Perfume for the musk-averse?

Hello – I’m the laggardly half of Australianperfumejunkies.  I’m the yin to Portia’s gorgeously positive and vivacious yang.  Where Portia describes herself as a perfume ‘slut’, I’m determined to find ‘the one’.  I’ll fill my cupboards with a million decants before I invest in a full bottle that doesn’t speak to me fully and completely.  I’m not a perfumista.  I’m just a somewhat anally-retentive civilian who wants to find a great scent, is overwhelmed by the sheer volume of possibilities out there and needs a systematic way to reach the holy grail of a signature scent.  And I don’t like musk.

This caveat would seem to narrow the field substantially as musk is apparently found in 90% of fine fragrances (according to  I don’t think I’m alone in this aversion, however.  My hypothesis is that all those people who claim to wretch when they pass a perfume counter are musk-averse.  There’s even a celebrated perfumer (Christopher Brosius) who claims to hate musk and leaves it out of most of his perfumes.  You might say I’m in search of a signature scent for people who claim not to like perfume.  I’m convinced it can be found.   I hope there’ll be more than one but I’ll be happy with one.

Adventure One – The Quiet Perfumes

Lists, lists, lists – perfumistas love lists. What better place to start than with a pre-culled selection from those who know better.  Portia popped my perfume-cherry with Luca and Tania’s Little Book of Perfumes so I’m going to start with one of their lists.   Since musk is typically a bold, animalistic scent, I thought Luca and Tania’s favourite ‘quiet’ perfumes would be the place to start.  Surely ‘quiet’ is something of an antonym to ‘musk’ in the perfume world?

A pre-screening of the candidates for evidence of musk on proved this to be not necessarily the case and I have had to reject half of the original ten for offences against the musk-averse.

Here are the remainders – Turin and Sanchez’s favourite ‘quiet’ perfumes sans musk:

  • Bois d’Encens (Armani Prive)
  • Commes des Garcons 3 (Commes des Garcons)
  • Lime, Basil & Mandarin (Jo Malone)
  • Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan (Hermes)
  • Timbuktu (L’Artisan Parfumeur)

I’m going to wallow in these perfumes for the next two weeks and my favourite amongst them will be the beginning of my next adventure.  If there’s anyone out there who thinks they’re musk averse and has found a favourite I would love to hear from you.  Evie C.


6 comments on “Perfume for the musk-averse?

  1. Djinn says:

    I don’t know about perfume at all. I didn’t even know what was EDT or EDP( still can’t pronounce properly:-)). Every time Portia want me to try or smell of it, I feel like getting addicted. But still dont know how can i descive that scent. But one thing i can tell that even if I didnt like one spicific smell, sometimes it is really attractive to me. Is it make sence ? But it doesnt happen isn’t it? Anyway I hope you will find your ‘the one’. And mine too hopefully. Xx Jin

  2. Undina says:

    I have an answer for you! Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecules (or if you want something more complex, Escentric 01)

    I have no problems with musks, but a quick look at my database gave me these perfumes (I tried them, liked them and they don’t have any musks listed among their notes):

    Bigarade Concentrée by Frederic Malle
    Encens Flamboyant by Annick Goutal
    Oolang Infini and Orange Sanguine by Atelier Cologne
    Amber Oud, Back to Black and Straight to Heaven By Kilian
    Coromandel by Chanel
    Mitzah, Leather Oud and Eau Noire by Dior
    34 Boulevard Saint Germain and Tam Dao by Diptyque
    Brin de Réglisse, Terre d’Hermès and Vetiver Tonka by Hermès
    Field Notes From Paris by Ineke
    Poivre 23, Santal 33 and Labdanum 18 by Le Labo
    Trayee by Neela Vermeire Creations
    Isfarkand by Ormonde Jayne
    Ambre Russe, Cuir Ottoman and Eau de Gloire by Parfum d’Empire
    Eau d’Epices and Lonestar Memories Tauer Perfumes
    Arabian Wood, Grey Vetiver, Italian Cypress, Neroli Portofino, Oud Wood, Tobacco Vanille and Tuscan Leather by Tom Ford
    Sombre Negra by Yosh

    Good luck with your search!

    • WOW! Undina, you have an avalanche of great stuff there. So you need to tell us about your database. I’m agog,
      Portia xx

      • Undina says:

        For the last 18 months I’ve been maintaining my personal database with the perfumes I have (either as a full bottle/decant or a sample) – notes, concentration, perfumers, etc. Also I record every day which perfumes I wore/tested and short notes on the testing. After I started my blog I introduced a monthly category – My Stats, – in which I report on different number-related aspects of my perfume testing/usage. You can see an example of it on my blog now – it’s the most recent post.

    • Undina – thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! I am excited to try all these and feel a major decant purchase coming on! Was fascinated to hear about your database and stats – surely a very precious resource. Evie C.

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