What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, and the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products. To counter my inherent grumpy tendencies, I try to write about something I appreciate at least once a week. Once in a while I get up on my soapbox and write about things that aren't at all related to perfumery. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I am always cautious when approaching a perfume that smells like ambroxan before I even open it. However, in this case, I’m glad I did finally get around to spraying the sample that was sent me for review. The initial notes are not at all ambroxan-like, but rather a sweetish, incense-resiny fragrance with just a hint of citrus, vanilla and spice. It’s a gorgeous scent that immediately made me want to apply more, full spray ahead.

I give this perfume high marks on the basis of its top notes alone. As it dries down, the woody and dry vetiver notes come to the fore, which is fine with me. I imagine that I smell hints of patchouli and subtle florals along with everything else, but it’s primarily the woody-herbal-incense smell that speaks to me in all the right ways. This is far and away the best perfume I’ve smelled in a long time.

After about 6 hours the ambroxan finally kicks in, but it’s not too strong, still tempered by the vanilla and woody-resinous notes. 12 hours later, it’s still there. 24 hours and a shower later, a ghost of it is still clinging to my skin. If you want longevity in a perfume that’s pleasant from start to finish, this is it.

The generous spray sample that I have is the “EdT intense”, so I’m not sure if this is a different concentration and/or formula than the 2005 release that I tried once before and found rather bland. Maybe it’s the difference between dabbing from a little Luckyscent vial and spraying liberally from a manufacturer’s sample. Maybe it helped that I had just rubbed raw shea butter on my hands before testing, and there was some sort of synergistic interaction. Maybe it was the cool, muggy weather. 

I really don’t feel transported to the North African desert when I wear this, although I can see how it might give the feeling of being in a dry, brushy place where the sun is beating down, releasing aromatic juices and resins from the vegetation. The vanilla note in the base is reminiscent of smelling the trunk of a ponderosa pine, but my overall impression is of some kind of freshly cut, very aromatic wood mixed with the scent of one of the botanical perfumes my mother wore when I was a child. Although it’s strong, it has a naturalistic feel to it that keeps it from being too much at any point.

L’Air du Desert Marocain goes on the short list of perfumes that I could wear any time, any place and thoroughly enjoy.

[Sample kindly provided by Tauer Perfumes/Hypoluxe. Photos from the Tauer Perfumes website and Wikimedia.] 


  1. Hi Ellen,

    I've been around long enough that everything new (or relatively new) reminds me of something old. I have a sample of the L'air Du Desert Marocain, EdT Intense and when I I tried it Brad told me that it was almost exactly like the discontinued version of Aramis Devin that he loves so much. I was skeptical, but did a comparison and he was right!

    L'Air Du Desert Marocain IS very similar to the old Devin. The Devin seems woodier and the Tauer has more vanilla but I like both of them equally. L'Air Du Desert lasts longer. That is no surprise as versions of Devin that we (Brad, actually) have are an after shave and a cologne. Of the two the after shave is the closest match to the Tauer fragrance.


    1. Gail, I don't think I've ever smelled Aramis Devin, but obviously I should. I really like the vanilla in L'Air du Desert, but could easily imagine it without it.

    2. The Devin reformulation is not good...don't bother with that one. Try our vintage versions (Brad's, I should say).

  2. Yay! L'Air du Desert has gotten a lot of love recently :) I am also especially fond of the vanilla in L'Air, though really what I love most is how many different faces it seems to have (and how, as you said, you could really wear it anytime, any place). I am glad you loved it too!