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Muscs Koublaï Khän - Holy Grail fragrance

Photo - Wikipedia - Kublai Khan on a hunting expedition - Liu Guandao, c.1280

I've just had the flu, the “hit-by-a-Mack-truck, ache-all-over” flu. 

After this kind of flu, you don’t want a scent that’s going to hit the nausea button or be headache-inducing. Nothing big, strong, sharp or loud - quiet is what you want. So what does my unprompted hand reach for ?.... Muscs Koublaï Khän.

“Are you kidding?” I say to myself. Muscs Koublaï Khän is the Serge Lutens-Chrisopher Sheldrake creation that is referred to in the perfume world as the grand-daddy of animalics, skanky and beastly because of the civet and musk notes. (See bottom of blog for background info on civet and musk.....)

The opening notes are shockingly wild and strange – perfume newbies often recoil on first sniff. My nose, always attuned to the weird and wonderful, smells stinky, sweaty leather, layered underneath by peachy, smoky notes, not really a perfume smell at all! I know I have to be patient, because the magic will start soon when Act ll begins - skin chemistry has a big role in this perfume drama.

As Muscs Koublaï Khän dries down to its true character, the warmth of skin transforms it into a soft, layered, mysterious scent which works almost at a subliminal level. With low sillage, the scent stays very close to the skin, intimate and sensual - a party for two.

Notes of smokey balsam from costus root and labdanum rockrose, cumin, musky peach from ambrette seeds, beeswax, patchouli, vanilla and leather all converge into the heart of soft amber musk, but they also reappear on their own from time to time, making it one of those scents that demands your attention ( or someone else's attention, perhaps?) 

I keep sniffing my wrists, thinking of Koublai Khan, the Great Mongol Ruler. In real life, cruel and ruthless, mythologized in modern times as a sensualist who ate honey-dew and drank the milk of paradise....I see a smoky tent, rich opulence, a gold opium pipe, a bed of thick luxuriant furs, guards on horseback, wolves howling in the quiet, cold night.

I like the myth much more than the true history, because the myth inspired this incredible  fragrance. Muscs Koublaï Khän is the Holy Grail of musks – undeniably animalic, smooth and satiny, subtle, unsettling and sexy. 

Muscs Koublaï Khän is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

Civet and Musk background info:

Civet is a glandular secretion obtained from civet cats, which smells like sewage, but when added to perfume, it is perceived as a radiant sexy smell.

Musk is a secretion from the musk deer of Central Asia, and was collected during rutting season by killing the male deer and extracting their scent pouch. It is very potent and was used a base in perfumery to add warmth and eroticism, and to "fix" the scent. Today, synthetic musks known as nitromusks are used, also vegetal musks from plants, due to the 1979 worldwide prohibition against the use of natural musk, to protect the species from extinction.