A while ago, I wrote an article for Basenotes on the top ten niche fragrances that every beginner should sample. I got one comment from a guy that I must repeat here because it is (a) very funny, and (b) kind of indicative of wrong people can get my, or other people’s taste. The comment read as follows:
“I don't agree with the entirety of this list. It is not well-rounded at all. It seems this writer has a fetish for burning rubber, smoking resins or charred flesh/leather with squirt of stale urine. I'm pretty sure there are some amazing niche fragrances that are on the more comforting, clean, snuggly, socially appropriate and less "trying so hard to smell like I don't try (or shower) at all.”
The commenter then goes on to suggest a list of alternatives, some of which I personally love and wear myself, but eventually he loses me when he suggests Montale’s Chocolate Greedy, in response to which I turn away and discreetly barf into my hat.
The point is, I am constantly surprised to learn that so many people think my taste is edgy. My taste is the opposite of edgy. I once bought a set of that Ephemera Sound perfumes – you know, the ones that smell like burned-out electrical sockets and plastic sheeting – and sold it on as quickly as was decent. I don’t ever want to smell Secretions Magnifiques, not out of intellectual curiosity, not even as an exercise to expand my olfactory knowledge, and definitely not by accident.
But I like M/Mink.
I had smelled it once before, in Rome in 2013, just when I was beginning to get into fragrances and I really liked it. Two years on, reacquainting myself with it in Senteurs d’Aillheurs in Belgium, I found it extraordinary – a salt-encrusted, honey-lacquered door in an abandoned building in a post-industrial city. If perfume has a color, this is a sort of matte buff-nude-tan thing. There’s a fair amount of anchovy paste in this, too – a metallic saltiness that is really quite objectionable, but very arresting.
Reviews for M/Mink tend to paint it as either genius or the most disgusting smell in the world (up there with Secretions Magnifiques), but this is a perfume that depends on the specific set of olfactory memories we all carry around in our heads. So where many people pick up on a horrendous stench of fruity bleach in the topnotes, I smell only the clean, fishy stink of calligraphy ink and toner fluid from the school supplies closet.
The high-toned, metallic bleach/ink note is followed by a denatured patchouli, by which I mean patchouli that has been leached of its damp, earthy nuances and made into a dry, unsweet dust, casting a glum, matte brown, stale-cocoa powder like shade over the whole thing.
Incense too, but this is not the ecclesiastical smoke that cleanses the soul during mass – this is the cold, dead air creeping among the vestments and flagstones in the sacristy.
Rather like Messe de Minuit, another perfume that smells like dead, inert air in a sacristy, it reminds me of my Catholic childhood. Not of high mass, but of the ordinary, day-to-day dealings I would have had in the church, which was located across from my school and played a huge role in our lives. This part of M/Mink reminds me being in and out of the sacristy before doing a reading for Sunday mass, or helping the priest fold away his amice. It smells like creeping mold, dust, inert air. The likeable stench of centuries-old church things.
What creates this mold effect? It must be the combination of metallic incense with that dry, matte-brown patchouli dust, and unsweet honey and beeswax. I don’t know though. It’s a mysterious alchemy, how all of these alive, moving elements combine to produce a smell that is so stale, so centuries-dead.
Because it smells like ink and mold and toner fluid, I’ve come to think of M/Mink as a writer’s perfume, and so for me it belongs in the same “box” as Sycomore (with its cool, ashy vetiver) and Comme des Garcons 2 Woman, which also smells like ink – savory and metallic. Of course, I recognize that M/Mink is more challenging than these other two. But they are linked by a certain aloofness, a remote intellectual feel to them.
After dithering about it for ages, I decided to bite the bullet and buy it. I bought the last bottle that Essenza Nobile had in stock, which I think means that it’s been axed from the Byredo line-up. I hummed and hawed because part of me cringes to think that I may be like that Basenotes commenter suggests, a hardcore fetishist who automatically likes everything that has a “squirt of stale urine” in it.
But then, I remembered – I don’t like this perfume because it’s disgusting or challenging or out-there. I like it because it smells like ink and sacristy mold and anchovy paste and dead air. These are things I like, so I like M/Mink too. It’s as simple as that.
Curious about all the fuzz i managed to get a hold of a sample of this and have given it many more tries than any fragrance that i'm not still sure if i like.
Frankly i'm not sure about the ink part either. It has an incredibly sharp overdose, that's for sure. But it's hard to describe. I'd say metallic (but then again, metal doesn't smell anything).
So... "spicy blood taste"? Somewhere along those lines. But there is more to it, there's a sweet animalic note reminiscent of beeswax or labdanum.
I think it becomes fairly enjoyable just after 15 minutes (the opening is honestly to brutal). But never well mannered. It keeps messing with my head for quite some time.
When you've sampled a lot of perfumes, unforgettability becomes a quality on it's own. And this certainly is unforgettable, while still being mostly enjoyable. So it'll be thumbs up.
this one smells like a Tom Waits song, primal and passionate, twisted, a forgotten rusty junkyard in a ghost town along route 66, rusty metal, mould ink, the smell of distant rotten memories, you might like it but lots of people will say you smell strange, I love this scent for what it is..a bum trip!
I will have to do some research on Adoxal because it was one shockingly funky opening. But within 20 minutes or so, it mellowed considerably. The incense was not too "churchy". I found myself sniffing my wrist all rvening, which is always a good sign. I think this would be appropriate for a casual date or a nice autumn walk. Longevity is excellent on my skin. I will definitely consider purchasing a bottle.
Something with so much supposed stank shouldn't be this fleeting.