When I first discovered Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums, Musc Ravageur was the one that captivated me. I was deep into my anti-fleur phase, not the least interested in hearing anything a flower had to tell me. (I've since resolved that stand-off, with Frédéric Malle Une Rose now in my top five personal favorites.)
Musc Ravageur, all furry warmth and musk with a bit of cinnamon, clove and vanilla, is too emphatic a concoction to call a “skin scent”. Yet the oil version, which I prefer to the eau de parfum, does hover invitingly close to your body in a way that allows you to claim partial credit for the good smell.
The oil is pretty much all base notes, focusing on musk, amber and the smidge of vanilla which encourages the creaminess. The edp gets there in the end, too, but not before journeying through the land of lavender and clove. All very nice, but it has a masculine flourish that isn't quite for me.
I think of Musk Ravageur as a fraternal twin to Le Labo Labdanum 18, given that both are thick, cozy, animal-inspired scents created by Maurice Roucel. Once I discovered Labdanum 18, with its more powdery, less aggressive ambered musk, it became my preferred source of perfume purr.
I tried to share my enthusiasm for both MR and L18 with my Perfume Pen Pal Dan, but he merely shrugged at Labdanum 18. And then he let rip with the following tirade at Musc Ravageur:
This, my friend, is where we part ways. Using the vernacular of an earlier generation, Roucel really goes for it, doesn't he? It was so strong! At first I was worried it was the fragrance equivalent of a tattoo and I was going to have to laser off the outer layer of my skin just to get it off me. And it smelled gross. That seems like an especially inarticulate description, I know, but I can't think of anything more appropriate to say. Might my sample have been from a bad batch? Because I've smelled lots of other Roucel scents and none of them smelled gross (Kenzo Air practically doesn't even exist). But Musc Ravageur? Wow. Gross.
I'm not exactly sure what triggered the gag reflex for Dan, since MR doesn't hit any of the popular stank stops: barnyard, gusset, diaper pail. It's rich without being a gourmand, though some MR fans claim they pick up chocolate. There is a “too muchness” to it, though, and while that might send Dan on a series of Silkwood showers, to the rest of us, Musc Ravageur smells like delicious decadence.