Turkish smoke implies a single dominating note, even to those with no knowledge of latakia tobacco or any other substance that might contribute to such a thing. And that's what you get, to some extent; the fumes from a brazier fuelled with fragrant wood and maybe damped with sheaves of anise. But that's not all, and it doesn't play out in the way you might expect. Fumerie Turque divides into embellished halves and their expression is inverted away from natural expectation; the smoke is induced to curl up and cleave to the wrist, and it is the hearth's sweet, charred bones that are offered to the distant admirer, by way of scented woods and haunting resins.
My initial impression of the skin scent is that of burning rubber, a elderberry-purple acridity that cracks you in the face right off the wrist. Don't let this deter you; a moment of force majeure is required to deliver the rest of its hefty payload, including the broken flesh of liquorice, that packet of Camels that breathed at you from his shirt pocket when you put your arm around his neck, and oil-stained, sunwarmed saddle. Synaesthetic impressions lie a little further south of the Bosphorus than the title implies- I get the deep, inky-stained colours of Moroccan or Tuareg leatherwork, perhaps, or maybe lattice shadow in the alley outside a hammam if one is to draw a more literal inspiration. Coincidentally it shares these gothic flavours with the subject of my last review, Norne (Slumberhouse), although it is a drier and more tasteful version of that potent nocturne, its laurels resting in cured leaves rather than on a green plant trampled by a must-wracked sasquatch.
As I've already said, don't worry that everyone around you is being subjected to smouldering tyres or bossy sassafras. FT proffers this lazy, sinuous sweetness to the bystander, my partner identifying aniseedy Smokers lollies and dried cherries in the sillage, going on to mention sweet leaves on a fire or perhaps a room fumigated with scented greenery- all surprisingly divergent from the more proximate experience.
FT favours cooler weather and a dry skin, so think twice about dousing yourself if you're likely to sweat. Nor is it really for the meek and it would behove the uncertain to invest in a sample before going to the effort of sourcing a bottle, now that it's been made a Salon Exclusive (ie. more obscure and expensive.) On the Lutens strength and projection scale I'd give it a 7.5, a little behind 10-monsters like Chergui. As far as gender suitability is concerned, it's perfectly, perfectly androgynous.
Perhaps the thing I enjoy most in Fumerie Turque is its transportive quality. Unless, by some anomaly in the space-time continuum you are already standing in a somewhat romanticised 19th C bazaar, chewing the butt of a cigar and scowling at a dodgy syce while haggling for a brace of blood mares, FT is pretty much guaranteed to take you there. If you know what I mean.
Fumerie Turque is still available from a few retailers online as a 50ml epd
HOUSE Serge Lutens/Christopher Sheldrake
STYLE/FLAVOUR Oriental/leather. Unisex.
DATE OF ISSUE 2003
NOTES Tobacco, honey, rose, juniper, tonka, chamomile, patchouli, vanilla, red currant, styrax, suede.