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Serge Lutens Musc Kublai Khan
Notes: civet, castoreum, costus roots, cumin, labdanum, Moroccan rose, ambergris, ambrette seeds, beeswax, vanilla and patchouli (from nstperfume.com)
Musc Kublai Khan starts as an animalic one-two-three punch, rife with large doses of civet, castoreum and indolic floral notes. The opening is incredibly intoxicating: the civet lends a fecal edge verging on sweet; the leathery castoreum smells of rootbeer and bitter plant tonics; and the indolic notes balance the first two with a vanillic "wet cardboard" quality which adds some dimension and uniformity to the opening accord. I suspect there is also some honey or blackcurrant bud, as there is a slight urinous edge as well. Sadly, this amazing animalic orchestra begins to fade very quickly, allowing the honey/blackcurrant bud note take on a piercing quality. I presume this is the "dirty underwear" accord many people seem to find in MKK. The much maligned cumin comes out a bit later in the middle development as MKK rounds out and starts to smell slightly more leathery and skin-like. I must say, so far MKK ALMOST holds up to the skankiest vintage fragrances I have tried such as Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles extrait or Dana Tabu. Actually, I find MKK to be considerably cleaner smelling than those great classics. This is reinforced by the fact that, to my nose, the base is a soapy white musk blended with a vanilla-prominent amber. Generally speaking, the older formulae I have tried seem to have warmth and character which MKK lacks. Still, MKK is an extremely well-composed, smooth oriental which carries forth an established tradition using modern ingredients--one could do a whole lot worse. Highly recommended.
31st October, 2009