Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Reading reviews and impressions of Serge Lutens Muscs Koublaï Khan can be both frightening and hilarious. Just consider Tania Sanchez’s “the armpit of a camel driver who has not been near running water in a week!” Out of my respect for your sensibilities, I will spare you further colorful descriptions I have found. All I can say is that I do not get why Muscs Koublaï Khan instills the same fear as the Mongol horde once did. Either I have had enough of clean fragrances or have enjoyed too many animalic ones, but I find Muscs Koublaï Khan glamorous and sophisticated in the style of great oriental classics like Dana Tabu, Myrurgia Maja, and a more recent vintage, Calvin Klein Obsession. Unlike these “Venus in furs” fragrances, however, Muscs Koublaï Khan is drier and sharper, which makes it more modern. If your tolerance for animalic notes extends only to the soft suggestion of “freshly laundered linen,” then Muscs Koublaï Khan will be offensive. On the other hand, if you love the sensual richness of animalic notes, it is a must try perfume.
Its nod to the grand parfums of the past is contained as much in its full-bodied character as its twisted and surprising development on the skin. Muscs Koublaï Khan keeps its wearer in suspense from the very start when the sweet ambery chord begins to soften and reveal the smoky woods, musk and leather. A vivid flourish of jasmine and rose flashes across the darkness of the composition, serving as a caressing touch after the roughness of balsamic and animalic notes. The apricot like shimmer of jasmine soon fades away, but the crimson red rose petals remain behind, twisting around the smoky incense and warm leather accents.
My favorite part of Muscs Koublaï Khan is its drydown. If the earlier stages of the composition suggest a decadent fantasy of salty skin and cognac scented kisses, the later story is even more beguiling. The rooty, green musk and earthy patchouli combine to create an impression of having falling asleep on the beach– the scents of hot sand and seaweed blend with those of your wet hair and sun warmed skin to create your own unique and intimate fragrance. And perhaps, you still remember that kiss…
Serge Lutens Muscs Koublaï Khan Eau de Parfum includes notes of vegetal musk, costus, labdanum, ambergris, vanilla, patchouli, ambrette seeds, rose. It is sold in the export as well as in the exclusive collections. The export line fragrances are available from Aedes, Beautyhabit, Luckyscent, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, and from some Neiman Marcus locations. $140, 50ml.
Sample: my own acquisition