Perfume Review: Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan, Gris Clair, Borneo 1834 and Daim Blond
Review by Tom
In this review I am going to add my two cents in on what Colombina has already written about a few of the SL scents. Of these, I hope to own all.
Muscs Kublai Khan
Muscs Kublai Khan is the most musky of musk. I had to write that at first I just didn't get it. I though perhaps that my chemistry neuters musk. I didn't get the heady, crazy fecal note that drives everybody wild in this scent. So much so, that I thought that the sample of Padparadscha that the very kind eBay seller sent me was mis-labeled. The initial blast of cedar (hamster cage) was enough to fool my untrained nose.
Now that I have had test-driven it (and am going though some serious passive aggressive you-forgot-my-birthday related stuff to get a bell jar that better be coming or I will be in a serious pout) I have to say that I bow before it: it is the ne-plus-ultra, the God-Emperor of musk. For me, this is the scent of having been loved: the scent of clean bodies having been in, (ahem) compromising positions. This is what I would imagine the singer of "Down in the Depths on the 90th Floor" would spritz before retiring, sadly to her bed. This scent could keep the most jaded from jumping.
I don't know if Gris Clair was an overt attempt at a summer scent, or just a happy accident. While it's not summery in the way that some scents are by being light, the lavender note in this is so chilly that's it's wonderfully refreshing on a hot day. Although the fragrance does, as Colombina points out, dry down to wonderfully smoky woods and amber, on me the cold lavender is never far away: the least bit of movement brings the topnote out again, and welcome it is.
I actually think that there is something more than lavender in there, I almost get a hint of menthol. Not enough to be smelled precisely, but enough to impart a chill. I usually rely on lavender to put me to sleep; I spritz my pillow with a bottle of Annick Goutal lavender that I got at closeout, and it works on me better than Ambien. The lavender in Gris Clair is as bracing as cold water slapped on your face. In hot, especially humid weather, I finds it's chill especially welcome
This perfume, brought by a dear friend from the Salon in Paris as a present (alas, not to me) was the real start of my love for Serge Lutens. Patchouli previously had been as popular with me as say, garlic toast to Count Dracula or dresses with backs and fronts to Paris Hilton. From the first whiff I had of it, I knew I was doomed- I had to own it. I don't get the camphor in the opening that Colombina does, at least not as strongly, I do get a deep, rich almost burnt cocao and the smell of patchouli leaves, leaves, not oil. There is almost nothing oily about this scent, none of the ghastly 70's swinger patchouli, none of the cloying sweetness that can come from chocolate notes. This smells like something that has been long-forgotten, bone dry but still powerful, like something found in a temple. (oh, golly, someone get the dart gun and fill it with anti-hyperbole serum!)
Luten's ode to white Suede is another one of his that while suited for cold weather (where the Suede notes really sing) works equally well in hot. On me, the first blast of Apricot Kernel and Iris hit unusally hard, a blast of sweetness that initially put me off the scent. It fades almost immediately to the suede note, letting little whiffs of the other notes one me chiefly iris, pop through until it finally get to the wonderfully musky, powdery finish. Like Gris Clair, the top note has a way of popping up, chiefly if I do anything that would make me perspire even the tiniest bit. Luckily, I have grown to appreciate and even love the almost syrupy hit, since the musk and the hawthorne at that point cut it considerably.
MKK and Borneo are only available at the Paris salon. Gris Clair and Daim Blond are available in the states at Barney and Aedes. Note that Daim Blond is $120 rather than the usual $92