There used to be a Fauchon store (yes,the Parisian version of heaven) on Park Avenue where you buy Turkish delight in assorted flavors. I miss it greatly, but one of the best things of living in Northern NJ is that our ugly strip malls hold more than dry cleaners, Chinese fast food and really horrible pizza places. There's one in the next town over that features not only an authentic Italian deli with homemade fresh mozzarella and semolina bread, but also a Middle Eastern grocer that stocks this highly addictive thigh-expanding treasure.
I've always loved rahat loukoum and I'm not the only one in this household. My orange tabby, Kosh, has such a thing for it he recognizes the smell and does everything in his four-pawed power to break into cabinets and tear into boxes of carefully-hidden Turkish delight. Try telling him it's very undignified for a cat to go hunting for pistachios.
Kosh must be on to something, because half the perfume world has been jumping into the sweet arms of the almondy, powdery scent lately. March of the Posse posted an overview of Turkish delight scents and I've seen people all over Twitter joining the fun. I've been quickly depleting my umpteenth decant of Serge Lutens Rahat Loukoum and indulging in my other favorites. It's been part of trying to decide if I really do need a bottle of L'Artisan Traversee du Bosphore which I've found myself craving more and more despite my better judgement. Not that it's too surprising, really. This weather calls for it.
But let's go back to Uncle Serge and his version of the guilty pleasure. Rahat Loukoum is probably the most gourmand in his already craving creating line. The first thing I smell in it is heliotrope, that almond-cherry combination that if you're lucky makes you happy without sending you into Play-Doh land. I have no idea what's the deal with the Play-Doh comparisons, really. Last summer when my two year old niece was here, I sniffed all the colors in the pack I got her, than sprayed several of my heliotrope laden perfumes, trying to find similarities, but never did. Play-Doh smells so plastic-like and rather disgusting, really. Louve, L'Heure Bleue, Luctor et Emergo and all the loukoum scents are heaven to me.
After the heliotrope note comes the more realistic almond. It's not as wet and marzipan-like as in Luctor, actually it's quite dry and powdery with a hint of wood and white musk. It sits nicely on my skin, very warm and cuddly without over indulging on the vanilla like in my guilty pleasure of Lea St. Barth (still hoarding a bottle of the Extreme version), which becomes very chocolatey. Lutens' Loukoum to me is less sweet than the one from Keiko Mecheri and is actually less shame-inducing than the other scents in this category. I can even see men wearing it, as long as their skin chemistry isn't turning it into a sticky mess. I find Uncle Serge's version quite a bit more put-together and reined-in. Maybe it's the bell-jar effect. It's still not as polite as the new L'artisan, but it has a honeyed smoothness and a skin-like finish that should make Rahat Loukoum one of the more palatable scents in the group.
Serge Lutens Rahat Loukoum (115 euro, 2.5 oz) is part of the non-export collection that's exclusively available in Parisian Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido (and can be ordered online and by phone only if you're in Europe). On our shores, decants and samples are available from The Posh Peasant and The Perfumed Court.