I was introduced to Illuminum's Haute Perfume line earlier this year at the Elements show in NY. If we thought the regular range of sixteen Illuminum perfumes was extensive, the Haute Perfumes include 16 more. The good news is that the Haute perfumes are significantly more interesting than the ones in the squat bottles. The bad news is that no one carries them in the US.
I was attracted to Black Musk first because of the dark juice in the tall bottle. Between that and the name it looked promising, and I was not disappointed. While "black musk" sounds way more animalic than the Illuminum fragrance actually smells, it's a very pleasing thick and strong perfume with a dirty(ish) seventies vibe. I find Black Musk to be more purple and maroon than black, and for most of the development more sweet patchouli than musk. I even tried layering it with Tom Ford's discontinued Purple Patchouli from the Private Blend, but the result was too much of a good thing.
The overall feel of Black Musk is sexy with good manners. The fragrance develops into a sweet and cuddly musk, with even more references to musks of yore. It's a fun scent with a reasonable sillage and impressive longevity. It doesn't smell as expensive as it is (over $230 at the current exchange rate), though, but the bottle is elegant and pretty.
Notes: opponax, tonka, black tolu, patchouli, incense, musk
Illuminum- Black Musk (Haute Perfume, £150.00, 100ml EDP) is available from the Illuminum London boutique (41-42 Dover St. Mayfair) and online at illuminumperfumelounge.com. The samples for this review were given to me by the brand's rep at the Elements show.
Image: Catherine Deneuve in YSL for French Elle, February 1982.