Perfume Notes by James Peterson
Musk is perhaps the most confusing of all perfume materials. Only those of us who have smelled perfumes made before the 1960s know what real musk smells like.
Authentic natural musk, one of the rarest substances in the world, comes from a particular kind of deer found in the Himalayas. Unfortunately, the deer is endangered and must be killed to obtain the musk gland, the source of its aroma. There have been efforts by the Chinese to cultivate the deer and harvest the musk humanely, but the resulting musk has little of the aroma of wild musk. The aroma of wild musk is simply better and has a distinct and powerful animalic aroma that’s absolutely compelling. It’s extremely powerful and tenacious. It’s been said that a single grain from a musk pod will scent an apartment for a century without loosing potency.
Musk perfumes are made with aromatic compounds intended to simulate the aroma of natural musk. However, my suspicion is that most of us, including perfumers, have lost the memory of what authentic musk smells like. For this reason, many of the musks on the market have absolutely no resemblance to the real thing, but are more or less elaborate fantasies using many materials.
I am fortunate enough to have smelled authentic natural musk because my mother wore perfumes from the 40s and 50s. In fact, the aroma resonates with me deeply because when my mother first applied her perfume—Vol de Nuit, I think—I got anxious because it meant she was going out and leaving me with my teenage brothers. But when she returned, a few hours later, the perfume would have worn off so only the smell of the musk remained. To this day, this smell transports me back to early childhood as it recalls my mother’s return and the comfort she provided. Since then I have searched for a synthetic musk that emulates the rich gaminess of deer musk. After much toying around in the laboratory, I have come up with something very close and that I think you’ll enjoy.
Many a conversation has been struck up regarding my musk. Most people describe the musk as “feral” or “gamy” or “funky.” One person, who loves the musk and wears it everyday, claims that there’s something “disgusting” in it. I describe one of its notes as “dirty bathroom.”
While none of this sounds particularly appealing, I find that most people are attracted to this funk and have difficulty pulling their nose away.
Musk is adaptable to many situations and works extremely well in many perfume creations. Have fun with it by applying it with other perfumes to watch how they interact. Brooklyn Perfume Company’s musk is rather tenacious and will likely still be detectable the day after you apply it. You can wear it day or evening.