Like vanilla note, musk is in just about everything. Of course we all know that there's a world of difference between dirty animalic musk to generic laundry musk, with the lovely clean sweet musk/skin musk somewhere in the middle. In this list I focused on perfumes that are truly about musk and not just supported by it. As usual, I'm cheating a little because this list holds more than a dozen of perfumes, but if you've been reading for a while you know that I have little self-restraint when it comes to musk. In no particular order (because I'd never be able to choose):
- Serge Lutens-Muscs Kublai Khan and Clair de Musc. These are supposedly from the two opposites of the musk spectrum. MKK has an armpit reputation while Clair de Musc is creamy and sweet. Personally, I find MKK to be warm, sweet, and cuddly-- nothing beastly. And Claire de Musc is far more elegant and sophisticated than it seems at first sniff.
- Parfum d'Empire- Musc Tonkin. A new addition to my wardrobe, this one is, indeed, dirty. A true love-or-hate perfume.
- Parfumerie Generale- Musc Maori. An irresistible mix of chocolate and skin.
- Frederic Malle- Musc Ravageur. Maurice Roucel's creation is an oriental perfume, a fourth generation Shalimar. It takes time and practice to find the musk under the amber and powder, but after years of wearing Musc Ravageur I guarantee it's there.
- DSH Perfumes- Musk Eau Natural. This was a limited edition and is long gone. I cherish every drop but take solace in the fact that Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has some other incredible musks in her repertoire. If you haven't tried them I urge you to pursue.
- CB I Hate Perfume- CB Musk (Reinvention Series). Generally regarded as The Other Beast (the first is MKK), CB Musk is fruity and incredibly rich. It's meant to be worn in minute amounts and also layered with other scents-- try it with CB Revelation for an erotic fig experience.
- Madini Oils- Musk Pierre and Musk Gazelle. The first is sweet and almost edible, the second is an intense animalic musk; both are essential for musk addicts.
- Strange Invisible Perfumes- Musc Botanique. This one has it all and smells ultra luxurious. The EDP is probably easier to wear, but the extrait is the true prize.
- Mona di Orio- Les Nombres d'Or Musc. Sweet and powdery skin, though far less innocent than it sounds. Speaking of Mona, her discontinued Carnation is another wonderful musky skin scent; incredibly complex and evocative. Sell your soul for a sample if you can.
- Kiehl's Original Musk. A cheap thrill that's one of the best and most consistent on the market. Incredibly soft and wearable.
- Annick Goutal- Musc Nomade. MKK's civilized cousin.
- Le Labo- Musc 25. Exclusive to Barneys Los Angeles, this one is so beautiful and sexy one cannot even get mad at Le Labo for their annoying ways.
Honorable Mention: Miller Harris- L'Air de Rien (wood, clean hair and skin; a winter must-have), Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk (light, fruity, graceful) , Serge Lutens Bois et Musc (the musk version of the Bois series), Alyssa Ashley Musk (it's relatively easy to find older bottles from when it was made by/for Houbigant; still a cheap thrill) , Frederic Malle- Dans tes Bras (technically it's about cashmeran wood and who knows what else, but this is as musky as it gets), Ava Luxe- Nude Musk (the sweetest skin musk I know, utterly delightful).
One of the best things about drugstore old musks is the vintage ads that used to accompany them. For your amusement, here are some more: