Post by Gabriella
So much has been written about this revered yet polarizing fragrance that I debated for quite a while whether it was worth adding my two cents to the conversation. But sometimes a fragrance is so moving and compelling that you just need to write about it. Serge Lutens’ Muscs Koublai Khan is one such fragrance.
Muscs Koublai Khan by Christopher Sheldrake for Serge Lutens 1998
Photo Stolen Fragrantica
Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Civet, castroneum, cistus labdanum, ambergris, Morrocan rose, cumin, ambrette seed (musk mallow), costus root, patchouli
The scent begins with the oft talked about animalic civet blast but I don’t find it nearly as scary or ugly as some reviews would lead me to believe. In fact, this whoosh of unripe skankiness is something that I find quite compelling and thoroughly enjoyable. Muscs Koublai Khan is very much a jolie-laide fragrance: it’s the nerdy, not very good looking guy that you initially dismissed in your early twenties only to find out when you’re 32 that he is he is the crazy, charismatic guy, full of depth, adventure and the one you should have picked all along. As the cliché says, beauty is only skin deep and so it is with this fragrance.
Photo Stolen Wikipedia
Given that, Muscs Koublai Khan takes some time to unfold its captivating charm completely. All the unwashed notes of the opening do indeed transport the wearer to other worlds and olden times when women and men roamed the land, ready for battle clad in loincloths; invincible in their leathery hirsute armour. The fetid character also transports me back to sometime in my not too distant past, say the late 1970s or early 1980s, when it was still ok for women to have a fur coat. I would go to my Mum’s closet and smell the slightly mildewed aroma of her cast off handbags sitting in garbage bags ready for a garage sale and her mink coat smothered in dry cleaning sheets. The slightly perfumed mothballed aroma of the fur spoke of sparkled nights and unspoken deeds.
Underlying all this unripeness is a blast of cedar and the composition then becomes considerably more sotto voce: all soft honeyed rose and the smell of salty damp skin after a night of passion and romp. Mr M immediately dismissed Muscs Koublai Khan as something rank and I hate to say that most of my close circle of friends would probably have the same aghast reaction. Thus, Muscs Koublai Khan is destined to be a very personal scent for me: one when I choose to shut out my benign petiteness and become a warrior princess: six foot tall, bound in swathes of tight leather and high heels and just completely indestructible.
Photo Stolen DeviantArt
Further reading: Bois de Jasmin and The Non Blonde
Muscs is now back in the Paris Exclusives line, but export spray bottles can still be found online. Amazon has it at $113.99/50ml
Surrender to Chance starts at $4/0.5ml
What’s your take on MKK? Are there any skanky scents you love?
With much love till next time!!