Your post reminded me immediately of this:
I recommend Vibert's and Asha's review if you scroll a bit down!
Thread: Smelling dirty and animalic
Well, I need some sort of education here. I've heard people say this frag is animalic smelling, that frag is dirty smelling. However, I don't really know what the terms really are. Animalic means you smell like an animal????? Dirty means you smell like you don't take a shower in ages???????????
Can you guys help explaining them to me?
Your post reminded me immediately of this:
I recommend Vibert's and Asha's review if you scroll a bit down!
I too am puzzled as to what the actual definition of animalic means in terms of fragrances. I've searched the net, and have yet to see a straight up answer. The way I interpret it definition wise is something that turns on animals (as ridiculous as that sounds) and brings out ones pheromones. In terms of actual smell, I think of dryish metallic and somewhat synthetic stuff that smells like body odor such as Desire, Dirty English, etc.
When a fragrance smells "animalic", basically it means that it smells like it contains oils that come from animals, such as civet (from the anal glands of a civet cat), musks (testicles or scrotum of a deer) or castoreum (scrotum of a beaver I think??). These scents tend to have a "sweaty" or somewhat "dirty" smell underlying them.
The most common "animalic" scent people talk about is Kouros, which has civet, which in turn gives Kouros a sort of sweaty, dirty undertone and kind of raunchy feel. Tabu is another common one that is often called animalic due to its containing a lot of civet.
Last edited by shamu1; 4th May 2010 at 10:36 AM.
The problem with these types of notes, though, is that they are in the nose and on the skin of the beholder and very much love 'em or hate 'em, dependent on the frag. For example, far from making me feel rasunchy or desire some bedroom gymnastics, I find most animalic notes to smell exactly like what they are - the thankfully short lived Jasper Conran musk to me smelt like very pungent animal piss and Kouros smells like BO. On the other hand, the similar (mostly fecal) notes in all of the Czech & Speake range don't appear at all for me and each C&S frag is very delicate on my skin, whereas a lot of people complain about smelling like animal shit after one spray.
You basically need to test on a frag by frag basis to find out whether you like them or not.
Imagine a good compost with natural fertilizers.
Cumin (the spice) smells like a human sweat note. I'd recommend Alexander McQueen's Kingdom.
"...her fragrance all in my keeping; softly she comes in the night." Lyrics, Gordon Lightfoot, "Softly."
MKK, Oud 27, Hammam Bouquet and the like can be very surprising with their 'dirty' notes. I took a paper strip of MKK home, taking whiffs as I walked down the street, and I just laughed at the thought that someone could wear this without arousing suspicions about their lax hygiene. However, there are some where these notes are more subtly blended in with florals or spices. In the right proportion, these animalic notes can boost the richness and depth of a floral or spicy note, with almost no animalic impression (unless you search closely for it). I think Habit Rouge and many other Guerlains are like this. I think it is like the difference between cake icing made with water and sugar versus made with butter. In fact, butter is a kind of animalic note that enriches many foods. The Japanese, when Europeans and Americans first came to Japan many centuries ago, would mutter 'They stink of butter.' Well, now Japan is used to butter, no more problem. In the same way, if you try one of the 'easier' and richer animalics, you will come to appreciate the stronger ones like MKK. Using it on the skin instead of on fabric will also bring out a fuller range of notes.
It's hard to explain the appeal of animalic notes in words. Most of them smell rather unpleasant in concentration ( civet and castoreum especially ), but in dilution and with other elements they add a certain warmth and depth that's really enjoyable and doesn't "stink", even though in isolation, it might
Now, sometimes it can take a while for a fragrance with a heavy animal content to become pleasant. I think there it a touch-too-much of a fecal top note in Paco Rabanne's La Nuit, however, it disappears into a blend of warm flowers and becomes creamy, pleasant, and not individually noticeable unless you're seeking it.
How much of an animalic note is pleasant varies person to person. Sometimes what's gross to one is just fine for another.
Scratch and sniff
As I've become more interested in perfumery and fragrance composition I have found that I'm more drawn towards fragrances with 'animalic' and 'dirty' elements. Civet, cumin, castoreum etc all seem to add depth and dimension to a fragrance which makes them smell more interesting and challenging than the fresher, cleaner fragrances without these notes. Maybe this is linked to the phenomenon many of us experience in that as we grow older our taste buds demand more challenging flavours - how many people who hated certain foods as a child now find that they love them. Olives are a good example of this! As taste and smell are linked closely I feel that this may offer some explanation.
Or maybe it's the human element which attracts us towards these smells - fragrances such as Guerlain's Jicky and YSL Kouros smell slightly 'off' but I find them more interesting and 'moreish' than many of the modern aquatic or generic sweet smelling fragrances which currently dominate the market. Kouros is a great example of how something essentially soapy and clean smelling can be given an edge with the addition of a slightly animalic (or human!) note. Although some find it dirty and offensive it reminds me of a steamy shower room with smells of soap, shaving foam and cologne. It just happens to have an added note which evokes the smell of the human body after a workout which generates a photo-realistic image of the post-match locker room with all its associated odours! Without this human element I doubt it would be as popular and well loved as it is today.
Last edited by Derbyman; 4th May 2010 at 03:10 PM.
King Kouros by YSL & Dirty English
To me the ultimate in animalic is the opening of MKK. It smells to me like you're standing in a barnyard next to a horse, or next to some sort of caged beast. But, the opening is brief and it gives way to a pretty mild musk.
