L’Air du Desert Marocain reconsidered.

or:

Because my overall sensitivity has been quite low lately, I thought it might be a good idea to revisit L’AdDM.  I was able to obtain a decant and apply it as a spray, which sometimes results in different perceptions.  My very old vial sample was empty, only some fumes remaining, and so for all I know I now have a formulation that is at least slightly different, for “full disclosure.”  One thing that motivated me to do this is the number of positive reviews on the major sites.  Do people think they must like this one or else they would be a “newb,” or do they really enjoy it?  If this was in a bottle by Playboy or an obnoxious celebrity brand, would it have gotten the same kinds of reviews?  I don’t think so, mainly because I have some really interesting “super cheapo” scents that don’t get this kind of reaction.  An example is Black Oud by Remy Latour.

Right after application I was surprised because it didn’t seem as harsh or “chemical” as in the past, but again, that’s probably due to the low overall sensitivity to smell I’ve had lately.  Then I began to pick up the old perceptions, but with less strength.  There’s still the “cleaning chemicals” element, the dry spicy quality, the light but obvious florals, etc.  One way of thinking of this is it’s like looking at a painting with a transparent plastic sheet over it.  A new observation was that L’AdDM is sort of like a bunch of old scents combined, a bit of this here and a bit of that there.  Toujours Moi, for example, shares a bit in common with it.  However, L’AdDM adds a smoky quality that I haven’t encountered in any of the vintage scents I’ve tried, other than perhaps Smalto Pour Homme, though in SPH there’s a leathery/lavender smokiness that’s quite different from what I get in L’AdDM.  The smoky and somewhat “chemical” vetiver-ish element lasts a long time (with one full spray to the chest), with a touch of something ambery lurking in the background, but there’s not much sweetness.  I really don’t like this rendition of the vetiver and amber-ish combination; it’s kind of like a stew that went terribly wrong (though it does get a bit powdery and less “in your face” after a few hours).

So, would I like a bottle of L’AdDM, assuming my sensitivities stay where they are now?  No, I still prefer Black Tourmaline to it, and there are in fact still things in L’AdDM I flat out do not enjoy, which would make it a “dealbreaker” even if it sold at a third of its current retail price.  I’d much rather wear scents like the aforementioned Black Oud or Toujours Moi (I obtained an ounce of the newer TM for about $2 not long ago from Fragrancenet).  Like vintage Cool Water, which I’ve attempted to like on several occasions, there’s something about L’AdDM that does not work for me, almost as if it were designed to tease me with some “good” things but be unpleasant overall.  I think the reason is that it’s the composition that does not work, rather than the notes.  And on some level it reminds me of some “ground-breaking” mainstream releases, like Cool Water, where dihydromrycenol was used in large amounts.  This will make the scent stand out, but it will also make some of us say, “this is too much – I can’t stand this scent!”

And what about this scent evoking a desert landscape?  Perhaps a desert located next to a squalid third world city would work, as the chemical element (perhaps combined with the spices) suggests sweat shops to me.  The ambery element provides a sense of a cheap diet lacking in nourishment but rich in sugar.  I envision a person aged beyond his or her years, stumbling out of a decrepit building that serves as a factory (which might make trinket type items for the wealthy), in his or her filthy, old clothing (bearing chemical and other stains), after working 17 hours straight, then trudging through a makeshift village at the edge of a desert, collapsing onto a pile of straw, and trying to eat some lousy food.  No, I don’t really imagine this, but the point is that it’s just as realistic (IMO), if not more so, than what we have read in many reviews of L’AdDM (the wonderful spice market next to the picturesque desert stuff).

I think I understand what Tauer was trying to do here, and I can understand why some really enjoy it, but those who do should realize that it’s just like any other scent: some will like it and some won’t.  Those who call one of those olfactory concoctions a masterpiece should consider how those who don’t like it perceive it.  Just as few like it when a scent they enjoy is called garbage or something along those lines, going too far in the other direction is questionable.  If you want to call it a masterpiece, then go ahead and explain exactly why you think it is so far above all the others of the same genre.  For example, if it’s unique and really interesting for a few minutes, then just say that!  It’s often the case that such scents have wearability issues, but few mention this.  How many have said something like, “wow, this is so unique and interesting, a real masterpiece for a few minutes, but most people, even aficionados, probably won’t enjoy wearing it beyond that short period of time?”  Yes, people do get “carried away” sometimes when the smell something very different and compelling, but that’s one reason why I wrote this post, that it, to point out to such people that you don’t want to make those who dislike a scent feel like their noses are “broken.”

