Montale Black Musk, 2010

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(image St Croix Cleaners Dry cleaning)

Perfumer Pierre Montale

I know that this fragrance is viewed as that result of crossing two other Montale scents, but I see it as an exercise in abstraction. A sharp, whistling musk, like the one in Thierry Mugler Cologne is the perfect match to a woody quality that makes for a sort of leather scent-mirage.

Black Musk’s cleverness is in creating a tarry quality with patchouli, spice and just a taste of oud, then dry-cleaning it with a prickly musk that someone along the way probably told the perfumer was the wrong musk. No pillowy soft or bosomed musk. The result is a cool, inky leather scent that focuses more on the sharp nature of tanning chemicals than that of the hide itself. It’s a little creepy.

I’ll take this chance to own up to a bit of fumie apostasy. I don’t particularly like oud, and since it’s usually the overwhelming center of perfumes that contain it, most oud perfumes don’t capture me. Likely this quirk has saved me a pile of money on niche perfumery and the laughingly late-to-the party top-shelf lines from the designer/perfume houses. This implicitly self-defeating strategy of the perfume houses launching ‘exclusive’ lines in order to appear ‘niche-y’ has produced an inordinate number of oud fragrances. (To witness niche, copying designer, copying niche, please see the Kilian Ouds.) Very few use oud as a minor part of an accord, one where you might not even recognize oud, such as Black Musk’s delicious vinyl/leather accord. Shame, yeah?

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