Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur : Perfume Review

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1925_dali Picasso_1922

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Walking through the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, I realize that in much the same way as great artworks inspire the new generation of artists, the influence of Jacques Guerlain’s Shalimar (1925) is felt in Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur (2000). Neither like Dalì simply imitated Picasso, nor is Musc Ravageur a copy of Shalimar. It is a fragrance with its own creative merit that incorporates elements from Jacques Guerlain’s composition in order to convey another vision. While Shalimar makes one wait in order to see what makes it a perfection—which one has to admit it is, whether one likes it or not, Musc Ravageur starts to unfold at once. Its animalic elements are seamlessly blended into dark vanillic warmth, interspersed with cool notes of bergamot and lavender. The heightened interplay of powerful sensations, from hot glow of amber to icy sting of citrus, is what makes Musc Ravageur a memorable composition from the first inhale.

While I do not like many scented body products, Frédéric Malle has impressed me with the quality of its ancillary lines. Musc Ravageur Oil is a great alternative to the Eau de Parfum, especially for those who find the initial balsamic burst too dark. It absorbs rapidly into the skin and, with some sacrifice of development, melds into a softer version of the EDP. The soft balsamic warmth of this sensual fragrance would also work wonderfully on a man.

Paintings (from left to right, click to enlarge): Salvador Dalì, Venus and a Sailor (1), 1925. Ikeda Museum of Twentieth Century Art, Shizuoka, Japan. Pablo Picasso, Mother and Child, 1921-22. The Alex L. Hillman Family Foundation, New York, NY, USA. (from dali-gallery.com and abcgallery.com, respectively.)

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19 Comments

  • parislondres: I do love the Dali dear V! I wish I could say the same about MR. While it is a fragrance I appreciate for being created, it is another cloying musk that actually makes me feel sick whenever I have worn it. I had purse sprays of this which I happily gave away.
    I do know that this is very popular and FM sell loads of MR!

    Hope you are well today.

    xoxo August 4, 2005 at 3:41am Reply

  • julien: It is the first MALLE i got.
    Very strong at first.
    Then,it leaves in your skin a delicious smell…no flowers,juste amber,vanilla,musc,cinnamon…mmmm,looks like the perfect smell of a sublimated skin,sensual at the extreme,to smell is like a temptation…

    But not that easy to wear at first.
    Try it and let this perfume posess you,little by little…

    ;)

    Kisses Victoria.

    J. August 4, 2005 at 5:11am Reply

  • Laura: Ha! F told me she’d just seen the Matisse show–now I know why! D and I are going in September to see it. Just to make this perf-related, what perfume do you think of when you think of Matisse?
    ;D August 4, 2005 at 5:54am Reply

  • Sisonne: V, wonderful review :) I don´t know Musc Ravageur yet, but I´m very eager on trying it – especially after reading your review, though I don´t know if I like it: Especially amber has the tendency to make me feel as if I had to cough. Like you, normally I´m not too much into scented body products, I´d always favour an EdP/EdT, but perhaps I should be more open-minded & give FM a chance ;) August 4, 2005 at 7:03am Reply

  • Felicia: V, lovely review of a fragrance that took me a while to appreciate. In my experience, there is something animalic at the start but eventually this turns in a warm skin scent. I prefer the dry oil to the lotion but the longest lasting and full experience belongs to the EDP version. This is one of the Malle I reach for over and over again – especially in Winter. I hope your review inspires many to try :) August 4, 2005 at 9:29am Reply

  • Victoria: Dear All, always interesting to read responses that diverge in their perceptions, which often makes me see other sides to the fragrance I did not notice at first.

    N, I have to admit that I cannot wear Shalimar, and your reaction to MR reminded me of how I felt wearing Shalimar. I love it on others, but whenever I wear it, I feel very strange, something between your dislike of MR and an allergic reaction. It is not the case with any other Guerlain fragrances. Strange, no?

    J, that is very true, it is a sensual fragrance that takes some time to understand. When I got my first FM test kit, I did not even reach for it, until I tried everything else. But once I did, it was an instant love.

    L, it was excellent! I really wished you could join Felicia and myself, because you would have loved it. As for the Mattise of perfume, let me think about it for a bit. Fauvist perfume… Now, that is interesting!

    C, thank you! I tried Angéliques sous la pluie, Cologne Bigarade, En Passant, and Musc Ravageur lotions, and out of those only Musc Ravageur was just ok. The rest were very true to the scent, and extremely emollient. I would definitely recommend trying that body products line. Musc Ravageur Huile is very nice, and as Felicia said below, it is softer.

    F, I am glad that you liked the review. I was inspired by our recent visit to the Met. Musc Ravageur is definitely among the fragrances I have revisited lately that made the most impression on me.

    xoxo August 4, 2005 at 11:31am Reply

  • Tania: I simply can’t wear it–I don’t do musk. But for a musk, it’s much more than the usual innocuous white musk fragrance that you find everywhere. No, this take is dark, spicy, sweet without being cloying, a little dry, a little tender, one of those scents I imagine would be perfect with a little cigarette smoke on top. I think you’re right about it probably being great on a man. I would love to smell it while grazing up against a little bit of jaw stubble. (Note to self: get husband to Barney’s, assault with Musc Ravageur.) August 4, 2005 at 10:40pm Reply

  • Victoria: I have been so attached to my bottle that I cannot imagine assaulting P. with it, however I might give it a try. It is definitely miles apart from the usual dull white musk that I am starting to detest more and more. August 4, 2005 at 11:49pm Reply

  • Liz smellslikeleaves: This was one of the suggested fragrances for me when I filled out the survey on the editionsdeparfums website. It was the only one I initially liked out of the three sent to me (the others were Une Fleur de Cassie and Lys Mediterranee, which were unspeakably awful on my skin). I found it profoundly sensual, but a combination of hot and cold sensuality, if that makes sense–boiling hot beneath a somewhat icy, remote surface. It makes me think particularly of Charlotte Rampling. And…now that I reread your review, I notice that you make the same point about the combination of hot and cold! Hmm. I ultimately sent my vial to someone else, because after awhile it started to smell like root beer to me, and at times it nauseated me. Perhaps it’s the constant word of mouth, but I’ve been meaning to try this one again! Perhaps it will seduce me once more. August 5, 2005 at 9:10am Reply

  • Victoria: L, the first time I tried it was at the Malle boutique. I sprayed some on my arm and then I just stood there completely unable to move, because I was just taken in by the scent so much. That first hot wave of dark animalic notes is passionate and seductive. I think that one may tire of it after a while (I do of pretty much everything if I wear it too often), but upon a reacquaintance, I am sure you will be seduced by it once more. August 5, 2005 at 9:27am Reply

  • Atreau: Musc Ravageur was one of the first Malle’s I ever tested and it was far too heavy on me. It’s one I keep meaning to try again but in my heart i know that i’ll never fall in love with it. August 6, 2005 at 4:00am Reply

  • Victoria: S, it is definitely not the easiest fragrance to wear, therefore I understand what you mean.
    xoxo August 6, 2005 at 9:13am Reply

  • Jones: Hello, I just saw it is possible to buy it online here http://www.lamurefavorite.com/les-editions-parfums-frederic-malle-maID=3.html

    is there an english version of this shop ? December 14, 2006 at 7:39am Reply

  • Anthony: The only musk I have to compare MR and Musc Kublai Khan with is Kiehl’s original musc oil, EDT. On Basenotes, some reviewers have mentioned that Kiehl’s is a tamed version of the two. Do you feel this is a valid comparison, just to quel my raging curiosity to know how exotic these more complex musks are? I’d be curious to know what you think. :) I find Kiehl’s to be a very heady fragrance with a rich floral aspect that makes me insatiably curious to experience the complexities of the other two. June 18, 2007 at 4:13am Reply

  • Rola: I am so glad I got the oil version. The EDP is way too strong for me. I have been using MR oil as a base to layer with other lighter fragrances, it works out quite well. May 30, 2012 at 5:05pm Reply

  • Diptyque Volutes : Perfume Review « Bois de Jasmin: [...] but it doesn’t rival other modern Shalimars like Etat Libre d’Orange Fils de Dieu, Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur, Paul & Joe Bleu or Etro Shaal Nur. Nor does it rival Fragonard Rêve Indien, a budget [...] September 11, 2012 at 7:09am Reply

  • Jordi: I filled in the questionaire at editionsdeparfums.com and they recommended me Vetiver Extraordinaire, French Lover and this Musc Ravageur. Of the three Vetiver was the easiest to love at first smell. And Musc was almost unvearable, cloying and overwhelming, so my first instinct was that I wouldnt like it. But I’ve learned that some perfumes require time, to feel them and let them develope so I kept the test paper.

    Hours later after work I put my jacket on since it was a chill night and put my hands in my pocket, and then when I brought my hand close to my face I felt a delicious sensual aroma, that surprised me until I realized I had forgotten the test paper in my pocket and hence the smell. It was really lovely, so I’ll give it a chance and order the sample and wear it conciously and see how it goes on me. I feel though the colder the weather the better for this fragance. October 23, 2014 at 3:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Makes sense that you might like MR in the end, since it is in the same vein as Guerlain Habit Rouge, and I recall that you enjoyed that one too. October 23, 2014 at 7:56am Reply

      • Jordi: Yes very true! Made me smile that you remembered my liking for habit rouge :) I find MR more pungent than HR I could still smell it today on my arm after a shower, and that is rare on me since my skin seems to have a voracious appetitte with perfumes. I think it will take me a while before deciding on this one, me and MR are still knowing each other, so far I can guess a little of its balsamic tones but dominated by a warm almost hot sensation.

        Speaking of HR I do know I like the EdT but it’s impossible to find a tester of the EdP in all Barcelona, which is frustrating since I am considering it for a buy but I ‘d like to know both before deciding. Are they that far off from each other? Is it worth the extra cost of the EdP? October 23, 2014 at 5:44pm Reply

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