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.