The very existence of an innovative and imaginative independent perfumer such as Zurich based Andy Tauer, an alchemist who produces strange and unique perfumes within his own apartment and boxes them, packages them, and sends them to his eager recipients all over the world, is quite gratifying in this overly compromised and commercialized world of vacuous, olfactory pap. Tauer’s releases regularly get the fragrant stratosphere all lathered up; stark, strong, and very contemporary blends that defy the usual gender-seductive expectations and take perfumery into interesting, and unidentified, zones.
They are not to be taken lightly, however. For me personally, Tauer scents are never an easy wear. Rather than just an immediately pleasing smell to apply, to fuse with and merely enhance my own physical aura and persona, these very complex (very male, actually) perfumes feel more like miniature, fully realized tableaux or skin-inhabiting theatrical productions; dramatic plays or ballets taking part on my skin, curious circumstances where all I can do is stand back and watch. Creations such as Reverie Au Jardin, a lavender-based, iridescent soap bubble fantasy that could easily have been directed by Peter Jackson; or the bizarre orchestrations of the fantastical, compellingly vivacious Vetiver Dance, these are scents from which I feel disembodied but simultaneously magnetized.
I did in fact once buy a full bottle of a Tauer, though, in London at Les Senteurs: the fabled, and much lauded, L’Air Du Désert Marocain, thinking it would be good for Duncan. How mistaken I was. We both loathed how it smelled on him, in its undiminishing, almost acrid intensity (and I would never even consider for a second wearing a stark, woody arid: probably the last category in the world I would wear – give me unscented instead, I just can’t do it). There was a relentlessness there, and, ironically, a total absence of air in that perfume that made for quite an unpleasant experience. So off was sent the bottle to my brother, who apparently wore it so well, and so naturally, that he was constantly followed about and complimented wherever he went, all the time, by strangers, by both women and men, trails of spices and resins surrounding the air perfectly matched to his skin chemistry (drier, more top-note centric than my own base-note enslaving canvas). He always wears fragrance, but has never had quite this reaction before or since. I would have really loved to have experienced how it smelled on Greg, actually, but by the time I got to England, the bottle had long been drained and he was asking for another (at that price, fat chance, mate).
Which brings me to today’s focus: two vehement, opulent, East-inspired roses. Before we begin, though, I must ask the question: am I even qualified to review these perfumes knowing full well in advance that they are very likely to be too fortified for me; that there is something in Andy Tauer’s perfumes that, quite honestly, usually just make me shudder? (Am I alone in this, incidentally?)
But let’s see. Let’s go closer. Let’s smell them anyway. Just because we want to, and because we love incense, and we love roses, and because one simply cannot ignore a perfume which has the name Une Rose De Kandahar.
First, to Incense Rose. I have had several samples of this scent, which in my view has an effortless integration of freshness (cardamom, clementine, bergamot, Texan cedarwood and a light Bulgarian rose), and a subtle, insidious mysticism, melded cleverly as it is with a fervent, long-lasting oriental bedding of labdanum, myrrh, patchouli, and ambergris that supports the starring ingredient in this perfume; a deep, smouldering frankincense. A spiced, lingering tapestry, quite beautiful in its linear night sky; a wise agelessness of orientalist, expanded canvas in the base; an incense scent (if you love incense scents) that you can trust; that just lasts and lasts and lasts (and lasts) throughout the day. I do rather rate this perfume, actually, and have used it to scent the house (it smells great on curtains in winter), but these parched, ascetic scents, I have to say, ultimately, just aren’t me.
Une Rose De Kandahar, a new, (kind of) limited edition perfume, is founded upon a rare and special rose essence produced in the prime rose growing region in Afghanistan of Nangarhar, and consequently, (and beautifully, for me, ) constant availability of this perfume cannot be guaranteed. I am a real sucker for this kind of story; I love the idea of terroir-specific natural essences (especialy somewhere as poignantly fierce and unyielding as this fascinating country) and in fact, compared to the drier, more masculine Incense Rose, Une Rose De Kandahar is really much more about the rose flower itself; plush, rounded, feminine, bolstered with gentle, almost gourmandish notes of almond and apricot; a pleasingly sweetish blend of tobacco leaf and cinnamon-touched Nangahar and Bulgarian roses, over warm, almost ambery, notes of patchouli, vetiver, vanilla, tonka bean and musk.
The first stage of the perfume is a forbidden, sensualized kiss of this quite beautiful rose, quite intense and yearning : very emotional. If you are a rose lover, and enjoy the scent of rose otto, of the natural essential oil, then I would definitely recommmend Une Rose De Kandahar. Unconscious perceptions of dusted cinnamon apricots over a soft, blouseful bloom of innocent, light pink roses, make for a scent I find somehow quite beautiful, if slightly too wide-eyed in sincerity. The scent is never overblown, but even so, rather than the soft, vanillic ending I would have been hoping for (because, obviously, I just would), instead, the usual Tauerade woodiness, some incense (some oudh? Some frankincense? ) rises up through the rosed, ambery pillow, eventually, and presents something….I don’t know. Unwanted. For me at least.
Is this incensey ending, as insistent as that central note in Incense Rose, even though it is imperceptible at the beginning, the natural ending for this perfume? Is it even warranted? I first put this perfume on about nine hours ago, and this sinewy incense is still going strong as I write this, even though all traces of roses, of softness, of what the perfume was initially, have long disappeared.
Mmmm. Incense Rose and Une Rose De Kandahar. I couldn’t wear either of these personally, of that I am quite sure, in the same way that I would never wear yellow, russet, beige, or brown. I just never would. Some colours just don’t suit me. And yet, despite my own slight aversion to these scents on a certain plane of consciousness, to be sat somewhere next to a man or woman in Incense Rose, or Une Rose De Kandahar, both quite riveting and rapturous perfume in many ways, I can honestly imagine being almost hypnotized. What does this mean?
With thanks, as always, to the lovely Bethan for the samples. I never take it for granted. x