M/Mink starts with an absolute, horrific overload of aldehydes – no, not the gorgeously rich, floral/citrus Chanel style aldehydes; Adoxal – a material I haven’t smelt in its raw form, but I believe it practically is here. Adoxal smells waxy, intense, sour, heavily marine (almost verging on fishy). It has a balmy/lemony quality which soon reveals an overtly intense incense, not at all comfortable in volume, texture, or scent. It’s texture turns to liquid: black, murky and pungent – the perfect ink representation.
But, it’s settling… it morphs and changes, floating around on your skin as the discomfort and intensity begins to disperse and evaporate, leaving behind something difficult, but much more approachable… just. The incense is potent, as described before – balmy with a true “lemony” quality. It’s not the normal incense variety I’m fond of, it reminds me of the note in Comme Des Garcons 2 Man – only I don’t particularly like that fragrance. The salty, literal marine notes still sit underneath, crystallizing into a more solid form that almost “crackle” on the skin.
Patchouli plays a leading role, but it’s crisp, clear, stuffy yet almost translucent. There’s nothing “headshop-y” about it whatsoever. It has a leafy quality to it like a freshly picked handful of the plant, roots and all, with maybe a hint of vetiver adding to the earthy/saltiness.
But the texture isn’t right, there’s something morphing it into something bizarre: beeswax. A completely de-sweetened honey note adds a pungent aroma that swallows the entire composition of M/Mink in a thick, greasy layer of cloying warmth and an unwelcome bitterness. The honey’s use is hugely animalic, yet not at all “pissy” as in my favourites Miel De Bois and Delivre Moi (yet to review): paired with a warm amber underneath it has this soiled, “breathy” quality that smells unclean and literally “sticky”.
There is something floral going on underneath though – the only trace of anything “perfume-y” desperate for attention whilst buried neck-deep in the “ink”. Is it rose? Jasmine? Maybe it’s hyacinth? It’s something… made a mere sparkle by the crisp patchouli that helps to bring it out. But it’s completely blurred, unnoticeable and unimportant – it hardly has a contribution but it’s nice to know it’s there.
The sourness still rises to the surface every now and again, along with marine/driftwood notes, metallic elements, waxy textures and animalic musk. It sounds like hell in a bottle right? It sort of is… but it’s undeniably compelling. The thing is, yes, the first spray of M/Mink is almost unbearable-y difficult, but it’s drydown whilst extremely impossible to wear when broken down – combines into a relatively harmonious blend that is somehow mysterious, soulless, and utterly fascinating.
It’s mystery is what keeps me hugely interested, because even from afar it’s complicated personality is evident and I find that almost meditative. But M/Mink isn’t all a challenge, within half an hour to an hour, your nose has got through the worst, and what is on the end is more approachable, even enjoyable. Enjoyable sounds boring, it sounds like it is merely “good” – but if you’ve made it this far, M/Mink is “great”! And by “great” I mean it’s actually a lovely smell. The patchouli/incense/amber leads – which makes it sound like a thousand other fragrances out there, but with the still-potent residue of marine notes and the muted, unsettling beeswax, what it manages to create is something completely original and perplexing. At this point it’s not at all difficult, yet it remains avant-garde and completely unfamiliar – fascinating to wear with an aura of abstract beauty. A brilliant fragrance.
M/Mink 50ml EDP Byredo – £88 www.liberty.co.uk