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Musc Nomade – A quirky sensual personality (January 14, 2011 New Fragrance Listing)

Photo: Wikipedia - Women of Algiers, 1834, by Eugène Delacroix

Musc Nomade  is the last in the Les Orientalistes line from Annick Goutal, and it changed the opulent trio into an even more fascinating quartet.  When I bought the set of three in Paris last Spring, the SA gave me a few samples of Musc Nomade , saying “ You will want this, too – c’est le plus sensuel”. She was right. I caved in and bought a big bottle just before Christmas.

Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen used Annick Goutal’s fascination with the beauty rituals of the Qatar princesses as their inspiration for Les Orientalistes – other blogs have that story so I won’t repeat it here – and their interpretation of the musk note is unique. How is it different? It’s definitely musk, that singular note that lifts the nose and puts the brain on alert  – but it is so much more – and less – at the same time. It has a very quirky personality……

An expert technician as well as artist, Isabelle Doyen used several raw vegetal-based materials mixed with synthetics to produce a musk that smells like the real deal – skanky, erotic, animalic, but with a stripped down pure quality. The notes are: Angelica, Muscone, Bombay Wood, Rose, Tonka Bean, Labdanum, White Musks.

Angelica root contains natural musk – it has a boozy, musty, earthiness that comes right at you in the first few seconds. Then the woody rose unfolds, with the barest sweetness spiced and layered on incense, leading  into the caress of  the sensuous silk-fur-skin base-notes. The skankiness is there, but it’s elusive, teasing. I want more, and sniff my wrists every few minutes, and then Musc Nomade just ….wanders away. It’s gone.
This fragrance didn’t get its name on a whim. Like the nomadic desert tribes that still roam the Sahara, it sets up camp, then packs up and moves on. Que pasa? Musk is one of those notes which, for some people, is impossible to smell – they are anosmic to musk. Couldn’t smell it if their life depended on it. For others, like me, it seems that it can come and go, depending on the source and the strength.

Well, there was shock and disappointment in my little world when Musc Nomade did its disappearing act. I was enjoying its whispered French sexiness, so different from the satiny opulence of Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan, my reference musk perfume. I sniffed again and I caught the faintest trace –  lines from a favourite poem ran through my head:

“And the night shall be filled with music, And the cares that infest the day, Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, And quietly steal away.” **

And I thought that was the end. But much to my surprised delight, after an hour or so, the elusive scent was back - Musc Nomade returned and set up camp once more, and stayed until the next morning.

Musc Nomade is an incredible skin scent that is like no other, an effortless sensual ambiance rather than a fragrance. As I sat down next to a friend in a restaurant last night, his head jerked up “What are you wearing? I love it”. Twenty minutes later, he was still commenting as he caught the odd faint whiff. I couldn’t smell it.

Like I said, a quirky personality, but definitely “le plus sensuel”.

Musc Nomade is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $4.00 for 1 ml. 

**Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Day is Done” (1844)