chergui, no vanilla -- primarily amber, and it smells quite sweet & pipe tobacco-y to me.
Chergui is strong & rich & beautiful -- you have to be careful -- you only need a tiny touch, and then it blooms on skin & has great sillage -- lasts very well.
This is a great Fall/Winter scent. Complex, full-bodied, exotic, gorgeous, rich, & sweet. Love it!
Sadly, I have no idea what a real marketplace in Morocco smells like, but in my westerner's mind's eye, somewhat in the vein of the orientalist paintings of the 19th century, Serge Lutens Chergui smells not so much to me like a dry desert wind but like a marketplace in Tangier the morning after the wind has mercilessly swept through. I think it is a smell of stillness, like a whisper left behind from an old story that was told. It is the scent of a quiet unoccupied room permeated with the smells of lingering smoke, tea leaves and the spoiling wine and fruit abandoned on the table from the night before, the aroma of dusty hair scented with rose oil, and bells tinkling softly on perfumed ankles as the inhabitants begin to stir. It is the scent of the animal's fur as they begin to low in their stalls, the smell of the smooth ground baked with the sun's warmth, and the smell of the vendor's garment dyed textiles hung for sale in the streets. Personally I find it more reminiscent of Serge Lutens Arabie than the more common comparison I see to Fumerie Turque, but with less of that rich juicy pungency that Arabie has, and with the gourmand notes favoring sweet over savory. Unfortunately, there is something a little sickly-sticky-burning-powdery-sweet that holds Chergui back from being truly sublime for me, although it is very close...
Notes according to Luckyscent: honey, musk, incense, tobacco leaf, hay sugar, amber, iris, rose and sandalwood.
I really wanted to love this fragrance; however, Chergui was a major disappointment. The pleasant opening smells like Avon Skin So Soft and conjures up childhood memories. After five minutes, the boring powder arrives. Also, Chergui seems incomplete, as though it hoped to vanish in the hot desert wind. Maybe someday I will revisit this fragrance and experience lounging camels and complex “spicy intensity”. Maybe.
I just could not get down with this fragrance. It smelled like Skin-So-Soft on me and nothing more, which to me, translates to cheap. I read other reviews that said it got better with time, but I didn't find this at all - it was very linear on me. My first impression was also that this is a very mature fragrance (too mature for me, not my style at all), and my husband said the exact same thing when I asked what he thought of it. Well, actually, he didn't use such polite terminology, but I'll leave out what he actually said. :) Anyway, wanted to like, but not for me at all.
I was given a sample of this at Barney's in Scottsdale and I was exceptionally skeptical because Lutens can be a bit over the top, and not in a good way.
This spicy, leathery, creamy and very voluptuous scent, brought me into the Lutens fold. It warms up on my skin and just melts into it, morphing from the incense, hay like opening to the spicy santal and tobacco leaf with a hint of soft warm leather middle, into the final stage of amber, creamy rose and smokey tonka. For me, the honey is present but only there to lend a bit of supporting cast, quietly sweet not sugary, with more of a beeswax honey scent.
It is exquisite in every stage with my chemistry, however I can understand how, for some, this would be overwhelming and headache inducing; but if it meshes with your chemistry it is one of the most lush fragrances out there.
Once the initial stage is over the sillage is modest, meaning it wears close to me, so those who are hug worthy get a whiff, but it will not offend in an elevator or invade someones personal smelling space.
I love it both in the winter and summer months. Warmth turns it into a heady and more humid breeze as opposed the winter where it is more of a dry smokey wind.
I wear this scent on an everyday basis and for formal events, it suits both imho; I agree with the previous reviewer that it just depends on the wearer.
Complex, intelligent, evocative, smouldering, desirable, exotic, deep.
That's what I smell like to me when wearing this fragrance. And my husband wanted to bed me straight away.
Chergui is not for the faint-hearted, or white floral lover. You'll want to be into your orientals to wear with confidence. And if you do, you won't be disappointed.
Yes it is sweet, but not sickly, underpinned by sandalwood, amber, musk, tobacco, so it avoids the sticky sweet superficiality of many other fragrances jostling for position on the perfume counter. These notes rise to the occasion on the nothing less than orgasmic dry-down. What you're left with is a warm, complex, alluring fragrance that is evocative of a Morrocan love affair, but stays with you long enough to still enjoy at the end of the day.
Some say it's not an every day perfume, but I think it entirely depends on the wearer. An excellent fragrance by the Serge Lutens folk and would definitely buy again.
Drat. This sounded completely like something I would love, but on me it carried the dreaded over-sweet baby-powder note. Bugged me enough that I washed it off. Won't dissuade me from trying more Serge Lutens, though, as I've liked some of his other scents just fine!
Oh my...not fruity, suh-WEET, sugary, powdery, flowery, girly or nice in any fashion. This is not pastel, pink, floral, eyelet, or ankle socks.
Chergui is a WOMAN'S scent. You'd better be a mature woman...all curves, breasts, buttocks, and satiny toffee-colored skin to wear this. You can pin a man from across the room with your smoky eyes, beckon him with a narcotic-laced toss of your hair, bend his will to your whim, and break his heart with an indifferent glance. Your clothes meld to your curves, and men can't say why you are so intoxicating...but you're everyone's private heroin when you wear this. (Is that a Twilight reference? Oh God, I hope not. SO not my intention.). Women want to be you, men want to possess you.
That's how this scent makes me feel, anyway. Not like a harried housewife with four homechooled kids and a messy (not dirty! Just cluttered!) house that has dogs bouncing off the walls and a perennial dish or three in the sink. Some days I just drag around in yoga pants and a t-shirt (it's really a pajama tee from Target, don't tell) with my hair haphazardly twisted up in a bun. I'm 41, with some wrinkles and sagging skin, standard mom issue.
But when I wear Chergui, I magically transform into Catherine Zeta-Jones in "The Legend of Zorro", Angelina Jolie in "Original Sin". Lush, luscious, sensual, unforgettable. After you get past the first almost acrid, medicinal blast of herby incense (about 10 minutes)...almost eyewatering, really...the scent melds into a spicy, honeyed, slightly sugary amber that's saved from cloying-ness by a fresh bite of tobacco, iris, and I guess it's hay. There's supposed to be rose notes in this, which unfortunately, rose never shows up on me. But it's not needed or missed.
Hours, and I mean HOURS, later, the drydown maintains the amber and slowly includes a woody edge...I guess that's the sandalwood. I can see the guy from "The Most Interesting Man in the World" beer commercials wearing this. But it's not manly, oh no. If my florid, overblown prose didn't spell it out above, it's verrrry feminine (all dependent on chemistry...always).
This is one of the few frags I've stuck under hubby's nose that didn't get the requisite indifferent Gallic shrug. He took my wrist in his hand, inhaled deeply, and murmured "Mmmmmmm"...totally out of character for him (a verbal reaction that matches his nonverbal reaction to Angel...see my review). I believe he is an Oriental/gourmand man, and if he enjoys this juice, given how it makes me feel, I'll gladly wear it and revel in my lovely feminine sensuality. There aren't a lot of things that can elevate me from my rather humdrum hausfrau existence, so when I find something that lifts me up, I'll take it and exploit it every chance I get. Just lovely.