This spring / summer 2010 we are seeing a series of new launches that sign the return of dirty musks in a mostly white sea of musks. It is inevitable that when there is an action there will be a reaction, at some point. In 2008 I was struck by the popularity of white musks in the traditional official stronghold of carnal musks, Paris, and wrote two articles about it: The White Musk Trend in Paris... Really? and Top White Musk Trails to Try Out. This spring, if white-musk trails still prevail, - inevitably one might say given their overtake of the world of laundry detergents, dish-washing liquids and even candies - several launches invite you to reconsider your musk options and step over to the darker side.
Smelling a number of new creations made me realize that at least six of them are cozying up anew to animalic musks.
Réminiscence Eau de Patchouli
I will go back to this perfume in a more detailed review, but this new iteration of the Réminiscence Patchouli classic, especially appreciated as far as my field notes indicate in the center of Paris and the Latin Quarter in particular, has been not so much lightened up as made muskier. Its delicious musk accord is similar to the one found in a higher-end perfume which was reformulated in 2008: Profumo by Acqua di Parma. Musk lovers must check it out.
Caron Parfum Sacré Intense
Caron are also offering a new version of one of their classics, Parfum Sacré, and like Eau de Patchouli above, Parfum Sacré Intense takes on a new muskier signature while intensifying the whole composition with even more black pepper and resins. It is a cattier version of its forebear thanks to the pungent musk. There is also a new ad campaign fronted by Italian actress Luisa Ranieri.
The scent impresses with its new force but is not as lasting as one could hope for. Could "intense" mean also "enduring" as an added bonus?...
I will also publish a more detailed review of this new neo-cologne, but meanwhile I added Chloé Néroli to the list as an example of a musky cumin signature. It is not a wholly fresh eau de Cologne, but rather an exemplification of the belief that the scent of sweat remains desirable and should not be evinced by a splash of citruses and cool. After all, a majority of people wear perfume to find love, so let us not forget the erotic tradition and purpose of perfumery.
This fragrance comes to strengthen for me the genre of the indiscreet eau de cologne which is like a fugitive peek under your clothes.
This erotic appeal of perfumes leads me to the new Voyage d'Hermès as well which is also a combination of clean, spacious notes and more carnal suggestions. It is not downright raunchy but it is there. The animalic notes which make up the olfactory ranges of (wet) cedar and cumin saddle the idealized white musks to make those feel more human. For those who like their woods to smell fresh, fibrous and musky.
If we needed further proof that a mainstream shift is subtly taking place, we could turn to the latest GAP launch, Stay. It is perfume which also takes its distance with the soapy musk concept and which straddles the clean-dirty-musk divide.
It is not as squeaky clean as a classic white musk fragrance, it is not as dirty and piss-like as Muscs Koublaï Khan by Serge Lutens. It smells both clean and sexy-musky like the photorealistic spicy perspiration of a well-showered athlete after a physical effort.
This might be a new version of the sporty cologne which was okayed by a global seller of casual and sports-inspired apparel.
Miller Harris Un Petit Rien
Un Petit Rien is offered as a lighter take on L'Air de Rien. It prolongs its animalic theme but adds two main things: 1) a retro vintage vibe combining aldehydes, powder and an air of No. 5 by Chanel but if it had been found in the bottom of an old bottle, which means it smells a bit like CK Obsession. 2) a noticeable musk twist.
Un Petit Rien is supposed to be lighter than L'Air de Rien but continues to play with red herrings like the original. "Lighter" does not mean that it is light and it isn't by current standards unless the impression of a perfumed horse is your idea of airy. This horse also prefers the throwback vibe of nitro musks.