With freshly showered, un-perfumed skin, I excitedly ran off to Tigerlily Perfumery in San Francisco the other day to meet Andy Tauer, who was here all the way from Switzerland, and to sample a few of his perfumes that I hadn't gotten around to sampling yet. When I arrived at Tigerlily, it was quite crowded. There was good music playing and plenty of beer and cocktails.
I own 5 bottles of perfume by Mr. Tauer, and *of course* I own the cult classic L'Air du Desert Marocain, an absolute must if you are starting out in niche perfumery and are wondering what to sample. I was actually dumb enough to sell my first bottle. I have hundreds of bottles of perfume and thought I'd forget about it. I quickly regretted that decision, so I bought it again. There's a mistake I will never repeat.
PHI UNE ROSE DE KANDAHAR - I'm a little late to the Rose de Kandahar party. This is a perfume I heard about and have read many positive reviews about, and as badly as I wanted to try it, I avoided it in a weird way because I got so tired of rose as a main note. I loved rose for many years, and after going through my phase of Middle-Eastern style oud/rose/vanilla (you know that combination! You are probably sick of it, too), starting with Noir de Noir, I just couldn't stand rose anymore. That combo sort of ruined rose for me. Olfactory burnout. I am still tired of rose, but I figured it would not hurt to finally sample this one.
What developed on my skin was blissful. I kept picturing a big copper pot with chopped nuts simmering in sugar syrup and rosewater. It reminded me of a combo of Turkish Delight and almond nougat with tiny pieces of candied orchard fruit (if such a thing exists). I know there was rose in the mix--there had to be--but it did not stand out and instead blended with the other notes to create perfection. PHI is sweet, definitely gourmand, but not a toothache, nor is it cloying. The creamy nuttiness is what stood out most on my skin; the angle that I came back to over and over again as the scent wafted to my nose throughout dinner (I left to grab a bite and let the perfumes do their thing with my chemistry).
I recall telling myself all sorts of things: It wasn't that good, I've smelled others like it, I will never wear it because it contains rose, I am not into gourmands these days.... It's crazy how many things I tried to tell myself to make me not love this perfume as much as I did.
LONESTAR MEMORIES - Just when I thought I had decided on a bottle of PHI, I checked on my inner-elbow, which held the mysterious, earthy scent of Lonestar Memories. I would describe it as just barely smoky, leathery, resinous, woody, creamy, and minty-herbal. When I first sprayed, it was far more leathery and smoky like a BBQ, but it settles down considerably. I sampled it despite knowing I don't care for leather nor smoke, but I was still curious. I didn't have high hopes that it would become something I needed to own.
The thing is--Lonestar Memories' drydown reminded me of something I had been searching high and low to find in a perfume. Several weeks ago, I was out walking when I noticed a rosemary bush in bloom. While I very much dislike the scent and taste of rosemary, I love flowers of all sorts, and the gorgeous little blue flowers were calling to me. I decided to pick a few, mostly to show to my little daughter, knowing that she could eat the flowers, and they would not harm her. Before giving them to her, I inhaled, with full expectations that I would re-confirm my disdain for rosemary. Instead, I was amazed to find that the rosemary flower smells totally different from the leaves. It was like the essence of the leaves mixed with cream and sugar. They smelled so amazing, I could not stop inhaling their scent. That was my Jean Baptiste moment (if you've seen the movie "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer").
I soon realized that the scent was oddly familiar. Yes, I know it was rosemary, but it smelled like something else too. I started thinking about Mentholatum. But creamier. And then my a-ha! moment. The scent was like a sweetened version of Noxzema. I had always enjoyed the scent of Noxzema, before I stopped using the nasty chemical goup, but now I wanted a perfume that smelled just like it. Well to make a long story short, Lonestar Memories contains a note of clary sage, another scent I don't like; however on my skin and in combination with the other notes, it just plays out like a vague menthol scent. I wouldn't have guessed clary sage in particular. Combined with an elusive creaminess, I had a little bit of the rosemary flower scent that I had been longing for, a scent that I assumed would just be my personal unicorn for many years to come, if not forever.
Despite my total adoration for PHI Une Rose de Kandahar, I decided on a bottle of Lonestar Memories. I barely got to my car before ripping my box open and spraying with abandon. The next morning, I woke up and hit the trigger, I'm obsessed with it. I prepared a cup of Earl Grey tea, added sugar and milk, and proceeded to take a sip. As I sipped my tea and simultaneously smelled my perfume wafting up from my wrist, I noticed that the scents were eerily similar. Vetiver can present as black tea (hence Odin's Seylon), and with a bright note mimicking bergamot as well as a creamy note that smells, well, creamy, it kind of was like a cup of Earl Grey with milk. So that is another reason I am falling for Lonestar Memories--I LOVE black tea perfumes.
I continued to examine the perfume on my skin. It is so beautifully blended that the notes just kind of tumble into one another, and it's tough to pinpoint specific notes. I did however pinpoint the scent of jasmine. I almost wasn't sure if it was really florals I was smelling, so I checked the Tauer website to confirm it is "a hint of jasmine," one of my favorite floral scents.
Now keep in mind that all the things I have mentioned (Noxzema, Earl Grey tea, jasmine, BBQ) are all present, but none of them dominate the scent. In fact, at first the perfume dries down and then it may seem streamlined, natural, earthy. But upon examination, it is quite dynamic. There is much more to it than it seems at first if you take the time to get to know it.
Every bit as masterfully crafted as L'Air du Desert. And Lonestar also contains Mr. Tauer's fingerprints, his silky, ambery, cedar-like "Tauer-aide", if you care for it. This perfume is an absolute winner.
lONESOME RIDER - Another beautiful and very Taueresque creation, Lonesome rider is all about smoky leather. I was expecting a dark creation, but while the leather was plentiful, the perfume was brightened by a nearly equal amount of tangy citrus. The leather accord plus iris combine to create a smooth base. The contrast between sharp, bright notes and smoky animalic notes reminded me just a little bit of No. 16 by Cognoscenti, a perfume that pairs leather with zesty tomato leaf.
The scent of leather in Lonesome Rider smells a tad rubbery at first, then mellows out, yet remains strong. It reminded me that Tauer uses synthetic animalic ingredients, which I not only appreciate, but they happen to smell better to my nose anyway. Not that I am any expert in what constitutes a leather accord, but one of my very favorite leather accords was a botanical one found in Strange Invisible's Black Rosette. I got a similar type of leather in Lonesome Rider. It smells like brand-new black leather.
Lonesome Rider reminded me of Tauerville's Incense Flash with regard to the type of leather and the intensity of it in the composition. A bit like Lonestar Memories too, but that one is not as strong and is also creamy. Since I am neither a fan of leather nor smoke in perfumes, Lonesome Rider was my least favorite of the three I sampled. But if you are a fan of Mr. Tauer's work, and you love Incense Flash, Lonesome Rider should be on your test list.
Here I am with Andy Tauer. I feel like such a groupie. What a great experience. I look forward to each and every one of his releases. A fellow fumehead (Instagram @mrcologne76) told me that L'Air du Desert Marocain is his favorite perfume of all time. There's a nice testament to Andy's talent. If you want to check out his perfumes (and art work), here are the links to his websites. He has a bunch of perfumes at different price points, as well as sample sets:
A big THANK YOU to Antonia, owner of Tigerlily Perfumes, for giving us perfume worshipers the chance to meet Andy!