Now the scent that really knocked me for six - in a good way - was Decennial Lys du Desert, which notwithstanding its Gallic character appears to have lost its accent somewhere over the Atlantic. For Lys du Desert is one of a quartet of scents launched by the iconic US perfume e-tailer/store, Luckyscent/Scent Bar, to mark its tenth anniversary. The nose is none other than Andy Tauer, while the other three fragrances were created by Jerome Epinette (who has at least one accent in his name, but a combination of inertia on my part and the interests of brand congruence forbid me from adding it). I have historically had a mixed hit rate with Tauer Perfumes, even though my only full bottle purchase last year was PHI Rose de Kandahar, and I have also taken a belated shine to Une Rose Vermeille. For years I was something of a Tauer refusenik - or Tauer 'reluctantnik', if you will - and found his early work too fuzzy and smoky and generally heavyhanded on the old Tauerade. The other perfume with 'desert' in its name - L'Air du Désert Marocain', henceforth abbreviated to LADDM, as is the convention in perfume circles - was the glorious exception that proved the rule, albeit it was also quite strong, and I had to be in the wood for it - I mean 'mood'(!), but that may be a cedar-y Freudian slip.
Before accepting Samantha's generous offer to let me have the remains of her sample, I googled the reviews of Lys du Desert and lit upon one by The Non-Blonde in which Gaia notes the kinship between Lys du Desert and LADDM, and reckons people may find this scent more wearable. I see that Jtd of Scenthurdle (writing on Parfumo.net) considers Lys du Desert a stylistic bridge between Orange Star and Noontide Petals. Well, I am retesting both of those (albeit my sample of Orange Star may have gone off on the QT), but I can't say I 'get' that connection myself. For me the obvious comparison is hands down with LADDM. Props to Jtd though for consistently adding the accent. ;)
The amusing genesis of Lys du Desert is narrated on Andy Tauer's blog, where he explains that over a breakfast of pancakes with Franco and Adam of Luckyscent, he agreed to compose a perfume for their commemorative Decennial line, which would be based on his own happy experiences of camping and hiking in the Joshua Tree National Park. He refers to this as not so much a formal commission as a 'pancakission'. A man after my own heart. Specifically, it was the scent of the fleshy, creamy Desert Lily itself that was the cornerstone of Tauer's inspiration.
As the blurb on the Luckyscent explains:
'The Desert Lily was in full bloom in the Pinto Basin - a rare occurrence only a few weeks out of the year. It's white lily scent was intoxicating, with hints of green freshness that reminded him (Tauer) of the oasis at Cottonwood Springs, a site with lush green vegetation at the north entryway. His ode to what spawned LA - the rugged yet delicate, unforgiving yet captivating desert - is captured in Lys du Desert.'
Notes: bergamot, rose, green lily, dry cistrose, iris root, ambergris, dry cedar
On first spraying, I get the characteristic warm, muzzy tingle that is Tauerade, but to my nose in the softest and most gentle register yet. The end is already in the beginning, and I have no problem with that. And the lily is not immediately apparent on my skin - I can just about pick up on what may be powdery iris and dry cistrose but it is hard to know, as they are swooningly melded into the arid, woody-amber base. I really don't mind if the lily is playing hide-and-seek though, as the overall impression is so gentle and dreamy - I'd even go so far as to say 'spiritual' if I was that way inclined. Yes, I think Lys du Desert could give Etro's Messe de Minuit a run for its money in the religiosity department, though it is completely free of that dank, ecclesiastical flagstone vibe. And if LADDM conjures up a bed in a hotel room directly overlooking a souk in Morocco, Lys du Desert makes me think of this room at the Desert Lily B & B in the Joshua Tree National Park.
So... I have only just twigged that part of the Mojave Desert is one of two ecozones in this park.
Long time readers may recall my travelogues from California, but the despatches specifically from the Mojave Desert may bear repetition here - for although I was a ways to the North West between Mojave and Tehachapi, intent on winkling out Nissen huts that were home to maintenance engineers on the ginormous wind farm there, I cannot fail to have noticed umpteen examples of the tree in question, for the landscape is fairly homogeneous in that regard.
