One Thousand Scents

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Reader Joel has a question:

I re-read your original vanilla post, and I may need to buy Lempicka's Au Masculin. It sounds nifty. The only thing keeping me from doing so: I have too many vanillas, whether spiced, food-ed or wooded. My next purchase was to be a dirty animalic, of which I have none. Suggestions?

First off, you can never have too many vanillas, if they smell good on you. I must have at least thirty.

Now, as far as I can tell, there are not as many truly animalic scents out there as there used to be. The four main animal components of perfumery are ambergris (from whales), civet, musk (from the musk deer), and castoreum (from beavers), to which some people would add leather. Really big-time animalic scents fell out of favour in the early nineties and haven't come back, at least not in North America, though every niche house seems to have at least one.

There are lots of amber scents on the market, but they tend to be rather clean and tidy rather than animalic and dirty. (Anyway, amber isn't ambergris: the category of amber was invented to evoke the warmth of ambergris.) There are also lots of leather scents, and they range from fairly restrained (Stetson) to dirtied (Lonestar Memories) to completely grungy (Caron Yatagan).

The Perfumed Court has a couple of animalic samplers, but I have to say that of the scents that I've tried, a lot of them don't strike me as particularly dirty. (I haven't tried Serge Lutens' Muscs Khoublai Khan; apparently that one's a killer.) If you want a really dirty animalic scent and you want it now and you are not squeamish, then head down to the local drugstore and get some Tabu, which is cheap as hell and completely raunchy for a good two hours. After that, in its most recent incarnation, it turns rather nice and warm, vanilla-y benzoin and a bit of musk. But until then, it's just pure filth, a huge bucketful of patchouli (the dirty kind, not the polite modern version) and raunchy civet, plus some carnation to let you know it's not messing around.


I have about two thirds of a bottle of Au Masculin. Want to swap?


  • Oops. Fixed.

    I get all blog comments e-mailed to me, so if you want to leave a comment with your e-mail address in it in the form

    myname at whatever dot com

    (which will presumably fool the address-scraping bots) or even print it backwards in that format as

    moc tod revetahw ta emanym

    then I will get it promptly (because I spend a LOT of time in front of my computer and have my mail auto-checked every fifteen minutes), copy your address, and then delete the comment. How's that sound?

    By Blogger pyramus, at 3:22 PM  

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