Suzanne's Perfume Journal


Provenance: where something originated or was nurtured in its early existence. From the French provenir, to come forth, originate.

This week I’ve been testing four different fragrances from Tauer Perfumes: Lonestar Memories, inspired by the wide-open land of Texas and its cowboys; Rêverie au jardin, born of Andy Tauer’s vision of “green lands and twinkling stars”; Incense Extrême, which Andy describes on his website as “a minimalist, cubist translation of incense” that takes its inspiration from the semi desert where Boswellia trees (one of the species of trees that produce frankincense) thrive; and Incense Rosé, a scent that marries Boswellia serrata frankincense with rose, citrus, and balsamic resins.

I am rather intrigued by these scents for a number of reasons—first, and foremost, because yes! they do transport me to the places they were intended to evoke.  I smell the Texas of my romantic, cowgirl dreams; I smell the memory of a garden I have visited in my fantasies, next to a chateau in the Lorraine region of France; and I smell the desert—the high desert of Arizona that I crave, always, and which I’ve had the pleasure to explore on three vacations—as well as the ancient silk-road desert I’ve only vicariously explored through books and television.  But I sense something else—another splendid place—in these fragrances, too.  While all four of them stand alone as unique works of olfactory art, there is within their unique characters a common thread—a signature that binds them. I smell Switzerland.  I smell the Swiss Alps, to be more exact.  I smell the town of Engelberg that I visited so many years ago, and which I’ve never forgotten, and the mountain (a glacier, actually), Titlis, which I hiked to the highest point one could safely reach on foot, each day exploring a different part of it, trekking through high altitude cow pastures where Brown Swiss cattle grazed, oblivious to the hikers in their midst, and the glistening lakes that indicated a plateau had been reached at various levels of the ascent.

Titlis soars to a height of 10,623 ft., the peak of it accessible via a revolving cable car, but at almost any point of the journey to the top, what one notices is the rarefied air—and the memory of that rarefied air is what I sense in all four of the Tauer scents that I tried.  On a clear July day, the air at the top of this Swiss alp is something that engages all of your senses: it is dry, clear, and crisp in feeling, with a slightly mineral taste; it is quiet and stilling to the ear; and it is the clearest lens through which the eye has ever looked upon a landscape.  When I am wearing Andy Tauer’s scents, I am reminded of all of these qualities—and though I know that he lives in Zurich, away from the Alps, I can’t help thinking that he is intimate with these majestic mountains, because his scents have all of those qualities.  They are like seeing into other worlds from a high perch, with a view so lucid, so unfettered by any kind of pollution, that he is able to present that world to us in the purest distillation imaginable.

If you, like me, are a lover of mountains, of great wide-open spaces, of remote places, then you will undoubtedly fall in love with the perfumes of Andy Tauer.  I am taking all kinds of liberties I shouldn’t be taking when I claim this (for I have never had any personal communication with Andy), but I believe, or would like to believe, that he creates fragrances for people who love the rugged, rural places that are best explored by foot—or perhaps by horse or camel—but not by anything that would cut one off from the open air ... not by car or bus.

Lonestar Memories is the scent of saddle leather and sage grass, a lazy campfire that’s been burning a while, just a little smoky—not too much.  Call me crazy, but I even smell the scent of corn tortillas cooking on that fire.  And then, hours later, comes a drydown that you'd never expect from this warm, dry, leathery scent: it is an equisite blossoming of sunlit soft florals, as if the cowboy and his horse are now on the open trail, passing through an area of the Texas plains where the wildflowers are in bloom.  This scent is my favorite of the four that I’ve tried. (Notes: geranium, carrot seed, clary sage, birch tar, cistus, jasmine, cedar, myrrh, tonka, vetiver, sandalwood.)

Rêverie au jardin is the softest, most feminine fragrance of the four.  I am not terribly fond of lavender in most fragrances; I can tolerate it in Jicky, but most of the time I’m not a fan of its medicinal, aromatherapy scent.  But here!  Oh my, this is a very different lavender that Andy employs in his fragrance (on his website he refers to it as “high-altitude mountain lavender from France.”)  It is only slightly pungent and it plays nice, very nice, with the other flowers and greenery in this garden.  A soft, tranquil floral.  Absolutely lovely. (Notes: lavender, galbanum, fir, bergamot, rose, frankincense, ambrette, orris, wood accord, ambergris, sandalwood, cedar.)

Incense Extrême is surprising because I expected, from the name, that this might be difficult to wear.  Quite the opposite: this is a sheer, dry frankincense that wears closely to the skin.  In fact, on me it feels like it becomes a part of my skin, as if I have been in the desert harvesting the tears of frankincense, and when I return home, the scent of frankincense still lingers on my hair, my body, my clothes.  But the undiluted sunlight has dried and softened it.  I may have to order a bottle of this—I can see myself wearing it often. (Notes: coriander, petitgrain, frankincense, orris, cedar, ambergris.)

Incense Rosé was another surprise too, because I expected the marriage of frankincense with rose, clementine, and balsamic resins would result in a soft, feminine scent.  This, to me, is actually the strongest scent of the four—a scent that on my skin has an evergreen sharpness I find less easy to wear than the more arid Incense Extrême.  This is the more humid of the four fragrances I tried (which is to say, it is still a dry scent, but not quite as dry as the rest), and perhaps that’s why its pine-y resinous quality resonates a bit loudly on my skin.  Though not my favorite, I like it well enough that I wouldn't turn down a bottle if one came my way.  I think it’s a matter of taste and employing a light touch with the application.  I should note that I sampled this one from a spray vial and the others from dab vials—and it’s easier to make the mistake of over-applying when you’re spraying rather than dabbing. (Notes: clementine, bergamot, castor, Bulgarian rose, orris, cedar, frankincense, labdanum, myrhh, patchouli, ambergris.)

All in all, I find the Tauer fragrances much to my liking, and now it’s simply a matter of narrowing down which fragrance I’d like to purchase.  Yes, I will be making a purchase, no doubt about it.  But before I decide, I might pick up samples of two of his other scents, L’Air du desert marocain and Le Maroc pour elle, because I’ve never been to Morocco and I do like to travel.  And I have a feeling that the Maghreb desert as "viewed" through Andy Tauer’s fragrant artworks is bound to be stunning.

Tauer perfumes are available from the perfumer's website and from, where samples can also be purchased.

Image Source: photo at top of page is of Titlis, the most prominent alp in the charming village of Engelberg, Switzerland, where my husband and I vacationed in 1991. I found this photo at a site called The photo bottom of page, of Andy Tauer's distinctive perfume bottle, is one I stole from

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March 29, 2008: