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Frederic Malle's Musc Ravageur is one of those fragrances I've been meaning to try for a while but just haven't gotten around to it. A lot was said of it all throughout the internet, lots of hype, plus it was made by Roucel (who made New Haarlem which I love).

If you've been part of the fragrance community for a while, you probably know what people were saying about this one. It's hate or love. It's romantic, sensual, and sex-in-the-bottle. It's strong, powerful and daring. It has a strong controversial clove opening that you won't like but dries down into something truly special. This has been the hype. However, as I've tried it, I've personally had a totally different perspective on it.

First, that opening. Yes, it is strong. It has cloves/civet/musk/etc, lavendar, a blast of citrus, and the sweetness of the base. The opening is certainly a bit dirty and animalic, but not nearly as much as I expected it to be. It's overall well balanced and pleasant. Sure, it's not for everybody, but the opening to me is the high point of the fragrance. And keep in mind, I usually don't like old school powerhouses.

Despite all the claims how this is sex personified into a fragrance, it's rather tame. This especially comes true when the opening is gone after the first hour and the dry down comes in. Rather than continuing into that dark territory, it simply retreats into being a very safe fragrance. Not saying I would want the entire fragrance to smell like the opening, but I saw the transition as some sort of condemnation against the wonderful opening.

And in that dry down, it is a pretty good fragrance, but nothing truly special. It's vanilla with some cinnamon and spices sprinkled on, as well as a bit of a smooth woody note. They aren't composed in any meaningful way, nor are they deliciously gourmand, but rather they are just there. The transition between the opening and the base was among the best part, but after that it becomes rather boring. I would honestly prefer the conceptually similar Tobacco Vanille at drydown.

While strong in the opening, after the first few hours, while it does last a very long time, it's very hard to detect on the skin. I'm not saying it doesn't project in general. I am saying that I personally need to make a conscious effort to smell even a little bit of it on me. As for versatility, while it is no swiss army knife, I still think it can be versatile (and not a special occasion only scent). Just spray lightly.

And, as for the whole "sex" description of this fragrance. I think it's different things to different people. Fans will say it's hot delicious passionate sex. Critics will say it smells like an old man or an old lady. Both of these perspectives, a bit extreme in my opinion. I don't agree that this is THE scent for seduction, but it does have some sort of romantic sensual vibe and if you asked my opinion of a fragrance of that nature, I probably would nudge you in that direction.

To me it's not something that I hate or love. It's not controversial or extremely rewarding. The first two hours are impressive (though not shocking or bold) and the remaining hours are pleasant (though not amazing). In the end, it is a very good fragrance. Recommendable? Sure, but sample before you buy.

Musc Ravageur is definitely a feral sex-loving man-beast. But one that is tranquilized, chained and bound inside a cage (and whether this is a good thing is up to you).