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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Muscs Koublai Khan by Serge Lutens

Koublai Khan, 1215-94, was a Mongol emperor, founder of the Yüan dynasty of China. He succeeded his brother Mongke as the ruler of the empire that their grandfather Jenghiz Khan had founded. The empire reached its greatest territorial scope with Kublai's final defeat of the Sung dynasty of China. Koublai promoted economic prosperity by rebuilding the Grand Canal, repairing public granaries, and extending highways; he fostered Chinese scholarship and arts; although he favored Tibetan Buddhism, other religions (except Taoism) were tolerated. Kublai encouraged foreign commerce, and his magnificent capital at Cambuluc (now Beijing) was visited by several Europeans, including Marco Polo.

As far as I am concerned, there is none of that imperial splendor in Muscs Koublai Khan, no enlightened interest in arts and science; magnificent palaces full of priceless objects don’t rise before my eyes when I smell this fragrance. Serge Lutens creation is all about Koublai the warrior, a soldier among his soldiers, a conqueror prowling the great plains. Muscs Koublai Khan is raw, dirty and sensual.

On the first sniff, this is, shockingly, the smell of a circus, you know the one, animal sweat and animal skin and all the things I will not mention here, a very distinctive smell that is repulsive yet weirdly appealing at the same time…Civet, castoreum, costus roots, patchouli…I have no doubt that this is exactly what Koublai Khan smelled like on his cleanest day while on a conquering spree.

I would have never expected myself to like a scent like that, yet I find it incredibly alluring. Perhaps, Ambrose Bierce was right, and every Russian is a person with a Caucasian body and a Mongolian soul, and these are the deepest and the darkest recesses of my soul that crave Muscs Koublai Khan, this eau de blood-thirsty unwashed horse-rider of the steppes…Like Nikolai Gumilev, sometimes “I’m bored with people and the stories, and dream of the treasures of the kingdom, glories, and yataghans, all covered with blood.”

*The painting is Koublai Khan by Frank Frazetta

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Blogger Marina said...

XaXaXa. Tania said all the things I did about MKK, only where she is repulsed I am strangely attracted to it. I am telling you, there is a Mongol in me somewhere. :-)
Which is you favourite musk and /or animalic scent, V.?

9:25 AM EDT  
Blogger katiedid said...

I don't know that this would be a great scent for me, but what a review! And anytime you can draw Ambrose Bierce into an essay is good.

4:16 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Hey, the guy wrote a "dictionary", how hard can it be to incorporate at least one of his quotes into a review...maybe I should do it, will be like a gimmick :-D

7:58 PM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Great review M! I loved a wax sample, but actually not sure I ever tried the real juice, and the wax samples have so little sillage that they don't really duplicate the impression of wearing it.

9:41 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you R!
I always wanted to have that petit livre of samples, "just to have it", but I am sure they can't possibly be a true representation of perfumes.

9:50 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you N! If I ever have a chance to get my hands on a bottle of MKK I will buy it, but that bottle would last me a looong time, this is not a perfume for everyday use :-)

9:42 AM EDT  
Blogger carmencanada said...

Carmencanada again... I've used up two full bottles of MKK, so count me as a fan. Actually, it would be my n°1 re-purchase. The dirtyness of it is actually what appeals to me -- and I'm nowhere near Russian, so I've no Mongol soul to explain the attraction... In "The Emperor of Scent", Chandler Burr quotes Luca Turin speaking of the attraction of the French nose for ripe, rotting scents (cheese, the pourriture noble of certain grapes)... The animalic dimension of MKK is very close to the perfumes of love. It is the perfume of "l'impureté", so indecent that I can understand how some people would be repulsed by it, especially in North America.
MKK also reminds me of a legend about the suave smell of panthers -- and panthers are part of Dionysius'cohort of beast. The god of ecstasy and wine would surely smell of MKK...

2:01 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Oh what superb metaphors, panther, Dionysius! Thank you so much for commenting.
Now that you said it, I do remember that piece about the French and smells, it totally makes sense to me.

2:13 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Wow. I got a sample via an internet vendor and I wonder if it's the real thing? It just doesn't smell anything like the descriptions I've been reading. As a matter of fact, the vial of Padparadsha that she included free smells more like what I read in this review: so much so that I just bought a bottle.

I got another sample from a different vendor; I hope that it smells more like what your review states. I'd rather have been misled (it was 2 bucks) than think that my body chemistry nueutered "Muscs" from "ridden hard and put away wet" to the dainty floral I'm sniffing in my elbow right now

In any case- I love your reviews.

10:23 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Dainty floral?? :-) My skin chemistry sometimes plays up and absorbs certain notes and tones down others...but MKK is not the kind of scent that could be neutralized like that :-) Of course, you never know, skin chemistry works in mysterious ways.

10:34 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Yes, that's true, but I am really hoping that the first vial I got was mislabelled, even if it was not by mistake. The way that reviewers (especially you) have described Muscs sounds so divinely decadent, so lyrically sensual, that I'd rather believe that i got slightly diddled than think that my particular body chemistry can be so freaking castrating...

I love Borneo and Chene, and those work pretty well on me, sooo.

Have you tried Padparadascha? I liked it very much. On me it had a first hit of cedar and musk that honestly the first thing that popped into my head was "hamster cage": but in a good way. The dry down was "guy you had sex with after an ocean swim". Which is why I thought it was Muscs.

10:45 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Fingers crossed, you were just sent a wrong scent in a mislabelled vial. It must the case, because dainty flowers?.. Nah, that can't be MKK :-)

I haven't tried Padparadascha. Now after reading your description of it, I really want to :-)

10:58 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

well, I got the second phial. Still didn't get the first whiff of circus (it was lovely, but not circus). I've been wearring it for about an hour now, and I am getting whiffs of the musk. Strangely, I don't find it a confrontational musc- it's a delicate whiff when I move. I find it comforting: a lovers embrace. In short, I am crazy about it.

Damn, there's another one I have to figure out how to get from Europe, and there's no way I can wear this to work...

10:40 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I am so glad you like it, without the circus :-), this is one of my favorite scents.
So, perhaps your skin does absorb the animalic-ness of it all. Have you tried Vine by Strange Invisible Perfumes? That is another oen that screamed "beast!" , to my nose. I think sampels should be available from their website.

9:17 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

No, I've never heard of them. But their store is just over on Abbott Kinney in Venice, so I'll be checking them out this weekend.

Thanks for the tip!


11:51 AM EST  
Blogger muscravageur said...

where can I get this stuff?

5:16 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Paris or eBay :-(

5:36 PM EDT  
Blogger Mërgimtari said...

Anyone know where in Paris? A dept. store?

I'd appreciate an e-mail, if you could, as I'm leaving and wont be able to check the site.


10:38 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this stuff.... hard to find and expensive though. My dog loves it too... rolls in the sheets when I spray a bit on there. My neighbors say she smells like a French whore, in the best possible sense of the term!

5:41 PM EST  

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