Summer Dreaming – Review: Serge Lutens Chergui

The Chergui or Sharqi, from the Arabic sharq, meaning east, is an east or southeast desert wind in Morocco (North Africa), especially in the north, most frequent in July and August. It is persistent, very dry and dusty, hot in summer, cold in winter. In summer, the Chergui might bring life to a standstill. Desiccating hot it makes life acutely uncomfortable. Dust is blowing everywhere and haze in building up quickly. East of the Atlas Mountains, the vigorous gusts can turn the Sahara into a choppy sea filled with whitecaps of sand, and temperatures rise well above 40°C for days. The easterly Chergui in Morocco is often explained as just another term and variant of the Scirocco in the Mediterranean and Northern Africa.  – weather online. co.uk


Chergui was my first love in the Lutens line up (Clair de Musc was only the first encounter, real love came later…) A dark brown liquid in the distinctive slim and square bottle, it stained my impressionable, still untrained mind just as irrevocably as my white blouse.

Chergui was created in 2001 by Christopher Sheldrake and includes notes of honey, musk, leather, incense, tobacco, amber, iris, rose and sandalwood.

Chergui was created with the Moroccan desert wind in mind, for me, though, a different image arises as soon as I smell the first whiff.

Chergui opens up with a hay accord so sweet and sun-drenched, I have to smile every time. It transports me into the summers of my youth in the country. I smell haystacks and dry summer air when a rain storm is long overdue. Not far off on a porch someone is having iced tea of which I get a whiff now and then. The tea drinker lights a pipe and the sweet tobacco floats lazily over in the still air.

Then spices join in, probably from the kitchen, and there is some old leather from the saddles in the barn. Flowers, almost dried up by the heat make an appearance, floating in and out of consciousness. Finally it dries down to a powdery, sandy and sweet woody base, that lasts forever and a day.

All very sedate and stately, I don’t get an impression of windswept plains or wild storms at all, the air is still, everything mellow, slow and floating in the baking heat. For me, Chergui is a sun-drenched “pastorale”.

Chergui is quite sweet at times, but still very suitable for men and women. I can only wear it in cold weather, where it provides warmth and sustenance. When the weather is warm it gets suffocating quickly and I get a headache lasting as long as the pefume itself (NOT recommended!)

Chergui is available in the export range (Thank you, Serge! Please keep it there forever!) in a 50ml bottle.

Picture sources: boleromagazine.ch, photo.net (http://gallery.photo.net/photo/9098686-md.jpg, by Brian Corll) some rights reserved, thank you!
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