Flankers can be constructed in a number of different ways. The general principle (in my view) is as follows: take what made the original popular, reduce it to its fundamental accord(s), add something new and enhancing. Hermès, for instance, spells it out clearly: Bel Ami became Bel Ami Vetiver, Amazone became Rose Amazone, and Equipage became Equipage Geranium. By adding a new note, the foundational blueprint appears less tired, and as a whole it reads as differently faceted with some overlap between old and new. The same system works for flankers which add terms such as Nuit, Noir (Coco becomes Coco Noir), Absolute (Fahrenheit becomes Fahrenheit Absolute), Sport (No list required), Extreme (Eau Sauvage becomes Eau Sauvage Extreme), Light (Shalimar becomes Shalimar Light), and the list goes on. The conversation also continues for changes in concentration.
Au Coeur du Désert as a flanker gives us Andy Tauer’s modus operandi from the name itself, placing emphasis on the heart of L’Air du Désert Marocain and refreshing it appropriately. In L’Air du Désert Marocain, the heart comes across as the most enigmatic component of the wonderfully blurred two-step pyramidal composition. The sizzling of spice at the top manages to clear the sky of clouds and then give vastness, removing any possible uncertain or trepidatious inclination within the scent; breath easy. The cedar, amber, labdanum, and patchouli heart/base worked on the very same idea, but instead of giving vastness, it allays fears of wandering too far by tying a very long rope around your waist. This dynamism between top and bottom was always the most intriguing part of L’Air du Désert Marocain, as the heart became difficult to detect, becoming an intriguing detail within the larger desert narrative.
As a method in approaching a flanker (modifying the enigmatic but well-known heart of the original), this is clever. Instead of reducing scent and composition, less paradoxically produces more in Au Coeur du Désert; less is captured, but more detail is uncovered.
© 2016 Liam Sardea
The idea of exotic expanse is captured lucidly in L’Air du Désert Marocain, and this desert narrative was demonstrated as perfect still life. Au Coeur du Désert zooms in on the very same picture, so you miss the expanse but a more intense and more intimate picture is received.
The fuzzy, ambery coriander seed hum at its edges are lost. Things are clearer and more defined, and the focus on the heart allows for more apparent modifications that would be lost in the expansive L’Air. The heart that is the scent in Au Coeur du Désert gives a drier, significantly austere perspective to the desert narrative, with firmer, persistent brushstrokes with greater detail up close. Thus, a denser, richer, and a tighter weave of fabric of the exotic carpet.
The most obvious difference: A light and slightly sour citrus note at the top liberates and gives momentum, advancing towards a slick of patchouli with wonderful leathery bounce and a seasoning of vetiver, with the Texan cedar note pulled deeper, still offering coolness to contrast the oriental warmth. The patchouli is elevated in this extract, moving into the pleasantly funky range of burning, woods, and rubber. This is mimicked with oakmoss, and cradled with vanilla. Au Coeur du Désert is a scent of slow burn, patiently intense and immediately familiar, but an equally new and metamorphosed scent able to sit amongst L’Air du Désert Marocain yet also move away from it. The flourishes are removed, and the body remains with a more serious gravity, far less fairytale and easily categorised into patchouli-leather (See: Patchouli 24 by Le Labo) with all of the spiced oriental components one would expect from such a pairing.
It’s the same Maghreb desert we all fell in love with, we can still close our eyes and find comfort in its incense-amber wash, but this time we’re closer to earth.
Subjective rating: 4.5/5
Objective rating: 5/5