dimanche 18 mai 2008

Filling the Musk Gap (II): Annick Goutal Musc Nomade


The fourth launch in the Orientalistes series (after Ambre Fétiche, Encens Flamboyant and Myrrhe Ardente), Musc Nomade explores themes inspired by traditional Arabic perfumery, a seam which Serge Lutens has been working for years.

But while the Lutens-Sheldrake tandem builds this inspiration into flamboyant olfactory operas – if you don’t watch out, they tend to wear you rather than you wearing them -- Isabelle Doyen and Camille Goutal’s take on the Orient is sung in a more confidential tone, sotto voce whispers to the Palais Royal’s divas.
There a very French sense of measure to the Goutals: their amber, incense, myrrh and musk are rather introverted, almost contemplative in their mood, with a low-key, stealthy sexiness. These are skin scents, though quite diffusive and definitely long-lasting – 24 hours after a rather restrained application, you can still smell traces of them on your skin.

As soon as you spray on Musc Nomade, a delicious ambrette seed note wafts up – ambrette is a vegetal musk with fruity, boozy, floral and animalic facets (it is prominently displayed, set off by iris and rose, in Chanel N°18 from the Exclusives line). Ambrette, or its synthetic substitutes such as Firmenich’s Helvetolide, lightens up musk-based compositions: it works a bit like the French “trou normand”, where diners are served calva, an apple spirit produced in Normandy, to clear their palates during a rich meal, though ambrette smells more like an exquisitely fiery Alsatian pear spirit.

An old-church note develops rather quickly – it seems to be present in the base of all the Orientalistes. This may well be the Bombay wood, also known as cypriol, a natural extract that displays the wet-earth facet of patchouli with none of the heaviness of patchouli. Muscone, the main odorant molecule of natural musk, draws Musc Nomade towards an exquisite, slightly salty aroma that smells a bit like the tummy of a cat who’s slept rolled up in a turban…

Musc Nomade is not a very complex scent, but it is deliciously satisfying and very well composed. Like the rest of the Orientalistes collection (€120 for 100 ml of eau de parfum), it is quite different from most of the Goutal line, which leans towards fresh eaux and floral notes – and takes the brand in an extremely interesting direction, one we’d like to see more of in the future.

Image: Jacqueline Marval, L'Odalisque au guépard (1901), courtesy of http://www.jacquelinemarval.com/

14 commentaires:

  1. Wow, that sounds really good! I liked the first three very much.

    PS thanks for the translation :-) let's see if I can post this comment correctly...

    PPS why does everything sound so much more elegant in French?

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  2. There's nothing not to like about Musc Nomade, if you like musk. I'm still wondering whether I need both this and MKK...
    As for the translation: I'll be doing this for every post. A bit more work, but I don't want to cut myself off from my perfume friends in the English-speaking blogosphere.
    And, yes, well, the French *did* invent elegance, though they haven't cornered the market on it!

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  3. As much as I love a few of the AG scents, Musc Nomade (at least in the edp) is something of a sleeper scent. It has an innocence that may beguile many into its pleasures. But its charms (at least to my poor nose) are summed up in the word "nomad," i.e., fleeting ... as if the caravan was already past the dune and all I could here were some faint camel bells.

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  4. Maybe a touch of selective anosmia? I actually found it quite long-lasting, but it's definitely not expansive. I find this to be a common feature of Les Orientalistes: like I said, they're rather introspective.

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  5. I can't smell this one. At all. So odd.

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  6. Well, you know, I can't smell the musk in Narciso Rodriguez for Her: for the life of me, I only get orange blossom... That's what makes it so hard to review musk fragrances. I'll ask the Goutal SAs if they get that reaction a lot, the next time I drop by their shop.

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  7. Are these only in the AG boutiques?

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  8. I'm not even sure Musc Nomade is in the USA yet. If anyone knows, please comment!

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  9. I am so looking forward to trying this..

    And no. they are not in the US yet, none of them. An SA at Neiman Marcus says fall.

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  10. I think you'll find them all appealing. Even the amber, a note I usually have trouble handling when it's too dominant, I find wearable. Right now, it's just a matter of deciding which of these I want a full bottle of first.

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  11. Ok, in all fairness, I gave this one another try in the fresh air of the mountains this past weekend. It is close to the body but very, very lovely. And the bf confirmed as much, though I'll save you the details.

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  12. So thou hast heard the camel bells ring? I'm glad! ;-)

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  13. Of course I knew you would have gotten there first...

    I love this one and am very glad at the direction the the house is going. I wish however they could keep the price point down..

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  14. Tom, I too find that Goutal has taken a very interesting direction of late...

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