For your convenience, I have combined extracts from two relevant posts in one handy mash up. ;) If you remember them, jump to below the wavy line of tildes...!
The Mojave desert itself
'Finally, no catalogue of road surfaces would be complete without a description of my intrepid trip up a mountain (taller than Ben Nevis!) in the Mojave Desert. I had an appointment with an executive at a wind farm operating company, and his prefabricated office was conveniently located on the summit. When we arranged the meeting, he strongly recommended that I rent a 4 x 4, warning me of the dangers that could befall the hapless motorist if it had recently rained. The 5 mile dirt track to his office would have been transformed in a matter of hours into a river of mud, and a regular compact car risked becoming mired in the sludge, wheels spinning uselessly, if they spun at all.
I mulled over my respondent's advice long and hard, but in the end my phobia of large clumpy vehicles far outweighed my fear of mudslides, and I rented the sub-compact Chevy mentioned in my previous post. I decided that if it did rain the night before my meeting, there was nothing for it but to get up in the small hours, borrow a Miner's headlamp and a pair of Wellingtons - from where I hadn't quite figured out - and attempt the climb on foot.
As luck would have it, the day dawned bright and sunny - and windy. The 5000 turbines on this, the second largest collection of wind generators in the world, were earning their keep that day, like demented, oversized daisies. I made steady progress up the mountainside in second gear - or what I imagined would have been second gear if I wasn't driving an automatic. 40 minutes later I reached the summit, and when I got out of the car the wind nearly blew the door off! As for my hair...well, suffice to say that a single 80mph gust instantly transformed my slightly blowsy style into the most convincing faux-Puckrik ever! On balance, a blob of gloop probably remains a more practical everyday option.'
|Now are those wind turbines or Joshua trees?|
Followed by my brief desert encounter...
'But my finest stunt in a Denny's restaurant was picking up a 20-something airforce mechanic in a remote village in the desert. No, I will rephrase that - I did nothing of the sort - he merely struck up conversation with me from the next booth, and after we had both finished our meals, cordially invited me to accompany him to find a bar (this was a dry Denny's, to go with the local terrain).
Reader, I declined, pleading paperwork, but thinking that that would be too much excitement on a school night, while my inner Health & Safety Representative said I shouldn't be getting into any strange men's cars whom I had only known long enough for them to eat a customised French Toast grand slam. My heart, on the other hand, said he was a perfectly decent young man and a credit to his country, and the innocent invitation had been prompted by the inevitable loneliness that comes with chronic solo dining.
|My hotel in Mojave - called Desert Winds! ~ Source: Tripadvisor|
When I told Mr Bonkers about this encounter, he seemed quite proud of me for showing that I can still pull someone young enough to be my son. A feat even more impressive when you factor in the American Eagle Outfitters cable knit sweater and 9 yr old boot leg jeans - an ensemble strictly confined to in-home comfort wear (which of course Denny's had more or less become by that point : - ) ). And the non-deterrent effect of the outfit reminds me in turn of the time I was mistaken for a hooker down by the Hudson River while wearing a full length camel coat and aran bobble hat.'
And the association of my time in the desert with Denny's brings us neatly back to pancakes - or almost certainly would have done, had it been morning. The flower whose tender sensuality is subtly and elusively woven through this composition I shall hereby dub 'Lily of The Hidden Valley'. As with the bag of samples I gave to Samantha, Lys du Desert is the scent of possibility that is blowing in the warm, soothing wind. It's the scent of throwing caution - and accents! - TO the winds, even. And it is the road - and the drink - not taken, my 'lily-livered' reaction to a chance invitation from an all-American boy...
But I am not sorry I said no. I did have work the next day. And frankly I felt empowered enough by my navigational exploits up hill and down dale tracking down these wind farm mechanics. In terms of logistical feats in my line of work, it may well have been my finest hour. So just as Lys du Desert is the scent of Andy Tauer's hiking holidays, for me it will forever signify the exhilaration of having my work take me to this remote and majestic spot. Take me there and get me safely out again, with the job in the bag.
|Hidden Valley, Joshua National Park ~ Source: Tripadvisor|