l’Artisan Parfumeur Mure et Musc Extreme, 1993

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(image ostrich pillow, source unknown)

Perfumer unknown (original Mure et Musc by Jean-François Laporte)

The fruity floral isn’t my bag. There are a few exceptions to this habit, notably the intoxicating Badgley Mischka.  I’m not starved for fruit, though. Eau de Cologne, which starts and ends with hesperedic notes, is by definition fruity, and it’s hard to dislike eau de cologne. Otherwise there are three ways that I like fruit in my perfume.

1) The fruity chypre. Granted, chypres contain bergamot, a fruit in its own right. But in many of the great chypres of the 20th century it is the fruit that gives the genre such an enormous range of moods. It gives Rochas Femme its come-hither gaze, Diorella its hint of afternoon trysts, Chanel Cristalle its remoteness, and Prescriptives Calyx its brimming elation. The chypre’s moss gives the fruit a long shadow, and the world settles in to a slower, more deliberate, more poised state.

2) The woody, fruity perfumes like the Serge Lutens/Christopher Sheldrake Bois series (eg. Feminite du Bois, Bois et Fruit, Bois de Violette) and Keiko Mecheri Oliban. Dry woods/resins such as cedar and frankincense and sweet/tart fruit notes like plum and peach complement each other and have a raspy harmony. These perfumes purr and hum. They surround you and whisper in your ear. Christopher Sheldrake used woody amber aromachemicals to revive this form in the 1980s and made a reference point for much of current perfumery.

3) The fruity musks. Some musks have have a berry-sweetness to them, and many fruits have  a strong musky quality, especially when they’re at the cusp of ripeness and rot. The fruit/musk pairing in perfumery feels preordained. Fruits provide a ‘flavor’ and musks add a roundness, backlighting. In the same way that butter and cream add both richness and ‘mouth feel’ to food, the fruity musks add a set of scents and olfactory qualities that might be called ‘nose-feel’.

So, Mure et Muscs Extreme. It is definitively fruity (blackberry) but the fruit never appears out of proportion or sickly-sweet. An astringency, a greenness runs right down the center of Mure et Musc Extreme. It highlights the sweetness and roundness of the perfume. It’s strong and can’t be missed, but it just highlight the berry/musk accord. The musk is the pillow on which the fruit sits, and since the fruit and musk notes are of equal duration, Mure et Muscs lands somewhere between a top-to-bottom traditional accord and a linear one. It changes from start to finish, but most of the changes are an ongoing modulation of the original set of notes. Different notes step forward at different times, and Mure et Musc demonstrates the best of the linear fragrance.


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