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Musc Ravageur – smooth and sensuous and seductive – January 29, 2018

Maurice Roucel, perfumer -

When I first discovered the Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle fragrance line, I fell immediately in love with many of them: L'eau D'hiver, En Passant, Géranium Pour Monsieur, Carnal Flower. Some others, like Musc Ravageur, took me a little longer to get to know, but fall in love with it I did.

I know what you’re wondering: just when did I fall in love with Musc Ravageur? When I finally tried it on my skin – I mean, really tried it on my skin, not a lame spritz randomly sprayed somewhere on my arm. That’s when I discovered how it was meant to be experienced. More than most fragrances, Musc Ravageur needs the warmth of skin to help it reveal its true soul.

Created by Maurice Roucel ( Dans tes Bras, Iris Silver Mist) in 2000, Musc Ravageur is an amber oriental launched at a time when most brands were launching fresh floral scents.

In an interview from 2016, Frédéric Malle talks about Musc Ravageur:
“Musc Ravageur is extreme. I hardly did anything with it. I called Maurice Roucel, who had created great perfumes, and I told him to take his time to make it. He looked at me suspiciously and came back a few weeks later with a few sample bottles. He pulled out one from his pocket and said: “This is the best thing I have ever made and no one wants it because it’s too daring and difficult. It’s too sexy in a world that has to be so bleak and boring.” I smelt it and to me it was nothing shocking. I relabelled it and I gave it to my assistant who was quite good looking. She had the worse time getting back home because everyone was looking at her and she was getting so much attention. But one thing we didn’t like was the fragrance had no foreplay; it was just instant, like a car accelerating into full speed at once. It needed to slow down before it accelerated. So I asked Maurice Roucel to do something about that. He was furious so I tried to do something myself and I went back to him in 1999 with a modification. I loved it and he agreed with me; it was perfect. My assistant wore it again and she was totally irresistible to people. This is the fragrance that set us apart from the rest of the industry.”

Musc Ravageur opens fresh and lively from citrusy, tart bergamot and sweet, succulent mandarin orange. The bergamot here has a gentle, spicy undertone that brings lavender to mind. This calls forward notes of cinnamon and clove, their aromatic spicy warmth becomes smooth and sensuous, once it’s opened up by body heat.  The spiciness is sweetened with amber and creamy vanilla, setting up a warm, opulent, seductive note of musk. I say ‘seductive’ rather than flat out ‘sexy’ because the musk here is no feral animal but an elegant seducer. The base has more musk, resting on a rich and woody spine of sandalwood, guaiac wood, cedar wood and patchouli. The patchouli adds its distinctive dark sweetness to the drydown.

There is a refined elegance to Musc Ravageur that comes from the balancing and managing of the musk and I think, this is one of the things I like most about it.

In his book ‘Frédéric Malle: On Perfume Making’ Malle says that “…Musc Ravageur marks a turning point in the history of amber Oriental fragrances.” Yes, Musc Ravageur is a very important fragrance – it’s on The Top Ten Niche Fragrances Every Beginner Should Sample list after all.

But it is important to me that I love the fragrances I choose to buy, to wear and to share that’s why Musc Ravageur on my list of niche fragrances I will never be without.

Musc Ravageur is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $8.00 for 1 ml.