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Friday, August 29, 2008

Perfume Review: Strange Invisible Perfumes Musc Botanique

By Tom

Strange Invisible Perfumes is a house that for various reasons kind of stayed off my radar. I trekked once out to Venice to their shop, where I was wholly ignored by the young man behind the counter. Being a naturally huffy person, since he wasn't asking if I wanted to go on his trip to Palm Springs, I huffed on in a... huff. The website used to be of such aggressive unusability that I would have to force quit Exploder to get out of it (that, and it was unreadable). I had been back once or twice and met a very lovely lady who looked like Maud Adams and who showed me the line; there were several that I liked, but on me they faded fast and I'm cheap: I like my fumes to last the day. I've always meant to get back there, but it's all the way in Venice (please insert Wendy Whiner voice), which when you work in Downtown LA and live in Beverly Hills might as well be Acapulco or New Hebrides: at least an hour and a half in traffic if it's moving then the fight for a beach-adjacent parking space. Or the MTA bus that will take a week. Not that I'm lazy. Or spoiled. Not at all.

When is ScentBar going to deliver like Jacopos?

Then QWendy set up this little trip out on a Saturday morning. For those of you who are unaware of her, Wendy has her own blog and has a business making shoes. Yes, that's right. She makes shoes. That's like me mentioning that when I am not blogging I'm busy knitting Automobiles to spec. There're some talented people out there in Perfume-land...

So the deal was that we would meet at 10am on Saturday AM at the Abbott Kinney Store, which would open early especially for us. The MTA gave me directions that were within reason, so I didn't even have to drive there, and even arrived with time to spare. Upon my arrival I saw several familiar faces, including IrisLA and Robin, but I will leave the rest of the recap for Wendy to cover on her blog (linked above). I also had two glasses of Champagne, which added sparkle to the morning if not to my ability to speak coherently.

I did find the answer to why the ones that I liked in this line seem to have no lasting power: most are only available in perfume strength, but the testers are EDP's. I don't think it's a matter of saving money as much as it is that EDP's develop faster and you can wash them off when you're unable to expose any more skin for testing without years of Yoga and the risk of an indecent exposure arrest. I did mention that perhaps it would be a good idea to have both strengths available, so that when one narrows it down to two or three that one would have more of an idea of the lasting power and the development from the concentration actually sold.

Now that I know that that last impediment to my enjoying these (or my cheap-a$$edness) was out of the way I was able to test with abandon. There are several (Vine, Galatea, Narcotic and Moon Garden) that I really liked and several more that I wouldn't exactly cry over if they showed up in a stocking.

But the one that I kept coming back to was Musc Botanique. Through the alcohol haze I remember the nice girl telling us that it was meant as a sort of riff on the idea of plants seducing each other through their smell, like the musk that animals produce to attract a mate. This makes immediate sense in its tart opening: the woody, almost harsh geranium mixes with sweet angelica to make me think of berry patches. It gets earthier and earthier as the frankincense and amber come in, until the whole thing gets surprisingly, delightfully slutty. But slutty in a wholly different way that you would imagine: not human and not even animal. It's as if you're walking in a night-time garden and suddenly the whole place starts giving you the glad eye; the woods, grass and flowers are waving their little fronds at you with a decided "Hello, Sailor" attitude. Not in that somewhat confrontational Satyr-of-the-berries CB I Hate perfume way (which, as you all know I adore) and not in some Majicky, Sci-Fi way either. It's different: it's also entirely wearable (I would and did wear it to the office) but definitely, wonderfully.. odd.

Musc Botanique will be available at SIP in September, I believe it's $135 for the EDP and $165 for the pure perfume but don't quote me on that. I will write that as one of the line that is designed to be sold as both EDP and pure perfume that the lasting power on the EDP is great and that strength might be better for day wear or for guys. The perfume is that much more. I might need that much more...

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slutty plants? Sounds perfect to me; I'm all about it. Great review, I've never sniffed this line, but now I want to.

5:01 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

*Why* didn't I get this unsniffed on ebay when I had the chance?! SOB! I should have known it would be something I'd love.

8:47 AM EDT  
Blogger judith said...

I LOVE musks. This sounds wonderful. Thank you!

8:52 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! How odd and intriguing! I'm not a musk lover, but the thought of a musky garden is so weirdly romantic sounding, I might have to sample this.

9:32 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

I really like this one.

Do have to add that I think that like most naturals, the staying power has less to do w/ the concentration & more to do w/ the lack of synthetic fixatives. I don't find the extraits all that long lasting.

9:47 AM EDT  
Blogger Divina said...

