Tauer Perfumes’ Lonestar Memories (created by Andy Tauer) is described officially as:
“… inspired by the American West … The scent of a lonesome rider, wearing old jeans and leather jacket, after a long day on the horse in the dry woods, preparing his coffee on the open, smoky fire.”
While that isn’t the precise story that unfolds in my head when I smell Lonestar Memories, the spirit of the perfume as I smell it is perfectly captured in that vignette and in the name.
I grew up in the western and southwestern United States, and some of my most vivid childhood memories are of long family car trips, either in the daytime under a sun so hot that the landscape shimmered in the heat rebounding off the pavement, or at night when the car’s headlights illuminated a flat, cool landscape that seemed like it would roll out in front of us forever.
My dad, instigator of road trips, with my big brother.
Lonestar Memories evokes all of those memories. The opening smells like hot asphalt, diesel fumes, motor oil stains on salty skin, and smoke. From a distance, it’s alluring. But beware to the person who gets close. Up close, it’s raw and forceful in a way that I can only compare to a few other fragrances. Game-changers. Scents that demand a different answer to the question of why we perfume ourselves. Scents that disorient.
The common wisdom is that fragrances like this are disorienting because we think we shouldn’t enjoy the smells they contain. Motor oil? No thanks. Hot asphalt? I’ll pass. But I’m not entirely convinced this is true of Lonestar Memories. I think it’s disorienting because it’s a masterful orchestration of a group of smells that tell a fairly commonplace story in a way that transcends that story. When Hemingway writes about bullfighting, he invites us to think about fear. When I smell Lonestar Memories, I smell the American West, but I think about independence, and courage, and loneliness.
I have an expectation, fair or not, that the best perfumes are those that transcribe smells and adjust them to create an abstraction that serves as a tool for me to think about whatever experience or concept the smells call to mind. But it’s rare that a perfume actually does this.(1) Some perfumes smell like a thing. Other perfumes smell like a place, or an experience. Very few perfumes smell like an idea. And that’s what makes Lonestar Memories exceptional.
The drydown of Lonestar Memories brings forward the night-time smells of the desert: smoke, amber, sandalwood, and gooey tar. It’s less idiosyncratic, smoother, even a bit sweet. It feels like both a reward for wrestling with the opening, and a continuation of the story.
(1)Note that I don’t think this is a requirement for a perfume to be “good.” I just think it’s a requirement for a perfume that I would consider “great” or that other people (who know their minds about the idea of perfume as art, which I don’t) might call “art.”