Saturday, March 29, 2008

Skin Musk

So the word on the street is that Sarah Jessica Parker of hit TV show Sex and the City fame helped inspire her Lovely perfume by Coty based on her love of Egyptian musk oil (the type of musk you'll find in Narciso Rodriguez For Her and her own Lovely) layered with Comme de Garçons Avignon (a heavy frankincense-myrrh-type incense blend marketed to men) and, of course, a great American cheapie named Bonne Bell Skin Musk which she revealed on a late night talk show when the host supposedly went nuts over her scent. Skin Musk is now made by Parfums de Coeur and it's still available at drugstores for around $10. I have the oil version; it's a nice musk that even I, not a diehard musk aficionada, can occasionally wear. I'd say it has a gingerlily-type of slightly sharp (soapy) and mildly spicy floralcy, not too far off from the spicy freshness you might find in the top notes of Gres Cabotine. I would describe Skin Musk as a floral musk, even though the floralcy is very muted, but the basic composition smells to me like your basic musk with lily of the valley, rose and a touch of sandalwood: a heavyish but transparent scent with powder if that makes sense.

There's a word in Japanese that describes the smell of musk very well for me, and that is "bettari". It even sounds like what it means: a heavy layer of something sticky, with a moist or flexible consistency. The light soapiness and muted, powdery floralcy make it a bit more charming to wear than "bettari" sounds, but that's what musk is in essence--a heavy, animalic base note, a fixative for lighter notes to be built upon. It can be perceived as a light scent by some, but by definition, musk is in the warm Oriental fragrance family. Chances are, if you like Lovely, or other musks like J Lo Glow, you might like Skin Musk, too, if you don't mind the drugstore quality (slightly after shave-ish to my nose, but still pretty nice for the price). Incidentally, I have Japanese friends who have told me that the one smell they think of as being all-American is the smell of musk. Is musk really that popular in the States that it characterizes us so?