NOTE:  There have been some threads asking about a scent similar to L’AdDDM, and after wearing 1881 Bella Notte Pour Homme, I’d say that is a good inexpensive one (currently) to sample.  It’s more along the lines of a combination of Brit for Men and L’Instant Pour Homme (with a similar but subdued anisic element), but it does have at least a hint of L’AdDM, possessing the dry wood or incense, the slight powdery quality, the spices, and a mild floral.  The differences are that the 1881 flanker is considerably weaker and possesses a bit of a musky lavender that is, of course, very common in designer “masculines.”  That might be good or bad, depending upon personal preferences, obviously.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “L’Air du Desert Marocain reconsidered.

  1. I wonder if you are mistaking the styrax & frankincense in L’AdDM for cleaning chemicals?
    Both styrax & frankincense are quite sharp & you don’t seem to like sharp scents.

    Third world sweat shops invariably reek of diesel or kerosene fumes. Why? Because they’re running on generators fueled by diesel or kerosene. (I’ve lived in 3rd world countries for the last 15 yrs.)

    L’AdDM is supposed to be reminiscent of an Arabian souk with spices, attars, incense, & such for sale. What Mr Tauer left out of his romantic notion of what a Arab souk actually smells like is cat pee. Cats are sacred in Islam as the were one of the Prophet Mohammed’s favorite animals. Muslims are forbidden to harm cats and so they abound in traditional souks. And of course they pee everywhere.

    • I have scents with strong frankincense and while I really have to be in the mood, I have little doubt I would mistake that note for “chemicals.” The “cleaning chemicals” element in L’AdDM doesn’t last that long for me, and I my guess is that the coriander is an issue in this context. Most people who buy this scent aren’t going to be visiting Third World market places, but I wonder how people, including Luca Turin, would have perceived this scent if it had been named “Garbage Heap Behind A Third World Sweatshop.” Now I just think it smells like a scent that represents the listed notes well, unlike so many weak or badly composed designer scents of the last several years, but there was hype for it in the “early days,” and I wonder if there would have been under different circumstances. Has Luca Turin, Chandler Burr, or another major player talked about Kerosene’s scents, for example? I’m not saying his scents are “better,” but I do wonder why certain scents become so sought-after by the aficionados, while others are barely mentioned and soon forgotten. There is no “objective” reason for this in many if not most cases, as far as I can tell.

  2. Supposedly L`Air du Desert Marocain was made as a lighter version of Andy’s previous Le Maroc Pour Elle.
    I prefer LMPE because I prefer florals & don’t care for fragrances with cumin.

    Yes, luxury products like perfume, makeup, and clothing are sold largely on invoking a fantasy. That’s why the ads for such luxury products have these huge fantasy filled photos. Mr Tauer is invoking a romantic notion of an Arabian souk (unlike the reality of an Arabian souk which reeks of piss & camel poop in addition to all the exotic spices and such).

    LAdDM has a lot of things going for it- it’s ‘on trend’ with it’s incense note, it’s fabulous quality ingredients that invoke naturalness, Mr Tauer is charming and affable, etc

    I do get a kick out of westerners when they describe a note as ‘incense.’ I wonder when westerners are going to figure out there are several types of incense notes. Myrrh, copal, oud, sandalwood, frankincense, elemi, nag champa all are used as incense and all smell quite unique.

    • When I was young I had the idea that a product should “stand or fall” on its own, and I’ve never seen any reason to do otherwise. To my way of thinking, if you are a “nice guy” you don’t try to get people to buy your products based upon a ridiculous fantasy that is not directly related to the product. There’s no olfactory magic in these bottles – they are just variations on a theme, and in some cases one is much stronger than the other. I understand that marketing can be the difference between success and failure for a business, but that still doesn’t mean I’m going to be happy about it! In this case, if I thought L’AdDM was special in some way I would not hesitate to say so, and it is quite strong. I can understand why some people like it, but I don’t view it as head and shoulders above many other scents, and in fact I prefer Black Tourmaline by a wide margin, for example.

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