People reading this post can be put into two categories: those who know what MKK stands for and those who don't. If you're in the first group, most chances you have a firm opinion about it.
MKK stands for Muscs Kublai Khan, a perfume from Serge Lutens non-export line. It's what we tend to call a "dirty musk" (mostly to differentiate it from the modern clean musks that evoke nothing but a laundry detergent) , though opinions on the level of dirtiness in this fragrance vary greatly. If you google Muscs Kublai Khan and dig enough, you would find colorful reviews, mentions of horses, genitalia and horses' genitalia. Which is where I make the "whatcha talking 'bout?" face.
I cannot argue with the fact MKK smells "raw", which probably translates to "animalic" for some. I've heard rumors of cumin, but I don't get any at all. Quite the opposite, actually, if we agree that a cumin note in perfume represents the dirty and the sweaty. What I'm getting is actually clean, sweet and warm. The dirty part is not the scent itself, but the warm skin feel it evokes and all the things one might associate with a skin in this state. In his review for Perfume Smellin' Things, my scent twin Tom called it "clean bodies in compromising positions", and that's exactly right.
I can't say I get any of the Mongolian warrior associations of the name. There's nothing horrifying, violent or medieval about Muscs Kublai Khan (but Serge Lutens is known for his interesting way with words. This is the man who named his most recent release "Nuits de Cellophane", whatever that means). On my skin it's a thing of beauty and has nothing to do with the great unwashed. It's also incredibly strong and persistent, even after the big show of the ultra sweet top notes fades away.
It's so strong, actually, that anything more than a couple of dabs can get extremely distracting. Over apply and you will keep smelling MKK, thinking about MKK, feeling MKK. It will occupy your thoughts in a NSFW way, so be careful. Another word of warning: Muscs Kublai Khan is meant to be dabbed and not sprayed. I'm saying this as someone who prefers to spray just about anything and regularly decants parfum extracts into mini atomizers. I did the same with MKK and it's just wrong. You don't want to cover a lot of skin with this, and spraying releases way too much. A discreet dab or two where it matters is all you need, and maybe half a dab on your wrist for a quick fix throughout the day (somehow planting my nose in the cleavage isn't all that graceful).
Muscs Kublai Khan (75 ml, 110 €) is a Paris exclusive, which means you can only buy it directly from the Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido. I bought mine when I was there last summer, but if you live in Europe you can order it either online or by phone. They do not ship elsewhere in the world. Samples (and please sample several times before you even think of asking your aunt Sally to bring you one from Paris. See the horse references above) are available from The Perfumed Court.
Photo: 'Beauty and the Beast', Sydney Dance Company, 1993