Thursday, October 03, 2013

Lucien Lelong- Sirocco (Vintage Perfume)

Sirocco is the warm and dry wind that blows through the Sahara desert. You may also know it by another name, Chergui. Both names originated from the Arabic word "sharc" which means "east".  I'm not sure of Sirocco by Lucien Lelong was the earliest perfume to be inspired by the Sahara, but this 1934 fragrance obviously predates Chergui (Lutens, 2005), L'Air du Desert Marocain (Tauer, 2005), and Nuit au Desert (Gaubin-Daude, 2002).

Like the modern perfumes above, Lucien Lelong's Sirocco is an oriental fragrance. It opens up quite spicy and emerges from my vintage bottle with a blast of dry and dusty coriander that's still punchy enough as though it was freshly ground. As Sirocco develops on skin it gets the familiar shape of an oriental-- a little woody (I'd say sandalwood and opopponax) and quite ambery. The sweetness is the one of yore, not the sugary confection we often get today, but a velvety and slightly dark thing. If we have to use a pastry analogy I'd compare it to high quality spicy tea cookies. Speaking of the spices in Sirocco, I smell something cinnamony and interestingly enough, dried lavender. Continuing the cookie theme, it reminds me of crisp French lavender cookies.

As Sirocco dries down the wood fully takes over, but it's not just the bark. Sirocco becomes slightly dirty and mossy (Donna made the same observation in her review on Perfume Smellin' Things). It's not really a chypre and definitely not an oakmoss bomb, but the good stuff is certainly there, adding interest to this long-forgotten Lucien Lelong perfume and making it stand out to this day.

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  1. Hi Gaia. Have a question for you. I absolutely love the smell of sandalwood but I HATE oriental, spicy fragrance. I'm also not fond of sweet or overly floral fragrance. I made a comment to you on another post about being wholly uneducated in the art of perfumery but I'm trying to learn. I don't even know what half the terms you use mean but I'm looking them up. So when I see the list of the fragrance notes, I don't always understand what some of the terms mean. I DO understand that regardless if the notes listed in a fragrance are ones you would normally prefer, that doesn't mean you will like the product or that it will work on you. And testing a fragrance more than once is necessary to truly get a feel for it. So having said all of that blather, here's my question: what would you recommend in a sandalwood? I guess I'm asking for a recommendation in which the sandalwood takes center stage. I want to start ordering samples but I don't have any idea where to start in the sandalwood genre. My sincere appreciation in advance for any suggestions.

    1. Deb, I have a post somewhere here ( on my favorite sandalwood perfumes. I'd start with samples of Tam Dao (Diptyque), Chanel Bois des Iles, and Ava Luxe No.23. Personally, I also adore the ones from Lutens, but they do lean oriental, except maybe Santal de Mysore. Also try 10 Corso como and Profumum Santalum.

    2. Gaia, thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I have 10 Corso Como already and love it. I've never heard of the others on your list so it's exciting to learn something new. The sample shopping will now begin! If I go too far down the rabbit hole, I'm going to have to blame you because your posts on fragrance have taken me there :)


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