Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Lily of The Hidden Valley (aka 'the drink not taken'): Decennial Lys du Desert review

Source: Tripadvisor
So the perfume sale has come and gone, and I have managed to move on a few things - most of which have yet to reach their destinations, so I am inevitably in a state of nail-biting limbo until they do. Crucially, I managed to shift the Bag of Hell / Indifference, which was going for free and went in the end to Samantha of I Scent You A Day, for whom it was a Bag of Possibility / Promise, which was great. She kindly sent me a handful of samples in return, having taken care to check my preferences in advance, so as not to end up accidentally giving me the starting material for the next 'Bag of Oh No, The Samples I'm Not Wild About Are Mounting Up Again'! ;)

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.

Source: basenotes.net

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.

Source: calflora.net

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.

Source: Tripadvisor

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


Tara said...

What a fabulous post! So glad you reprised the airforce mechanic story. Ah, the drink not taken. Sometimes the offer is enough.

How thoughtful of Samantha to check your preferences for fear of swapping one Bag of Hell for another. So Lys du Desert was one of those random samples? How lucky. It's sounds like a real winner for you. It's not often a scent is almost spiritual.

Loved the "faux Puckrik" and your unique hooker ensemble :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

Glad you enjoyed it. And yes, Samantha gave me a clutch of pre-vetted samples, including a couple of Aftels I was curious about, but the Lys du Desert was the star of the show!

If I ever get a chance to go back to that area, I will pay more attention to the vegetation for sure.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about you at this point in life, but based on your meeting with that "perfectly decent young man" I would be tempted, upon return, to pay more attention to the fauna rather than the flora. ;-)

-- Lindaloo

The Lys du Desert sounds good too.

Vanessa said...

Hi Lindaloo,

You crack me up! He was a bit young even so, but I like the cut of your carpe diem jib. ;) And yes, the perfume is very appealing, hehe.

Jennifer Wells said...

I pity you for having to experience a Denny's! Sorry, had to get that out of the way. American has a reputation for crummy food, but we're trying to clean up our act. Some of us, anyway.

I admit to being a few years behind the perfume game! Samples aren't expensive, but I tell myself that if I hold off, I can buy an entire bottle of something I really want. And there is always something that I want.

That being said, I don't know why, but I really want to be hit in the nose with a good, smoky, stinky Tauer. I loved Incense Extreme, and I relaly liked L'air du Desert, although the very end of the fragrance reminded me of the way your clothes smell at the end of the day, after you've been wearing perfume. Not unpleasantly so, but it's one of those things that are just perceptible enough to be a blip on one's annoyance-meter. It signals, "Time for jammies."

Vanessa said...

Hi Nora,

Apologies for the delay in replying to your comment - have been away, of which more on Bonkers anon ;) - and thanks for stopping by.

I LOVE Denny's! I devoted a sizeable part of one of my 2011 Californian posts to a Denny's-centric reportage. Now I do think their breakfasts are better than their dinners on the whole, but their breakfasts are everything that I ask for from an American diner. I may have simple tastes, mind. And the tea could be hotter, even with coaching.

I think I am also very behind the perfume game in terms of sampling new launches - or even being aware of what the launches are in the first place.

Glad you appreciate the smoky, stinky Tauers - funnily enough I didn't have too many problems with Incense Extreme, which wasn't unduly Extreme on me, but Lonestar Memories was another story, hehe.