Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Musk Quest, the Best White Musk You Haven't Tried: Royal White Musk by Abdul Karim Al Faransi Maison de Parfum

Except for Narciso Rodriguez I can't think of any other mainstream perfume house obsessed with musk. Go to niche and indie there is a definite love of musk there with quite a few specializing or putting out their magnum opus scents based on a beloved type of musk. If you were to take a survey of these magnum opus musks I would say probably 80% would be their idea of the perfect white musk. White musk may be the most known and liked of the musks, with good reason, it is easy, likable, and usually melds perfectly with wearers. There is a reason why people will devote time and effort to finding the best variation of it. It is the reason that when you look at mainstream releases of the last ten years a good chunk of them list white musk as a note. White musk has also been degraded to a screechy hot mess in many mainstream perfume releases. In niche and indie white musk is usually not all that innovative and especially in some large niche houses it is put out as a money making offering that really you are paying for the name of the house, not the perfume because if you really had smelled it you would have realized you could have probably gotten this perfume at your local health food store for about $15. My point is white musk is a ubiquitous, much maligned note. Finding a perfumer who elevates it to something more is rare.

Royal White Musk by Al Faransi is for me one of those rare elevated white musks. This is the musk for those that have been looking for an erudite, intellectual, refined, and tasteful white musk. There will be no accusation of cheap white musk with this scent.

Instead wearing this is finding yourself surrounded by the perfect melange of clean florals, creamy but pristine musk, and refined sandalwood. There is no laundrette quality to this musk rather the suggestion is the immaculately recently bathed. Yet, before you go on thinking that this scent is cold and unapproachable it isn't, no this is quiet tasteful serenity. This is clearly a scent meant to be worn anywhere, the point is the wearer will simply be known for smelling very good.  Royal White Musk is the other Al Faransi offering that I think deserves a following. It wouldn't surprise me if some sort of fashion maker found this offering and made it the "it" cult musk. Royal White Musk is a scent that is waiting to be discovered by a larger audience.

Try if you like white musk, Clair de Musc by Serge Lutens, Musk to Musk by Montale, or Essence by Narciso Rodriguez.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Musk Quest, Smooth Operator: Dark Horse by Dame Perfumery

Sometimes you want to kick yourself for not trying something sooner. Dark Horse by Dame Perfumery is definitely one of those scents that I should have tried awhile ago because it is definitely worth your perfume loving time. Dark Horse is a scent on par with Frederic Malle's Musc Ravegeur for across the board sex appeal, man or woman you will smell very alluring wearing this scent. Yet, Dark Horse is a bit more on the the tasteful side, easier to wear. You can wear this in the office and no one is going to accuse you of being showy.

Sometimes a good non-suffocating warm musky scent is hard to come by. Frequently they can veer into a heavy stifling zone with no complexity. They smell good the first hour and then hours later you realize there is no letup. It's a bit like if the Hans Zimmer's trombone section from the Inception music kept going on and on. Sure it sounds cool and then after awhile you are exhausted from the never ending drone. Thankfully, Dark Horse is not that. Nope instead what you get is a lovely woody cider of a musk.

Dark Horse has one of the loveliest clove notes I have smelled in awhile. In fact I would say Dark Horse has one of the loveliest use of spices I have smelled in awhile there is no veering into the medicinal esoteric territory nor into the cupcake land of fake spice. No this is spices with clarity and warmth. Clove is coupled with sweet tangy citrus with hints of cinnamon. All of it is wrapped in cozy wood and musk with hints of sweet vanilla.

You will get wafts of Dark Horse through out the day. At times you will catch hints of roses and carnation, others will hint at the entwining of musky golden amber and lemon. Frequently you will get a spiced woods note that will leave you feeling embraced.

I will say this now if you are a fan of Fendi's now legendary and long discontinued Theorema then I must implore you to try Dark Horse. Is it a dupe no, but they are clearly of the same family of delicious easy going wooded musk scents.

Try Dark Horse if you like Frederic Malle's Musc Ravegeur, Lolita Lempicka's L de Lolita Lempicka, Fendi's Theorema, and Nicolai's Ambre Cashmere Intense. 

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Second image: Viggo Mortensen by Norman Jean Roy

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Big Baroque Caramelized Rose Amber: Calligraphy Rose by Aramis

Once again I have Facebook Fragrance Friends to thank for drawing my attention to a scent that I would have never tried if not for them. If you like dewy fresh garden roses this scent is not for you. On the other hand if you love a good calorie rich rose and amber combination then this rose amber creation is for you and then some. There is no way of getting around it this scent is loud and meant for cold weather wear one too many spritzs and this scent is wearing you.

Calligraphy Rose is all about decadence. It has been a long time since I came across such a rich scent and I mean buttercream rich. It makes me think cold nights, everyone is wearing amber and rubies, gold leafed creme brulee, the plushest cashmere, furs, and velvet. This is essentially Russian fairy tale if it met Angela Carter's reworking.

Calligraphy Rose starts with a lush velvety rose, there is no greenery to this rose. No, this is the sweet velvety rose that has just a hint of lemon, but otherwise it is is pure velvet. It is a rose that blends very well with others, it is a velvety sort of rose that begs to be combined with musk and amber. It is the sort of rose that announces it presence for a bit and then plays the role of key supporter. It remains through out the scent but this scent is no rose soliflore.

What then enters the scent is the sonorous combination of amber and ambergris. The amber used in the scent is the intensely caloric amber found in Ambre Sultan and Ambre Russe. There is the slightest use of the herbal with a note of oregano in the scent which reminds me of Ambre Sultan but the animalic dense vanillic nature of the amber then reminds me of Ambre Russe and plushly sitting with them is the rose. The rose brings the vanillic lacing of the scent to the forefront. The ambergris of course brings its legendary warm musky diffusive quality to the whole scent. As the scent proceeds the amber becomes darker with labdanum becoming as I like to say a little bit more growl-y around the edges.

Aramis's Calligraphy Rose is the the sort of scent that is meant for making statements. If you want to go unnoticed or be unobtrusive this is not the scent for achieving that effect. On the other hand if you want to be the statement maker at the ball this will do it and then some.
Try if you like PHI Une Rose de Kandahar by Tauer Perfumes, Rose Flash by Tauerville, Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens, or Ambre Russe by Parfum d'Empire

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Second image from Kate Baylay
Third image from Elie Saab