Anything and Everything with the word "Musc" on it MUST be sampled! Unfortunately, seeing as I have never seen SIP here in NL, I guess it will have to wait. :P

10:35 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great review, Tom. I went to go check out Qwendy's take on it and there doesn't seem to be a post there yet. Hopefully it's just a glitch since here other posts looked great.

Must make some time for the SIP's on my next NYC trip...

12:25 PM EDT  
Blogger Gaia said...

I need this, right?
I'm planning to be in L.A. for my birthday in November, so that's another one to add to the shopping list.

12:57 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'd love to read what you think of the line..

2:45 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I still say never get anything unsniffed!

2:46 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think it's pretty wonderful- and completely different as well!

2:46 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


You should sample it: intriguing is a good term for it!

2:48 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


They aren't as long lasting as some, but in EDP form some of them are particularly fleeting..

2:48 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I still have a package awaiting your address....

just sayin..

2:49 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think Wendy wrote that she was going to try to post on it this weekend.

Love her posts!

2:50 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


You need this. Bad.

2:51 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds like something I have to sample..(I made a trip a long time back to the store in Venice- i tried almost everything and so didnt know which i loved/liked at the end of've tried some of them at barney's as well (isn't the Barneys in L.A close to you?)

3:06 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


The Barneys in LA is very near to me. I've never seen these in there, though (of course I never looked, either..)

4:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I discovered that Barneys carried the SIP line (not all of them, though) by accident..
We had driven to Venice. then realised that the SIP store was closed. To lessen my disappoinment, my husband drove me to Barneys to smell some Lutens. And voila i found SIP there too..:) (They are usually placed very near the the FMs)

7:28 PM EDT  
Blogger ScentScelf said...

Ah, Strange Invisible Perfumes. It was Black Rosette that put me fully down the rabbit hole of perfume. In my first sample pack...dabbed on the wrist...What in the world is THAT smell? Sure isn't rose--is something, umn, burning?, it's chemical...what IS that smell? this isn't rose perfume?...but realizing I was intrigued/entertained...and then it started to smell different...and it ended up at a rose containing smell.

That, my friends, was how I came to truly understand "drydown." It was like Helen Keller with her hand under the water pump.

Anyway, I'll always harbor a special spot for this line, just because of that. Honestly, there's others of theirs that just don't work for me, but I'll try anything they put out. Thanks for the heads up on the Musc!

8:52 PM EDT  
Blogger KevinS said...

tom: gee thanks. I'll spend most of my weekend looking for the Musc Botanique sample that's here SOMEwhere...I've also ignored this line. AND: have not heard the name "Maud Adams" in eons!

9:06 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'm going to have to go and check them out there!

9:43 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I love that "like Helen Keller with her hand under the water pump"

9:45 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Nope, you haven't, but she did look exactly like her; such lovely blue eyes.

9:47 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom -

So very funny and a great review - nice visuals....will have to save up for a bottle. But the best part for me was the mention of "New Hebrides".....very Barbra of you. Speaking of, why hasn't Miss Streisand joined the celebrity perfume game?


8:31 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think you stumped me on the Streisand reference: where is it from? "What's up Doc"?

She should come out with one herself...

11:58 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes - favorite film as a child.....guess you're not so stumped after all.....

2:04 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

One of my favorites too!

10:28 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The garden of musky delights. I'm keen for a visit (and hopefully the sailors will be in attendance) ;-)

6:09 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I hope they're in attendance as well!

7:54 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Hmmm, I had the same experience as you on their website - whoever designed it must be both a sadist AND a masochist! However, I was indeed intrigued by their offerings.

Musk is an accord/style that I am starting to experiment with more than I ever have before, and this one would be a good one for me to try, I think - it is not too much to handle from your description, but different enough to be pushing my boundaries quite a bit. Great review!

1:43 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think you might like this one- it's different and a little odd, not at all what comes to mind when I think "musk"

11:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Illuminated Perfume said...

Tom, I love your posts! How much fun to have gone to SIP with fellow sniffers. I'm a big fan, hard to pick my very favorite. Musc Botanique sounds fabulous, can't wait to sample it. Excellent off to read Wendys post.

8:29 PM EDT  
Blogger Qwendy said...

Thanks for the surprise kudos Tom (do you want to be my agent?), if only I weren't a week late, but better late than................I posted my companion piece to your review just now! I too love the slutty plants and Hellen Keller reference, it's all very visual! And I'm all for buying unsniffed, we so often have a sixth sense for what we'll love, we spring for what we can at the moment, and if we're wrong, it's fun to get rid of!

10:41 PM EDT  

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