L'Ombre Fauve also has an interesting animal fur kind of note in it that lasts quite awhile.
This, plus the fact that some kinds of fragrances don't smell very masculine unless you dirty it up and it also helps to make a scent more roguish. There are also other ways to dirty up a scent, for example with earthy/dirt notes like vetiver and patchouli or using smoky/incense notes. However while they do add to the masculinity, depth and sophistication of the scent, I don't really know anything like animalic notes to give it the dangerous, sexy vibe.
This has really piqued my interest in MKK as I love all 3 notes that have been mentioned and a big fan of most Lutens , bit too risky for a blind buy tho I think !!!!
Since you are from the UK, why don't you send an email to them (Serge Lutens site) asking for wax samples of the Exclusives. It took them, I think, 3 weeks to come up with them, but I got them and it gives you a fair idea of what it is (and the other exclusives) just not that intense as the liquid, of course.
"Animalic" covers a lot of ground, from urine to sweat to shit to pig sty. I don't think of it as a specific set of odors so much as a general warning that you might be getting into challenging biological territory.
I haven't experienced much of an inurement effect yet. Jicky and Oud 47 still seem disgusting to me, for example. On the other hand, I instantly loved a lot of things that some people consider "difficult", such as the cumin in Rose 31, the horsey barnyard smell in Oud Cuir d'Arabie, and MKK.
Dirty or animalic are general description terms, and vary from one person to another. What you actually smell are specific molecules. The major smell molecule in cumin, for instance, is also common in human sweat, so some people think of that as animalic or dirty whereas I find it more closely resembling something from plants. There can be a lot of indoles in a frag that has a note of jasmine listed, and many say it smells "crappy." Generally, if your skin soaks up frags, the more pleasing these notes are, so you should do some experimenting if you don't already know. Until you know the difference between civet, cumin, "dirty" jasmine, castoreum, etc., you will just be able to think of it in the general terms. When you read a review, that person can have more or less knowledge about these things. This is something you really need to learn by yourself, and while you are doing it the reviews can sometimes be a helpful guide (or can be misleading).
Last edited by Bigsly; 4th May 2010 at 08:28 PM.
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"Animalic" or "dirty" is also a matter of perception. Laundry detergents nowadays are often loaded with musks, so we tend to associate "musk" with "clean" more and more.
What it means to me, smells like some form of animal hair in general.
Derbyman is right: the animal notes that everybody talks about were originally there because they added projection and dispersion to perfume the way no botanicals could. They worked that way when they were really animal derivatives, but nowadays most "animal" notes come directly from the aromachemical labs. The real stuff is too expensive, or too dangerous, to gather, or the species that produce it are endangered to the point of near-extinction, or it constitutes some kind of animal cruelty to extract the materials.
The only one that's still gathered without danger to the humans or the animals is ambergris, which floats on the ocean. It is very rare, and is only useful to perfumers if it has matured sufficiently through exposure for a long time to salt water and UV rays. That's why even it has been replaced with synthetics for the most part. "Amber" in the pyramid is far more likely to be Ambroxan™ than ambergris.
The thing that all these materials have in common is that they smell hideous in high concentration,
i. e., in their natural state, but wonderful in extreme dilution. They have a natural warmth, and, if properly handled don't really have a "bathroom" odor. That tends to come more from things like cumin and indolic white florals, such as gardenia, tuberose, jasmine, and so forth. I think in a lot of perfume discussions, the perfumes described as "animalic" are often not animal-derived at all, but indolic. Indole does have a slightly fecal note that may recall the human body in certain states of perspiration, postponed washing, etc.
Who was that Frenchman who said that he loved those perfumes best which recalled "une femme qui a négligé sa toilette pendant quelques jours"?
Last edited by JaimeB; 4th May 2010 at 11:35 PM.
Yr good bud,
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Qui nihil potest sperare, desperet nihil.
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Not only are indolic materials used in fragrances, but they are also used to flavor foods: The smelly substance in excrement is skatole, not only is it used in fine fragrances, but it's also used in small amounts as flavoring in food, notably in vanilla ice cream. It has been also reported that without a small amount of skatole, vanilla ice cream just wouldn't taste right. It's all about the fact that we need to identify with odors and tastes or they will not appeal to us. I guess this, in a way, makes us all infantile narcissists!
Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 5th May 2010 at 04:13 AM.
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When I use the word 'animalic' to describe a fragrance note, to my nose it smells like I am around an animal - smelling it's hair, perhaps the animals breath, the smell of where they sleep, etc.
I do agree that the word 'dirty' can be easily misunderstood. To me, dirty means it smells like dirt. But of course, this is not the case with all comments on BN.
Try some Kouros on and then you'll know.
@Jason: I do feel that MKK can resemble certain sections of a zoo, and thus I find it animalic; and yes at times it reminds me a little of dried sweat. But yet, in a way, both MKK and L'Ombre remind me of soap (much more so in L'Ombre), probably because of the musk, and thus I hardly associate them with "dirty". If anything, I find Dzing to resemble 'dirty' much more.
Yeah I too tend to use "earthy" for dirt/soil kind of smells.
Not sure how much this helps, but I think you should give some of the mentioned scents a sniff, and see if you can make a similar connection....
btw. close and related to animalic is leather.
Last edited by gido; 5th May 2010 at 09:49 AM.