sTwo fragrances, and two completely different expressions of sexuality through perfume.
Many people consider Muscs Koublai Khan a deeply sexual and “skanky” fragrance through the animalic musks and soft flowers. Secretions Magnifique’s approach is far more aggressive, with notes of sperm, blood, saliva and sweat, ELdO seems to go for the… S&M approach we’ll say.
These two are complete opposites yet drawn together by the same ideas and concepts, and that’s why I find them fascinating. I doubt Serge Lutens realised that this fragrance would be so unbelievably influential, and a prime reference in the category for animalic fragrances; the two different approaches in marketing from both brands have led to these being mini fragrance celebrities in the perfume world. Comparing the two? Kind of impossible – but they share blood, maybe evil twins or something. Anyway, here’s my brief lowdown of possibly the two most talked about perfumes of all time.
Muscs Koublai Khan opens with a beautiful, unidentifiable sweetness, and quickly, up rise the stunning mix of animalics, with civet and musk dominating. It is absolutely breathtaking, and one of the most comforting openings I have ever experienced in a fragrance.
It is so comfortable and easy to wear instantly, and I feel like I need to throw my head back with wrists to my nose and just roll around for a while!
After about 3 minutes or so, the famous “poopy” note comes in. Now, I didn’t pick this up, for my first 10 wearings or so, so don’t be scared by it. The only way I managed to identify this very, very slightly, fecal musk, was after sniffing Brent Leonesio’s Untitled No.8 as that was the moment I understood what the word animalic means and how musk can smell fecal. The fecal note in Muscs Koublai Khan is completely welcoming, it is bizarrely cozy and in-offensive. It feels so natural, and it “becomes you” so quickly, that it seems to change your mood, thought patterns, and movement.
The gentle fecal notes gradually disappear over the next ten minutes, although if you can clock onto them, you may faintly smell them in the rest of the fragrance’s life, but it is more of a memory than it actually being there. The musk goes on, and on, and on, with some baby soft rose petals floating in it also. There is the most subtle of spices which are practically unidentifiable… maybe the most miniscule bit of cumin? I’m not sure, basically this is musk musk musk, and the most beautiful I have ever smelt that’s for sure.
Hours down the line, this is a wonderful skin smell. I keep using all these words “beautiful” and “wonderful” and such, but this fragrance just clicks, and it really does make you feel sexy. Muscs Koublai Khan is not aggressive, it is not rude or skanky, it is mysterious and dazzling, whilst feeling like an arm wrapped round you.
I will have to own a bottle of this one day, but for now, my sample has lasted and lasted. I’m sure a bottle will last me a lifetime.
It seems cliché of me to write such a gleaming review of this, but it is a fragrance that actually lives up to its hype.
A complete masterpiece.
Maybe it’s just because I’m used to it after so many sniffs, but I actually really enjoy the opening of Secretions Magnifiques. It is almost unbearably metallic and sharp. It is the kind of effect you get (if you ever did this when you were a kid) where you rub two spoons together really hard and then sniff them – It’s harsh, almost dizzying. I’m not sure what chemical makes this metallic note, but there is definitely a ton of aldehydes which make it sparkle of your skin, similar to Rien though, they don’t particularly smell aldehydic.
There’s a sour note which creeps in after a couple of minutes, but it still feels metallic. I don’t like this sour note as it kind of triggers my gag reflex – it smells like a small chemical explosion. The fragrance starts to become extremely salted, and bizarrely aquatic, but with a strong metallic note dominating.
A creamy note appears from underneath, along with a touch of sandalwood I believe, but it doesn’t calm the scent down at all, instead it creates a complete contrast with the metallic note. The combination of an unidentifiable cream and super sharp metal is probably what turns most people’s stomach.
Some slight iris provides a tiny floral edge, although it is a computer generated flower and is completely overpowered by everything else going on. To be honest, there’s not much more to Secretions Magnifiques after that – the metallic sharp/sourness does begin to settle down and the scent becomes a lot more wearable later down the line. If I’m honest, I think if the name was different, along with the marketing image of an ejaculating penis being changed, this fragrance wouldn’t have any sexual connotations, but there is something human about it. Although the fragrance doesn’t resemble anything we smell on ourselves or with our partners, there is something oddly attractive about it. If I bury my nose right into my wrist, it’ll pull back in disgust, but hovered from a few centimetres away, it is bizarrely attractive.
Every now and again, I will open my sample packet containing Secretions Magnifique, just to give it a sniff. At these moments, I don’t find it repulsive, uncomfortable or unwelcome, instead I feel slightly calmer after it. On my skin is another story, whilst I do get this effect to an extent, it is just all too powerful. I think if this fragrance was just cranked down a few notches, it would actually be much more effective. I would want Secretions Magnifique to open with the same nose burning metallic edge, but drying down much quicker to the iris/coconut and metallic marine notes softly scenting the skin. If it were like this, I think it would have a completely different reputation and may actually succeed in what it attempts even more. But maybe I’m wrong, I think ELdO know how generally unappealing this fragrance is, and don’t believe it needs to be altered, I’m just seeing it from a consumer point of view.
Anyway, I’m going slightly off topic here and am not taking this fragrance as it is.
Secretions Magnifique is an experience. Similar to MKK, SM lives up to its reputation. But take it for as it is and pay attention to what you are actually smelling, not what the marketing is telling you to.
There is something bizarrely human to Secretions Magnifique, and I think that’s why so many people are scared of it.
Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan 75ml bell jar – 130 Euros sergelutens.com
Etat Libre D’Orange Secretions Magnifique 50ml – £52.50 lessenteurs.com